Are Dalmatians Good Apartment Dogs?

Ever since Disney released and re-released the film 101 Dalmatians, movie fans all over the world have fallen in love with Dalmatians.

If you’re considering getting a dalmatian, you might be wondering if they make good apartment dogs.

While each dog is different, dalmatians generally have high energy levels and need plenty of space to run around – which may not be ideal for small apartments.

However, with some proper training and exercise, dalmatians can definitely live happily in an apartment.

Keep reading to learn more about whether dalmatians are good apartment dogs.

Why You Might Want a Dalmatian as Your Apartment Dog

Dalmatians have one of the most interesting coats in the animal kingdom.

Their white fur sports just enough spots of black or liver to capture your attention.

Loves human family

Dalmatians are extroverts. They enjoy being around people.

They are lovey-dovey with their human family.

Great watchdog

Dalmatians were bred to be war dogs. They make great watchdogs.

They defend their territory.

Doesn’t bark a lot

Dalmatians won’t bark just because they hear the neighbor’s dog walking by or when you invite someone they don’t know into your apartment. 

Dog Time rates them as 1 on a scale of 1-5 for the tendency to bark.

Slim, muscular, athletic companion

Dalmatians possess slim, muscular physiques.

They can follow runners, bikers, and, unfortunately, cars effortlessly with a dignified gait.

Healthy and long-lived

Dalmatians are healthy dogs that enjoy longer lifespans than most other large dogs. They typically reach an age of 12 to 14 years.

Highly intelligent

Canine psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren says that Dalmatians have an “above average” canine IQ.

It takes some effort—25 to 40 repetitions—to teach a Dalmatian a new command, but they will obey their masters more often than not.

Dalmatians are lively and energetic, intelligent, trainable, and eager to please.

Every Dalmatian is filled with personality. But as apartment dogs, they take a lot of additional care.

Some Reasons Dalmatians are Not Good Apartment Dogs

No dog is perfect, not even a lovable, beautiful, photogenic dog like a Dalmatian.

Destructive when they are puppies

Dalmatian puppies are extremely active. They can be wild, boisterous, and destructive, especially when they are teething.

They eventually calm down to the point they are merely excitable, goofy dogs, but usually not until after they have done a lot of chewing and knocking things over around the apartment.

Shed a lot

Dalmatians shed constantly. But on the plus side, unless you get a long-haired Dalmatian (see the FAQ below), their hair repels dirt and debris.

Need regular grooming

Dalmatians have long ears that are prone to infection. You may smell an ear infection before you see it.

They also need to have their nails trimmed about once a month so they can walk and run comfortably.

Prone to roam

Dalmatians were bred to follow alongside carriages and wagons across rugged terrain for miles on end without a break.

When they decide to roam, they can be very difficult to retrieve.

Subject to separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is inevitable when a Dalmatian is left alone too long.

A Dalmatian on its own in a tiny apartment for more than two or three hours will whine, bark, and cry in an attempt to gain attention. And chances are that your neighbors will notice!

Require the right training as puppies

Socialization as puppies is essential to ensure that Dalmatians will not become snappy or aggressive toward other dogs, cats, and people they do not know later in life.

Dalmatians who are not given happy experiences with outsiders when they are three or four months old will tend to be standoffish or aggressive for the rest of their lives.

Like being the alpha dog

Dalmatians instinctively compete to be alpha-dog, especially with other dogs of the same sex.

They will bark or snap at other dogs at the dog park if they are not well trained.

Best-suited for ground-floor apartments or buildings that have elevators

Like many other breeds of dogs, Dalmatians are at risk for a condition called hip dysplasia.

This potentially crippling disease occurs when the cartilage around the hip joint fails to form, so the ball and socket of the hip are not held in place.

Excessive running or having to walk up and down stairs as puppies can trigger the disease. These activities become impossible for older dogs that have developed the condition.

Often prohibited by apartment management

And last but not least, even though Dalmatians are medium-sized dogs, they are extremely active dogs, and many apartment complexes place them on their list of prohibited breeds.

That is because they become destructive if they do not get enough exercise.

There are ways to deal with all of these problems. If you have your heart set on making a Dalmatian your apartment pet, it’s possible!

But you need to know what you are up against and what you will have to do to make the situation work.

