The Outsider takes heat for dissing Dalmatians

Nothing else that I've written has generated such intense feeling. Nobody cares about property taxes. Nobody cares about beer. But dogs? Here's an example of a reply I got:

I just read your blast at dalmatians and I must say I despise it. I have a deaf dal and he is the most loving animal that I have ever owned. He cuddles and loves people. He would never hurt anyone, especially children. Children love him and he loves them. Yes he requires exercise,, but all dogs do. If you didn't want to put in the time, maybe you should have chosen another dog. As far as kids and people go, you have to expose them to kids early in life...then they get used to them and are fine. I just had to reply, because I think that you treat an entire breed unfairly because of your one experience. Maybe you should have done more research.

So I responded:

You may despise my writing, but I never intended to cast disrespect on the dog breed, only at foolish people who get dogs because they're trendy or fashionable, or because they're in a movie. My dal has never harmed a child, although she has thought about it on occaision. However, she is very territorial and aggressive, especially with small dogs. No amount of training will stop her. And yes, all dogs need exercise, but perhaps the dal more than most.

My point is that people should want a dog, and that they should get a dog that fits their particular living situation and schedule. People should NOT get a dog because they're so cute. Dalmatians are indeed cute, but they're also a lot of work, perhaps more so than most. My concern was that the movie would lead to a lot of one and two year old dogs showing up in the dog shelters (where we got the one we now have) because they were too much trouble to take care of.

Deaf dalmatians are a special issue. Should you breed your dog? Do you think that it's good for the breed to perpetuate the mutation that makes dogs deaf? My dalmatian has normal hearing (or actually SELECTIVE hearing), but I wouldn't breed her. I think that there are too many dogs put to death every year to add my dog's offspring to the total.

As far as putting in the time, I've walked both of my dogs (one dal, one border collie) every evening and every night since I've gotten them, over 8 years ago. My wife walks them in the morning. They've both graduated from obediance school, and walk at heal without leashes. They stay (mostly) when told, and come (mostly) when called. It's because I've put this amount of work into them that they are pleasant company. But too many dogs are banished to the back yard, or live their entire lives tied to a tree. This is not a fate that I would wish on any dog, but especially a dalmatian. I'm not blaming the breed. They are what they are. Instead, I'm trying to warn the potential owners of the dog that they MUST be prepared to put in the same kind of effort as I have over the years if they're going to have dogs at all, but especially dalmatians.

Feel free to disagree with any of the above points. At least you direct your feelings to what I wrote. Some people who've written haven't been as discriminating between opinion and person.
Rich Webb

Here's another response:

I have read what you have to say but I'll tell you something. The picture of you & your dog seems to tell the story a lot better than what you are saying. I can't believe that you would say such awful things about your dog. She obviosly loves you. What if the poor thing knew that this is the way that you felt? Wouldn't you even care if she got hit by a car or something similar? Where is your heart? I just can barely believe what I just read. It truly upsets me. My husband and I have a Dalmatian & although she is hyper, she is a wonderful and loving dog. She is nothing like what you have described them as. She has been around children and she loves them. So, truly what is your point? I am completely awstruck!!!!!! What is your problem?

Isn't that a great picture? It's because I do love her, and she adores me. It's because I love dogs so much that I think that it's a tragedy that tens of thousands of dogs that are put to death each year. And ever so many of the dogs that aren't put down spend their lives tied to a tree in somebody's back yard, ignored and neglected. This situation may be tolerable for Labs and other hunting dogs, but Dalmatians need the attention and exercise that so many dogs do not get! Dalmatians can be ill tempered, but then so can all dogs. They can be bad if not trained, but so can all dogs. I just want people to think about what they're doing before they cave in to their children's wishes and get a disposable dog. Dalmatians are especially ill-suited for such a condition, and I wouldn't wish that fate on any dog, but especially dals.
Rich Webb


The tone of your webpage content is rather harsh. As you might guess, I also have dals - three of them. While some of your statements I would agree with there are some that just are not true.

-"One in ten dalmatians are deaf, due to over- and in-breeding. A similar percentage are going to suffer from a deformity of the hip."

Deafness in Dalmatians has to do with the extreme pie-bald gene which produces the base white coat of the dal. It is not caused by overbreeding and/or in-breeding. Though it would be fair to say the incidence of deafness could be reduced through careful screening (BAER testing) of dogs used for breeding. Incidence of deafness is less than 8%, but when both parents are bilaterally hearing (meaning, hearing in both ears), confirmed by a BAER test, the incidence of deafness is reduced to less than 6%. Deafness will not be eliminated in Dalmatians as long as they have the white coat between the spots. Many people don't really understand the term "in-breeding" as it is used in breeding dogs (and other animals). Responsible breeders seldon do any in-breedings, though 'line-breeding' is more common and considered the safest form of breeding. Also the instance of hip-displasia is not high in dalmatians. 1994-95 incidence of displasia was 5.1% in Dalmatians (data from OFA). The rate has been dropping since 1980 when it was 7.0%.

It's one thing to try to educate people about Dalmatians and the importance of choosing the right breed for their lifestyle, but your page almost seems to be attempting to scare people from choosing a Dalmatian. Sure, go ahead, dissuade them from impulse buying. But there are some families with children that make good homes for Dals. I wouldn't recommend them for families with toddlers, but older children are OK. The kid in my home was 8 when we got our first Dal - and she lives still - unharmed. I got my dals from a breeder who's been involved with dals (showing and breeding) for over 20 years.

As for the quote you have from Benjamin Hart, I haven't been harmed by a dal but I was attacked as a child by a doberman. What happened was with one particular dog and I've seen some really nice dobies - I just wouldn't own one. I'm not out to warn people about dobermans based on my experience though. You can probably find "attacked by" stories from any breed. There was a guy at my job who was spouting off how vicious Golden Retrievers are!


