Dalmatians are unique, with their spotted coats and animated film representations.
But these firehouse dogs have a bad reputation. If you’re thinking of bringing a dalmatian home, it’s important to know if they are aggressive or dangerous.
Dalmatians can be aggressive. However, their aggression is usually a result of mistreatment, bad breeding, or a quick temper. A properly socialized dalmatian can be a loyal, loving family dog.
Below, we’ll look at dalmatian aggression, as well as if they will get along with your kids, cats, and other dogs.
Are Dalmatians Aggressive?
Dalmatians can be aggressive. Some regard dalmatians as more aggressive than pit bulls, a notorious bully breed. However, while this can be the case, it rarely is.
Dalmatians are usually aggressive because of bad breeding or a lack of attention. Some owners fail to realize that Dalmatians are high-maintenance dogs. They require a ton of supervision, attention, and exercise.
They can get aggressive, destructive, and dangerous when they are ignored or left alone for long periods.
The short answer is yes, dalmatians are aggressive. But there is more to this breed’s temperament than that.
Dalmatian Breed Temperament
Dalmatians are active, loveable dogs for the most part. They were bred as carriage dogs, meaning they ran alongside the horses pulling a carriage to protect against bandits.
Of course, dalmatians have had many titles in their long history – from carriage dog to beloved Disney icon, ‘most popular breed’, firehouse dog, and more.
Their temperament is overall good, provided they are raised right and socialized properly. The problem with dalmatians is that they tend towards a quick temper.
Most ill-bred dalmatians will snap and bite, but it’s not just a problem of breeding.
Dalmatians are capable of huge amounts of love and affection, on the other side of that coin. It’s not a toss-up on what you’ll get, either. Breeding, training, socialization, and stimulation all play a factor in your dalmatian’s unique temperament and personality.
Do Dalmations Have Bad Tempers?
Dalmatians can be quick to anger. They agitate quickly, especially when they are bored or feel neglected. A well-loved, well-stimulated dalmatian may rarely have a cause to snap, but not all dalmatians are created equally.
They often don’t receive the amount of love and attention they require.
Their temper is legendary and has often led people to malign dalmatians as dangerous, aggressive pets.
This is partially true.
Dalmatians overall aren’t patient pets who will put up with whatever you throw at them. They are manipulative and stubborn, and sometimes that means they get aggressive when they feel like they are being mistreated.
Aggression in Dalmatians
When adopting a dalmatian, you have to be aware of the signs and symptoms of aggression.
Signs of Aggression
Dalmatians show aggression in much the same way as other dogs. The following signs can be indications that a dog is about to become aggressive or is experiencing an aggressive episode.
- Snapping or baring teeth
- Low growls
- Snarling accompanied by a lunge forward
- Snapping or nipping that doesn’t break the skin
- A rigid posture that makes the dog seem larger
- An erect tail that doesn’t wag
- A deep, loud bark
Signs of a dog that is prone to aggression can include frequent baring teeth, rigid posture, and being quick to anger.
Causes of Aggression
There are many reasons a dalmatian may be aggressive.
- Lack of patience in current circumstances
- Bad breeding, as a result of being a ‘fad’ breed favored by ‘backyard breeders’
- Lack of training
- Boredom or lack of stimulation
- Past mistreatment
Paying attention to the triggers that lead to your dog’s aggression is the best way to know how to avoid it. Aggression training can also help some dogs overcome their aggressive urges.
Are Dalmatians Dangerous?
All dogs can be dangerous when they ‘attack’. Dalmatians don’t have the powerful jaws or strong bodies of other breeds that are considered ‘aggressive’. Still, they can do damage.
Overall, calling an entire breed ‘dangerous’ is irresponsible. Dogs are shaped by their circumstances just as much (if not more) than their breeding. Individual dogs can be dangerous, but dalmatians are not as dangerous in general as their reputation might suggest.
What to Do If Your Dalmatian is Acting Aggressive
An aggressive dalmatian is far from a rare occurrence. If your dalmatian suddenly becomes aggressive, it’s important to understand why that may be. Pinpointing the moment they became aggressive may help you figure it out.
If they are aggressive because they have been mishandled, you should learn to avoid the ‘triggers’ that make the dog aggressive.
You can learn this from observing the dog. If the aggression is towards strangers, it’s important to socialize your dog. You can seek help from a behavioral specialist if this is the case.
Essentially, the only way to help with an aggressive dalmatian is to train them. You can try to avoid their behaviors, but this may not work.
If you have children or other pets, it’s important to understand that some dalmatians (usually ones that are ill-bred in general) do tend towards aggression.
Some dogs can be trained out of aggression. In some dogs, however, aggression cannot be helped with training.
Specialized aggression training is offered in some locations, and some specialists work only with aggressive dogs. This training won’t be cheap or easy for your strong-willed dalmatian, but it is an option.
Are Dalmatians Easy to Train?
Dalmatians are extremely intelligent. As with many other intelligent dog breeds, dalmatians tend towards stubbornness. Of course, each dalmatian will be different. Still, dalmatians are a handful to train in general.
