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Learn About Dalmatian's

Let's Get Educated!


Temperament: Dignified, Smart, Outgoing

AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 56 of 196

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 45-70 pounds

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Group: Non-Sporting Group

The dignified Dalmatian, dogdom's citizen of the world, is famed for his spotted coat and unique job description. During their long history, these "coach dogs" have accompanied the horse-drawn rigs of nobles, gypsies, and firefighters.

About the Dalmatian

The Dalmatian’s delightful, eye-catching spots of black or liver adorn one of the most distinctive coats in the animal kingdom. Beneath the spots is a graceful, elegantly proportioned trotting dog standing between 19 and 23 inches at the shoulder. Dals are muscular, built to go the distance; the powerful hindquarters provide the drive behind the smooth, effortless gait.

The Dal was originally bred to guard horses and coaches, and some of the old protective instinct remains. Reserved and dignified, Dals can be aloof with strangers and are dependable watchdogs. With their preferred humans, Dals are bright, loyal, and loving house dogs. They are strong, active athletes with great stamina—a wonderful partner for runners and hikers.


A high-quality dog food appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the Dalmatian needs. To avoid tipping the scales, watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.


The Dalmatian’s coat is a thing of beauty with its colored spots on a sparkling white background, and it doesn’t take much work to keep it in good condition. Occasional baths and weekly brushing with a horsehair mitt or rubber curry comb to pull away dead hairs will keep the Dal looking his best. His nails should be trimmed at least monthly. Because his ears flop down, they should be checked regularly—your breeder and your veterinarian can suggest a good routine and cleaning materials, and will show you how to care for them.


All Dalmatians need regular exercise to stay fit and happy. This exercise can consist of chasing a ball tossed across the backyard, running alongside a biking or jogging owner, or taking a nice, long hike through the woods. Since a puppy’s bones and joints aren’t at their mature strength until two years of age, be wary of strenuously exercising the dog before then. Dalmatians can be very high-energy dogs and can easily get into mischief if they don’t have enough opportunity for physical and mental exercise.


It is very important that you expose your puppy to as many new and unusual but pleasant situations as possible as part of his training. If he understands that new places and people are nothing to be afraid of, it will not only make his life happier but will make life with him much easier for you. He should be taught to behave from the very beginning, but Dalmatians can be very sensitive, so positive, reward-based training is a must. Early socialization and puppy training classes will help to ensure that your Dal grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.


If your Dalmatian came from a reputable breeder, you will have a record of genetic health testing done on the parents. Deafness is present in the breed, and responsible breeders will have had the parents tested and will have entire litters tested to be certain that all can hear. A unilaterally hearing dog (deaf in one ear) can usually lead a fairly normal life; a bilaterally (both sides) deaf dog often cannot and will require special considerations. Bladder or kidney stones can occasionally develop in Dals. Your breeder or vet can tell you what you should feed to avoid the problem. Usually quite healthy, Dalmatians aren’t picky eaters and don’t require a lot of supplements to keep them looking fit.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

Hip Evaluation

BAER Testing


Many AKC breeds have obscure and disputed origins, none more so than the Dalmatian. Researchers have used ancient artifacts and writings to support theories placing the Dal’s birth in the British Isles, Europe, North Africa, and Asia. There is no doubt, however, that by the early 1800s the breed was closely associated with a swath of Central Europe along the Adriatic Sea, the region once known as Dalmatia.

Dalmatians have a job description unique among AKC breeds: coach dog. Their traditional occupation was to trot beside horse-drawn coaches, and to guard the horses and rig when otherwise unattended. Dals were alongside the caravans of the Romani people, commonly known as gypsies, during their ceaseless wanderings around Europe. This association with the peripatetic Romani helps explain why Dal origins are so difficult to pin down—as with the gypsies themselves, the world was their home.

British nobles, too, employed Dals as handsome accents to their livery. The English had a close affinity with the breed and gave it such nicknames as the English Coach Dog, Spotted Dick, and the Plum Pudding Dog (the Dal’s spots resembling the candied fruit and nuts that fleck Britain’s traditional holiday dessert). Back in the 1800s, when horses pulled fire engines, Dals began their long association with firefighters. These days, Dals accompany the famous Budweiser Clydesdales on parade.