Well, I'm not going to trade statistics or doggy medical histories, especially since it's not a field that I've studied. I remember some numbers regarding the frequency of deafness and hip displasia, but if you have different numbers or a different source, then fine. Perhaps we could agree that dogs with deformities like this shouldn't be bred? It's always a good place to start...

I'm not so concerned that people shouldn't get dalmatians. What does concern me is that people who get dals should be quite aware that a dalmatian is not a black lab. I can't say that I have anything to say about particular breeds. Even the oft maligned "pit bull" can be a sweet and loving dog in the right situation and upbringing. My concern is that people were going to see the new "101 Dalmatians" movie, and that their kids were going to jump up and down, hold their breath and cry until the only thing that could stop the tantrum was the purchase of a puppy. And then what? Is it likely that the dog would get the attention and exercise that it needs? I predict not. Dals are special dogs, with special needs, and I want EVERYBODY who is thinking of getting a dalmatian to think about these needs. I think that they are beautiful dogs, with tons of personality, but they're not for apartment dwellers or persons with limited space or time to give them the exercise and attention that they need and deserve. I'm also concerned that the unscrupulous puppy mill types had been breeding their dogs at a fevered pace in order to make a bundle of money off of the expected demands of dalmatian puppies after the movies release. This over-breeding and possibly in-breeding does no dog breed any good, but I was venting on the plight of dalmatians in particular.

I wasn't aware of the correlation between the white-coat of the dalmatian and the possibility of deafness. I'd read (and I believe it was in the U.S. News and World Report article that I quoted from) on the frequency of deafness in one or both ears, but there was no mention of any sort of genetic link between the coat and disability. Is the deafness a random effect, perhaps a small chance (6-8%?) of any dalmatian to get it, or is it much more likely to be passed on if the parents suffered from it? I suspect that the problem is the latter. I personally feel that too many dogs (and cats, and pets in general) are put down every year to breed them if their genetic stock is not top notch. (This argument could be extended to people and their breeding, but this isn't a discussion about the morality and ethics of not allowing certain people to breed. Eugenics, I think? I personally have chosen to remove my genetic make up from the gene pool, but that is a personal decision. Let's talk about dogs for now...) A dog breeder takes his (or her) best stud and mates him with the best female, and produces a litter. Ideally, these puppies are distributed in a wide enough geographical area that there is little likelihood of any of the litter mates interbreeding. A very busy breeder will pump out several litters in a year, and probably not in a widely distributed area. And if the sire and dam (not horses!) have any sort of genetic problem, it's very possible that subsequent generations of the off spring will suffer from the defect as well, especially if they're inbred. Many dog breeds suffer from such genetically transferred problems, such problems not limited to deafness in dalmatians, and hip-displasia in the larger breeds. Some have defects to their heart muscles, or allergies, or temperament problems. None of these problems are unique or limited to dalmatians. But it is my belief that dogs with these problems shouldn't be bred.

I seem to remember that the toy breeds are responsible for more dog bites than any other, but it's also possible that I'm wrong. Certainly "pit bulls" are the "killer dog" in the press at the moment, while wolf-dog hybrids are gaining in page space. Dobbies used to have the title of "most vicious dog", but you don't hear that said much any more. I'm sure that dalmatians could be trained and bred to be vicious, and while mine is a sweetheart to people and children, her reaction and actions towards smaller dogs is a frightening experience indeed. We are the terror of the neighborhood in the eyes of people with small dogs, and it is for that reason that she is never allowed out of the (fenced) yard without one of her people with her. There used to be a male dalmatian that was allowed to run loose through the neighborhood, and I think that there is some confusion between that dog's running loose and my own, but I can't help what other people choose to believe. That doesn't keep me from trying, or at least, it doesn't keep me from writing about how I think that the world should be. You have peeked into my psyche just a bit, and (possibly) agreed with at least part of what I said and say. Or you were so outraged at what I've written that you pointed out to me where you think that I'm wrong. No problem! There are very few verifiable facts in the world, so most of what we believe is opinion, and we're all allowed to have one. I remain committed to telling people that, more than likely, dalmatians are a bad idea for them, but if they disagree with me and get such a dog anyway, the thought police are not going to kick in either of our doors...

We're all entitled to our opinions. Thanks for sharing yours with me!
Rich Webb

"Territorial, grumpy and they bite" Wrong! Maybe your dog, but neither of my two dalmatians. You can discourage people from getting one without being so mean-spirited and without spreading lies.


One must be careful when calling names, as one person's lies are another person's truths...

In thinking of how to respond to your missive, I've brought in Simon & Schuster's Guide to Dogs, copyright 1980. It's got cute little icons for each breed, with the icons for Dalmatians including "gentle dog", "dog that should sleep indoors", "scenting hound", "watchdog or guard dog", and "dog can be trained for defense". Now this guide can be wrong (it mentions that dals "love soap and water", so I know that it isn't COMPLETELY right!), but it does mention several characteristics of the breed that cause dal lovers to be drawn to the dog:

Personality: Serene, loyal, independent but domesticated, extremely sensitive. It needs human company without which it is likely to become melancholy. It is fond of playing with children. It has an excellent memory and can remember for years any bad treatment it has received.

I can speak from personal experience that Dalmatians are territorial. Sophie will bark at people walking down the street in front of my house, and will chase and attack squirrels and small dogs with equal blood lust. Especially small, yippy dogs.