Choose a Healthy Puppy

The first step to a successful apartment living with a Dalmatian is making sure you have a healthy dog.

Dalmatians are generally strong, athletic, active dogs, but they are at risk for a number of serious genetic conditions.

  • Allergies. Dalmatians are prone to skin allergies. The problem can be controlled with diet, being sure to use shampoos and toothpaste (yes, dogs need to have their teeth brushed) designed for dogs, not people, and careful flea control.
  • Deafness. The same genes that give dogs spotted or piebald coats are also associated with deafness. Dalmatians, along with English Setters and Australian Cattle Dogs, are prone to deafness in one or both ears. About 12 percent of Dalmatians are deaf in both ears, and about 25 percent are deaf in one ear. A deaf dog can make a wonderful pet, but you will need to take special precautions to avoid problems with traffic.
  • Sudden collapse. Dalmatians are among the breeds that are at higher than average risk for dilated cardiomyopathy, which can cause sudden death in middle-aged or older dogs. Making sure you take your dog for all regularly scheduled visits with the vet will lower risk.

How can you be sure your Dalmatian puppy isn’t at risk for these conditions? Buy your Dalmatian puppy from a reputable breeder.

Responsible breeders will know your puppy’s bloodlines back for several generations. They will not permit Dalmatians with genetic problems to reproduce.

They will let them live their lives happily after they are spayed or neutered. They will do genetic testing to make sure your puppy isn’t predisposed to these conditions.

You can locate reputable breeders through AKC Puppy Marketplace or Dalmatian Club of America. If you are interested in an older dog, contact Save the Dals (rescue organization).

They will make sure you have all the information you need for the best possible experience with your dog.

Dalmatians Need a Lot of Exercise

There is just one more thing you absolutely must understand about Dalmatians before you adopt one to live with you in your apartment:

No other breed needs more exercise than Dalmatians.

Dalmatians need about two hours of exercise every day to burn off excess energy.

Most owners find that five trips outside for playtime is about right. It’s important to avoid too much vigorous exercise when your Dalmatian is a puppy.

Excessive exercise can trigger hip dysplasia. But it is also important that an older dog gets enough exercise.

Obese, older Dalmatians are at greater risk for a variety of health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dalmatians as Apartment Dogs

Can Dalmatians stand hot weather without air conditioning?

Dalmatians are generally heat-tolerant dogs. After all, they are favorite firehouse mascots.

Their long ears, lanky build, short coats, and long muzzles give them heat resistance that other breeds do not enjoy.

But if it is warm enough outside that you feel the need for air conditioning, chances are that your Dalmatian will, too.

The breeder showed me a totally white puppy and told me the spots will come in later. Is this true?

Yes, Dalmatian puppies are usually born with a pure white coat, and only get their spots when they are three or four months old.

Are Dalmatians good family dogs?

Small children and Dalmatians don’t always mix. These dogs can be too boisterous for small children.

Pre-schoolers will need to be taught how to play with their dog, and keep their dog safe when they go outside.

Children under the age of 10 and Dalmatians need to be supervised by an adult when they are together.

But Dalmatians relate well to children who are middle-school age or or in their teenage years.

Do Dalmatians like swimming? Are they safe around the pool?

Dalmatians do not instinctively know how to swim. They have to be taught how to swim.

You need to keep your Dalmatian on a leash around the pool or when you are walking alongside any large body of water, like a river or lake, to keep your dog safe until they learn.

Is there such a thing as a long-haired Dalmatian?

Long-haired Dalmatians, also known as LC Dalmatians, inherit a gene for long hair from both of their parents.

The long hair trait is rare, but it really helps the dog stay active in colder climates.

However, long hair means more shedding unless the dog is brushed and combed several times a week.

How do I introduce my new Dalmatian puppy to my cat?

Remember one principle for introducing pets to each other:

For both dogs and cats, smelling is believing.

Keeping your pets in separate rooms, give both of them access to an item like a blanket or a toy that has the other pet’s scent.

A day or so later, let them see each other from a safe distance, preferably with a glass door or doggie gate separating them.

On the third day, place them in the same room and supervise the formal introduction. But do not force either pet to play with the other until they are ready, on their own time.

In this article, I shared some reasons that make dalmatians a good apartment dog, and I also share some undesirable traits that can make it challenging for you to keep dalmatians in an apartment.

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