A guide to rehoming Dalmatians

Dalmations have always been hugely popular, so here is a guide on to how to provide them the best home

Disney’s Cruella has reminded people just how cute Dalmatians are, and the film has led to a surge in popularity for this famously spotted breed, with Pets4Homes, the UK’s largest pet rehoming site, seeing a 39 per cent increase in the popularity of Dalmatians on the platform since the film’s release.

Still, rehoming a Dalmatian is never as easy as it looks on film; there’s a lot to be aware of if you’re considering adding this pup to your family. To celebrate the Dalmatian returning to popularity, the experts at Pets4Homes have shared a guide to rehoming these adorable animals, to help prospective pet-parents rehome a Dalmatian responsibly.

Personality and characteristics

Four dalmation puppies

Dalmatians are very sociable, and are known for being good with other dogs, horses, children and adults. They tend to be loving and very friendly and can be a wonderful addition to an active family. These dogs are also quite comical, with big personalities that often let them get away with bad behaviour—simply because they’re so entertaining! Don’t be surprised if you see a Dalmatian rolling around in a muddy puddle or digging up a flowerbed, only to face up to their owners with total innocence.

Dalmatians do, also, have high energy levels, a lot of stamina and short attention spans, which can make them selective in terms of obedience and direction. It’s often recommended that owners undergo training with a professional for added support and a better-trained pooch. Because these pups are so personable, they can also suffer from separation anxiety. This means that they are intolerant of being left alone for hours at a time, so it is important that owners are able to consistently provide them with company and attention.

"Because these pups are so personable, they can also suffer from separation anxiety"

Energy and exercise

A dalmation running

Dalmatians are historically a working breed: once upon a time, these dogs would run behind horse-drawn carriages owned by the aristocracy. As a result, Dalmatians are a high-energy breed that can run long distances without becoming easily exhausted and require a significant amount of daily exercise to keep them happy and relaxed. At least two hours of varied exercise is recommended daily, as a Dalmatian that isn’t given enough time to walk, run and play can soon become unruly and unmanageable.

These dogs make excellent partners for avid runners as they thrive in the company of their owner, though it’s important to make sure they receive plenty of mental stimulation, too.

Coat and skincare

Rock with a painting of a dalamation

Dalmatians are the only spotted dog breed, with short, soft coats that shed year-round. This breed has notoriously sensitive skin, and they are prone to many topical allergies. Owners must be careful with introducing their Dalmatians to new shampoos or bedding: keep an eye out for redness, flaking or bumps on their skin, and act quickly by contacting your vet if you need a diagnosis.

You can easily keep Dalmatians free from fleas, ticks and mites through an easy-to-administer set of drops which you can purchase from your local pet store, although you must still monitor bites for infection. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for hives, and allergic reactions to airborne allergens which may present as hives accompanied by a mild ear infection.

Dalmatians should be groomed at least every month, but they can be groomed more frequently to keep shedding at bay. Whilst these dogs are capable of cleaning themselves, you can bathe them as needed, if for example, your pooch’s latest adventure involved a muddy puddle. If you do bathe a Dalmatian, make sure to use a shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for dogs with sensitive skin. Puppy shampoo also works, as this is naturally more gentle. Weekly grooming and bathing should be avoided, as it strips Dalmatians’ skin of essential oils that aid in preventing dry or flaky skin.

"Weekly grooming and bathing should be avoided, as it strips Dalmatians’ skin of essential oils that aid in preventing dry or flaky skin"

Common health conditions new owners need to be aware of

Dalamation at the vet

In addition to skin sensitivities and allergies, Dalmatians have a few common health conditions that are important for prospective owners to be aware of, with a genetic predisposition to deafness being the major health issue related to this breed.

Today, a test called the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) can be carried out on affected dogs as a way of assessing their hearing. If you’re rehoming a Dalmatian, be sure to ask the breeder about the litter’s lineage, as well as each pup’s BAER results, in detail. Luckily, Dalmatians tend to cope very well with deafness, and go on to live long and happy lives, though it can be helpful for owners to accommodate their pet’s deafness through tools like visual commands and similar adjustments.

Dalmatians also tend to experience hyperuricemia, which is a condition that affects the blood and urine due to a build-up of uric acid that can cause stones to form in their urinary tracts. They are also prone to liver issues, which can cause gout and kidney stones. These conditions are primarily seen in males aged nine years and older and can be managed with medication from your vet. You can reduce the risk of a Dalmatian developing hyperuricemia by limiting the levels of purine in their diet, and ensuring they stay well-hydrated.

This breed is also prone to experiencing hip dysplasia, due to an abnormal development in their joints that is very painful and causes dogs to be lame. The disorder typically affects dogs of large breeds, but can also be seen in Dalmatians, and can be managed with veterinary care.

"They are also prone to liver issues, which can cause gout and kidney stones"

Breeding

Happy dalamation on the beach

As a purebred dog breed, it’s very important that Dalmatians are well bred to avoid unwanted flaws in their temperament. Typical behaviours seen in poorly bred Dalmatians include: hyperactivity, stubbornness, a tendency to nip and bite, and aggressive behaviour towards people and other animals. When looking to rehome a Dalmatian, it’s very important for future owners to do as much research about the breeder as possible.

Reputable breeders will be happy to share information about the bloodlines of the dogs used in breeding programmes—if a breeder is reluctant to share this information, walk away and consider reporting them to The Kennel Club for further investigation. You can access additional insights on what prospective pet owners should ask a dog breeder or what to consider when rehoming a puppy if you’re considering adding a Dalmatian to your family.

Read more: Tips on post-lockdown socialising

Read more: 8 popular cat breeds and their common health problems

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter