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the mid-florida dalmatian club Breed Information

Frequently Asked Questions
from the Dalmatian Club of America


1) What is the average life span of the Dalmatian?

With proper care, your Dalmatian could live as long as 15 or 16 years. The average life span is between 11 and 13 years.


2) Is the Dalmatian good with children?


Normally, yes. Of course, children must be taught to treat the dog kindly and not to overtax a puppy with constant play, but the average Dalmatian is tolerant and affectionate with children.



3) How big will my Dalmatian grow to be?


Dalmatians range in size from about 19" to 24" at the shoulder, or about knee-height to an adult person. Depending on height, your Dalmatian will weigh anywhere from 45 lbs. to 70 lbs. when full-grown.



4) How much does a Dalmatian eat?


An adult Dalmatian will eat from 3 to 5 cups of dog food per day. Puppies eat smaller amounts more often because they are growing. You should feed your own dog whatever amount keeps him looking nice and lean. Do not let him become overweight as a fat Dalmatian is not healthy, but if he looks too thin, i.e., his ribs are showing or his backbone protrudes, you should increase his intake.

The quality of the food you buy is very important. Do not buy generic dog foods because they usually are of poor quality and may not be consistent in nutritional value from lot to lot. There is no one brand of food that is perfect for all Dalmatians, but the breeder or previous owner of your dog should be able to recommend a dog food which is good for the dog and is palatable to him. (The best food in the world does your dog no good if he refuses to eat it!) Stick with nutritionally-balanced name-brand foods which benefit your dog through the enormous amount of research which has gone into their development.


5) What equipment do I need to prepare for my new Dalmatian?


Your dog will need a food bowl and a water dish. Both should be heavy so he cannot tip them over or push them across the floor while eating or drinking. He will need a collar for walking and holding his license tags, preferably a flat leather or nylon one, and a leash of either leather or woven cotton.


If you have a puppy, you will need to buy a new collar as he outgrows his puppy collar. You will also need a slip collar ("choke collar") made of either a medium-weight chain or of woven nylon, for training. Do not let the dog run around with his slip collar on! He could easily become caught on something and strangle himself. Do not use a slip collar on a young puppy; wait until he is 5 or 6 months old and ready for his obedience training. Another item you will need to have is a crate, either welded wire or the molded plastic airline shipping type. Make sure it is big enough to accommodate the dog when he is full-grown so that you will not have to buy a second one later on.


For grooming, you will need a bristle brush, rubber curry comb, pumice stone, or horsehair mitt. These seem to do best for stripping the dead hair off of the Dalmatian's short coat. You will also need toenail clippers so you can keep his feet trimmed.


6) What kind of veterinary care does my Dalmatian require?


If you have purchased or wish to purchase a puppy, the breeder will have started the first series of shots for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parainfluenza. The puppy should have also had at least one and preferably two inoculations against parvovirus. You will need to continue the puppy series once you have taken your puppy home; the breeder should provide you with a record of what the puppy has had and your own vet can advise you as to dates for future shots. The first rabies shot is normally given when the puppy is between 4 and 6 months of age.


If you have acquired or wish to acquire an adult Dalmatian, the previous owner should tell you when its next shots are due and you and your vet can carry on from there.


Your Dalmatian, puppy or adult, should be checked periodically for worms. Young puppies often have roundworms, and the breeder should have checked the entire litter and wormed them if necessary. Your vet can advise you as to an appropriate worming schedule, but running a check once every 6 months or so is a good idea whether you think your dog has them or not. A heavy worm infestation is very debilitating and can result in severe malnutrition in young puppies. Prevention is always the best road to follow. Any time your dog looks thin and poor, you should suspect worms, have a check done and follow your vet's advice for medication.


Heartworm is prevalent throughout the United States and Canada. You are well advised to start your young Dalmatian on preventative early and continue all through mosquito season (the microfilaria are transmitted by carrier mosquitoes), or all year round, if necessary. If you have an adult dog which has not been on heartworm preventative, you must have the dog tested by your vet before start mg medication. This is a simple blood test your vet uses to detect the presence of microfilaria. If your dog tests clear, you may begin the preventative; if he does not, your dog must be treated for heartworm first. You should be aware that the treatment for heartworm involves the use of arsenic; better to start your dog on the preventative while he tests clear rather than take the chance of his contracting heartworm and being subjected to the treatment, or death from the infestation itself.


