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Dalmatian

Consider this breed if you are an active person who can provide plenty of training, socialization, and opportunities for hearty exercise.

Dalmatian Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Companion Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
13 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

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.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dalmation Dog Names
More Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog

Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    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.

  • Highlights

    • Dalmatians need daily exercise or they will become bored and destructive.
    • Dalmatians shed! Brushing frequently and thoroughly can help to keep shedding under control, but Dalmatians will shed.
    • Dalmatians need training to help make them well-mannered members of the family. They can be headstrong, so without consistent, firm training you could end up with an unmanageable adult.
    • Early socialization to other dogs, cats and other small pets, children, and adults is a must.
    • Dalmatians do not like to spend long periods of time alone. They do best when they can be included in all family activities and sleep and live where their human family does.
    • Families with small children should be aware that Dalmatians are very exuberant and active dogs and may accidentally knock small children down.
    • The animated and live-action movies "101 Dalmatians," both by Disney, caused an extreme rise in the popularity of the breed. Unscrupulous people looking to cash in on the boom bred Dalmatians indiscriminately, paying no attention to health or temperament. Be a cautious and informed consumer when looking for your Dalmatian puppy.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Dalmatian's origins are unknown. The spotted dogs are known to have traveled with the nomadic bands of Romanies, sometimes called gypsies, and it's unclear where they may have first appeared. The Dalmatian obtained his name during his stay in Dalmatia, a province on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, the area that is now known as Croatia.

    Dalmatians have been utilized for a variety of jobs during their long history, never specializing in one area. They were used as guard dogs in Dalmatia, shepherds, ratters, retrievers, circus dogs, and coaching dogs.

    It was in England that the Dalmatian was developed as the definitive coaching dog. He was used to clear a path before the horses, run alongside the coach or under the coach between the axels. He guarded the horses and coach when they were at rest. To this day the Dalmatian has a natural affinity for horses.

    This affinity took the Dalmatian on a different career path in the United States. Here he became a firehouse dog, running with the horses to the fire, watching over the equipment during a fire, and sometimes even rescuing people from burning buildings. When the excitement was over, they accompanied the fire wagons back to the station and resumed their duty as watchdog. Today most Dalmatians are companions and family members but many firehouses across the country still have Dalmatians as mascots.

  • Size

    Males and females stand between 19 and 24 inches tall. Weight ranges from 48 to 55 pounds. Males are generally larger than females.

  • Personality

    Born to run, the Dalmatian is a high-energy dog with an endless capacity for exercise. He loves attention and has a strong desire to please, making him easy to train through positive reinforcement such as food rewards, praise, and play.

    He's a smart dog with a sly sense of humor, and will do his best to make you laugh. The Dalmatian is alert and interested in everything that goes on around him and makes an excellent watchdog.

    Like every dog, the Dalmatian needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Dalmatian puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

  • Health

    Dalmatians are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Dalmatians will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Dalmatians, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Hereditary deafness 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. All puppies are born with their ears closed. The ears should open by 12 to 16 days of age. In Dalmatians, the deafness is characterized by the permanent deterioration by the age of six weeks of the organs of Corti, the nerve cell group inside the cochlea that detect sound. Homemade hearing tests such as stomping on the floor, banging pans together are unreliable because the deaf puppy can feel the vibrations and often learns to adapt very well. The only reliable scientific test is the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response). This is not available in all areas but is available at most large specialty practices and teaching hospitals at veterinary schools. It can be done any time after the puppy is five weeks old. Dogs that are used for breeding should have been tested for deafness, and many breeders test puppies before they are sent to their new homes.
    • Urolithiasis: The Dalmatian has a unique urinary tract system which makes them susceptible to the formation of urinary tract stones (Urolithiasis). The urine of a Dalmatian contains uric acid instead of urea or allantoin. Stones are formed from the salts of the uric acid. Large stones will lodge in the urethra; small stones also called gravel may pass with the urine. If the urinary tract becomes completely blocked and the condition is not treated promptly it will be fatal. Dalmatians must have adequate water at all times and dietary management with food that is not high in purines can be helpful. You can ask your vet to check your dogs' urine at regular intervals for urate crystals. There is a lot of research being done in this area so new treatment and management protocols are always being developed. Discuss this with your vet.
    • Skin allergies: Many Dalmatians suffer from skin allergies. There are three main types of allergies: food-based allergies, which are treated by an elimination process of certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals, and treated by removing the cause of the allergy; and inhalant allergies, caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. The medication for inhalant allergies depends on the severity of the allergy. It is important to note that ear infections often accompany inhalant allergies.
    • Hip dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the femur doesn't fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness on one or both rear legs. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and found to be free of problems.
    • Iris Sphincter Dysplasia: an inherited ocular disorder that can cause sensitivity to bright light, poor night vision, partial or total blindness, and cataracts. At this point it is not frequently seen in Dalmatians although some studies argue that it is often overlooked. The condition and its treatments are being studied.
  • Care

