Group: Non-Sporting Group

Origin: Dalmatia, Croatian Republic


    – Males: 22 to 24 inches (56-61cm)
    – Females: 21 to 23 inches (53-58cm)
Image by jorge from Pixabay

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Breed Profile

The Dalmatian is the only breed of dog with spots. Though the breed’s origins are not clear, he has been known throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. Chronicles from the 14th century suggest that the breed originated in the Mediterranean region around the Dalmatian coast in the Croatian Republic. The first standard for the breed was written in 1882 and in 1890 this standard was transferred to the official breed standard. The Dalmatian was once used as a carriage dog to protect travellers from thieves. When brought into the United States, the Dalmatian became a firehouse mascot and often helped locate and rescue fire victims. A versatile breed, the Dal has also been used for herding, drafting, ratting and performing as a circus dog.

The Dalmatian is outgoing and dignified. He is a true gentleman, in that he is quiet and courteous. Nevertheless, he has a protective nature and serves as a dependable watchdog. He is intelligent, devoted to his family and people-oriented.

With his extreme stamina, he has the ability to travel great distances at a steady pace. He is strong, muscular and active, and requires lots of safe running room and regular exercise.

The Dalmatian is a medium-sized, smooth-coated breed. His unique spots are either black or liver (chocolate brown). He is clean by nature and has little, if any, “doggy odour.”

Health Issues

Dalmatians, as with other breeds, are susceptible to some health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. The Dalmatian Health Concerns document includes information on some of the known health concerns found in the breed.

If you are considering the adoption of a Dalmatian puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Dalmatian, the CHICNOTE 1 database includes health screenings for:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Congenital Deafness
  • Elective: OFA Thyroid Evaluation from an approved laboratory; and Results registered with OFA or CERF

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

The Dalmatian’s short coat sheds almost year-round. In order to minimize shedding, regular brushing with a curry comb is recommended.

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

Famous Dalmatians

Dalmatians are recognized for their intelligence, agility, and bravery, and this has led to several instances where they have played heroic roles. These examples showcase the potential for Dalmatians to be not only loving companions but also heroes in times of need:

Smokey: Smokey served as the mascot of the 30th Infantry Division during World War II and accompanied the soldiers through various battles. Smokey’s keen senses were credited with alerting the troops to impending air raids and other dangers, potentially saving lives.

Luigi: Luigi gained fame for his heroic actions during a house fire in Westerly, Rhode Island, in 1997. The dog alerted his owner to the fire, allowing the family to escape unharmed.

Samantha: Samantha became a hero in 2009 when she saved her family from a potentially deadly gas leak. The dog detected the scent of natural gas leaking into the home and alerted her owners by barking persistently. The family was able to evacuate the house safely.

Lady: Lady saved her owner from a venomous snake in 2018. The snake had entered the yard, and Lady bravely confronted and killed the snake, preventing any harm to her owner.

Trudy: Trudy played a crucial role in saving her owner’s life during a medical emergency. When her owner, a diabetic, experienced a severe drop in blood sugar, Trudy alerted nearby family members by barking loudly. Thanks to Trudy’s timely warning, medical help arrived, potentially preventing a more serious outcome.

Max: Max received recognition for his heroic actions during a home invasion when he bravely confronted the intruders, barking loudly and creating a commotion that alerted the homeowners and scared off the burglars.

Dalmatians have also gained popularity and recognition from their various roles in television and movies, including:

Pongo and Perdita: Perhaps the most famous Dalmatians, appearing in Dodie Smith’s novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” and later in Disney’s animated and live-action adaptations, “101 Dalmatians.” Pongo and Perdita are the proud parents of a large litter of puppies, and their story revolves around the villainous Cruella de Vil’s attempt to turn them into a fashionable fur coat.

Buddy and Chance (Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco): In the sequel to “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” two Dalmatians named Buddy and Chance join the adventurous journey of two dogs and a cat trying to find their way back home. Buddy is the wise and experienced dog, while Chance is the younger, more playful Dalmatian.

*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit: www.caninehealthinfo.org

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

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