Other than these basics, common sense will dictate when a visit to your vet is called for. Obvious symptoms of illness such as diarrhea, vomiting or listlessness certainly warrant a call to your vet right away.



7) What is the difference between the black-spotted and the liver-spotted varieties?


From the standpoint of pet ownership or showing, there is no difference; it is all a matter of your own color preference. Many people who think they have their hearts set on buying a black-spotted Dalmatian fall in love with a liver one when they see it; the deep brown spots are very attractive.


For breeding purposes, the two colors are interbreedable. Black is the dominant color and liver the recessive color. This means that a black-spotted dog can carry the liver gene and produce liver puppies bred to a liver or to another "liver-factored" black dog. Two livers bred together will always produce only liver puppies. Two blacks which do not carry the liver gene will always produce only black puppies. Due to the genetic mechanics involved between dominant and recessive, litters that are mixed for color (some black-spotted pups, some liver-spotted pups) are very common.


Other unusual colors, i.e., lemon and tricolor, do occur, although rarely, and while these dogs can serve handsomely as pets, they cannot be shown or bred.



8) Should I buy a male or a female Dalmatian?


Which sex to buy is a matter of personal preference and circumstance. If you are interested in breeding, you would have to buy a female. However, if you are not interested in having a litter, you either have to put up with the inconvenience of your female coming into season every six months or the expense of having her spayed (which is usually more expensive than having a male neutered). Any female not designated by the breeder as suit able for breeding should be spayed.


Male Dalmatians lift their legs to urinate and if you have prize-winning flowers in your yard, you may not appreciate that. An un-neutered male will also become a screaming lunatic when neighborhood females are in season. However, as with females, if your male is not to be used for breeding, he should be neutered and that will solve that problem.


As far as personality differences between the sexes, the Dalmatian as a breed has all different kinds of temperament, and each dog is an individual. There are no hard and fast correlations between one sex or the other as regards affection, aggression or docility. Contrary to popular myth, many breeders find that males are more affection ate than females and females are more aloof, as well as more protective and territorial than males! Much of your dog's personality will depend upon how you raise him or her, what you expect, encourage or discourage in terms of behavior, and the kind of environment the dog experiences.


So, in many ways, it is a toss-up. You should purchase whichever sex you want, as both have advantages and disadvantages. Again, if you purchase a pet quality Dalmatian, please have it spayed or neutered. It will not make the dog fat and it will not change its personality. It will simply save you a lot of worry about the possibility of an unwanted litter, as well as the whining and carrying-on that goes with seasonal behavior.



9) At what age can I begin show or obedience training my Dalmatian?


Most breeders start with show training almost as soon as the puppy can stand up. The puppy is handled a lot and taught to stand in a show position right from the start. He is given lots of praise for holding still and sometimes given bits of food as a reward. At this early age, of course, training is kept very short and undemanding but it does teach the puppy to stand still and allow itself to be handled as it will be later on in the show ring. More rigorous training can begin in a handling class when the pup is 4 or 5 months old.


Formal obedience training normally does not begin in earnest until the youngster is 5 or 6 months old. At that age, the puppy can start learning and retaining basic lessons. Some organizations have "kindergarten" classes for very young (2-4 months old) puppies, which make use of the puppy's natural curiosity and retrieving instinct to prepare for more advanced obedience work. These classes are informal, fun, and kept short so the puppies do not become bored or frustrated. They are wonderful for socializing your puppy, too.


Any kind of training should be geared to the individual dog's ability and attention span. Bring your Dalmatian along slowly and gently and never ask him to do something of which he is incapable, or which he does not understand. Do not lose your temper! Be firm and consistent in your training methods and lavish praise on your dog when he does it right. The result will be an eager, happy dog who looks forward to his work and wants to please you.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

This publication has been reposted from and with thanks to the Dalmatian Club of America: http://www.thedca.org/redbook.html#QA

This publication was approved by the Board of Governors of the Dalmatian Club of America, October 16, 1994. 3rd Edition. Copyright 1994. 

The Dalmatian Club of America acknowledges and commends Linda Hazen Lewin, Chairman, Mary Johnson, Elaine Lindhorst and Judie Rivard, who have written this publication for the Dalmatian Club of America, in order to enlighten the reader on behalf of our beloved breed.