Dalmatians are a stunning breed with their white and black speckled coat. They’re also a symbol for firefighters, given that they used to protect horses in carriages as firefighters would rush to a burning building.
Luckily, technology has advanced, so people now mostly want Dalmatians for companionship. But as you explore the many breed options you have to choose for your next pet, it might get you wondering about Dalmatian pros and cons.
As much as I love all dog breeds, it’s undeniable—every type comes with a unique set of advantages and downsides. So, I’ll share my unbiased opinion to help you determine if a Dalmatian is a good fit for you.
Pros of Owning a Dalmatian
The Dalmatian made its official debut as a registered dog breed with the Kennel Club in 1888. Since then, people have used them to protect horse-drawn carriages and equipment at firehouses. But, of course, Dalmatians also make excellent pets.
So, below are some of the pros of owning a Dalmatian.
Great for an Active Owner
Dalmatians are high-energy dogs, requiring approximately two hours of exercise each day. They won’t be happy with a leisurely stroll during those two hours, either—this breed loves to run.
So, Dalmatians are an excellent fit for runners, hikers, and people who enjoy doing other forms of outdoor exercise.
I know it can be challenging for even active, outdoorsy people to find at least two hours every day to ensure their Dalmatian receives enough exercise. For this reason, it’s best to have a large yard where you can let your dog play during those moments when life gets in the way.
While most Dalmatians will love to exercise for two hours straight, you should break up their daily exercise into a minimum of two sessions.
Loving Family Pets
After your Dalmatian comes inside from their high-intensity exercise, they love turning into lap dogs, cuddling with their owners. They’re fiercely loyal and will give you a splendid welcome whenever you come home.
While Dalmatians are overall good with children, I suggest waiting until your youngest child is ten years old before introducing a Dalmatian into your family.
The reason being is that this breed tends to have an energetic, high-strung personality. So, while it’s rare for these dogs to act viciously around people they know, they could accidentally injure small children during play.
Excellent With Pets
Dalmatians are highly social dogs. As long as you socialize them around fellow canines and any other pets you have at a young age, you can expect them to get along well with all four-footed loved ones in your home.
Not only are Dalmatians great with house pets, but they also have an affinity for horses. Therefore, they are well-suited to farm life.
The first three months are a crucial socialization period for puppies. So, if you already have animals at home and you buy your Dalmatian after they’ve turned three months old, I recommend asking the breeder whether the puppy received socialization with other pets.
Good Guard Dogs
Historically, firefighters used Dalmatians, in part, to protect their firehouses. For this reason, Dalmatians are naturally good watchdogs.
Whether that is good or bad depends on the person. But if you want a dog to keep a close eye on your home, you can feel confident that a Dalmatian will do that for you.
The downside to this is that you might need to work with your Dalmatian on not reacting to people unfamiliar to them who you welcome into your home. They also might bark at squirrels and anything else that moves or startles them when you’re out on that run.
No Dog Odor
Since Dalmatians don’t excrete much oil from their skin, they don’t have the distinct odor that many other breeds have. The fact that they shed so much and have a slick coat also contributes to less odor.
Needless to say, this characteristic can be a welcome change if you live in a damp climate.
But you can’t 100% count on your Dalmatian never smelling either. Because they’re so rambunctious, they’ll gladly chase down a skunk or roll in a dead carcass when you’re running with them.
Ideal for Warmer Climates
Dalmatians have short, smooth hair and a single coat layer. For this reason, they’re best suited for people who live in warmer climates.
That’s not to say you can’t own a Dalmatian if you live in areas with harsh winters. However, you’ll need to put a jacket on them whenever they go outside. Even then, keeping them out of the extreme cold for prolonged periods is crucial, given that frostbite frequently occurs on the paws, ears, and nose.
So, if you live in an area that’s cold most of the year, I encourage you to consider a cold-loving breed such as the Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute.
Cons of Owning a Dalmatian
Although I could go on all day about the breed’s wonderful attributes, this guide is on Dalmatian pros and cons. So, below are some of the downsides to owning this type.
Not Ideal for Small Spaces
Because Dalmatians have so much energy and need lots of intense exercise, they’re not a good fit for people with small homes.
Furthermore, although it’s possible to own a Dalmatian without having a backyard, you’ll need to be diligent about taking them to the park or other places where they can stretch their legs and run.
Although it can be easy to think that you’ll be able to take them outside for two hours or more per day, visualize that process. Will you take them out in the rain? How about when you come home tired from work?
If keeping a clean home is a pride point for you, a Dalmatian’s shedding habits might drive you crazy. Although Dalmatians have short and blissfully smooth fur, they shed a lot.
Dalmatians shed the most in the spring and fall . But that’s relative—by owning a Dalmatian, you should expect to see some hair on your floor essentially all the time.
The good news is that brushing daily will reduce the amount of hair that lands on your floor. When possible, I recommend brushing them outside since it’ll reduce the amount of vacuuming you’ll need to do afterward.
Challenging To Train
Dalmatians aren’t the easiest to train, so many owners seek professional support if they don’t have experience training a dog. The reason for Dalmatians being hard to teach is that they often have an independent and stubborn mindset.
Of course, it isn’t impossible to train Dalmatians—the fact that firefighters used them for so many years is a testament to their abilities.
However, you’ll need to use lots of repetition, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques to get your pup to do what you ask.
Common Health Issues
Approximately 30% of Dalmatians arrive into the world deaf. Of that number, 22% have unilateral deafness, and 8% have bilateral deafness. The reason for this is a genetic trait that causes a reduction in blood supply to the cochlea.
Another common health issue Dalmatians face is ear infections, given that they have floppy ears. Therefore, it’s essential to dry their ears after a swim or bath.
Kidney and bladder stones are also common, particularly in older dogs.
Dalmatians are expensive to purchase, making them cost-prohibitive for some families. While many factors impact price, you can expect a healthy Dalmatian puppy to cost at least $800.
The good news is that you can adopt for much less. Since this is such a popular breed, they tend to find homes quickly after arriving at an animal shelter. So, a good option is to put your name on a waitlist.
You can also try purchasing an adult or older puppy. These dogs tend to sell at lower price points.
Is a Dalmatian the Right Fit for You?
Now that you have a feel for these Dalmatian pros and cons, I encourage you to give more thought before bringing home a member of this adorable breed. Remember, Dalmatians’ happiness and good behavior depend on their owners providing sufficient space and exercise.
If you decide to welcome a Dalmatian into your home, get ready for people to coo over them. As of 2018, they ranked number 56 in popularity, so it isn’t common for people to encounter these firehouse icons in person.