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101 Things About Dalmatians

Polka dots and a cartoon Dalmatian with text "101 Fun Facts and Trivia Tidbits About Dalmatians"

  1. The origin of the breed is a mystery. 
  2. Dalmatia (Croatia) is the recognised area of origin by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale, which is an international federation of kennel clubs), but spotted dogs appear throughout history in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. 
  3. Some believe spotted dogs were depicted in Ancient Egyptian friezes, but this remains a subject of debate. 
  4. Santa Maria Novella in Florence has fresco painted circa 1360 which includes a spotted Dalmatian-like dog. 
  5. The first confirmed depictions of the Dalmatian are found in Croatian paintings from the 1600s.
  6. The first documented written descriptions of Dalmatians are as Canis Dalmaticus in 1719 church chronicles.
  7. The first unofficial breed standard was introduced by Englishman Vero Shaw in 1882. 
  8. Dalmatians were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888. 
  9. The first known breed club was formed in England in 1890. 
  10. The Dalmatian Club of America following some years later in 1905. 
  11. The Dalmatian is thought to be the very first type of dog for which deliberate attempts were made to selectively breed for specific characteristics of appearance and then other attributes.
  12. Dalmatians are the only truly spotted breed of dog.
  13. The reason for their famous spots is uncertain. 
  14. Puppies are born predominately white, with spots appearing at approximately 10-14 days. 
  15. After the first month most spot patterns have developed, but they slowly grow more spots throughout their lives. 
  16. Their spots aren’t just on the fur. Dalmatians have spots in their mouths, in their ears, toe nails, you name it! 
  17. Things aren’t always so black and white: there are also brown (liver) spotted Dalmatians.
  18. They may also (uncommonly) be lemon, blue-grey, tricolored, brindled, and other shades. These aren’t accepted by showing standards, but would still be fabulous as family pets. 
  19. Dalmatian noses usually match the colour of their spots. 
  20. No two Dalmatians have the same number and pattern of spots, they are absolutely unique. 
  21. Spots range is size, but are typically 20-60mm round.
  22. Liver spotted Dalmatians often shave smaller spots than black spotted Dalmatians.
  23. To be “show quality”, spots need to be well-sized, defined, and distributed. Patches are undesirable for showing
  24. Black is dominant and brown recessive, so it is not uncommon for litters to be mixed even if the parents are both black spotted. 
  25. Dalmatians gestate for approximately 2 months (60-64 days). 
  26. Dalmatian litters are large, and it is not uncommon to have 8 or more pups in a single litter. 
  27. In 2009, a healthy world record litter of 18 Dalmatian puppies were born to mom Button in the UK. You can see the insanely cute pictures of the little in a related news article here.
  28. Size varies greatly, and showing standards differ between countries. Adults may be bigger of smaller, but the average Dalmatian weighs 20-30kgs, with males slightly bigger than females. My boys are on the big side!
  29. As a large dog, the average lifespan of a Dalmatian is estimated at 9-13 years.
  30. Dalmatians have short hair and shed at only two times: during the day and during the night! :)
  31. They don’t need frequent grooming, but brushing helps reduce shedding and can be a great bonding activity.
  32. Shedding not withstanding, they are very clean and don’t typically have a “doggy” smell.
  33. Their pale pigmentation and short coat can put them at risk of getting a sunburn. The most susceptible areas are the nose, ears, and eye-rims, depending on pigmentation. If shade and shelter is in short supply, you can be sun-smart for your pet and apply dog-suitable sunblock. 
  34. Dalmatians are good workers, and have had many "jobs" throughout their long and mysterious history.
  35. In Victorian England, Dalmatians were used to run alongside or below the axle of the carriages, warding off stray animals, vagrants, and highwaymen. 
  36. Even today, it is said that many Dalmatians still have a instinctive fondness for horses. 
  37. When affluent society migrated to automobiles, there was still a transitional coach dog role for Dalmatians with fire houses, running with the fire carriages to help quickly clear a path.  
