The dalmatian breed probably conjures images of frolicking dalmatian puppies from the Disney movie “101 Dalmatians,” or of a stately firehouse dog sitting atop a ladder truck.
These unique dogs, with their signature black-and-white spotted coats, are certainly some of the most recognizable canines out there. And they have a long history: Dalmatians originally hail from Dalmatia, a coastal area of Austria, and were first used as coach dogs in the 19th century, guarding horse-pulled carriages by trotting alongside.
But if you’re considering adding a dalmatian to your household in the near future, you might wonder: Are dalmatians aggressive dogs?
The answer isn’t as cut-and-dry as “yes” or “no.” Dalmatians aren’t inherently aggressive — like most dogs, whether it displays aggressive behavior depends on its circumstances.
Keep reading to learn more about the dalmatian’s temperament, signs of aggression to watch for, and what you can do to avoid any aggressive behavior in your dalmatian.
Dalmatians are high-energy, playful, and sensitive dogs. They tend to be very loyal to their human family members and are generally good with other dogs and children. Of course, you should always keep an eye out when small children and dogs spend time together, just to be safe.
Are dalmatians aggressive? Not inherently, but they are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak. Some dalmatians can be reserved with strangers or aggressive toward other dogs – although dogs of any breed can be, too. Ultimately, there isn’t reason to think dalmatians are any more aggressive than other breeds. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, a study from Ohio State University found that the dalmatian is among the lowest breeds for bite risk.
A note: There’s a high incidence of deafness in dalmatians, which can lead to communication problems between owners and dogs. And it’s possible that a deaf dog could be easily startled, perhaps lashing out aggressively out of fear.
Signs of Aggression in Dalmatians
Dalmatians show aggression in the same way that other dogs do. Common signs of aggression include:
- Low growling
- Bared teeth
- Wide eyes
- Rigid posture
- Stiff tail
- Loud barking
If you see these behaviors occurring frequently in your dalmatian, you may have an aggressive dog on your hands. But it’s important to recognize that no breed is inherently predisposed to aggression, including the dalmatian and those breeds with unfair reputations like the pit bull, Rottweiler, doberman, or German shepherd.
How to Avoid Aggression in Dalmatians
If you already own a dalmatian and you’re seeing signs of aggression like those listed above, connect with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. These individuals are experts at correcting behavior problems and can help your dalmatian dog be a better family pet.
Ideally, though, you’ll be able to avoid aggression before it ever starts by taking a few simple steps:
1. Choose a Responsible Breeder
If you’re adopting your dalmatian dog from a breeder, choose a responsible one. Good breeders will raise dalmatians in their homes as members of the family. This greatly increases the likelihood that the dog is well-adapted to living with humans. Plus, responsible breeders screen their puppies for health issues to ensure you’re getting a healthy dog. We’ll talk more later about how health issues may correlate with aggression.