UPDATED! Dalmatian: Breed of the Week
Are Dalmatians Good City Dogs?
I remember many years ago sitting in the movie theater with my sisters watching the Disney movie, One Hundred and One Dalmatians. We were riveted to the screen. Watching the dastardly Cruella DeVille plot and scheme to acquire the 15 Dalmatian puppies in order to make them into the most exquisite fur coat ever worn. Like most kids of that era, we wanted a Dalmatian. Cooler heads prevailed and our parents shut the door on this idea. But, many many parents across America did not and the Dalmatian almost over night became a hugely popular dog breed.
Arguably one of the most recognizable dog breeds on the planet, these handsome white dogs with black spots have a very long history as a working companion for man. No one knows exactly when the breed first appeared but they are known to have traveled what his now Europe with gypsies. Named for the Croatian coast along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatians spread throughout Europe and then to America. The father of our country George Washington was a Dalmatian lover and breeder.
The AKC classifies the Dalmatian as a working dog. They were bred to run alongside horse and carriage to keep away strays, alert coachmen of approaching riders, and keep a clear pathway so coaches could pass. These playful, eager dogs were bred to run. Dals had to be able to run for miles to keep up with their coaches. As fire coaches became popular, the dog became a favorite of firefighters, doing the same job they did for coaches. Even after the advent of motorcars, they stayed on as the mascot to fireman and can still be found in man fire stations across the U.S.
The male Dalmatian stands about two feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 55 pounds. The females are slightly smaller. The parents give birth to an average of 5 or 6 pups (not 101!)
Dalmatians are born completely white and as they age, the velvety smooth coat develops black or sometimes liver- colored spots.
On occasion you might come across a pup that has patches rather than spots. This means the dogs are born with large patches of black hair with no white rather than the spots.
There are a few genetic issues to be aware of when looking for a Dal puppy. According to dog breed info, eight percent of all Dalmatian pups are born either completely deaf or have hearing in only one ear. There are some other health concerns to be aware of. The urine of Dalmatians contains uric acid rather than urea making them prone to Urolithiasis, or stones in their urinary tract. Dalmatian owners should make sure their dogs always have plenty of water and keep an eye out to make sure their pet is urinating frequently. Dalmatians also can also be subject to allergies, which for the most part can be treated by your veterinarian.
Do Dalmatians Bark?
Will a Dalmatian be a good Urban Dog for you? If you have an active lifestyle… enjoy running, skateboarding or any other high energy sport… and your Dal can accompany you… and if you have the time to spend with and properly train your pup then, a qualified “yes.” That’s a lot to consider, isn’t it? Remember, this is a dog that was bred to run for miles alongside a carriage
Training for city dogs is super important. You want your pooch to obey you when you tell her to behave in your building’s public areas. Dalmatians are not only great working dogs, they are intelligent too. They score “Above Average” when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first commands about 70% of the time or better according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes about 15 to 25 repetitions for them to learn new commands. As with many intelligent high-energy dogs this combination can prove to be problematic for owners who don’t provide enough exercise and mental stimulation for their dog.
Dalmatians are moderate barkers. UC Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a chart ranking dogs by the likelihood of barking at inappropriate times. On a scale of one to ten — with one being the least offensive barkers and ten the most excessive barkers — they get a six rating. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.
As always, seek out a reputable breeder when searching for your new puppy.
For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Big dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.
Here’s the American Kennel Club’s profile of the Dalmatian.