Dalmatian Information

A trio of Dalmatian relaxing together
(c) 2018 M. Deer

Top to Bottom: Molly, Bailey & Adageo


A liver-spotted & Black Spotted Dalmatian
(c) 2018 M. Deer

A Liver-Spotted & Black Spotted Dal

About the Breed

The word Dalmatian is spelled "DalmatiAn" with an "A" and no "O". The Dalmatian comes in two color variations: Black-Spotted or Liver-Spotted (a color that ranges from a reddish to a chocolate brown color). Liver spotting is a recessive gene. Liver dals can have all black spotted litters and two black spotted dals can have liver spotted offspring. Both parents must carry the gene in order to have liver spotted puppies.Weight usually ranges between 35-65 lbs. depending on the height and build of dog. Height is generally 19-24 inches, at the withers.

Breed Background


Dalmatian AKC Breed Standard

Approved by the American Kennel Club
Effective September 6, 1989

The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; poised and alert; strong. muscular and active; free of shyness; intelligent in expression; symmetrical in outline; and without exaggeration or coarseness. The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with fair amount of speed.

Deviations from the described ideal should be penalized in direct proportion to the degree of the deviation.

Desirable height at the withers is between 19 and 23 inches. Undersize or oversize is a fault. Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers is disqualified.

The overall length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers.

The Dalmatian has good substance and is strong and sturdy in bone, but never coarse.

The head is in balance with the overall dog. It is of fair length and is free of loose skin. The Dalmatian's expression is alert and intelligent, indicating a stable and outgoing temperament.

The eyes are set moderately well apart, are medium sized and somewhat rounded in appearance, and are set well into the skull. Eye color is brown or blue, or any combination thereof; the darker the better and usually darker in black-spotted than in liver-spotted dogs.

Abnormal position of the eyelids or eyelashes (ectropion, entropion, trichiasis) is a major fault.

Incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims is a major fault.

The ears are of moderate size, proportionately wide at the base and gradually tapering to a rounded tip. They are set rather high. and are carried close to the head, and are thin and fine in texture. When the Dalmatian is alert, the top of the ear is level with the top of the skull and the tip of the ear reaches to the bottom line of the cheek.

 Moderate ear setModerate Dalmatian ear set High Ears High Dalmatian ear set Flyaway ears Flyaway Dalmatian ear set

The top of the skull is flat with a slight vertical furrow and is approximately as wide as it is long. The stop is moderately well defined. The checks blend smoothly into a powerful muzzle, the top of which is level and parallel to the top of the skull. The muzzle and the top of the skull are about equal in length.

The nose is completely pigmented on the leather, black in black-spotted dogs and brown in liver-spotted dogs. Incomplete nose pigmentation is a major fault.

The lips are clean and close fitting. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. Overshot or undershot bites are disqualifications.

The neck is nicely arched, fairly long. free from throatiness, and blends smoothly into the shoulders.

The topline is smooth.

The chest is deep, capacious and of moderate width, having good spring of rib without being barrel shaped. The brisket reaches to the elbow. The underline of the rib cage curves gradually into a moderate tuckup.

The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level with the back.

The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too low down. It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward curve but should never curl over the back. Ring tails and low-set tails are faults.

The shoulders are smoothly muscled and well laid back. The upper arm is approximately equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an angle sufficient to insure that the foot falls under the shoulder. The elbows are close to the body. The legs are straight, strong and sturdy in bone. There is a slight angle at the pastern denoting flexibility.


The hindquarters are powerful, having smooth, yet well defined muscles. The stifle is well bent. The hocks are well let down. When the Dalmatian is standing. The hind legs, viewed from the rear, are parallel to each other from the point of the hock to the heel of the pad. Cowhocks are a major fault.

Feet are very important. Both front and rear feet are round and compact with thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet are a major fault. Toenails are black and/or white in black-spotted dogs and brown and/or white in liver-spotted dogs. Dewclaws may be removed.

