Dalmatians are known to be a loving, kind and loyal dog breed that’s very friendly with children and other household pets. However, there are mixed opinions on whether Dalmatians are known to be aggressive towards people and other dogs. If you’re thinking about introducing a Dalmatian into your home – you may have wondered whether Dalmatians are aggressive and if the breed is suitable for your family, given their large size.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about a Dalmatian’s temperament and whether they are aggressive, to help make the best decision for you from the onset. Nobody wants to introduce a dog into the home with a fear that it may become aggressive and cause harm, so it’s important to understand a dog’s temperament before making any decisions.
Are Dalmatians aggressive?
Here’s what you need to know about a Dalmatian’s temperament.
The short answer
In most cases no, Dalmatians aren’t aggressive. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. Dalmatians are known to be a very protective, loving and true-hearted breed that make great family pets and are known to have gentle natures, which makes them a good fit for families with children.
The long answer
As with any dog breed – there’s always the potential for aggression and sudden outbursts of anger, no matter how docile and loving they may seem, so this will very much depend on the Dalmatian’s personality, but also their environment and how they’ve been raised and trained.
Environment and socialisation
If the Dalmatian has been socialised properly from a young age then there’s a good chance that the hostile tendencies will be significantly reduced, however, if they were raised in a shelter that hasn’t had the best start in life – this could be a different story and could encourage aggressive and unwanted behaviour.
As with any unfriendly upbringing, a lack of socialisation and bad experiences with people or other dogs can lead to aggression in Dalmatians, so it’s important that they have a good foundation from the start.
Dalmatians can be very stubborn
Dalmatians are also known to be quite headstrong and stubborn, which means they may not always listen to their owner’s commands – especially if they don’t think they’re in charge. This can sometimes lead to them getting into scraps with other dogs if they’re not properly supervised, as they may not back down from a fight even if it’s not what their owner wants.
In general, however, Dalmatians are gentle giants that make great family pets and are very unlikely to spark outrage or aggressive outbursts without any prior warning or justification.
Of course, as with any dog – it’s always important to be cautious when introducing them to new people and environments, as you never know how they may react in certain situations. But, if you’re looking for a loving, loyal and protective family pet – a Dalmatian could be a good choice, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with their fun and energetic personality in no time.
Do Dalmations get along with other dogs?
Yes, Dalmatians that are well-socialised are known to get along well with other dogs, whether that’s co-existing with them in the same household, or seeing and socialising with other dogs on a walk or run. They can become quite attached to other dogs and love nothing more than playing and cuddling up with them – much like they would their owners.
A great upbringing and plenty of time socialising will mean that they should be fine with other dogs, with little to no aggression. They are also incredibly fast, so they are known to love a good game of catch and chase with other dogs you may encounter on your adventures, increasing the likelihood of creating new friends along the way.
Will a Dalmatian get along with my cat?
As with any dog, it’s always best to supervise them around smaller animals, as there is always a potential for chasing and nipping – even if they’re not being aggressive. However, in most cases, a trained and friendly dog should be fine living with smaller pets. But you shouldn’t ever leave them alone together unsupervised, just in case (even if they seem absolutely fine together).
To increase the chances of your cat and Dalmatian forming an excellent bond, it’s recommended to introduce a Dalmatian puppy to the household when the cat is also a young kitten, as this will give them time to grow up together and get used to each other’s company.
Dalmatians can also be quite independent, so they may not always want to share your attention with a feline friend and could ignore them altogether – but this isn’t usually a cause for concern.
Do Dalmations have bad tempers?
It’s not uncommon for Dalmatians to have little outbursts of bad tempers, like any dog breed, and sulk, but generally speaking, Dalmatians are known to be even-tempered and good-natured.
These little mood swings usually pass quickly and they’ll be back to their usual, happy selves in no time. However, if the bad temper is something that’s happening more frequently – this could be a sign of something bigger, such as frustration, anxiety or boredom, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on them and seeking professional help if necessary. There could be something that’s bothering them that may not be obvious.