We got her from the pound several years ago. The vet estimated that she was perhaps four years old when we got her. There is no way of telling what experiences her life had handed to her before we got her. I can't be responsible for her being disposed of the way she was, but I have a wonderful dog now, but only because I've taken the time and effort to give her everything that a Dalmatian needs and deserves. If you or anybody else isn't up to that kind of commitment, then my recommendation is to not get such a dog. Apparently you are capable of such a commitment, otherwise your enjoyment of the breed wouldn't be so vehement.

It is this territoriality that can be manipulated (or mistreated) into a watching, guarding, and defensive dog. This can lead to trouble. My claim is that ANY dog can be territorial, grumpy, and prone to biting, but some breeds are more prone to the behavior than other. The U.S. News and World Report was the source for some of my other comments regarding the breed, including the one about the comparison between Dobermans and Dalmatians.

It's easy for me to say that Dalmatians are stubborn, independent, territorial, grumpy and prone to biting. It's also easy for you to say that, yours isn't, and therefore I'm telling lies. It's also possible that we're both right, but you're the one calling names. Without justification? Perhaps. But there is enough room in the breed's behavior that both of us can be right.

Rich Webb

Bless you! You have explained exactly what I tell people every time I am out with my Sass and kids drag their perents over to pet "Pongo". I like to let people pet my dog, #1 because I know she can be trusted, and #2, because parents get the funniest look on their faces when they see that handfull of shed hair floating around. Mothers tend to shrink back in horror when I explain "Why yes, Dalmatians *do* shed like this pretty much all the time..."

For the really interested, I hand them her lead, tell them to hold on to her, walk off a few feet, and call my dog. The look of surprise that flashes across their faces is amusing, and educational. I explain that despite her size, {Sass is 19 inches tall}, Dalmatians are strong, and strong willed, and that unless one is ready to commit to obedience training, they can expect lots of exercise from chasing their dog all over town. {Not to mention all those trips to the Chiropractor for sore shoulders...}

See, I love and admire the breed with all their faults, and I want to be sure that if seeing my dog is going to influence their decision about getting a Dal, I want to be sure they are making a well informed choice.

Thanks again for your candor,
Melody Underwood Hobbs

I would like to add a link to your page at my Dalmatian section, if you don't mind. Meanwhile, back at the Farm...

And thank you! I was afraid that the only people who ever wrote to me were the ones that disagreed with me and thought that I was a complete twit! I think that your exercise in strong and dominant dogs could be very useful for the average potential dog owner. I think that people tend to focus on how lovely the Dalmatian is, without thinking about the potential baggage that can accompany being owned by such a dog.

By all means, feel free to link to my page. I've seen yours, and the artwork is delightful! Of course, considering the subject matter, it's hard not to make a compelling dog picture! Or a stamp for that matter...

Once again, thanks for the kind words regarding my site.
Rich Webb

Just read your rant page about Dalmatians. I have to say, I understand your point completely. I am the dedicated owner of another "fad" breed, the Rottweiler. I could have written a lot of the same things about her, too. Even worse, SOME people are attracted to Rotts for really the wrong reasons---a big "killer dog" image. A lot of Rotts have been ruined because boneheads buy these loving, but naturally protective animals and mis-handle, abuse, or ignore them to the point they are mean and unmanageable. So, I do appreciate your point of view.

Jan Musick

I think that dogs are just open to whatever kind of environment that they are brought up in. Certainly a Rott could be a wonderful breed for children, for companionship, maybe even herding! But after the silly movies from the '70's where they were trained to rob banks, I'm sure that their image has suffered. And the Magnum P.I. show too! I think that the jerks who need a dog to show other people how tough they are are now all flocking to the "pit bull" type breeds. Ah yes, a REAL man needs a growling, snarling, tough-as-nails dog to prove how bad he is...

Thank you for your comments.
Rich Webb

Silly me. It was only later that I realized that I had Rottweilers and Dobermans mixed up. I wrote and apologised for the mix up. It makes me look bad to confuse one "killer" dog breed with another!

I just got done viewing your page, and I just wanted to let you know that you were correct with almost everything you wrote. I do disagree with a few things you spoke of, but on a whole your page was very informative. My mother is a dal owner, and I was looking into adopting one myself, so I decided to get as much information as possible first... and your page was very informative.
Cheryl Ann

I don't really see myself as actively seeking to discourage the ownership of these wonderful dogs. I do want people to go into the relationship with their eyes open, ready for the special challenges of the breed. But then, any dog breed might have the same problems. I'm just trying to keep the puppy mills and unwanted pet situation to a minimum.

And thank you for the measured tone of your response!
Rich Webb

Rich Rich Rich...When will you learn that most people don't have a sense of humour (humor for you Americans). Looks to me like you have a lot of time on your hands which surprises me..after all you are owned by a dal. What you should have mentioned is that dals are often as dumb as a post, cuddle at every opportunity, and are the most wonderful companions as they never want to leave your side.

It's unfortunate that you thing they are humour (humor) in that..I have three, and the only thing they attack is supper..They visit schools, hospitals and take part in parades , and are wonderful with kids. Any dog, badly treated, ignored or threatened will retaliate. Have I ever had or known a vicious dal? Emphatically ' No.'. Having been on my own 'crusade' since THAT Movie, I know how many badly bred dals are out there. I've had them in rescue. Don't tar them all with the same brusg tho. The agressive ones usually have a reason..just yesterday I came across a dog that had it's mouth taped shut with duct tape to 'quieten' it. Sound to me like the most vicious beast of all is mankind.

