Dog Health & More
Best known as the star of Disney's 101 Dalmatians, this sleek and athletic dog breed has a history that goes back several hundred years. He started out as a coach dog but has also served in many other capacities, including hunter, firehouse dog, and circus performer. As charming in life as in film, he goes from gallant to goofy to gallant again in the blink of an eye, and loves to be a part of everything his family does.
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With his regal carriage and unique spots, the Dalmatian is probably one of the most recognized breeds on the planet. Many people are attracted to his dashing good looks, but he's definitely not for everyone. While Dalmatians love to be with their people for any activity that occurs in the course of a day and can make wonderful companion dogs, their high energy level can be exhausting to live with.
Dalmations were created to run for miles alongside carriages, helping to ward off highwaymen and add a touch of flair to the vehicle with aristocratic passengers. (Now we just have cars with racing stripes.) Not surprisingly, the Dalmatian today has an endless capacity for exercise and is the ideal companion for people who jog, skate, or bicycle. He's also a keen competitor in canine sports such as agility and flyball. A Dalmatian must have adequate daily exercise to prevent behavior problems from developing.
If you are considering a Dalmatian, be aware that the breed is not only highly active but also highly intelligent. They need training early in life to establish rules for behavior, or they will decide it is their job to run things. Dalmatians can be a bit headstrong so training must be firm and consistent.
At the same time Dalmatians are sensitive and do not respond well to harsh training methods. You need a positive approach to training with lots of rewards for proper behavior if you want a well-trained dog. Dalmatians are said to not forget mistreatment or harsh behavior.
Another consideration should be the incidence of deafness in the breed. This condition is prevalent in Dalmatians. It is inherited as a polygenic trait, and all Dalmatian bloodlines can pass along deafness to their offspring. Approximately eight percent of Dalmatians are born completely deaf, and 22 to 24 percent are born with hearing in one ear only.
The Dalmatian Club of America recommends euthanasia for all puppies found to be completely deaf. That's because they are more challenging to train and may bite if startled. Nonetheless, some people believe deaf dogs can make just as wonderful pets as hearing dogs if they are trained with hand signals and vibrations so they are less likely to be startled.
If you are considering adopting a deaf puppy or older adult dog, be sure to research the issue and the special care requirements of living with a deaf dog before you suffer the heartbreak of taking the dog in and not being able to manage his care properly.
Dalmatians have a urinary system unique in the dog world, and they have a few special requirements because of this to prevent medical complications. Their diet should never be extremely high in protein, and they must be allowed access to plenty of fresh water at all times. Dalmatians also should have the opportunity to relieve themselves frequently to keep the urinary system flushed. With these simple protocols in place, your Dalmatian should live a long, healthy life.
Dalmatians will get along with other pets and children if socialized as a puppy with all types of pets and people. Dalmatians can make a wonderful active playmate for children (with proper supervision to be sure that both the child and the dog are following acceptable rules for behavior).
With the Dalmatian's energy and enthusiasm for games, the dog and child will have a marvelous time tiring each other out. Children younger than 6 years of age may be easily knocked down by this muscular, active, and strong dog. Take special precautions and supervise interactions between smaller children and Dalmatians.
You can participate in numerous dog sports and activities with your Dalmatian. He'll do well in obedience competition with the proper motivational, positive training. He's also an excellent agility competitor as the sport is tailored to athletic dogs such as the Dalmatian.
Dalmatians make great hiking companions and backpacking dogs, and the sports of flyball and Frisbee are excellent activities for the well-trained Dalmatian. If your dog has the right combination of looks and personality, you may also enjoy the sport of showing dogs, known as conformation, at AKC shows.
The Dalmatian Club of America sponsors a program that offers titles in keeping with the breed's history as carriage dogs. The Road Dog (RD) title and Road Dog Excellent (RDX) are titles earned by the dog accompanying horses or carriages for a certain number of miles and then performing some basic obedience. These trials are usually held in conjunction with the larger specialty shows and with the national show sponsored by the Dalmatian Club of America.
Whatever you do with your Dalmatian, whether he is your best friend, active family companion, or seasoned competitor, be sure that with the right combination of exercise, discipline, and love he will be a great addition to your family.