While they want to please, they are also extremely independent. The dalmatian reputation for being manipulative is ironclad. Generally, they will always try to do things their way and will rarely listen. That’s why early training is important.
If you can start your puppy in obedience training right away, it will be a lot easier to train your dalmatian. Be aware that when it comes to house training, they are obstinate. Training them will require more consistency than most other breeds, and positive reinforcement is a must.
Are Dalmations Good Family Dogs?
Despite some behavior problems that are inherent in the breed, dalmatians can make excellent family dogs. This is especially true if you get a dalmatian puppy from a reputable breeder at the youngest possible age.
This way, you can socialize the dog how you want. You can get them used to your family and your other pets.
However, this isn’t always possible.
Know that a dalmatian that has been treated well, socialized well, and trained can make a wonderful dog that will adore your whole family.
Dalmatians are extremely playful, highly energetic, and lovable. They will become your cuddle buddy, your bed warmer, your companion in everything you do – if you let them. The trick is giving the dalmatian enough attention and love.
Dalmatians are intelligent, easily bored, and require near-constant stimulation. While they aren’t often thought of in this way, dalmatians need as much (if not more) mental stimulation than Australian Shepherds.
Keeping them occupied, giving them enough attention, and even giving them a ‘job’ can help resist boredom.
A bored dalmatian can be destructive, so you’ll want to give your dalmatian as much attention as possible. Large families are a great fit for the dalmatian, as there is always someone available for attention.
Do Dalmations Get Along with Other Dogs?
Dalmatians generally do not have a problem with other dogs. A well-socialized dalmatian won’t get aggressive or territorial with other dogs. Of course, as is true with any breed, dogs that are not socialized well may not do well in households with other pets.
Dalmatians do well with other dalmatians as well! Even though they have a temper, they usually do not take it out on other dogs.
Caution is advised when getting two male dalmatians or two female dalmatians. Some breeds will fight if you put same-sex pairs together, and the dalmatian is no different. The problem is not widespread, but it’s still good to be aware of it.
Smaller dogs are a bit of a grey area. Still, most dalmatians will be okay with smaller dogs. Never leave your dogs unsupervised until you know they are used to each other.
Are Dalmation Good with Children?
While you should always be cautious when it comes to introducing a new dog to your kids, most dalmatians love their families’ children.
They can be a bit boisterous and high-energy. It’s not recommended to introduce a dalmatian to a home with smaller children.
The reason for this is twofold. First, dalmatians are not small dogs. They aren’t the largest the canine world has to offer, but still don’t know their strength.
Small children can easily be knocked over, stepped on, and overtaken by a spunky and determined dalmatian at play.
Secondly, small children likely don’t know how to properly treat dogs. For a dog to be good with younger children, he must be patient.
This is not the case with the majority of dalmatians. They can be quick to anger, and they don’t take well to be pulled, poked, and prodded.
For this reason, some rescues and reputable breeders will only place dalmatians with families that have older children. This is for the safety of your children and the dog.
Do Dalmations Get Along with Cats?
If your dalmatian has been socialized with cats, they will become fast friends. The younger you can introduce a dog to a cat (in puppyhood, ideally), the better they will get along.
Whether or not an adult dalmatian and a cat will get along relies heavily on the disposition of both animals.
However, most dalmatians don’t have a strong prey drive. While they were sometimes used to hunt rats and other vermin, it’s not a breed trait you need to worry about.
It’s important to make sure that your dog knows how you expect him to treat the cat. Dogs who are unfamiliar with cats may take certain liberties, but it’s up to you to show them how to adjust and how to get along. That said, Dalmatians get along better with cats than they do other small pets (such as rats, gerbils, hamsters, and ferrets).
Dalmatians and Other Pets
Dalmatians were not bred as hunting dogs, but they may still have a prey drive. Watch your dalmatian closely around your smaller pets.
Most of the time, your dalmatian will probably ignore the smaller pets. However, it’s best to avoid leaving them alone together until you are sure of how the dog will react.
Some dogs tend to chase animals only when they are running. If you have a small animal that you keep caged, this might not be an issue. Ferrets, free-roaming rabbits, and gerbils or hamsters in balls might be in danger.
The dalmatian is a bit of a troubled fad breed. A certain popular animated film skyrocketed the breed to popularity, but the result was a lot of ill-bred, poorly cared-for dogs that became aggressive when ignored. The dalmatian reputation towards violence and manipulation is true, but the right dalmatian can also make a great family dog.
Are Dalmatians High Maintenance?
Dalmatians are high-maintenance dogs, but not in the way that most other breeds are. Physically, they don’t need much brushing, bathing, or care to maintain their look and be healthy.
However, they are much more difficult to maintain mentally. Dalmatians require a lot of attention, constant supervision, and can’t be left alone for long periods. They are often manipulative and can be aggressive.
Why Do Dalmatians Have a Bad Reputation?
Dalmatians have a bad reputation because they are difficult to take care of. Anything less than constant attention can result in an aggressive, stubborn dog – and this has colored the public perception.
Dalmatians used to be the #1 most popular breed in the US, leading to a huge number of dalmatians that weren’t properly cared for. Since this was a widespread issue, dalmatians quickly developed a negative reputation.