Jean Brynen & V.I.DalPals

You'll get no argument on the subject of the cruelest species, although for the dog next door, I can see some value in the duct tape argument. In fact, this beautiful golden lab is at the heart of a great deal of my argument about why most people shouldn't own dogs of any breed, but especially Dalmatians. This dog lives with the parents and four kids, but lives outside, in all weather. I know it got really cold (for people anyway) around here this last winter, but this dog lives outside. And it barks. Mostly because it lives outside, and must be bored, especially when it hears its family just inside. Or when they're not even home. Just barking to pass the time. And the fence that it lives behind is no deterrent at all. This dog roams the neighborhood, oblivious to the cars that race up and down the street. Someday this dog will be dead, and the owners will never even know, let alone care.

We've convinced ourselves that we have an especially stupid Dalmatian because she doesn't seem to learn that she is being punished because she has done something wrong. It's more than possible that she knows that she has done wrong, but she just can't resist the temptation. After all, there's ALWAYS food in the cat bowl, and anything that sustains the cat is considered a waste anyway. So she sneaks down and eats the cat's food, then gets punished (especially when caught!), but then she forgets the next time that temptation rears it's head...

My dalmatian adores me, but she doesn't always LISTEN to me! She's just head strong and stubborn, and I wouldn't trade her for the world. I just want everybody to know that these dogs need special attention, and more care and company than my stupid neighbors give to their dog.

Thanks for writing!
Rich Webb

>You'll get no argument on the subject of the cruelest species, although
>for the dog next door, I can see some value in the duct tape argument.

I sincerely hope you are joking!!!!!

Re- your problems with your own dog. From your letter I suspect that you are doing more punishing for wrong-doing than rewarding for GOOD behaviour.

>We've convinced ourselves that we have an especially stupid Dalmatian
>because she doesn't seem to learn that she is being punished because she
>has done something wrong.

1. All dogs live only for the minute, if they have done something of which you disapprove and you discover it 2 minutes from now..they will have no idea what you are disapproving OF.

2. Why are you punishing?? Stealing food is wrong only in YOUR eyes, not in the dog's.

3.I do not 'punish'. I speak sternly to my dogs if I catch them doing something of which I disapprove. They know from my tone of voice that I am not happy with them, and learn very quickly from this. Bear in mind I have three dalmatians (who are well-behaved enough to visit, take part in parades, visit hospitals etc.)

4.I cannot speak for the poor dog living next door to you..if it is indeed badly treated then do you not have an authority you can notify? It sounds like a clear case of neglect and my heart goes out to the poor animal.

5. Have you ever attended obedience classes with your dog? I think you would both benefit.

6. If you have a particular problem, may I suggest you write to me before 'punishing' your dog. I just MAY have a better solution.

Have you ever joined a chat line associated with dogs? You might find that you get a lot of helpful advice on training, or other problems.

Yeah, I'm joking. I've picked up worms in the street and put them back on the grass so that they won't get run over. It's the people that own that poor dog that need to be trained...

We've all gone through obedience classes, Beemer and me having been twice, and Sophie and my wife having gone once. We do heal, stay, sit, and mostly come. Sure, my conflict with the dogs is that I've set up rules that all of us (the dogs, the cat, and my wife, and me!) must follow. They have to sit at the door they want out of, even after I've opened it, until I tell them that they can go outside. They have to wait at their food bowls until after I've finished pouring the food. They mostly come when called. Don't chase the cat. Don't eat the rug. When they come in from outside, they must go to the dog area until we tell them they can come out. Stuff like that. The Border collie is very good at this sort of thing, and only breaks the rules when she's sure she won't get caught. The food stealing thing is special. We have a large house, and the dogs are not allowed to go into the half which contains the formal dining room and the kitchen. But there is all of that lovely cat food just going to waste! Sophie is now and has always been food obsessed. The last time that I caught her down there, she had just finished the food in her bowl! I really don't think that it's hunger, just the instinct of eating all there is because you never know when you'll get any more. Now you and I may know that they get fed twice a day, and have been on that schedule for nine plus years, but there's no convincing this dog...

Is this a problem with dalmatians? Probably not. But I think that all dalmatian owners will agree that their dog is more head strong and stubborn than most. Is this a generalization? Of course. Will there be exceptions? Of course. Is this in and of itself a reason not to get a Dalmatian? No, not really. I just think that people should be aware of what they're getting into before they get the dog.

As far as the dog next door being badly treated, no court would agree with me. The people that really pay attention to these things want to know if the dog is living in a small cage, without food or water, sleeping in its own feces. This dog is not being abused, but it is neglected and ignored. I have to wonder why they got a dog in the first place. Of course, it's not the only dog they've every had. The other one was female instead of male, and it got the same treatment. Except that this one got pregnant. So now there are 7 or 8 puppies running around. It wasn't too long after they gave the puppies away that the mother dog disappeared. I don't know if it was taken to the pound, given to a friend, was abandoned on some lonely road, or if it just ran away. The truth is that too many dogs are given this same treatment, but this would be a tragedy for a dal to be treated the same. Dalmatians are sensitive. It may be "acceptable" to have a Labrador as an outdoor dog, but it would be cruel to treat a Dalmatian the same way...

The dogs (and the cat) and the people in this house have an understanding that allows us to live together. A lot of the understanding and lifestyle modification took place on the part of the humans who live with the willful and calculating animals. We get along pretty well with a minimum of fuss. In the past, we've done strong voice, "no" cans (aluminum cans with pennies and / or popcorn kernels in them which make an unpleasant noise when shaken), squirt guns, choke chains, and I'm sorry to say, physical punishment when the situation warrants. I understand that if I come home and find a book or something chewed up on the floor, it does no good to punish the animal. First off, I can't be sure which one it was! Second, it's minutes or hours after the fact, and as you say, they've forgotten what it was that they're being punished for. But they know that they're not supposed to go in that half of the house, and when you catch them, they must be reminded...

