The Dalmatian is one of the most recognizable of dog breeds, possessing dark spots on a coat of white fur. The Dalmatian is prone to separation anxiety and is a poor fit for a family that does not have the time to devote to such a pet. The American Kennel Club website says that paintings on the walls of tombs in Egypt depicting spotted dogs may indicate the breed is older than some people think.
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Classified under the nonsporting group of dogs by the American Kennel Club and under the category of scenthounds and related breeds by the Federation Cynologique Internationale, a Dalmatian is a large dog, with the males standing about 27 inches at the shoulder and the females from 19 to 24 inches. The male Dalmatian averages about 70 pounds, with females in the range of 45 to 65 pounds.
The projected lifespan of the healthy Dalmatian falls between 11 and 16 years. The average litter of puppies numbers from seven to nine.
The Dalmatian takes its name from a region that is part of Croatia. The origin of the Dalmatian is cloudy at best, with some experts thinking that the dog is an ancient breed because of likenesses of spotted dogs on Egyptian artifacts, while others think the Dalmatian got its start in Croatia many centuries later. Dalmatians are athletic animals, and this trait was apparent in the 1800s when the breed saw usage as a carriage dog, keeping up with horse-drawn carriages and then guarding them once they reached their destination. Dalmatians also guarded firehouses, says the Terrific Pets website, and gained a close association with firefighters, often as a mascot.
The playful nature of the Dalmatian means that it loves going on jogs and walks and engaging in games like fetch. Although you can keep one in an urban setting, it is important for a Dalmatian to get enough exercise each day. Those that do not receive exercise typically become depressed and even angry. Behavioral problems ensue in many instances. Dalmatians crave human contact and respond poorly to being left outside for long periods.
The Dog Breed Info website says that Dalmatians shed year round but that twice a year the dog sheds much more than usual. The Dalmatian's coat is short and offers little protection from extremes of heat and cold. Brushing it once a week lightly should help to cut down on the shedding. Dalmatians are a clean breed and lack the "doggy smell" associated with other types of dogs.
Deafness and the development of kidney stones are two major health concerns for Dalmatians. As many as 12 percent of adult Dalmatians experience some degree of deafness. Before purchasing a Dalmatian puppy, have it tested for hearing beforehand. Dalmatians typically have a higher level of uric acid in their systems than other dogs, which may give rise to painful kidney stones. A veterinarian will treat this condition and recommend a change in diet to help prevent further problems of this nature.
By John Lindell
About the Author
John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.