7 Things to Consider Before Getting a Dalmatian

Learn everything there is to know - good and bad - about being the owner of a spotty and lively Dalmatian.

Jun 1, 2024By Caitlin Ross
things to consider before getting dalmatian

Famous for more than just their distinctive spotted coats, Dalmatians are a top choice for a pet for many people. Aside from being lovely to look at, these dogs are also lively and loyal, which makes them a good pick for most types of individuals. However, for any dog to be a truly good fit for a family, certain things need to align. Before you commit to adopting one of these bold black-and-white pups, here are a few crucial things to understand about them.

1. Activity Level and Exercise Needs

dalmatian running
Image credit: The Spruce Pets

Dalmatians have a strong natural hunting instinct, and some even believe them to have origins as hunting dogs from Croatia, developed in the middle ages (although this hasn’t ever been historically confirmed). With this in mind though, it’s understandable that these pups are extremely energetic and endurance-driven.

It makes sense that Dalmatians do best in a very active lifestyle and enjoy some vigorous activity for a few hours a day. This has a few important implications for someone who is thinking about adopting one of these pooches.

First of all, Dalmatians cannot be apartment dogs, which we’ll discuss further below. Second, this might not be the dog for you if you don’t have a lot of time or energy to dedicate to regular activity that goes beyond a quick daily walk.

Longer brisk walks, running, or playing games like fetch and practicing agility are an important part of a Dalmatian’s daily routine, crucial both for their physical activity and their mental stimulation.

2. Your Living Space

dalmatian in yard
Image credit: Freepik

As we’ve already mentioned, a Dalmatian can’t thrive in a small space, and this is largely due to their need to move around a lot - plus, they’re not small dogs!

These lively spotted pups do best in bigger homes with plenty of room, especially those with safely enclosed yards where they can run around on their own when not engaging in focused exercise with their humans.

Insufficient space can make your Dalmatian feel restless, which is likely to lead to destructive behavior like chewing or unnecessary barking, which nobody wants to deal with. Because of this, if you live in a small apartment, it’s better to opt for a smaller, lower energy breed until you can move into a bigger space.

3. Grooming and Coat Care

dalmatian grooming
Image credit: Newsweek

Dalmatians are well known for their beautiful and unique coats. Their black and white spots are bold and striking, but they’re also prone to shed all year round.

To control shedding and keep their coats healthy, regular grooming is an important part of their weekly and monthly routine. Fortunately, grooming a Dalmatian doesn’t take a lot of work. Brushing their coats two to three times a week will help remove any loose fur and avoid matting, and they will, of course, need regular baths as well, especially after a messy play outside in the dirt.

Their floppy ears also make them susceptible to ear infections, which means that their ears should be cleaned regularly and checked by a vet every couple of weeks.

4. Training and Socialization

dalmatians socializing
Image credit: Daily Paws

Smart and independent dogs like Dalmatians can often become stubborn and even ill-disciplined if they’re not properly trained.

Fortunately, their intelligence means that they’re quick learners and relatively easy to train as well. Patience, consistency, and a lot of positive reinforcement are all important factors in a good training program for a Dalmatian.

To grow their confidence, obedience, and tolerance for others, it’s also important to start socializing them relatively early. This means that you’ll need to expose them to a wide variety of other dogs, people, and environments. Take your pup out to the dog park, let them play with others, and introduce them to friends and family of all ages, so they’re used to all kinds and socialize easily when they get bigger and older.

5. Personality and Family Compatibility

energetic dalmatian
Image credit: Canna-Pet

As you might have guessed, Dalmatians are extroverted and playful pups, full of life and love for their families. While their intentions are good, they might be considered a little too high-energy for small children, and you might need to be cautious when mixing the two.

However, these dogs are exceptionally loyal and protective, which makes them outstanding guard dogs. You should be warned, though, that this can make them leery of strangers, which is why early socialization is so important in their training.

If raised in a loving family and trained well from an early age, Dalmatians will make an exceptional family pet, especially for more active and energetic households that might like to take their pup on a run or for a beach swim.

6. Genetics and Health Concerns

dalmatian health
Image credit: JLS Dalmatians

As with plenty of dog breeds, Dalmatians are susceptible to a number of health issues, such as skin allergies, kidney stones, and deafness and blindness which can typically be attributed to their MM gene.

To manage these risks, it’s important that you talk to ethical breeders who perform comprehensive health exams, including genetic assessments and hearing tests.

Aside from these potential issues, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine vet exams will all contribute to an overall healthy and happy pup. It’s important for you as an owner to be aware of health risks and symptoms, so you can be on the ball and reach out for medical assistance as soon as it’s needed.

7. Time Commitment and Bonding

dalmatian playing
Image credit: Pexels

Finally, alongside being super energetic and friendly, Dalmatians are also highly sociable creatures who thrive in human company.

Their intense needs surrounding activity and exercise also extend into time needed in any kind of interaction with their humans, as well as with other animals. Regular time spent together will keep these dogs from becoming bored and destructive, so it’s important that you’re willing to commit a good amount of time to bonding with your pup.

Allocate time every single day for training, playing, exercising, and just cuddling on the couch with your dog. This will help them feel safe and loved, improve your bond and relationship, and keep them from chewing up your favorite slippers for the third time.

Caitlin Ross
By Caitlin Ross

Caitlin is an animal lover at heart with a passion for writing and sharing this love with the world. She’s a born and raised South African and grew up always surrounded by animals: more pets than she can count, and regularly adventuring with her family into the bush, where she feels most at peace with the wildlife in their natural habitat.