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10 Dalmatian facts that go beyond the famous film

Dalmatian dog outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You know the Disney movie, but do you know these Dalmatian facts? 101 Dalmatians probably introduced you to the spotted dog breed, but there are tons of interesting tidbits about the dogs that many people don't know about. 

The medium-sized, energetic breed is known for its iconic white coat with black spots, but it has a long and storied history that may surprise you. So, whether you're considering getting a Dalmatian, want to learn more after a viewing of Disney's 101 Dalmatians, or just love to gather Dalmatian facts, we've got a list for you. Read on for 10 interesting Dalmatian facts.

1. Dalmatians are born spotless

Yup, that little tidbit from 101 Dalmatians is true! Dalmatians are born all white, without any spots. The spots show up as they grow, showing up at around two to three weeks old. So if you ever see a Dalmatian puppy, don't be alarmed when it doesn't have the stereotypical black spots - that's normal!

2. No two Dalmatians are alike

Because of their unique spotted coats, no two Dalmatians have the same spot pattern. These one-of-a-kind coats are a lot like people's fingerprints in that they are never exactly alike - which means that Cruella de Vil's coats would have been either tough to sell or lauded for their unique quality. Either way, we're glad she never got a chance to make them. 

3. Dalmatians have mysterious origins

Dalmatians are a very old breed, but it's not clear where they originated from. That's because they often traveled as companions to the Romani people, a nomadic group that traveled through much of Europe. They are named for Dalmatia, a Croatian city, but it's not certain that they originate from there. The first known written information about Dalmatians dates back to 1374, but people have pointed out that there are drawings of spotted, Dalmatian-like dogs running alongside chariots in Ancient Egyptian art.

Dalmatian dog

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. They were bred to run as carriage dogs

Dalmatians were bred as carriage or "coaching" dogs. That means they would run alongside stagecoaches and help clear away crowds of people so that the horses could travel safely through the streets. Dalmatians have also been used as herding, hunting, and even sentinels on the borders of Croatia. 

5. Dalmatians have a genetic predisposition to being deaf

The UFAW claims that about 15-30% of Dalmatians are affected by hearing loss, with 5% of dogs being completely deaf in both ears. This is apparently linked to a gene that is also involved in their black-and-white coats. Dalmatians are born with normal hearing but become deaf a few weeks after birth. Deaf Dalmatians need to be handled with care, as they are at greater risk of injury due to traffic accidents. If you own a Dalmatian, make sure you take them to regular vet checkups. 

Dalmatian dog lying on bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. The Disney movie didn't help the breed

Unfortunately, the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians wasn't the best thing for the breed, as so many people went out and bought Dalamtians without doing proper research. As a result, Dalmatians ended up in shelters after owners realized the breed is energetic and athletic and requires consistent training and exercise. Remember, always do your research before getting a dog, and adopt, don't shop. 

7. Dalmatians are also beer mascots

Dalmatians aren't just famous Disney dogs, they're also mascots for the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Since they're carriage horses, the dogs would help guard the wagon while it was traveling and protect it when the driver was away from it delivering the precious beer. Today, whenever you see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, you'll see some Dalmatians with them - although now the Dalmatians just hang out in the carriage with the driver. That's some team, huh?

8. Dalmatians are very athletic

This may not come as a surprise, especially if you've been reading the other facts, but Dalmatians are very athletic. They are very active and are incredibly fast runners with great stamina thanks to their carriage dog breeding history. They need a lot of exercise and consistent training in order to live happy and fulfilled lives, so they'd make great dogs for outdoorsy families. 

9. Dalmatians are known as firedogs

The carriage dogs of the canine world were also used by firefighters. Dalmatians would run alongside fire coaches when they were horse-drawn, but since the advent of fire trucks, they've become more of a mascot. 

10. George Washington bred dalmatians

America's first president, George Washington, was a passionate dog breeder. He owned an Italian Greyhound, a Mastiff, and Dalmatians, including one he named Madame Moose. After getting Madame Moos in 1786, Washington reportedly bought a male dog to breed with her. 

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.