Bellwether Dalmatian FAQs about the breed

Frequently Asked Questions about the Dalmatian

How much activity does a Dalmatian need daily?

The Dalmatian is an active breed and does especially well with owners who enjoy being active with their dogs- walking, hiking, running, etc. They do require daily exercise. For most mature adult Dalmatians, a good long walk every day- 30 minutes or so and some play time- like ball throwing and toy play is sufficient. 

Young Dalmatians require more exercise, attention and play. Puppies under 6 months of age require a lot more attention and play. Young puppy exercise (pups under 4 months of age) should be casual free play- no long walks/hikes and no formal jogging/running. A young dog should have no formal exercise or conditioning before 18 months of age.

Dalmatians are active in mind as well as body. In addition to physical exercise, the mind enjoys stimulation as well! Dalmatians are keenly intelligent and thrive with owners who pursue something beyond regular exercise like performance training (agility, tracking or obedience) or other fun activities like scent work, trick training or barn hunt.

Are there any disadvantages to owning a unilateral hearing Dalmatian?

No. There are no disadvantages to owning a unilateral hearing Dalmatian. They are the same wonderful family companions and every bit as trainable. You will not know the difference.

All good Dalmatian breeders will have every litter tested for hearing after 6 weeks of age using the electro-diagnostic Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response “BAER” test. A non-invasive procedure that takes under 5 minutes to perform. This test determines if a puppy hears with one or both ears.

This test should be thought of as a “breeder’s tool”. Good Dalmatian breeders use the BAER test to help determine which puppies might be appropriate for a show home/potential future breeding program and to assess the overall hearing numbers in the current breeding program.

Does a Dalmatian need a special dog trainer?

Dalmatians do not need a “special” trainer unless you are encountering a specific behavior problem. If you do, first contact your breeder to discuss and ask advice. Puppies 10-12 weeks old should attend a “puppy kindergarten” class- one that offers a balance between training and play. Adolescent/young dogs benefit from a “family dog” class- basic obedience and manners.

How are Dalmatians with people they are not used to? Are they poorly behaved if not trained properly and walked/exercised enough daily?

The typical Dalmatian is friendly and outgoing yet casual. He will readily greet visitors and strangers and then move on to something else of interest. True affection and love is saved for family and familiar friends. 

Dalmatians are an active breed and do well with active people who enjoy the outdoors- walking, running, hiking, etc. with their four-legged pal. ALL dogs require regular exercise and training. ALL puppies require proper socialization, especially when very young- one of the many reasons to work with a good breeder who will have started the socialization process well before puppies go to new homes.

Are Dalmatians good family dogs?

Yes. Dalmatians are wonderful family companions. They are devoted to their family, young and old. They love to be with their people. Dalmatians are an active breed and need regular exercise. They do well with families who want to enjoy the outdoors with a four legged friend and owners who have an interest in pursuing activities beyond regular exercise like performance training (agility, tracking or obedience) or other fun activities like scent work, trick training or barn hunt.

If you have young children, consider the time and effort that will go into raising a puppy.  Many families with young children must balance work schedules with the kids’ school activities/sports/homework, etc… Do you have the time to raise a puppy? Do you have the time to socialize a puppy? Do you have the time to train a puppy? Do you have the time to be with your puppy?

Are Dalmatians prone to more health problems than other breeds?

No. Dalmatians are a long lived breed and enjoy good health when properly cared for. They routinely live to be 12-14 years old and can live to be 15-16 even 17 years of age. As with all purebred dogs, there are certain breed specific conditions to be aware of, most notably for the Dalmatian is the possibility of unilateral hearing (hearing in only one ear) or, on occasion, deafness and the possibility of forming urinary crystals or stones in the bladder.

I am an equestrian and am looking for a dog that can come with me to the farm and to horse shows. How are Dalmatians with new people, children and other animals especially horses? I would like to be able to have my dog off leash.

We are an equestrian family and have been bringing our Dals to horse shows since they were pups. The Dalmatian has historically lived and worked amongst and around horses for hundreds of years and the equestrian lifestyle is in their blood, they have an affinity for horses and barn life. Dalmatians are friendly with other animals and new people both young and old. They readily greet a new person but save true “lovely affection” for family and familiar friends.  

We discourage having any dog loose/off leash in a crowded public place like a horse show. With proper obedience training under your belt- including a solid recall, and in a safe local– like a barn in the country well away from from cars and the road or on a “back woods” trail ride, off lead at the appropriate age to allow for young growth (no excessive exercise or formal conditioning until at least 18 months) is lots of fun.

What is the best type of care to arrange for my Dalmatian when I travel without him?

The best solution, when your dog will not be joining you in travel, is to hire an in-home dog sitter. Speak with the staff at your veterinarian’s office and at your training center. Many vet techs and training staff do house/pet sit “on the side” in their off hours, or they may know a qualified, responsible person who does. Ask responsible dog owners you know for suggestions and recommendations. Research the various professional pet sitting businesses available.

Trusted friends or family members who may be able to house sit for you or take your dog into their home and care for him while you are away is another idea. If the pet sitter is an unfamiliar person to your dog, arrange a visit or two prior to your trip.

When planning on bringing a puppy into your life, expect to modify your schedule initially. Avoid planning trips without your puppy while he is very young, especially if he is not yet housebroken. If your life involves much travel, ask yourself if you have time for a dog.