Know More About Dalmatians

Nobody can mistake a Dalmatian for any other breed because of their white coats with black spots. They look like polka dot calls! They’re named Dalmatians because they come from the region of Dalmatia, in Croatia. Their history was as war dogs, guarding the region’s borders. Because of this background, they are still good guarding dogs and will protect members of their human family.  

The reason Dalmatians are associated with firefighters goes way back to the days when fire engines weren’t motorized; they were drawn by horses. Dalmatians were a breed of dog that got along particularly well with horses, so they were trained to run ahead of the fire carriage to clear a path and guide the firefighters to the fire. Additionally, the Dalmatians were used as rescue dogs to run into burning buildings and find victims. Historians believe that these dogs were also used to guard the firehouse and its equipment when the firefighters were sleeping or away from the firehouse, especially to deter horse thieves.

Many firefighters choose Dalmatians as their pets because of the tradition associated with them serving in the fire service. Many firehouses that have paid full-time officers “adopt” a Dalmatian and share the duties of caring for it as a firehouse mascot and pet.

To further increase the popularity of this breed of dog, the book and later Disney films 101 Dalmatians spurred interest in these dogs and breeders made a lot of money during that period. Unfortunately, many people didn’t first investigate the temperament and needs of this breed of dog before taking them home to their children, and many found them to be too energetic and gave them up to animal shelters.

Dalmatians, though generally a healthy breeds, do tend to have a couple of specific health problems common to this type of dog. One of those is a predisposition to deafness. You’ve heard the information about how white cats with blue eyes are usually deaf, haven’t you? Because Dalmatians are primarily albino (white) with black spots, the absence of certain pigment predisposes them to deafness. The other health concern for these dogs is bladder stones, much like kidney stones and gall stones in humans. The good news is that Dalmatians are less likely to suffer hip dysplasia that is common to other dogs.  

Dalmatians usually weigh between 50-75 pounds and stand at a height (from ground to their shoulders) of about two feet. In this breed, the males are larger than the females and the average life span is 12-14 years. Puppies are born without spots in litter sizes averaging eight pups. Their spots don’t start appearing until a few weeks after they’re born. It’s a good thing that these dogs have short hair, because they shed year-round. Even with brushing, Dalmatians are going to be messier than other dogs that shed because their hair is barbed at the ends, making it sticky, so it sticks to everything it touches (clothing, sofa, etc.).

The Dalmatian is also associated with beer. Yes, beer. Anheuser-Busch is famous for its horse-drawn wagon and there is always a Dalmatian accompanying it. The dog and the Clydesdales have become iconic and their Super Bowl commercials are sometimes funny, sometimes endearing to the point of making you cry.

A Dalmatian is not a good choice if you live in an apartment because they like to run several times daily. They need some size yard to play in, but they should be an indoor/outdoor dog breed as they don’t do well outside during the winter.

Next time you see one of those “spotted dogs,” you’ll know a little bit more about its history and some of the reasons the breed is famous.

Amber Contant is a featured adviser and author discussing the issues that all pet owning families will experience. Amber works with Pet-Super-Store. Visit her site for a great selection of pet doors.

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