Aggression in Dalmatians usually only occurs when they feel threatened or are provoked – such as if another dog attacks them first, or if they perceive someone to be a threat to their family or home. In these situations, their natural instinct is to protect and their aggressive tendencies will likely come out. But, this doesn’t mean that all Dalmatians will become aggressive in these situations – it very much depends on the individual dog – all breeds react to uncomfortable situations differently, some will show aggressive behaviour, some will back down, and others may not react at all.
Are Dalmatians easy to train?
Dalmatians are known to be one of the easier breeds to train, as they are known to be very intelligent, have high energy, and are quick to learn new commands and tricks. According to Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist and author of ‘The Intelligence of Dogs‘, which ranks different dog breeds by their intelligence, Dalmatians are the 62nd most intelligent breed of dog.
This makes them “Above Average” in intelligence, which means they should be relatively easy to train. However, as with all dogs, they will need plenty of patience, positive reinforcement, and consistency to learn effectively. They make fantastic family pets and are often used in obedience trials, agility competitions, and flyball, as well as guarding property.
Some of the most common commands that Dalmatians learn easily include ‘sit‘, ‘stay‘, ‘come’, ‘down’, and ‘heel’. More complex and difficult tricks, such as ‘roll over, ‘speak’, and ‘shake hands’ may take a little longer for them to learn – but with plenty of patience and practice, they should be able to pick it up eventually.
Are Dalmatians good with children?
Dalmatians can easily get along with children if they are unprovoked and raised with them from puppyhood, as they are a very friendly and good-natured breed. They have an inherent desire to please their owners and love being around people, so they make great family pets and are protective of their family, particularly children.
But as with all sizeable animals, it’s important to keep watch when small children and Dalmatians are playing together, as the dog may not realise their own strength and size and could accidentally knock them over. Children should also be taught how to approach and touch dogs safely so that they do not startle or scare them – and always get an adult’s permission before petting any dog.
With proper care, attention, and socialisation, Dalmatians can make great family pets that will bring years of enjoyment.
Are Dalmatians good family dogs?
Absolutely, in fact, due to their kind-hearted nature and willingness to protect, care and serve their family, they make terrific family pets. They are happiest when they’re around people and love being part of the action, so if you’re looking for a dog to join your family, a Dalmatian could be the perfect fit.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has rated the Dalmatian as a “Lovey-Dovey” when it comes to being affectionate with their family, and this is the highest rating possible. They are also known for being good with children and are rated “Good With Children” by the AKC.
Dalmatians love the outdoors
A Dalmatian could be a suitable breed for families that enjoy the outdoors, as they are high-energy dogs that need plenty of exercise – they love going for long walks, runs, and hikes with their humans. If you don’t enjoy walking or running, then it wouldn’t be fair to keep a Dalmatian as they will become frustrated and destructive if they’re not given enough opportunities to burn off their energy. This could encourage aggressive behaviour.
Dalmatians are highly intelligent
Dalmatians are very intelligent dogs that are easy to train, so if you’re looking for a family-friendly breed that is obedient and well-behaved, a Dalmatian could be a good choice, especially if you want to train them to be good around children.
They have a high level of intelligence for a number of reasons – they were originally bred as hunting dogs, so they needed to be able to understand and follow complex commands; they were also used as firefighting dogs, so they needed to be smart enough to learn how to use the equipment, and they were later bred as companion animals, so they needed to be intelligent enough to understand and respond to human emotions.
Dalmatians are easy to train but need lots of mental stimulation
This high level of intelligence means that they are easy to train and pick up new tricks quickly – but it also means that they can get bored easily, so it’s important to keep their minds active with plenty of mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys, training classes, and playtime, otherwise, their bordem could very quickly turn to destructive behaviour.
Dalmatians love humans!