Dals entered the AKC Stud Book in 1888. The Dalmatian Club of America holds road trials to test their dogs’ “coach dog” ability.

General Appearance

The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; poised and alert; strong, muscular and active; free of shyness; intelligent in expression; symmetrical in outline; and without exaggeration or coarseness. The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with fair amount of speed. Deviations from the described ideal should be penalized in direct proportion to the degree of the deviation.

Official Standard of the Dalmatian General Appearance

General Appearance: The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; poised and alert; strong, muscular and active; free of shyness; intelligent in expression; symmetrical in outline; and without exaggeration or coarseness. The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with fair amount of speed. Deviations from the described ideal should be penalized in direct proportion to the degree of the deviation. Size, Proportion, Substance: Desirable height at the withers is between 19 and 23 inches. Undersize or oversize is a fault. Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers is disqualified. The overall length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers. The Dalmatian has good substance and is strong and sturdy in bone, but never coarse. Head: The head is in balance with the overall dog. It is of fair length and is free of loose skin. The Dalmatian's expression is alert and intelligent, indicating a stable and outgoing temperament. The eyes are set moderately well apart, are medium sized and somewhat rounded in appearance, and are set well into the skull. Eye color is brown or blue, or any combination thereof; the darker the better and usually darker in black-spotted than in liver-spotted dogs. Abnormal position of the eyelids or eyelashes (ectropion, entropion, trichiasis) is a major fault. Incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims is a major fault. The ears are of moderate size, proportionately wide at the base and gradually tapering to a rounded tip. They are set rather high, and are carried close to the head, and are thin and fine in texture. When the Dalmatian is alert, the top of the ear is level with the top of the skull and the tip of the ear reaches to the bottom line of the cheek. The top of the skull is flat with a slight vertical furrow and is approximately as wide as it is long. The stop is moderately well defined. The cheeks blend smoothly into a powerful muzzle, the top of which is level and parallel to the top of the skull. The muzzle and the top of the skull are about equal in length. The nose is completely pigmented on the leather, black in black-spotted dogs and brown in liver-spotted dogs. Incomplete nose pigmentation is a major fault. The lips are clean and close fitting. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. Overshot or undershot bites are disqualifications. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is nicely arched, fairly long, free from throatiness, and blends smoothly into the shoulders. The topline is smooth. The chest is deep, capacious and of moderate width, having good spring of rib without being barrel shaped. The brisket reaches to the elbow. The underline of the rib cage curves gradually into a moderate tuck-up. The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level with the back. The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too low down. It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward curve but should never curl over the back. Ring tails and low-set tails are faults. Forequarters: The shoulders are smoothly muscled and well laid back. The upper arm is approximately equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an angle sufficient to insure that the foot falls under the shoulder. The elbows are close to the body. The legs are straight, strong and sturdy in bone. There is a slight angle at the pastern denoting flexibility. Hindquarters: The hindquarters are powerful, having smooth, yet well defined muscles. The stifle is well bent. The hocks are well let down. When the Dalmatian is standing, the hind legs, viewed from the rear, are parallel to each other from the point of the hock to the heel of the pad. Cowhocks are a major fault. Feet: Feet are very important. Both front and rear feet are round and compact with thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet are a major fault. Toenails are black and/or white in blackspotted dogs and brown and/or white in liver- spotted dogs. Dewclaws may be removed. Coat: The coat is short, dense, fine and close fitting. It is neither woolly nor silky. It is sleek, glossy and healthy in appearance. Color and Markings: Color and markings and their overall appearance are very important points to be evaluated. The ground color is pure white. In black-spotted dogs the spots are dense black. In liver-spotted dogs the spots are liver brown. Any color markings other than black or liver are disqualified. Spots are round and well-defined, the more distinct the better. They vary from the size of a dime to the size of a half-dollar. They are pleasingly and evenly distributed. The less the spots intermingle the better. Spots are usually smaller on the head, legs and tail than on the body. Ears are preferably spotted. Tri-color (which occurs rarely in this breed) is a disqualification. It consists of tan markings found on the head, neck, chest, leg or tail of a blackor liver-spotted dog. Bronzing of black spots and fading and/or darkening of liver spots due to environmental conditions or normal processes of coat change are not tri-coloration. Patches are a disqualification. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined, smooth edges. Patches are present at birth. Large color masses formed by intermingled or overlapping spots are not patches. Such masses should indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered throughout the mass. Gait: In keeping with the Dalmatian's historical use as a coach dog, gait and endurance are of great importance. Movement is steady and effortless. Balanced angulation fore and aft combined with powerful muscles and good condition produce smooth, efficient action. There is a powerful drive from the rear coordinated with extended reach in the front. The topline remains level. Elbows, hocks and feet turn neither in nor out. As the speed of the trot increases, there is a tendency to single track. Temperament: Temperament is stable and outgoing, yet dignified. Shyness is a major fault. Disqualifications: Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers. Overshot or undershot bite. Any color markings other than black or liver. Tri-color. Patches.