The coat is short, dense, fine and closefitting. It is neither wooly nor silky. It is sleek, glossy and healthy in appearance.

COLOR AND MARKINGS - Examples on Colors page

Color and markings and their overall appearance are very important points to be evaluated.

The ground color is pure white. In black-spotted dogs the spots are dense black. In liver-spotted dogs the spots are liver brown. Any color markings other than black or liver are disqualified.

Spots are round and well-defined, the more distinct the better. They vary from the size of a dime to the size of a half-dollar. They arc pleasingly and evenly distributed. The less the spots intermingle the better. Spots are usually smaller on the head, legs and tail than on the body. Ears are preferably spotted. See an optical illusion.

Tri-color (which occurs rarely in this breed) is a disqualification. It consists of tan markings found on the head, neck, chest, leg or tail of a black or liver-spotted dog. Bronzing of black spots, and fading and/or darkening of liver spots due to environmental conditions or normal processes of coat change are not Tri-coloration.

Patches are a disqualification. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined, smooth edges. Patches arc present at birth. Large color masses formed by intermingled or over-lapping spots are not patches. Such masses should indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered throughout the mass.

In keeping with the Dalmatian's historical use as a coach dog. Gait and endurance are of great importance. Movement is steady and effortless. Balanced angulation fore and aft combined with powerful muscles and good condition produce smooth, efficient action. There is a powerful drive from the rear coordinated with extended reach in the front. The topline remains level. Elbows, hocks and feet turn neither in nor out. As the speed of the trot increases, there is a tendency to single track.

Temperament is stable and outgoing, yet dignified, Shyness major fault.

Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers
Overshot or undershot bite
Any color markings other than black or liver


 General Appearance  5
 Size, Proportion, Substance  10
 Head  10
 Neck, Topline, Body  10
 Forequarters 5
 Hindquarters  5
 Feet  5
 Coat  5
 Color and Markings  25
 Gait  10
 Temperament  10
 Total  100



Any dog with the following disqualifications should not be bred:

  • Any dog over 24 inches at the withers
  • Overshot or undershot bite
  • Any color markings other than black or liver - see Colors
  • Tri-color - see Colors
  • Patches Examples of patches - also see Colors


Australian Breed Standard
FCI-Standard No. 153

New Zealand Dalmatian standard


Two Dalmatian puppies
(c) 2018 M. Deer

The puppy on the right has a double patch and one blue eye.

Eye color

Blue eyed Dalmatian puppy
(c) 2003 M. Deer

This Dalmatian puppy has one blue eye.


 Ramoth, the liver-spotted, rescue Dalmatian
(c) 2000 Cyndi - Permission to use photo - to see more photos

Ramoth, the liver-spotted, rescue Dalmatian had two partial or split blue eyes.
 Dalmatian with partial blue eye
(C) 2000 Gail McKenzie

A black-spotted rescue Dalmatian with one brown eye and one partial or split blue eye.

Heterochromia - A term used to describe variations in the color of the iris

 Double blue-eyed Dalmatian puppy

A Dalmatian has double blue eyes.

 Dalmatian with double blue eyes
(C) 2000 Gail McKenzie

A rescue Dalmatian has double blue eyes.

 These eyes are a nice dark color.

Notice the pink eye rim. This puppy also has incomplete pigmentation of one eye rim .

These eyes are considered light in color.Dalmatian light eyes

Many dals have eyes even lighter in color.

Incomplete Trim

An example of a little missing (incomplete) nose trim (pigmentation) at the corner of the nose.
(C) 2000 Karcher

An example of a large amount of missing (incomplete) nose trim (pigmentation) over the entire nose.

Dalmatian puppies with incomplete pigmentation
 Each of these puppies have incomplete pigmentation of one eye rim.

They are also patched and have nice dark brown eyes.
Dalmatian puppy with incomplete eye rim This puppy has incomplete pigmentation of one eye rim.

