Nowadays Dalmatians are solely companion dogs and they are rarely used for work, but this was not always the case. They were once commonly known as "carnage dogs" and they would run for miles under a carriage between the wheels or beside the horses.


We do not know the origin of this dog's name; almost certainly it is not from Dalmatia on the coast of what was once Yugoslavia. Spotted dogs have been present in Europe for centuries as proved by numerous paintings. This breed was a farm dog and it has a strange affinity with horses. From the eighteenth century until the mid-nineteenth century, they lived roughly in the gentry's stables keeping down rats and guarding the premises. Their graceful shape and striking colour attracted the attention of fashionable young bucks of the clay who delighted in using them to ornament their carriages.

This striking, good-looking dog, with its distinctive spots, makes a good and affectionate companion and family pet.


These dogs love the company of humans and are affectionate and anxious to please. Being essentially a farm dog. the Dalmatian came late to intimate living with humans and seems to be trying to make up for it. It is long-suffering with clean habits, loyal and devoted, and gets very attached to children.

must know

There is some hip dysplasia in this breed. Deafness is also a worry but tests are available.


One of the most elegant of breeds, this dog is tall and slim. The smooth, shiny coat with striking black or liver-coloured spots on a white background is a talking point wherever it goes. Dogs are 58-61cm (23-24in) in height; bitches are slightly smaller.

Strangers 3/5

Will warn off intruders

Temperament 5/5

Devoted, anxious to please its owners

Exercise 5/5

Cannot get enough

Grooming 1/5

A weekly brush up

Other dogs 4/5

Generally friendly


Ideal for an active country family

General care

With their working past, Dalmatians obviously want and need as much exercise as an owner can give. Undoubtedly, they should live in the country. Little grooming is required; a weekly brushing will suffice.

want to know more?

  • The Kennel Club's comprehensive guide to Breed Standards is one of the best sources of information on utility group dog breeds
  • You can Google the individual breed clubs on the Internet

Gallery of Dalmatian