We probably agree on a great many things, and we probably disagree on a few things too. Thanks for keeping with it and checking up on me!
Rich Webb

Ok your page has come to the attention of LOTS of dalmatian owners. You seem to be trying to do what we all have been try to do but with a little malice. Maybe you could explain that ALL dogs are potential biters in the beginning there instead of just saying that dals are? And not good with children? I beg to differ. Also the grumpy part. Perhaps you haven't met many dals? Your points on bad breeding and deafness and unwanted uncared for dals are all correct and I agree with them but your wording about the general characteristics of dals as you see them I find a little offensive and untrue.


Yeah, who would ever have that I'd be so "popular"! It has been mentioned, and I've agreed to the point, that ALL dogs of any breed can be this or that, or willful or pig-headed, or good or bad with children. Many people have taken me to task for some of my statements. Looking at what I tried to accomplish, I want people to think, not just twice, but three times, before getting a dog that will be more than they can handle. There are certainly more reasons to NOT get a dog than there are to get a dog. And Dalmatians can be a handful. I just want people to realize that up front, and not be surprised by it when or if it happens.

My wife and I were tallying all of the trouble that our dal has caused over the years. I got mad, and shot the dog a dirty look. She smiled and wagged her tail at me! She knew that she was the subject of the conversation, but if she had known what we were talking about, she might have hidden herself away until the subject had changed...

I can't validate the truthfulness of the way that I feel. If I said that I think that 3% of all dalmatians had an extra foot, then you could refute the number, and explain to me that I was wrong. Even if I disagreed with you regarding the source of my feeling, it would still be a truth to me, however wrong it would seem to you. One writer went so far as to call me a liar because what I said didn't agree with their version of reality. This isn't a lie, nor is it even untrue. An opinion is neither true or false, although the statement can be demonstrated to be. I've been told that I'm misguided in my statement that Dalmatians are not good with children. I only have what I've read, what I've been told, and my own experience to base my statement on. My own experience shows me that our dog, who is otherwise sweet tempered, once growled and snapped at a child who was pestering her. Does this mean that the breed as a whole is bad with children? No it does not. However, it does mean that ALL dog owners, and cat owners for that matter, should be careful when children are pestering their pets. And that parents should make sure that their kids aren't pestering dogs or cats either. If a kid gets bit because they've been pulling on a dog's ear, or scratched by a cat whose tail they've pulled, is it right to punish the dog? No way. But it is the dog owner that is going to get sued.

My rant is not meant for the people that already own dalmatians. Either they've made the adjustment to living with their very demanding dogs, or they recognize that they've made a big mistake. I want the people who do NOT already own such a dog to examine their commitment to getting a dog that may be more trouble than they're willing to put up with. It hurts no one to explain that today's really cute puppy will be digging up the carpet, chewing up the furniture, and racing for the horizon at every opportunity unless the problems are dealt with early and often. And even then, if a dalmatian gets it into its little pea brain to do something it wants to do, no amount of punishment will ever deter it. I just want people to know up front what the repercussions of owning a dalmatian are. My dalmatian was claimed from the pound. How many other dogs are similarly abandoned because they became too much problem for the owner? Not just dalmatians, but all breeds.

Thanks for the response though.
Rich Webb

I can't beleive you. Where to you get off putting down a whole breed of dogs for a few bad apples. I own eleven Dalmatians. I have had Dals my whole life and I have noever even come close to seeing what you say is the norm in these dogs. I have rescued dogs that didn't have anywhere near the problems that you are making sound like all of the breed are. They are not vicious, they aren't good with children under five simply for the fact that they are so active and strong and could knock down a full grown adult if not trained properly. They are not food addicted. I strongly recommend to puppy buyers NOT to use the food reward system for training because it does not work with most Dals. Just because you may have a pig of dog doesn't make them all like that. Please don't judge the whole breed by so few. I have alot of satified out there after many years of breeding. They few who ran into problems with their dogs usually could be blamed for the dogs problems. There are very few bad dogs, only bad owners.
Cyndy Lajoie

Actually, I think that the bad apples would be those people that would get a Dalmatian because the puppies are soooooo cute in the movie, without any sort of knowledge about the breed. As has been pointed out by several people already, my comments are not necessarily descriptive of the breed in general, but perhaps only a few individuals known to me. Certainly I can't match your experience with the breed. Eleven Dalmatians? At once? That certainly sounds like a handful! But do you agree that Dalmatians are a different breed than say, Labradors, and that they have different needs and requirements? I can think of nothing worse than to see a Dalmatian chained up in somebody's back yard, chain all wound around a tree, barking and digging out of boredom. I think that people need some sort of idea of a breed's requirements before they get a dog, but especially for Dalmatians.

We rescued our Dal from the pound, and we were notified of her presence there by a local rescue organization. I think that these groups do a service, matching up people who have dogs that have become problems with people who can provide solutions. I just wonder how many people went out and bought little Pongo dogs, only to be overwhelmed by the space and exercise requirements of an adult Dalmatian. It's not my intent to trash the breed, only to inform the unsuspecting puppy buying public that they're not buying a teddy bear that can be shut in a toy box and ignored, but a living, breathing, feeling animal that can either enrich their lives, or make it a living hell, both for the owner and itself.

My dog is food obsessed. Does that mean that yours are too? Of course not. Does it mean that all Dalmatians are? Of course not. Is this somehow indicative of the behavior of all Dalmatians or all dogs? Well, certainly the possibility exists, but there are no guarantees of behavior, good or bad. Just the potential.

