Are Dalmatians good pets is a question you may be asking if you are considering this breed of dog as a pet. As an experienced Dalmatian owner, I’ve written this to help understand the breed and provide useful information which I hope will help you decide whether a Dalmatian is the right dog for you. Of course there are several common factors which will affect your decision to get any type of pet which we will cover here as well.
The benefits of having a Dalmatian
There is a bond between any pet and it’s owner and this is particularly true of dogs in general. Dalmatians are known to be extremely family orientated, loyal and affectionate. They love to be involved in most things their people do and as such they make very good companions.
This has been true of all of our Dalmatians who have had a need to be actively immersed in anything which happens in the house or garden, including the most mundane of tasks, like weeding the garden. I can’t honestly say they’re much help but they definitely take an active interest. We love their desire to be a part of everything we do as this makes our family unit very bonded.
Dogs are usually ‘tuned’ into their owners feelings as they are able to feel the emotions of their owner and all without the use of words! Dogs are often highly empathetic and this is certainly true of Dalmatians. They are also very sensitive and do not respond well to harsh training methods or even if harsh words are spoken to or around them. They are highly intelligent creatures, all of which add to their overall appeal.
Dalmatians make good watch dogs. They were used as carriage dogs in the 17th century in England to run alongside carriages to protect the occupants from threats of the road, particularly highwaymen. Dalmatians are known for their energy, athleticism and guarding instincts, as well as having a natural affinity with horses, making them a natural choice to accompany noblemen and merchants.
They also have a history as fire house dogs in the USA, where they would run alongside the fire engine, guard the equipment and later, upon return to the fire station, continue their watchdog duties.
Dalmatians usually make excellent companions because of their desire to please their owners; their natural inclination to be involved in the activities of their humans and for their watchful, guarding instincts.
They are high energy dogs and require a great deal of exercise. Being very intelligent and athletic, they usually excel at agility. They love the great outdoors and will happily accompany their humans for a long walk.
Being intelligent, eager to please and motivated by positive reinforcement and provided they are socialised from an early age, Dalmatians are naturally sociable creatures. They usually get on well with other dogs. They can be a little headstrong, so it is essential to train them, so they will know how you need them to behave. They generally respond very well to training, especially if trained by the positive reinforcement method, with food rewards whenever they display desired behaviour.
Dalmatians have an infectious addiction to the great outdoors, they love to explore, run and walk. They will usually readily retrieve a ball or Frisbee and make fabulous companions to enjoy a long walk.
The responsibility of having a pet
For all the benefits of owning a Dalmatian, there are also considerations so that you are certain owning a Dalmatian or any other pet is the right choice for you. First is the initial cost and then ongoing costs. A pedigree dog from a reputable breeder is not inexpensive and neither is the initial outlay whilst we get our home ready for the new arrival. We should ideally know as much of the history of our Dalmatian as possible, to be aware of any concerns, such as health issues or any issues likely to develop in the future.
Then we need to allow for the cost of bedding, food, dog bowls, toys, collars, leads, initial vet bills whilst they have their first injections, the cost of attending puppy training classes and also the cost of insurance if applicable. It may also be necessary to dog proof your home by installing a child/dog gate, make our back gardens enclosed and safe etc.
It is a big responsibility owning a Dalmatian and going forward we humans are continually responsible for ensuring their safety, health and well being. In my humble view, this is a responsibility which pales into insignificance alongside the benefits of being such a huge part of my dog’s life – the satisfaction of being part of a family unit where my dogs give me unconditional love and enjoyment of life is repayment enough.
Do Dalmatians knock spots of other pets?
If you want a pet in your life, a dog and particularly a Dalmatian is a fantastic choice. My Dalmatians give so much back, I could not imagine life without them. We are a close family unit and enjoy each others company immensely. Sure, other pets and dogs for that matter will also fill this desire, but the Dalmatian is particularly known for needing to be involved in the day to day activities of your household and as such, makes for an exceptional companion.
Is a Dalmatian the one for you?
So, is a Dalmatian right for you and are you right for a Dalmatian. In summary, they are intelligent, sensitive, require plenty of exercise, stimulation, company and socialisation. They are natural born comedians and often have goofball moments which keep us laughing, again good for our health and well being.
They can be very ‘vocal’ and it seems that they love talking to you. They are very food orientated, which is good and bad. On the plus side, I could set my watch by them as they remind me of breakfast or dinner time with uncanny accuracy and they always eat and enjoy their meals.
On the reverse side, sidewalk or pavement food is very appealing to them and a close eye is required to ensure they don’t attempt to devour something which may be harmful. It becomes second nature, but we know to take preventative measures where food in concerned, not leaving any food in easy reach, but be warned, Dalmatians are known to be highly skilled ‘counter surfers’.
Lack of adequate exercise, stimulation, company and socialisation can lead to unwanted behaviour, such as chewing, digging, scratching, anti-social behaviour and the like. The same as most things in life – the more you put in, the more you get out.
They do not like to be left alone for long periods so, if you work long hours, then a Dalmatian may not be the correct choice.
Another consideration is the constant shedding of their coats. Dalmatians owners say that their dogs only shed twice a year – during the day and at night! A good vacuum cleaner is essential to help on this front. We can also help ourselves by brushing our Dalmatians 2/3 times per week, something they tend to enjoy anyway!
In common with other breeds of dog, there are some health concerns we need to be aware of and one concern which is unique to Dalmatians. I will go into these in more detail in another post, but here is a brief summary
- Deafness. Dogs with light pigmentation or piebald genes are known to be pre disposed to suffer from hearing defects. A test can be carried when they are puppies to determine if there is any hearing defect, called the BAER (Brain Audible Electronic Response) test. Responsible breeders will have this test carried out, but you can also visit a test centre.
- Pre disposition to form bladder stones. Dalmatians are the only dog breed who lack an enzyme which allows them to successfully process purines. Their livers are unable to absorb uric acid and transform this into allantoin, which in turn can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals and bladder stones. There are several things we can do to combat this; encourage frequent urination, access to water, a diet low in purines (breed specific food), avoiding food which is purine rich, such as liver, beef, gravy, mackerel and sardines and conduct regular urine tests to determine pH levels. This tends to affect males more than females (females have a wider ureter allowing urine salt crystals and deposits to pass through). 80% of dogs with uric acid crystals or stones are Dalmatians.
- Hip dysplasia. This can develop over time as the soft tissues which surround the hips can grow abnormally because of the Dalmatians’ genetic profile.
Should I get a Dalmatian
So there we have it. A Dalmatian is a wonderful pet, provided you have the space, time and energy to devote to your companion and have an understanding or their individual needs to allow them to enjoy their life to the full. Here are just some highlights;
10 reasons a Dalmatian makes a great pet.
- are handsome creatures and look great
- get lots of attention when they are out, making walking them a very sociable experience
- are sleek, fit and athletic
- great for your fitness, they love getting out for long walks
- are hypo allergenic
- don’t smell ‘doggy’
- are loyal
- are loving
- are playful and energetic
- love being a part of your life
A Dalmatian will be with you for part of your life, but you will be there for all of their life.