The Dalmatian was originally used to guard the carriages and horses of the upper class in the 1800's. While the master was busy, it was the Dalmatian's job to ensure the stock and carriage remained safe and untouched. Later, they became military sentries and circus performers, and most famously the mascots of fire companies. They are a versatile dog, capable of watching over a house or livestock, performing in advanced obedience competitions or simply acting as a loyal family companion. They love to be with people wand will want to be included in all family activities, whether indoor our outdoor. They travel well and love to go for rides in the car. Dalmatians are friendly with people and great with children, though toddlers can often be knocked down by an eager dog. They are great pets for first time dog owners and are generally a joy to live with.
Dalmatians are rowdy by nature and never fully outgrow their tendency to jump on people. They need to be exercised often, to keep in-house energy levels from getting out of hand. Not suitable for apartments or a couch-potato lifestyle, Dalmatians like to be outdoors and enjoy going on jogs, running alongside bikes, taking hikes or engaging in agility activities. They love to play with children and can be trusted to endure a bit of rough housing, although toddlers should always be supervised around this rowdy dog. Small children can accidentally get hurt playing with a rowdy Dalmatian.
Dalmatians are highly trainable dogs, and training should always involve positive reinforcement and lots of treats. Harsh treatment will result in fearfulness, as this breed tends to start out on the shy side. Once basic obedience is mastered, Dalmatians should graduate to advanced training, tricks, or agility. They are highly intelligent and thrive on mastering new tasks. Natural show dogs, Dalmatians take well to competition, often excelling in obstacle courses.
The popularity of Dalmatians exploded with the Disney franchise 101 Dalmatians. Families flocked to the breed, which unfortunately led to a lot of indiscriminate breeding practices. This led to unstable bloodlines. It is important to know a Dalmatian's genetic history before adopting one. While well-bred Dalmatians are a dream to live with, poorly bred dogs can be rife with behavioral and temperament problems including hyperactivity, biting, stubbornness and even aggression.
Even a well bred Dalmatian has energy to spare. If not properly exercised and mentally stimulated throughout the day, this breed can become destructive. Additionally, because they love people so much, separation anxiety can develop, which also leads to destructive behavior. A commitment to proper exercise is key to raising a happy, healthy Dalmatian.