Colors and Markings

White and Black (Standard Color)

White and Liver Brown (Standard Color)

White and Lemon

White and Orange

White Black & Tan

White, Liver & Tan


This information came straight from the AKC website and I have given credit to my source.

AKC (2020). The American Kennel Club, Inc. Retrieved from

What is a LUA vs, HUA Dalmatian?

LUA simply means "Low Uric Acid", also known as NUA "Normal Uric Acid". HUA simply means "High Uric Acid". 

Let's dig a little deeper into this subject.

Hyperuricosuria (Huu) is a hereditary defect in the metabolic system for eliminating waste body protein and more specifically of purines within the body. Most dogs break down purines into allantoin, which is a soluble chemical that is excreted in the urine without problems. In Dalmatians, when purines are broken down the waste chemical produced is uric acid instead. This often crystallizes out in the urine and forms urate (bladder) stones. Urate stones that have formed in the urinary system can irritate and inflame the bladder, or, more seriously, block the urinary system leading to rapidly progressive, severe problems and even death due to kidney failure and high blood potassium levels. Blockage of the urinary system leads to a medical emergency, which can cause severe pain and malaise, with rapid veterinary treatment being necessary to save life. Hyperuricosuria itself doesn’t cause a problem, but the urate stones that commonly form as a result of it, often do. The intensity of the welfare impact varies depending on where the stones form and where they cause problems. It ranges from moderate, for animals with recurrent bouts of cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), which have moderate pain and discomfort, to severe for individuals with complete blockages. These animals can suffer severe pain and illness and sometimes death. They can be treated but often require major surgery which has its own welfare implications. Moderately affected Dalamatians, experiencing cystitis, may suffer from this for days to weeks, until adequately treated. Reoccurrences of signs are common in Dalmatians throughout their lives. Blockages of the urinary system can rapidly lead to death within hours if appropriate treatment is not given promptly. All Dalmatians are prone to urate stones as all have hyperuricosuria, so even if you have a "LUA" Dalmatian, that does not mean that your beloved pet will not ever have urinary/bladder/kidney problems. It just means they are less likely to develop problems. Hince the term "Low Uric Acid". These stones cause disease more often in males than females.

The presence of urate stones will be suspected by the vet in any Dalmatian having difficulty urinating (dysuria ) or with cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). The signs shown will depend on where the stones occur and whether or not they cause a blockage. Their presence can be confirmed by ultrasound and/or radiography (x-rays). Only analysis of a removed stone can confirm it is made of urate (Dalmatians, like other dogs can get other types of urinary tract stones). Hyperuricosuria is inherited as a simple, autosomal, recessive trait. All Dalmatians have the recessive gene and the condition. The gene responsible for hyperuricosuria has been identified as the SLC2A9 gene. Sadly, it is currently not possible to eliminate this problem from the breed without out breeding to non-affected individuals of a different breed.

What can you do to help prevent urinary problems in your Dalmatian? 

Give your puppy plenty of exercise, water, and a diet low in purine dog foods, and avoid table scraps. Visit your Veterinarian for regular check-ups to help prevent a problem or resolve one before it develops into a much worse issue.

How do I get a "LUA" or a "HUA" Dalmatian? 

The only way to get a complete "LUA" Dalmatian litter is to breed a "LUA" and a "LUA" Dalmatian together. If you breed a "HUA" and a "HUA" Dalmatian, you will have a litter of ONLY "HUA" Dalmatian's. If you breed a "HUA" and a "LUA" Dalmatian together, you can have 50/50 % chance of a litter consisting of both "LUA" and "HUA" Dalmatian puppies, but the amount of each will vary and cannot be predetermined.

