Parents considering a Dalmatian will of course want to know if this breed is good with kids or not. Although every dog is different, it helps to highlight a few of the key Dalmatian temperament traits as well as hear from other parents with a Dalmatian. This article has everything you need to know.
Dalmatians are good with kids that they are raised with but are unpredictable around kids that are unknown to them. Without proper socialization, many dalmatians find it difficult being friendly with strangers.
Are Dalmatians Good With Kids?
Technically, the answer is both yes and no. Dalmatians that are raised with kids usually have no problem building excellent relationships that a parent can be confident in.
But it’s well known that Dalmatians who aren’t properly socialized, are not very naturally friendly or tolerable of strangers (adults or kids).
In addition to this, Dalmatians that have built strong bonds with their owners and human family (including kids) can become overly protective strangers are present.
This can be a problem for parents when their kid wants to invite their friends over. In situations like this, most Dalmatians will not be accepting of the new kids, and parents should take no chances.
4 Key Things Parents Should Know About
Let’s cut to the chase and explain all of the key things (and potential hurdles) that a parent should know about first.
1. Dalmatians can be difficult to train/handle
While many get caught up with the beautiful appearance of a Dalmatian, most underestimate how challenging it is to train and raise a well-behaved Dal.
It takes time, patience, and consistency on a daily basis (for at least the first year) to achieve the well-mannered dog you’re looking for. It’s crucial to consider how this will fit in with your current situation and if you have the time… especially with kids running around!
2. Dalmatians can be aggressive
Let’s make it clear that Dalmatians should not be labeled as an aggressive breed. But under the wrong circumstances and unfavorable conditions, Dals won’t hesitate to snarl, show their teeth, growl, and perhaps even bite.
As mentioned before, in nearly all cases, when a Dal is raised from a young age with the child, this will not likely be an issue. Aggressiveness is more of a problem for strangers, or when trying to bring in an adult dalmatian to your family (rescues).
3. Dalmatians require A LOT of stimulation
Dals are a highly active working breed that requires both physical and mental exercise in abundance. Without sufficient daily stimulation, most Dalmatians will be restless, disobedient, and unruly… exactly what we don’t want with kids around.
What this essentially means for the parent is that quite a bit of spare time and focus are needed to provide this stimulation. 90 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise per day (ideally split into two sessions, morning & night) as well as additional time spent training, interacting, and challenging their minds.
4. Socialization is crucial
One of the most important practices that a Dalmatian owner will need to engage in, is socializing their Dalmatian. This means visiting dog parks, meeting up with friends who have dogs, or joining socialization classes for dogs.
For breeds that aren’t naturally friendly, it’s an absolute must to expose them to new dogs and strangers frequently while they’re still young. Well-socialized dogs are friendlier, calmer, more obedient, and better behaved around kids and young children.
What This Comes Down To
In order for parents to get the best out of their Dalmatian, it’s crucial to sufficiently meet their daily needs.
Problems usually only arise when Dalmatians are bored, frustrated, untrained, and unsocialized. If we, as responsible owners, ensure this doesn’t happen, then we are best set up for excellent behavior and temperament.
Unfortunately, I see many owners getting dogs for their children, without fully understanding or appreciating the effort that they must put in.
Why Dalmatians Are Great Companions For Kids
Aside from the challenges listed above, there are many reasons why Dalmatians make great companions for kids.
Dalmatians are known for developing strong bonds with their owners and human family, which is crucial for our kids.
As young children have so much love and affection to give to their dog, it helps to have a breed that actually appreciates and reciprocates those emotions and feelings too… Dalmatians have no problem in this department.
Another positive for kids and Dalmatians is that they both love to play. Whether it be a game of fetch, tug of war, or hide and seek (super fun) Dals love to be a part of any activity that’s happening in the household.
Overall, the combination of a Dalmatian’s emotional and affectionate nature, mixed with their desire to play makes them excellent companions for kids.
What Parents Had To Say (Dalmatian Owners)
While creating this article we researched extensively what actual owners (who were parents too) had to say. We made polls, asked questions in forums, and even consulted with owners we saw in the local dog park.
As expected, the answers were of course all gleaming. All owners had only positive things to say about how their Dalmatian interacted with their kids.
Owners Tip: A handful of owners did point out that particular supervision is necessary when concerning playtime. Some Dalmatians get a little carried away (usually puppies) and playtime can become a little rambunctious… Although there are no bad intentions here, boisterous play can be very overwhelming and scary for young children.
Apart from extra caution concerning playtime, owners had no qualms or issues with how their Dalmatians behaved around their children.
Owners Tip: Owners also pointed out that involving the kids with tasks like feeding, rewarding, training and exercising helped develop the relationship further.
The Importance of Boundaries
Perhaps the key to this success, which all owners pointed out, was that there must be boundaries in place for both their Dal and the kids. “Kids must learn to give their Dal peace when peace is needed, and have to understand what behavior is appropriate.” And the same goes for the Dalmation… If any behavior seems “too much” then it has to be swiftly corrected and addressed.
Examples of good boundaries to set:
- No interruptions when sleeping, napping or resting
- No interruptions when eating
- No pulling or poking the tail, ears, or belly
- Playtime is limited to small bursts (while you can supervise)
- Dalmatian is never allowed to jump up at the kids
- Dalmatian is not allowed to get overly boisterous or physical
- Dalmatian shouldn’t be allowed in a room alone with the kid
These are some of the boundaries that owners said they had in place. Setting more may be necessary, depending on your situation.
By sticking to these rules, we limit the chance of a bad experience happening (boisterous play, an aggressive remark, etc).
These boundaries encourage a healthy relationship with a lot of mutual respect. The further this goes, the less likely it will be that the Dalmatian crosses the line in any kind of way.
Although Dalmatians are likely to get on well with a young child they are raised with, we as parents should never fully trust them (at least not for many years).
We must always put in place safety measures and supervise when we can, especially while our dogs are puppies and more erratic in their behavior.
Not until our dogs are older, more mellow, and have a well-established relationship with our children should we consider leaving them alone. And even then, in many situations, it’s still not advised.
In general, however, those considering bringing in a puppy Dalmatian should have no problem nurturing a great relationship between them both.
Thank you for reading! More Dalmatian articles >