When many people think of Dalmatians, they think of the movie 101 Dalmatians or some type of firehouse dog, but there’s a lot more to this lovable dog breed than that.
Dalmatians are friendly dogs and loyal to their owners. If you’re ever wondered, are dalmatians good with kids, the answer is “yes.”
That being said, Dalmatians have a lot of energy — so much energy that many breeders recommend that they not be around children who are very small.
Let’s take a closer look at these very lovable, adorable animals.
Origin of the Dalmatian
It isn’t clear exactly where the Dalmatian breed originated from, but we do know they were named after Dalmatia, an area that used to be part of coastal Austria.
They became popular in the 1800s when they were trained to tag along the outside of carriages in order to protect the horses from other animals.
Some historians believe that Dalmatians are descended from the pointer. In fact, Dalmatians were at one time actually used as hunting dogs, as well as circus performers and a few other things.
Now, however, Dalmatians are mostly used as companion animals, and while they are good with kids because of their friendly and loyal nature, there are still a few things to be aware of.
Are Dalmatians Good for Families?
First of all, Dalmatians have tremendous energy. Even nervous energy, some people say. Because of this, they need a lot of exercise each and every day to use up all that energy or they can become too hyper and almost unruly.
If you have kids in the house who aren’t going to play with your Dalmatian dog and allow it to get a lot of energy out during the day, it might be best not to get this type of dog for your family.
Older kids and adults usually don’t walk or exercise with dogs as much as younger kids do, and exercise is what they need.
Simply put, Dalmatians should always live in a place where there is lots of room to roam and play. People who live in apartments and condos therefore shouldn’t have this type of pet living there.
If you can’t commit to spending lots of time with your Dalmatian and making sure that it gets lots of playtime and exercise each and every day, this isn’t the dog for you.
In fact, if Dalmatians do not get enough exercise, they can retreat into themselves and act depressed. Or, they can become destructive and start tearing things apart, which is just as bad if not worse.
By nature, Dalmatians are sensitive and playful, not to mention very smart dogs. In addition, because of their extreme loyalty, Dalmatians make very good watchdogs. While some are a little on the shy side, most of these dogs are very outgoing and friendly.
You can also train Dalmatians easily, which some families appreciate. These are intelligent dogs that have good “memories” and can remember when they’ve been treated well or treated poorly.
Some Stats About Dalmatians
Some people are unaware of the fact that Dalmatians are not born with those adorable spots that we all love. In fact, it takes roughly two weeks for their spots to appear, and they can be either black or brown in color.
Dalmatians live for roughly 10 to 12 years and both males and females can weigh anywhere from 45 pounds to 60 pounds. Males get up to 23 inches tall and females get to 22 inches.
Their coats are short and flat but are low maintenance, meaning that they don’t require a lot of grooming.
Having said this, Dalmatians do shed quite a bit, which means that you’ll need to brush your dog’s spotted coat several times a day to keep the fur from getting all over the place.
Other than brushing, there is little to do when you own a Dalmatian.
Dalmatians are considered medium-sized dogs and have sleek bodies, floppy ears, and long slender tails that naturally curl upwards a bit. They are attractive dogs that people love looking at, and they’re a lot of fun as well!
Now for the Not-So-Good News …
If you’re still wondering, are Dalmatians good family dogs, there are a few things to consider before deciding if they are right for your own family.
First of all, their murky and unknown history concerns some people, but in reality, there’s likely little to be concerned about.
We do know that Dalmatians have been used as a working dog,circus dog, carriage dog, and guard dog, but there’s no indication that they are necessarily aggressive, meaning that they are fine for most families.
At one point, Dalmatians were used alongside horse-drawn fire engines and went ahead to clear the busy streets so the engines could get where they needed to go. Even today, Dalmatians tend to be fond of horses.
It is also why so many of today’s firehouses have the delightful dog as a mascot.
So, why are there sometimes concerns about the Dalmatian temperament?
For one thing, they are not all alike. The environment they’re raised in, their genetic background, and the treatment and handling the pet receives all contribute to its overall personality and treatment of others.
This is why people tend to describe Dalmatians in different ways. For some, Dalmatians are affectionate and people-pleasing pets, while for others, they can be a bit aggressive and stubborn.
They can be considered good with kids or seem to not like their kids at all.
But not to worry because by and large, Dalmatians are both very smart and very adaptable. Plus, if you know you purchased the dog from a reputable breeder, the odds of receiving a difficult dog are pretty slim.
Dalmatians love people and love it even more if you involve them in all of your family activities. They get along well with animals (especially horses) and all members of the family, including young ones.
It bears repeating, however, that Dalmatians have a ton of energy; therefore, very small children might have difficulty with them. Dalmatians should be exercised for a minimum of 40 minutes per day, and if they’re not, they become too hyper.
Dogs that are too hyper can accidentally become a bit aggressive around small children, which is why it is so important to take long runs or walks with them and exercise them every single day.
Despite these things, if you socialize these dogs early, give them plenty of exercise, train them well, and continue to provide them with the companionship they need and deserve, your Dalmatian will be well adjusted and happy.
What it’s Like to Be a “Fad” Dog
Because of movies such as 101 Dalmatians, Dalmatians are often seen as a “fad” dog. When the movie came out in 1985, sales of Dalmatians went up five-fold, from roughly 8000 dogs per year to more than 42,000 dogs per year.
By 1993, just eight years after the movie came out, sales went down a whopping 97%, which was the sharpest decline in American Kennel Club (AKC) history. Unfortunately, this had many negative impacts for this dog breed
Things to Consider If You’re Interested in Dalmatians
Once again, the first thing you need to be prepared for when you’re considering adding a Dalmatian to the family is the amount of companionship and exercise these dogs need — and they do need it!
In fact, if you leave your Dalmatian alone too much, destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging can occur. But this is just because they are bored and aren’t getting the attention that they need.
And one of the reasons why socialization is so important is because if they aren’t socialized properly, they may even do things you don’t want them to do, such as bite or snap at total strangers.
Unfortunately, because of their intelligence and independent nature, Dalmatians are sometimes a handful to train. Sometimes your Dalmatian will try to do things their way, not yours! This can make training a Dalmatian a little difficult.
If you’re trying to train your Dalmatian, it’s best to use positive reinforcement and rewards-based training because these things always work best for this type of family dog. If that doesn’t work, you can always try puppy obedience classes.
And when you’re exercising your Dalmatian puppy, keep in mind that their joints and bones don’t finish growing until the dog is around two years old.
Dalmatians are prone to dysphagia problems, so while exercising them every day is crucial, you also don’t want to overdo it.
Dalmatians can also have hearing problems, so make sure that the pet you’re interested in has had its hearing checked out with a vet before you take it home with you.
Adopting a Dalmatian
And once you adopt your Dalmatian, remember that socialization and regular exercise have to be a part of his daily life from that point forward.
In many ways, Dalmatians are just like any other dog in that they need love, structure, fresh air and exercise, and good nutritious food to grow and thrive.
Before you adopt a Dalmatian dog, make sure that the breeder is reputable and that it isn’t some fly-by-night breeder just wanting to make a quick buck.
Do your research and homework, then treat your family dog right once they get home, and you should have a good 10 to 12 years with this adorable animal.