Any dog (or cat for that matter) will bite (or scratch) if a child or adult abuses them in any way. Dals are no exception. But adult Dals are so big (well, there are bigger dogs, but let's call adult Dalmatians big for the sake of argument) that small children can be toppled, even if there is no biting (or scratching). And would you agree that Dalmatians are territorial? My dog has come close to killing several small dogs in the neighborhood. Does that mean that they are killers? No, but mine is. The potential owner of a dog, especially a Dalmatian, needs to know that there are drawbacks to owning this breed. I have shared my experience, and I offer a warning.

I love my dogs very much. But I recognize that they have special requirements that I strive to meet. Nobody should get a Dalmatian without knowing some of the problems associated with owing one.

Being a breeder of dogs sort of puts you in a special category. Most people object to my portraying their dog in an unflattering light, as I'm sure that you do too. But in this case, you may feel that I'm endangering your livelihood. I read the other day that there are nine to ten thousand dogs put to death in the county that I live in every year. Certainly if there were fewer dog breeders breeding fewer dogs, there would be fewer dogs put down every year, and not just near where I live. I just hate to see the suffering of dogs abandoned on rural roads, or in the pound, or running loose in the neighborhood because they're not loved or taken care of. Properly taken care of. I can't say how well treated your eleven dogs are, but I imagine that when they all get into your lap at once that there's quite a crowd.

I had a friend who got some Labradors, and was real excited about breeding them. I told him that there were too many unwanted dogs now, and that it should be a crime to breed more dogs than there is a need for. Trying to make a living off of dog breeding is pretty low. Sure, your operation COULD be different, and you're probably just seething with the desire to reply to tell me just how wrong I am, but I can't help but think that your eleven Dalmatians are more like cows kept for milk and calves than the companionship which a good dog can bring.
Rich Webb

Dear Rich
I have read your letter and understand half of where you are coming from. I see you have had some harsh responses. Dal owners that researched the breed before buying one love their dals. Dals are in fact very loyal and loving and can become your best friend as mine were. I've had 4 Dalmatians in my lifetime and have had all sides of the coin. My 1st "Ben" was very aggresive and took a chunk out of my brothers chest while playing catch. But there were warning signs we now know. 1. he always growled when you got in a 10 ft radius of his food bowl. 2 he was the bully of the litter. (which by a very reputable breeder we were told was good). Well after his biting attack we were forced to put him to sleep. We didn't want to disregard the breed due to one bad dog. So of course we tried again and had wonderful luck with another male also named Ben he was are pride and joy. He was the runt of the litter. He was friendly and outgoing, but he was a dal which meant several walks a day, indoor living (they get pissed being left outside) excuse my french! food obssesions, selective hearing etc. You are right to make people think twice about buying this breed. Dalmatians are not a back yard dog you go feed and clean up after. They need to be a family member. Which means taking them everywhere. This is just an example of one dal to the next. We loved them and obviously will continue to have them the rest of our lives but we also have no children and can give the the 100% they need. People that are intrested in the dogs and research will find out that they were bred to run 20 miles a day along side of carriges, thus getting the name carrige dog. No matter what you say some people are stuck on owning "pongo" the spotted dog but you will make some peole think twice.

Kirsty, Dalmatian lover

I have no problem at all with potential dog owners who research the breed before purchasing a popular dog. What makes me mad is the people who have watched the movie and decide that Dalmatians are sooooooo cute that they just gotta have one. If you go into the relationship knowing that you need to exercise your dog, that they're going to be living in your house, and that you may get growled at when too close to their food bowl, then there will be no surprises, and no unwanted dog. But the people who find out that their cute little Pongo dog is now 75+ pounds of very demanding canine deserve what they get. Unfortunately, the dog gets something that they may not deserve.

It's interesting that you had a bad experience with your first dog, yet stuck with the breed. I think that most people would have given up and moved on to something a little more manageable. I'm glad that your subsequent experiences worked out for you, and that you've been happy with your dogs. (I assume anyway!)

Thanks for the feedback. I don't get the harsh criticism like I used to when I had just the first page up. I figure that people are reading the second page and deciding that either the subsequent things that I've written are of a more moderate or agreeable slant, or that somebody else has already told me what a lunkhead I am, so that they don't need to!
Rich Webb, also a Dalmatian lover

I read about your ridiculous posting of dalmatians. My god, where are you from? The planet of ignorance? I have many deaf friends with DEAF DALMATIANS. They are just as lovable as the "DEAF-IMPAIRED Dalmatians." Maybe even better because they don't have to hear the yelling, the screaming, "You stupid */!#@" or something like that that the deaf-impaired dogs do with hearing owners. Deaf Dalmatians just CANNOT hear. Period. As for you, you can go take a hike with your ever-so ridiculous opinions.
Carol A. Carey,

This one I didn't even respond to...

You are so dumb. I read your webpage. So so so dumb. Dalmatians are not kid killers!!They can and get along with kids as long as they're trained.
I feel sorry for your dalmatian.

Now how can you argue with that logic?

Hello Rich

I agree with everything you say - I also understand the reasons behind you saying it.

I have two Dallies, a four year old entire male dog and a three year bitch, I also have a three year old daughter. My dogs and my daughter mean everything to me and I trust them together to the end of the earth. Yes they are aggressive with other dogs, yes they are territorial, they kill rabbits if they catch them - but with my daughter, incredible. I never thought dogs could make a family so happy, they love her and she loves them and the reason is that when Mollie came on the scene their life did not alter on iota. They are walked twice daily - with Mollie, she helps me feed them, she plays with them, she loves them and they love her. They are happy to see her in the morning, she has been brought up to leave tails and ears alone and we all live very happily together.

Perhaps if people used common sense everyone could have happy domesticated animals.


Carla Hodgkins

And thank you for a reasoned and reasonable response to a very emotional issue...