  38. The dogs not only cleared the road but served as watchdogs to protect valuable fire equipment and horses. 
  39. Modern Dalmatians still have strong guarding instinct, making them dependable watchdogs. 
  40. Although the carriage days are long past, Dalmatians are still firehouse mascots.
  41. Firehouse mascots may sometimes be used to educate the public in fire safety, like demonstrating a great “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”
  42. The National Fire Protection Association (an American based international non-profit) uses a cartoon Dalmatian named Sparky the Firedog as their official mascot and spokesdog.
  43. Sparky was created for the NFPA in 1951, but has kept pace with modernisation and even has his own website where children can learn about fire safety.
  44. While their role as a service dog is widely associated with firefighters, Dalmatians have also been military dogs. 
  45. In olden days, Dalmatians were used as watchdogs for guarding borders. 
  46. During the World Wars and subsequent conflicts, Dalmatians were used as canine couriers, carrying everything from secret messages to supply kits and doing double duty as camp guards.
  47. In addition to their stamina, Dalmatians have a solid hunting instinct.  While most people think of Dalmatians as carriage dogs, FCI published its first Dalmatian standard 7 April 1955 under "Dalmatian Huntingdog".  
  48. Dalmatians have been used as hunting dogs, as retrievers, trail hounds, and pack hunters as well as to control rats and pests in stables and firehouses.
  49. Temperaments, as with all animals, will range widely through both nature and nurture. Every dog is an individual of course!
  50. Contrary to popular belief, it is often said that Dalmatian males are more affection are than females and females are more aloof, protective, and territorial. 
  51. Dalmatians are generally social animals and most enjoy the company of people and other pets. 
  52. They need interaction to be happy and well-behaved. Most Dalmatians hate being left alone. 
  53. Dalmatians love having fun and they love to play! This can make them great companions for children (and the young at heart), but care and supervision is needed around small children. Dalmatians are a big and boisterous breed with a strong whippy tail. 
  54. With their history history and breeding, it is not surprising that they are very active pets. 
  55. Dalmatians need lots of leadership and exercise, especially when young. 
  56. Bored Dalmatians can get up to all sorts of naughtiness, like digging, chewing, and barking. 
  57. Dalmatians will be eager to exercise, but most also want their owner involved so that their exercise is both physical and social. 
  58. They have been bred to have incredible stamina. If you’re a cross-country runner or daily jogger, you may have met your match! 
  59. It is sometimes said that Dalmatians aren't suitable for city life, but reality is that they are highly active dogs and will need walks/runs for both exercise as well as mental stimulation.
  60. Leashed exercise is good, but some safe off-lead time in a dog-friendly location is great too!
  61. Unfortunately, sometimes mismatches do occur between Dalmatians and their families - these dogs are high energy and need plenty of exercise, attention and effort, especially as puppies. Sadly, some people people enamoured with their spotty-good looks acquire a dalmatian but are  unable to properly care for and nurture an active pet. Note: Pets are for life! It is important to consider compatibility before getting a pet. It can also be beneficial to know about the dog’s origin (e.g. genetic per-dispositions) and match consult (e.g. special considerations when adopting/rehoming).
  62. It is a good thing that Dalmatians like to live an active lifestyle: they are known to have a very hearty appetite!
  63. A healthy diet and exercise regime are needed to counterbalance treats doled out to persuasive puppy-dog eyes. 
  64. Dalmatians may be prone to allergies to certain foods or environmental irritants.
  65. Dalmatians have a unique urinary system, and benefit from a special diet, which is low in purine, to reduce the chances of developing kidney or bladder stones.
  66. Dalmatians are sometimes maligned as being “stupid”, but in reality, many Dalmatians have some form of reduced hearing which affects their responsiveness to training and direction. 
  67. Research has revealed that the prevalence of hereditary hearing impairment and deafness is due to a genetic condition common in white dogs, including the Dalmatian. 
  68. Research also indicates that blue-eyed Dalmatians have a greater incidence of deafness than brown-eyed Dalmatians, although the link has yet to be conclusively proven. 
  69. Interestingly, Darwin once drew a linkage between deafness and white cats with blue eyes. 
  70. Today, BAER (Brain Auditory Evoked Response) tests are used to test hearing. 
  71. Responsible breeders will use BAER tested bilateral dogs for breeding to reduce the chance of deafness in their litters, and puppies are tested before homing. 
