The Dalmatian is a mid-sized, well-defined, muscular dog with excellent endurance and stamina. When full grown, its weight normally ranges between 35 and 70 pounds (16 and 32 kg) and it stands from 19 to 24 inches (48 to 61 cm) tall, with males usually slightly larger than females. The body is as long from forechest to buttocks as it is tall at the withers, and the shoulders are laid back. The Dalmatian’s feet are round with well-arched toes, and the nails are usually white or the same colour as the dog’s spots. The thin ears taper towards the tip and are set fairly high and close to the head. Eye color varies between brown, amber, or blue, with some dogs having one blue eye and one brown eye, or other combinations.
Dalmatian puppies are born with plain white coats and their first spots usually appear within three weeks after birth. After about a month, they have most of their spots, although they continue to develop throughout life at a much slower rate. Spots usually range in size from 30 to 60 mm, and are most commonly black or brown (liver) on a white background. Other, more rare colors, include blue (a blue-grayish color), brindle, mosaic, tricolored (with tan spotting on the eyebrows, cheeks, legs, and chest), and orange or lemon (dark to pale yellow). Patches of color appear anywhere on the body, mostly on the head or ears, and usually consist of a solid color.
The roles of this ancient breed are as varied as their reputed ancestors. They were used as dogs of war, guarding the borders of Dalmatia. To this day, the breed retains a high guarding instinct; although friendly and loyal to those the dog knows and trusts, it is often aloof with strangers and unknown dogs. Dalmatians have a strong hunting instinct and are an excellent exterminator of rats and vermin. In sporting, they have been used as bird dogs, trail hounds, retrievers, or in packs for boar or stag hunting. Their dramatic markings and intelligence have made them successful circus dogs throughout the years. Dalmatians are perhaps best known for their role as fire-fighting apparatus escorts and firehouse mascots
Dalmatians are a relatively healthy and easy to keep breed. Like other breeds, Dalmatians display a propensity towards certain health problems specific to their breed, such as deafness, allergies and urinary stones. Reputable breeders have their puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to ensure the status of the hearing on their pups. Hip dysplasia is not a major issue in this breed.