    The Dalmatian is a very active dog and needs plenty of exercise. He's a fast runner with a great deal of stamina. If left to his own devices a Dalmatian will head cross country on a jaunt that could last several days, so always exercise him on leash or in a secure area. Dalmatians thrive with human companionship and do not do well if relegated to the backyard. They should have plenty of time with their family or they will pine.

    Because of his unique uric acid metabolism, it's important to observe whether your Dalmatian is urinating regularly. For the same reason, be sure to provide him with easy access to fresh water all the time.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    For more on feeding your Dalmatian, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog

    .

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The distinctive Dalmatian coat is lovely to touch, being short, satiny, and fine. The tops of their heads feel almost like velvet. The base color is white with well-defined dense black or deep brown (liver-colored) round spots that vary from dime size to half dollar size evenly distributed over the coat. Expect to see smaller spots on the legs, head, and tail. Spotted ears add the perfect touch. (Where the Dalmatian's spots came from is a mystery. It's thought that they may have been caused by a mutation in the ticking gene.)

    Dalmatian puppies are born pure white, and the spots appear as they age. The exception is puppies born with patches, solid masses of dense, brilliant black or liver-colored hair with no white hair. Patches are appreciably larger than normal-size spots, and they have smooth, sharply defined edges.

    Large color masses formed by overlapping or intermingled spots are not the same as patches. You can tell the difference because these masses have uneven edges or white hairs scattered throughout. Dalmatians with patches aren't right for the show ring, but they make perfectly fine family companions or performance dogs.

    You may also see tricolor Dalmatians: dogs with tan markings on the head, neck, chest, leg, or tail of a black or liver spotted dog. Like patched Dalmatians, they aren't suited to be show dogs, but nothing stops them from being excellent companion dogs.

    Dalmatians are clean dogs with little or no "doggy" odor, and their coats are dirt-repellent. It's not unusual for these dogs to roll around in the mud and then dry to a gleaming shine.

    Be aware, however, that they shed year-round. A common joke among people with Dalmatians is that they shed only two different times: during the day and during the night. Expect to brush your Dalmatian weekly with a medium-soft rubber curry brush to get the hair off the dog before it lands on your clothes and furniture.

    With regular brushing, it shouldn't be necessary to bathe your Dalmatian more than three or four times a year. More frequent bathing removes essential oils from the coat and skin and can make them dry and flaky.

    Brush your Dalmatian's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    If your dog doesn't wear them down naturally, trim his nails once or twice a month to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Dalmatian to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    Just about every kid recognizes a Dalmatian on sight. His love of activity makes the Dalmatian a great playmate for older children, but his rambunctious nature and swishing tail may be overwhelming to toddlers and young children. With early socialization, Dalmatians can get along fine with other dogs and cats.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

  • Rescue Groups

    Dalmatians are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Dalmatians in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Dalmatian rescue.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Dalmatian.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Sometimes

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Very

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Moderate

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Sometimes

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Moderate

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Extremely

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Very high

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • Very high

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Sometimes

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Not particularly good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Sometimes

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • High

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • High

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Not usually

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • High

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • High

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • High

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Low

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • High

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Medium

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Not particularly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Not so well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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