All of us dog owners are accustomed to dealing with the stereotypes associated with our pups’ respective breeds. Owning a Dalmatian is no different. There are plenty of positives associated with Dalmatians, including their intelligence, loyalty, and quick ability to be trained. However, there are also various negative stereotypes out there, many of which I feel are unfounded based on my experience with Ernie and other Dals that we know and have met. As I mentioned in my initial post on DailyBarker, I’m all about dispelling stereotypes and wanted to share some of them with you here that Dals, like Ernie, defy.
One of the biggest stereotypes that I’ve come across in owning a Dalmatian is that they’re super hyper. People we meet on the street often comment about this and are surprised to learn that we’ve had no problems living with him in a small apartment in the city. Sure, Ernie has his fair share of energy, but he’s honestly no different than the labs we had growing up. I wouldn’t call him “hyper” so much as an energetic pup who LOVES to run and romp before cuddling up on the couch for some solid TV time. As I mentioned in my post this past month, the key is making sure that Dals get plenty of exercise and stimulation throughout the day.
Dalmatians are also said to be high-strung. While Ernie follows my fiancé and me around everywhere and has some separation anxiety, he’s not a bundle of nerves by any means. We’ve met a couple Dals who were fairly anxious, but this has been the exception rather than the rule. Keeping Ernie engaged with things like toys and puzzles as well as actively socializing him with people and other pups has helped ensure he more easily acclimates to new people and situations.
One of the biggest misnomers about Dalmatians is that they’re aggressive, a label that has landed the breed on some property management companies’ restricted lists and made it difficult for us to find an apartment here in Boston. I may be a bit biased, but Ernie is one of the sweetest, most affectionate dogs that I have ever owned or met. He has never been violent towards a human or fellow pup. The only time that he has shown any sign of aggression was out of defense when other dogs got too aggressive with him at the park, at which point he snapped back at them and strode away from the situation. Of the countless Dals that we’ve come across, I’ve only met one who was the least bit aggressive, which the owners mentioned to us upon the dogs meeting. This pup proceeded to quickly warm up to Ernie after they had a chance to get acclimated to one another on leash.
Another stereotype is that Dalmatians are antisocial and not good with children. Ernie can be a bit timid from time to time upon meeting new people, and especially men, but even then he quickly warms up to people and often tries to jump up to give them a hug or lavish them with kisses. Ernie also loves kids and has been exposed to them since he was a young pup. When he first meets children, I always keep him on leash and allow the little ones to take their time petting him until they’re used to him. I think this is an important process when exposing any dog to kids, though. The vast majority of Dals we know and have met are very friendly and good with people of all ages, too.
As I mentioned earlier, Dalmatians are known to be very intelligent. Without sounding like too much of a doting dog dad, Ernie is no different. He’s a quick study who is easily trained and loves to learn new tricks. However, when Dals aren’t actively engaged or suffer from extreme separation anxiety, they can become destructive to property, which is another stereotype of the breed. Thankfully, the only thing Ernie has ever destroyed is my fiancé’s belt when we were first dating — which I really just chalk up to a poor fashion choice. In all seriousness, though, humans need to exercise their Dals, teach them new tricks, throw the ball around with them and keep them engaged with toys, puzzles, and games. This includes not doing the same thing over and over again, as Dals tire of repetition. Switch things up to keep them (and yourself) stimulated!
From what I’ve read and in talking with our vet and other Dal owners, some of these stereotypes can be traced back to the “101 Dalmatians” days. The breed became extremely popular because of the movie (obviously one of my favorites), which reportedly led to over-breeding, unfavorable breeding practices and, ultimately, poorly bred pups with temperament issues like aggression, anxiety, and hyperactivity.
With all of this in mind, if you’re considering getting a Dalmatian and are going through a breeder like I did, I would recommend talking with them about the pup’s genetic line and temperament. After adopting your Dal, I would encourage you to do many of the things that I mentioned above, namely ensuring your pup gets plenty of exercise, socialization, and stimulation. It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to raise a Dal. But it’s highly rewarding and a lot of fun. Plus, you can help me and Ernie’s other Instagram pals break down stereotypes along the way!
Do you have a Dal? What has been your experience? Tell us in the comments!