  72. Unilateral (deaf in one ear) can make great family pets, but shouldn’t be breed.  Note: One of our Dalmatians is a unilateral pup and was homed with us instead of his intended destination (to show and stud) after failing his BAER test. He is a lovely fellow and is doing well with his ongoing training, just like a "normal" puppy.
  73. Deaf dogs need special care and training, so be sure that you do your research and are ready for the challenges along with the love of owning a deaf or hearing impaired pet. 
  74.  Dalmatians need to start their training early in life to establish rules and authority. 
  75. They are known to have independent minds and are not pushovers to raise or train. 
  76. Be patient but firm. Dalmatians can be stubborn and headstrong, so consistency of approach is key. 
  77. Rewards are the key to a responsive Dalmatian. They love their treats! 
  78. They have been observed to "sulk" when scolded.
  79. Is said that Dalmatians never forget mistreatment, so be nice!
  80. Dalmatians are often clowns at heart and will do anything to make you laugh. 
  81. Dalmatians “smile”. Their toothy grin with teeth can be mistaken for aggression, but “the snarl” with a waggy tail is a trademark Dalmatian expression of affection, submission and occasionally maybe even a bit of guilt! Who can resist a doggy grin? 
  82. On the subject of toothy grins, a full set of Dalmatian teeth is 42 pearly whites.
  83. Dalmatians can also be chatty companions. They are known to make a number of noises (in addition to barking, of course), such as mumbling, groaning, yawning and purring. 
  84. There have been a number of famous Dalis, but perhaps the best pop culture reference is the animated Disney Classic 101 Dalmatians.
  85. The Dodie Smith novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians was first published in 1956. 
  86. Early editions are considered collectors items, with a hefty value for those in good condition.
  87. The animated Disney movie 101 Dalmatians was released in 1961.
  88. Reportedly, Smith had always hoped that Disney would turn the story into a film.
  89. Characters from Lady and the Tramp made cameo appearances in 101 Dalmatians. 
  90.  In the movie’s animated drawings, Pongo has 72 spots, Perdita has 68 spots, and each of the puppies has 32 spots. Lots of spots! 
  91. There aren't actually 101 Dalmatians in the animated 101 Dalmatians. Disney reused animations to control the film's budget and production length.
  92. Since creating the artwork for the movie required 1,218,750 pencils and 800 gallons of paint, we can definitely forgive them for a little bit of image recycling!
  93. Disney made a live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians in 1996, followed by a sequel 102 Dalmatians in 2000.
  94. The plot of 102 Dalmatians is not based on the novel's sequel The Starlight Barking, published in 1967. 
  95. Unlike the animated versions where the same dogs were reused, multiple doggy stars were used for the same roles in the live-action films. The 101 Dalmatians cast included 20 adult dogs and 230 puppies.
  96. Why so many puppy dog actors? Well, these little stars were (of course) growing quickly, so the typical pup needed to be replaced around every two weeks.
  97. Another famous fictional Dalmatian is Bottomley Potts, a canine side-kick of Hairy Maclary in the illustrated children's book series by Lynley Dodd
  98. Bottomley Potts is, poetically but not surprisingly, described as "covered in spots".
  99. Superstitious? Some people believe that meeting a Dalmatian unexpectedly or touching the spots of a Dalmatian will result in good luck for the rest of the day.
  100. Famous people owned by Dalmatians have included Pablo Picasso, Queen Beatrix, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Frost, John Wayne, and Marlon Brando. 
  101. Breeder puppies are not the only way in which you can own a Dalmatian. Pure-breed Dalmatians may be available for re-homing adoption from breeders, clubs, rescue organisations, and shelters.  Don't judge without the facts - rehoming may be due to any number of factors, such as changes in owner circumstances. As with all rescues, there is a whole lot of love out there waiting for a fur-ever home! Maybe yours?
Have another fun fact or an update/correction to any of the information shown above? Leave a comment or send a message. We would love to hear from you and appreciate your help in keeping things current if you "spot" anything in need to attention. Hehehe...sorry! I couldn't resist! Information used in creating this list came from a broad range of resources including our own knowledge/experience, personal learning over the years, and resources such as: American Kennel Club, Dalmatian Club of America, FCI, Wikipedia, The Kennel Club (UK).  

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