If there’s one breed that nearly everyone can recognize at a glance, it’s the Dalmatian. While 101 Dalmatians may have catapulted the breed to fame (and potentially contributed to overbreeding and a reduced Dalmatian lifespan), this dog was recognizable long before the film, thanks to its spotted coat. But what else does that coat have in store for potential owners? Do Dalmatians shed?
Not only does the Dalmatian shed, but it sheds in black and white. This color pattern makes it harder to camouflage your dog’s shedding. You’ll see the dog’s black hair if you have white upholstery. And if you have dark upholstery, you’ll see the white hair. But, it’s not a lost cause. There are steps you can take to reduce Dalmatian shedding.
We’ll explain what to expect from the Dalmatian coat, when and how much this breed sheds, and what you can do about it.
The Dalmatian Coat
Dalmatians have smooth coats. It’s one of the nine coat types recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Many popular dog breeds sport this same type of coat. For example, English and French bulldogs, boxers, Boston terriers, and Doberman pinschers are all smooth-coated dogs.
While smooth-coated dogs do shed, they don’t shed nearly as much as double-coated dogs like the Labrador retriever and husky. And because most Dalmatians have short hair, their shedding won’t be as noticeable as a dog with long hair.
There are rare Dals that have slightly longer hair, particularly on their ears, tail, and neck. But this is not part of the breed standard and isn't recognized by the AKC or the Dalmatian Club of America. It's better not to seek out a rare mutation within a breed because it can contribute to irresponsible breeding.
Why Do Dals Have Smooth, Short Coats?
A lot that’s still unknown about the Dalmatian’s origins, so it’s difficult to say why they developed their smooth, short coat. But Dals are thought to have originated in Dalmatia, a historic region of Croatia where you can find the modern city of Dubrovnik.
Long before they earned their spot as firehouse mascots, Dalmatians served as carriage dogs and guard dogs. They’d run alongside the carriages of wealthy aristocrats and protect them from robbers. Keeping pace with a carriage is a serious workout. And this intense exercise may have kept Dals warm, so they didn’t need a dense undercoat like Labs and huskies.
Dalmatia also has a temperate, Mediterranean climate. And most Dalmatian dogs would have slept in the stables with the carriage horses, which would’ve helped to keep them warm at night. Essentially, most Dalmatians probably wouldn’t have needed a dense, fluffy coat, so they developed a short coat — one that sheds. But luckily, it does shed significantly less than many fluffier dog breeds.
When Do Dalmatians Shed?
According to the Dalmatian Club of America, Dals shed year-round, but you may notice slightly more shedding in the spring and fall.
This annual shedding pattern is common for many dog breeds. But with Dalmatians, you won’t see as big of a difference between their year-round shedding and their spring and fall shedding compared to a double-coated dog breed.
Labs and huskies, for example, shed year-round and then blow their coat in the spring and fall, losing nearly half of their fur during the shedding season (and leaving giant tufts of hair blowing around your house). Dalmatians, on the other hand, simply continue to shed their dead hair.
How Much Do Dalmatians Shed?
Dalmatians are moderate shedders. While the amount of shedding varies slightly throughout the year, you’ll typically see a few loose hairs as you pet your dog and some on your upholstery or clothing afterward. The same is true after your dog lies on the furniture.
Heavy shedding is not normal for Dalmatians. If a Dal loses hair to the point that they develop a noticeably thinner coat or bald spots, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem, like fleas, allergies, or a genetic disorder. Contact a veterinarian if you notice excessive hair loss in any dog.
What Can You Do to Reduce Dalmatian Shedding?
Dalmatian shedding is normal, and you won’t be able to prevent shedding entirely. However, dog owners can take steps to keep their pup’s coat healthy and prevent excessive shedding. Plus, some techniques can help reduce the amount of Dalmatian hair you find around your house. So, if you want a Dalmatian but hate finding dog hair around your home, try these techniques to make the shedding more manageable.
- Get your Dalmatian puppy from a responsible breeder: A responsible breeder will screen their dogs for health issues. This can help prevent genetic disorders that cause hair loss, like hypothyroidism (as well as other common Dalmatian health problems like deafness).
- Feed a high-quality dog food: A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are key to keeping your dog healthy. Choose a dog food with real meat as the first ingredient, whole food fruits and vegetables in the ingredient list, and a formula specific to your dog’s life stage.
- Use a fish oil supplement: Fish oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific research published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that omega-3s help promote skin and coat health in dogs.
- Provide vet-prescribed flea medication: Fleas are a common cause of excessive shedding and bald spots in dogs. Using a vet-prescribed medication can help keep your pet flea-free all year round.
- Bathe your Dal with a de-shedding shampoo: A de-shedding shampoo will help remove more loose hairs when you wash your dog, so you’ll leave hairs circling the drain instead of circulating around your house.
- Brush your dog once a week: Dalmatian’s short hair doesn’t tangle, so you won’t need to brush to remove mats. But regular brushing with a soft-bristle brush helps remove loose hairs before they fall out around your house. And it spreads the natural oils in your dog’s coat more evenly, which keeps the coat healthy.
- Invest in a robot vacuum: If you vacuum daily, it will keep the dog hair around your house to a minimum. If you don’t have time to vacuum that often (and most of us don’t), consider a robot vacuum that automatically runs daily to clean hair off your floors.
- Use an air purifier: An air purifier helps remove large particles, like pet hair, from the air in a room. Place air purifiers in each room where you spend a lot of time to reduce the amount of airborne hair.
- Keep lint rollers handy: To remove pet hair from your clothes, keep lint rollers near the door and in your car so you can easily touch up your outfit before you head out.
- Choose microfiber upholstery: Dalmatian hairs are thick and coarse. They can easily get stuck in woven upholstery and will be difficult to remove. A smooth microfiber fabric prevents this hairy situation and is easy to clean in case of other pet messes.
Are Dalmatians Hypoallergenic?
Because Dalmatians shed, they are not hypoallergenic. While dog hair isn’t the source of pet allergies (that honor goes to a protein in dog dander and saliva), dogs that shed spread dander around the house, triggering allergy symptoms.
If you’re trying to avoid shedding because you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, then a Dalmatian isn’t the right dog for you. Instead, consider one of the five types of poodles. Poodles are considered the least likely to cause allergies of any breed and make great family pets.
If you love the Dalmatian’s high-energy levels, then a Portuguese water dog might be right for you. This non-shedding dog breed also has a striking black and white coat (although it does not have the Dal’s distinctive spots). And if you want a guard dog like the Dalmatian, consider the giant or standard schnauzer.
With a Dal, You’ll Spot Some Shedding
Dalmatians shed. So, there are better choices than this breed for allergy sufferers, and Dals may not be the right choice for people who want a spotless home. But, the Dal is an intelligent, sensitive, and loyal breed that can be an excellent choice for active pet owners who don’t mind a little cleaning up.
The Dalmatian’s smooth, short coat is low maintenance. It only needs an occasional bath with de-shedding shampoo and a weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush to look its best. While the Dal’s coat does shed, it doesn’t shed nearly as much as double-coated dog breeds, and the short hairs will be less noticeable around your house than long hairs.
If you invest in a robot vacuum and keep a few lint rollers handy, you can minimize the amount of dog hair around your house and live happily with a Dal.
To learn more about your favorite dog breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.