What I am about to say here is not intended as an insult to the Dalmatian breed. Not at all, for some people, this breed is the perfect dog. However, it is not the dog for me.
My grandfather took in a Dalmatian that originally belonged to some relatives. He was not, as is often the stereotype, aggressive to either dogs or people. However, he was rather scatty.
Or at least, that’s how we interpreted his behavior. He was nothing like a working golden retriever. He wore my first dog out playing with her– something that virtual no other dog could do.
He was very difficult to focus.
He was high energy, but he wasn’t obsessive in the ways I was more accustomed to. I am much better off with a highly driven, high energy dog that focuses so strongly that it approaches obsession. (See my post on what I prefer in a dog.)
He had lots of energy. His ancestors were bred for two purposes– to walk along with a carriage for mile after mile and look good while doing it. As a result, his ancestors were selected for their endurance, a trait that they passed onto him in great abundance.
And although I really like hard-driving dogs with lots of endurance, this particular dog never seemed to tire.
Now, my skills as a trainer were not what they are today. I probably could have turned him into a wonderful dog. But my golden had by then so spoiled me that I was unaccustomed to dogs that didn’t naturally focus on my voice.
It’s perhaps my impression with this particular dog that led me to believe that Dalmatians were stupid dogs, but now I know that different dogs have different cognitive abilities. For us to go on and on about relative intelligence is rather unscientific.
However, the impression that I got from this dog is that Dalmatians simply aren’t a breed that I would choose. Now, in the hands of the right person, one who could appreciate their eccentricities, I’m sure they are the perfect match.
My guess is that the people who really can handle a Dalmatian are few and far between. That’s one reason why it always bothers me when a that particular film is either released or reproduced. Too many people see these films and then purchase the dogs without really understanding what they’re getting. Six months to a year later, the shelters wind up full of Dalmatians, cast off because their owners couldn’t understand them or cope with their very high energy.