I just visited your web site and I totally agree with a couple of points, such as, no one should go out and get a dog because of a movie. The same thing is going on now with chihuhuas (I'm not sure on the spelling) and the taco bell commercials. But, I am a proud owner of a beautiful dalmatian. I admit, the first year was tough with him but that goes with any dog. There should be a lot of consideration before bringing any dog into your home. I feel you should not stereotype an entire breed of dog because of a select few. I do appreciate you for putting out the word about how a dalmatian may not be the best addition to a family for everyone, but remember all of us who have a dalmatian as our best friend.

a dal's human

I couldn't have said it better...

I am a friend of your sister, E. We were talking about dogs one day and she mentioned your web page. Since you have probably received very few comments agreeing (we all seem to have more energy to disagree--I wonder why?) I thought I would drop you a brief note.

During the fall and winter (and what little spring we have had), I witnessed a lot of young Dalmations in the park--all newly acquired by people, most of them their first dog. My thoughts have been very much in line with yours. It will be very interesting, yet I fear sad, to see what happens to these dogs as they grow up.

I have two dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Chocolate Lab. The Golden I got as a puppy about two weeks after it's first owners gave up with trying to housebreak him when they both worked during the day. I got him early enough that it did not take too long on the calendar (but lots of hours during that time) to develop the dog of my dreams. My Chocolate (yes I named him "Chip") has been a different story. His first owners chained him in the back yard for eight months, his second owners tried a six foot high fence, which he scaled with ease, and then locking him in the garage (since he worked with their existing lab to tear up both a sofa and chair on the same day). Neither tried either neutering him or obedience classes. He was on his way to the pound as an uncontrollable dog when I agreed to try a "rescue" effort on him. Three months later, after neutering, weekly obedience classes to "tame" him, and weekly agility classes to channel his energy, he has not jumped my 4 foot chain link fence in three weeks. I will admit that I installed an electric wire and energized it for two days but he is becoming a great dog. It just takes time, energy, and patience that many dog owners never give their pets.

Dalmations need to run and my Chocolate runs well with the young Dals when I do take him to the park. But I don't see many of these new Dal owners taking the time they require. And I think this was your original message--am I right!

You probably got a lot of response from people who read your headline without reading the rest of the article. But then without a sensational headline, would anyone have read farther??

Michael Pollock, or

Precisely so! If people would get dogs knowing the amount of time and energy and training that they need, there would be a lot fewer dogs, and a lot fewer unwanted dogs! I've never considered that people shouldn't own dogs, just that MOST people shouldn't own dogs! It really wasn't about Dalmatians in particular, although I did try to explain that Dals are a demanding breed, and weren't necessarily suited for all people in all situations just because they had kids. I tend to think of retrievers and labs as being more suited to more families, especially if they're just going to leave the dogs outdoors, or tied to a tree, or left to run loose about the neighborhood. I think that Dals are temperamentally less suited for such treatment. But it's obvious from your experience that even one person's "bad dog" is possibly another persons treasure, if only the dog were treated humanely and trained well.

My wife tells me a story about somebody who comes into the shop where she works. This person acquired a Rottweiler, or some such dog, that really gave them grief. Somebody told this person that what the dog really needed was a job of some sort, and so the dog's owner got some sheep and some goats. Now the dog is of a completely different temperament, owing to the outlet of the formally destructive and aberrant behavior. The dog is no longer lonely or bored, but instead has a way of being entertained in a positive way instead of the negative ways that it had learned!

You are absolutely right: a perfect dog requires the "time, energy and patience that many dog owners never give their pets". If everybody realized this, there would be a better world for dogs AND owners everywhere!

Thanks for writing!

Dear Sir,

I live in Greece and my dog recently passed away. It was a street dog (of no specific breed) but we loved it (at the beginning at least). Within a year it became too much aggressive and it bit everyone even myself without suffering however from any kind of madness or illness. We couldn't kill it;it did not feel right. However, since we could not perform any kind of vaccination to him 5 years later (now) he died.

I was thinking of getting a female Dalmatian ,but I was really worried when I read your experience. My parents could not really survive with another dog that is prone to bite. There are no children in my family (I am 25 ) and I am more than willing to keep my dog occupied half of the day.

Do you think I should get one? Please advise me!!!!!!

Thank you
B Charalampaki (

Dear B:
I don't mean to actively disuade people from owning Dalmatians. They can be wonderful dogs, a marvelous breed. I've been taken to task for claiming that Dals are spotted monsters. This is not really my feeling towards them at all. I can't really speak for the Grecian experience with pets. My feelings for pet keeping is that if you do not have the time or the patience for pet maintenance, then you shouldn't have pets. Many dogs (or so it seems to be in this country) are an afterthought in the lives of the family. A family gets a dog because the father thinks that it's a good thing, or because a child screams and hollers, and is appeased by the purchase of that special puppy. Then, as the dog becomes too large for the house, or is left alone for too many hours in the house, is banished to the back yard where the damage done by the pet is minimized. We see these dogs on our walks, tied to a tree, far from the family and house, not truly a part of the family at all. This is a terrible fate for a dog. These dogs live a horrible life, or at least one empty of family and human companionship. but it doesn't have to be this way...

Any dog can be a monster. Any dog can be an angel. It all depends on what is expected of the animal. If the dog is left outside, tied to a tree, we shouldn't be surprised when the dog is completely unsocialized to human company. They bark at strangers, snapping and biting out of sheer frustration. But if a dog is kept in company, socialized to people and other animals, is properly trained and accepted into the house, then your experience should be completely different.