Incomplete pigmentation of eye ris or noses is very common in Dalmatians and other breeds such as Pit Bulls, Harlequin Great Danes, White boxers and Bull Terriers. Breeders will refer to incomplete pigmentation as unfinished or missing eye rims or noses. Many times, puppies are born without all of their nose or eye trim. As they mature, the color starts to appear on the pink skin. It can appear as small pin pricks of color or spots. Sometimes the color never completely fills on the eyes rims or nose leather. While it is considered a fault to show a dog with incomplete trim, alot of dogs have completed their championships without full pigmentation. Some have even won Best In Shows with incomplete pigmentation.

Incomplete pigmentation on a Dalmatian is considered a cosmetic issue. There are no major health issues related to incomplete trim. Some Dals with unfinished eye rims, may experience more tearing in that eye. Dals with missing noses can get sunburned more easily. Precautions should be taken when exposed to the sun. These Dals still make fine pets.

Puppy Nose Trim

Dalmatian puppy noses on day of whelping

Below are littermate Dalmatian puppies shown at birth. Notice the differences in their nose pigmentation.
Pigmentation at birth is not always an indication if the puppy will have complete trim or not. Pigmentation
can continue to come in as the puppy grows.

 Very little pigmentation on a Dal puppy nose
(c) 2018 Deer 

Very little pigmentation at birth
 Partial pigmentation on a Dalmatian puppy nose
(c) 2018 Deer 

Partial pigmentation
at birth
 Pigmentation on a puppy Dalmatian nose
(c) 2018 Deer 

Almost full pigmentation
at birth

Dalmatian puppy nose
(c) 2018 Deer 

Dalmatian puppy nose
1 week of age
Dalmatian puppy nose - pigment
(c) 2018 Deer  

Another Dalmatian puppy nose
1 week of age

Many puppies are born with pink noses and eye rims. As the puppy grows, the pigment fills in as black on a black-spotted dog and liver or brown on a liver-spotted dog. The color starts as little spots or splotches of color. Notice the "leather" looking part of the noses. They are t-shaped. Those are the areas that need to be completed for the show ring.


The Dalmatian is an active breed also referred to as a "Coach Dog". They have been breed with the endurance to cover as much as 35 miles a day. Dalmatians that receive little or no activity may because destructive or difficult to control.


(c) 2018 Deer

Dalmatians are natural clowns and love entertaining their human friends.

From the brochure, The Chicagoland Dalmatian Club presents the Dalmatian

No one needs to tell the owner of a Dal how intelligent or playful he is-the owner already knows! Dais have been used in circus dog acts and in other areas of the entertainment world. They have been used as guard-sentinels on the borders of Yugoslavia; and as war dogs by the U,S. Army. Dalmatians also possess the herding instinct-with one herding hogs in Iowa!

Many Dalmatians are used as hunters of birds and small game, and in packs they have hunted wild boar. Dalmatians possess keen eyesight, and their sense of smell makes them avid trackers. The Dalmatian's powerful muscles have enabled him to be used as a draft animal, yet he still retains enough speed to run down rats and other small vermin. Dalmatians also possess a high degree of intelligence as evidenced by their use as Guide Dogs for the Blind and Hearing Impaired and also in the Obedience Ring.

This versatile dog-the polka dot clown- has been many things to many people, but his greatest role is as family friend. Dalmatians possess a sound temperament, when properly bred, and the patience to endure the physical strain of associating with children; in fact, they relish the constant activity that children provide. They have a mild protective instinct enough to ward off uninvited intruders, but not so much that you cannot trust them when they are alone.



Smiling Dalmatian
(C) 2000 Judith Barneveld

A little known fact about Dalmatians is many of them are smilers. Their grins can range from a slight smirk with very little teeth showing, to a full teeth grin. They usually do it when they are very happy to see you or are excited about something. The first time we experienced a Dalmatian grin we thought the people were pulling our leg. It appeared as if the dog had barred its teeth to us.

Those fortunate enough to have been able to see a grin are lucky to have received such a special Dalmatian welcome.


Red Fire Hydrant

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