Dalmatians love their humans, and they love being around people – they’re very friendly, good-natured dogs that enjoy being part of the family.
Why did my Dalmatian suddenly become aggressive?
There are many reasons why a Dalmatian may act aggressively, so it’s important to get to the root of the problem so that you can provide your Dalmatian with the necessary care, attention, and training to help them overcome and control their aggression (4, 5).
Some possible causes of aggression in Dalmatians include:
Lack of socialisation
If a Dalmatian (or any dog breed) hasn’t been properly socialised, they may be fearful or aggressive around new people, animals, and situations.
Bordem and lack of exercise
A lack of exercise and mental and physical stimulation can result in bordem, and this can promote destructive and aggressive behaviour in order to help stimulate their minds.
Insecurity and fear
If a Dalmatian feels insecure or afraid, they may act aggressively in order to protect themselves or their family. This is a natural instinct for any animal, but it’s important to make sure that your Dalmatian knows that they are safe and loved, so they don’t feel the need to act aggressively.
Sickness or injury
If a Dalmatian is in pain due to sickness or injury, they may lash out aggressively when touched or handled. Just like humans, when we aren’t feeling very well and under the weather, we can sometimes act out of character – the same applies to dogs.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to feel the need to isolate themselves during pregnancy, and this can sometimes manifest as aggression towards humans or other animals. If you have been breeding your Dalmatian and suddenly notice a spark in aggression, it could be a sign that they are pregnant, or are wanting some “quiet time” to themselves.
As dogs age, they can sometimes become more aggressive due to changes in their physical and mental health – for example, they may suffer from joint pain, which can make them grouchy, or they may develop dementia, which can lead to changes in their behaviour.
If a Dalmatian isn’t being properly cared for, such as being fed a nutritious diet every day, given appropriate exercise, or being left alone for long periods of time, they may become frustrated and aggressive. If you change your Dalmatian’s routine, such as working longer hours or going on an unexpected vacation, this can also lead to an increase in aggression or resentment.
It’s important to remember that aggression is a behaviour, not a personality trait – so even the most placid and gentle Dalmatian can become aggressive under the right circumstances.
What should I do if my Dalmatian acts aggressively?
If your Dalmatian has shown an increase in aggressive behaviour, it’s important to seek professional help from a qualified animal behaviourist or dog trainer to find out the underlying cause and to work on a training and management plan to address the problem.
If you don’t take the time and energy to investigate the issue, the aggression is likely to continue and could even escalate, so it’s important to get help as soon as possible. You wouldn’t ever want your Dalmatian to be aggressive with a family member or worse, your child.
Aggressive behaviour in Dalmatians includes biting, growling, snapping, lunging, and charging at people or other animals – if your Dalmatian is displaying any of these behaviours, it’s a sign that they are likely distressed or feeling threatened in some way, and you should seek professional help to find out why.
Conclusion: Are Dalmatians aggressive?
In most cases, Dalmatians are a loving breed that cares, protects and provides company to their family and closest loved ones. However, like all animals, and even humans, they are capable of feeling a range of emotions, including aggression, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and factors that can influence this behaviour.
If you’re concerned about your Dalmatian’s aggressive behaviour, or if they’ve started to act out of character, it’s best to seek professional help so you can find out the root cause and work on a plan to address the problem.
If you are thinking of welcoming a Dalmatian into your home but are concerned for your safety, then we believe that with the right knowledge and care, you can have a Dalmatian that is just as loving and protective as any other dog. Just remember to provide them with plenty of love, attention, exercise and stimulation, and they’ll be your best friend for life.
- The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions
- Wikipedia - Stanley Coren
- American Kennel Club - Dalmatian Breed Traits & Characteristics
- American Kennel Club - What Is Aggression? Dog Reactivity vs. Dog Aggression
- VCA Animal Hospitals - Dog Behavior Problems - Aggression to Family Members