If your dog is a male, consider having it neutered. This will decrease the aggressiveness that all male dogs are prone to, as well as the roaming that accompanies this behavior. If a female, then consider spaying her as well. There are too many unwanted dogs (in this country anyway!) to add another litter to the numbers. Beyond that, train your dogs by all means. Heel, sit, stay, lie down and stay, and most of all, come when called. Be consistent with your training, and the dog will be consistent in the obedience. I heard a story of a Rottweiler that was very aggressive to the family as well as to visitors. This dog had been passed from owner to owner, as each found the dog too aggressive to keep. Finally, one person that had the dog realized that the dog need a job to keep it occupied. They got some sheep, and instead of killing the sheep, the dog became a herder. The dog had a job, and the family had a dog worthy of keeping. I'm not suggesting that you get sheep as well as a dog! Instead, I recommend that you train whatever dog you get and make it a member of your family. Then you'll all be the happier for the ownership. This advice is irrespective of breed, but be aware that a dalmatian may take a little more work...

Good luck with your choice!
Rich Webb

I really appreciate your concern about the fad purchases of this breed. I agree that it is a fad and the BACKYARD BREEDERS will jump on the stick. I am an A.K.C. breeder of the dalmatian breed. It really upsets me that you would downgrade a beautifully tempered breed. I would never recomend purchasing a dal from the pound. These animals are usually backyard breeding and were not treated correctly in their puppy hood. What you have experienced, is not a true quality dalmatian. I highly recommend dals for children. Jumping on the children is the only bad habit they have. Yes, they are very territorial. My dals will not let me raise my voice to my children. Their main duty in the house is to protect the children. As for the deafness in the breed. ALL white haired breeds carry a deaf gene. All dalmatians carry this gene. It is not from inbreeding. The responsible breeder will put the deaf puppy down and never repeat the same breeding again. The test that is given to puppies is called the baer test. Certain universities offer this test for a fee. Research is being done to eliminate this problem. Yep, you won't see a backyard breeder have their puppies tested. I think you should study the breed and then revise your web page with your new found knowledge. By the way, we did not breed before, during, or after the movie was released.

My dogs, all in the house are "house broken". You will not find any damage from them. Yes they get their exercise. I have the land to give them the oportunity to run their required two mile a day urge. It could be worse since they were bred for running under coaches all day. Next time a dog show is in your area please look me up or any other breeder and see what a dalmatian should be. Like I said before, thank you for trying to stop the dog purchases.

Diane DeLuca (
D-Del Kennels
DallyNatian Kennels

I really enjoyed your web page. We adopted Sparky the European sized dal (85lbs) from the pound when he was 6 months old. It was right before the Disney movie came out. We knew nothing about dalmatians except I love animals and have always had them. The pound tried to discourage the adoption saying Sparky was hyper and a nervous wetter. We also found out quickly he had mange. But, when I adopt an animal it becomes part of the family. Sparky went on my 5mile walk every day, harassed our 16yr old shepard mix, and had submission problems. After neutering him, we found that when he would growl the crate worked well. At two he is a completely different dog. He is not hyper - but we have a big yard for him to romp in. Yes he IS food obsessed and was put on a diet. The kids (10 &5) adore him and lay on him, dress him up, etc.. He never showed agression toward him. He would let anyone come into the house and thinks everyone loves him back. Sparky (he came with this name - and we kept it as it was the only thing he had left of his own) is extremly affectionate. No place is private with him. He barges into the bathroom, tries to sneak on the bed and nibbles on my ears to wake me up. He shows no agression and the crate is gathering dust in the garage. He has free rein of the house during the day as we both work. As long as I close the bedroom doors and put up the garbage - no problems. He has this paw thing where if I pet him he puts it on my lap. Sheds non stop and puts his head on our dining table to beg. After our old dog died, he got lonely for a friend, so we adopted a 10yr old yellow lab retired guide dog. OK - so Toby the yellow lab makes Sparky look really bad.... I think you are doing a service to warn folks about owning a dog, especially high maintenance ones like Dals. Please....we are on the same side - dog lovers - sometimes we have to have a sense of humor too. I laughed when I recognized a lot of the traits you mentioned. It makes me sooooo mad when people dispose of an animal because they don't feel like having them any more. I think had I known about Dal's reputation I might not of adopted Sparky, but then he would have been put to sleep. He was supposed to be put down the next day. But I don't regret him, and enjoy him immensly - he is special.

Amy Dietz (
DallyNatian Kennels

Dear Rich,

I found your site quite amusing. Like you, I have adopted a dalmatian for my sons 5 year birthday. Unlike so many articles and sites that I have read, "Lucky" is the sweetest thing. He is 1 year old and the best dog (out of 3) that I have ever known. Other than refusing to get off my bed, he listens to every command I give him. He is very low-keyed, and does come when called although unleashed.

I have never e-mailed anyone that I do not know however, I guess I am getting tired of hearing negative things of the Dalamatian breed.

Being lovers of the gaseous dogs, I feel (and hope you do to) that some positive things be said along with the awareness of owning the balck and white beauties.

Thanks and Good Luck"y"
Theresa (

There are still important resources available for people who want to have a Dalmatian.

The Dalmatian Overpopulation Taskforce to Educate, Research & Save, a.k.a. DOTTERS has a home page that is an excellent resource for finding out more about this very demanding breed.

For information on rescuing these dogs, contact Dalmatian Rescue Resources for a page on general info on the breed as well as availability of rescuable dogs.

For more information on animal welfare in general, and taking good care of your dog in particular, check out the home page of the Humane Society of the United States.

If you simply MUST have one, look for one in the local pound, or search for a reputable breeder through an organization such as the Dalmatian club of America.

This page is authored and maintained by Rich Webb. You can send E-mail to me by following this link to the contact page. And feel free to contact me if you have any comments, criticisms, or suggestions. I remain, however, perfectly capable of ignoring your useless opinion...

This document was last modified on March 13, 1998, and has been viewed countless times.