Short-coat vs. Long-coat Dalmatian's

Did you know that there are two different coat lengths for Dalmatian's? There is! 

There are short-coats and long-coats.

Dalmatians usually have litters of six to nine pups, but larger litters of up to 15 puppies are common. Dalmatian puppies are born with plain white coats and their first spots usually appear within 10 days; however, spots or patches may be visible on their skin from birth. They continue to develop until the dog is around 18 months old. Spots usually range in size from 2 to 6 cm (1.25 to 2.5 in), and are most commonly black or liver on a white background. The liver is the recessive color in Dalmatians, meaning that both parents have to "carry" liver to produce liver pups. If both parents are liver, then all puppies will be liver-spotted.

Other colors that occur occasionally but are not as desired, include blue (a blue-grayish color), brindle, mosaic, orange or lemon (dark to pale yellow) or tri-colored (with black, liver & orange/lemon spots), none are within breed standards. Another coloration fault is a larger solid patch of color, which appears anywhere on the body, but most often on the head, ears, or tail. Patches are visible at birth and are not a group of connected spots; they are identifiable by the smooth edge of the patch. The Dalmatian coat is usually short, fine, and dense; however, smooth-coated Dalmatians occasionally produce long-coated offspring. Long-coated Dalmatians, while very beautiful, are not acceptable in the breed standard, but these individuals experience much less shedding than their smooth-coated counterparts, which shed considerably year-round. A Dalmatian with the long hair gene is considered to have a recessive gene, which means that both parents must have one copy of the long hair gene in order to have a litter of long haired puppies. Long hair Dalmatian's are rare because there are not many long coat lines being bred. You would not want to breed every line out there. A breeder would want to breed those that are carriers so that they could expand the pedigrees. From there, they can breed back to a male that is a carrier, but not related. The standard variety's short, stiff hairs often weave into carpet, clothing, upholstery, and nearly any other kind of fabric and can be difficult to remove. Weekly grooming with a hound mitt or curry can lessen the amount of hair Dalmatians shed, although nothing can completely prevent shedding. Due to the minimal amount of oil in their coats, Dalmatians lack a dog odor ("dog smell") and stay fairly clean relative to many other dog breeds.

Deafness and Hip Dysplasia

A genetic predisposition for deafness is a serious health problem for Dalmatians; American Dalmatians exhibit a prevalence for bilateral congenital sensoneural deafness of 8%, (for which there is no possible treatment), compared with 5.3% for the UK population. Deafness was not recognized by early breeders, so the breed was thought to be unintelligent. Many breeders, when hearing testing started to become the norm, were amazed to discover that they had uni hearing dogs. Even after recognizing the problem as a genetic fault, breeders did not understand the dogs' nature, and deafness in Dalmatians continues to be a frequent problem. Researchers now know deafness in albino and piebald animals is caused by the absence of mature melanocytes in the inner ear. This may affect one or both ears. The condition is also common in other canine breeds that share a genetic propensity for light pigmentation. This includes, but is not limited to Bull Terriers, Dogo Argentinos, Poodles, Boxers, Border Collies and Great Danes. Typically, only dogs with bilateral hearing are bred, although those with unilateral hearing, and even dogs with bilateral deafness, make fine pets with appropriate training. The main difference you will notice in a dog with uni hearing is that they do not have directional hearing. They can hear you, just not which direction you are in. The Dalmatian Club of America's position on deaf pups is that they should not be used for breeding, and that humane euthanasia may be considered as an "alternative to placement". The British Dalmatian Club recommends only purchasing pups who are BAER tested, and requests all members to provide BAER testing results of their puppies so that the true deafness statistics can be looked at. It has been proved that it is the inheritance of the extreme piebald gene that causes blue eyes. It is therefore frowned upon to breed from blue-eyed Dalmatians even if they are fully hearing. Blue-eyed Dalmatians are not typically shown in the UK.

Hip dysplasia is another disease that affects nearly 5% of purebred Dalmatians, causing those to experience limping, fatigue, moderate to severe pain, and trouble standing up. Most Dalmatians who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but the soft tissues surrounding the joint grow abnormally due to their genetic make-up. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip, leading afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait.

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