Why Dalmatians End Up in Rescue

by Susan Linden on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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in View from the Rescue Desk

Dalmatian in shelter kennel

Dalmatian in shelter kennel

Do you believe that dogs that end up in shelters deserve to be there? If so, you are not alone.

Many people in the general public think that shelter dogs must be dangerous or ill, too active or untrainable. And Dalmatians? Aren’t they all destructive, deaf, and prone to biting children? Hardly surprising, then, to see that their owners have given them up.

In fact, Dalmatians, like other dogs, land in shelters for reasons that have far more to do with the life of their human than with their own behavior. Changes in life circumstances are the most common reasons for which people give up dogs. It’s pretty simple. In our experience, the human who relinquishes a Dalmatian is likely to have recently gotten married, had a child, been divorced, found a new job, lost a job, moved, or suffered a severe illness. Or even gone to jail.

The Dalmatian may be young or old, male or female, healthy or sick: there is simply no longer a place for the dog in the human’s life.

Many of these people claim to love their Dalmatian, and indeed they may. One young woman sat weeping in a vet’s office with her beautiful young Dal, waiting to have the four-year-old euthanized. She was getting married, she told us, and her fianc√© did not like dogs. Another young couple with a toddler called us to pick up their Dalmatian. They had had her since she was a puppy but, now, six years later, the wife no longer wanted a dog in the house. The husband was outside sobbing quietly as I left with the sweet girl.

Others sometimes cannot, or will not, make the required financial sacrifice to have their dog released from a shelter. We took in a fourteen-year-old Dal last year who had been picked up as a stray. Her owners were found, but they did not want her back. The cute three-year-old boy in the photo above was picked up running loose back in 2006. When the owner came in, he simply signed the dog over to the shelter rather than pay the required fee.

All four of these dogs were taken into our rescue program and, like so many others, went on to find new homes, loving humans, and all the care they needed to live happy and healthy lives.

Alex and Friend

Alex and Friend

The boy in the shelter photo, whose name is now Alex, was adopted by a wonderful couple in Illinois in October 2006. He has a cat for a best friend, and he keeps all his toys in a row. He will never be homeless again.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia Rosiek May 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I only wish you’d adopt to responsible people from other states. I swear, you’ve had some great dogs my husband and I would have driven cross country to adopt. We’d have brought our two dals, and let them all meet. We used to live in Deerfield, does that count? :)


Susan May 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm

We adopt to responsible people in seven states and I do not see us expanding anytime soon. California is far away! I count on some of our adopters becoming volunteers, too, in one way or another. That would be hard to do, from California. I KNOW that there are Dals to be rescued in California, too. I thank you for your comments here and on our FaceBook Page!


Danielle Molln March 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

To Cynthia Rosiek
Are you and your husband still looking for another Dalmatian? We have a 7 yr old female we are trying to find a good home for. She has Addisons disease and requires steroid injections every month. We have had our dog since she was 7 weeks old and she was dx with Addisons when she was 2. She has been getting increasingly aggressive towards our 12 year old and we recently had a baby that I think she is jealous towards and growls at him and we are afraid she is going to bite someone. I really think she just needs more attention that we are able to give her at this time. She was used to all the attention and I think this has added stress to her addisons too. I love our dog and its breaking my heart trying to find her another home but Im afraid we wont find her a good home with her medical issues and it breaks my heart more to think of having to put her down. If you or anyone you know can help us please e-mail me! [email protected]


Kari Martin August 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm

When I was a young adult and left home and spent nearly 5 years in an apartment that didn’t allow pets. When I was 24, I was able to buy my own home. In the same week that I closed escrow, I went and looked at a litter of baby dalmations. The breeder was taking $50 deposits. I didn’t know how I could pick a puppy that would have desired spot disgtribution since they were colid white. My other desired breed was mini dachshund. I ended up with a mini dachshund. 13 years later when the same dachshund developed cushing’s disease and secondary diabetes and passed away, I went to my local Humane Society hoping to find another dachshund or beagle. Well, they had a 4 year old dalmation that had been there for a few weeks. She was very depressed over being dumped there and hadn’t been eating. She had a bowl full of kibble untouched. She was very thin and a very sad look in her eyes. I knew her days were numbered and would be put to sleep soon if not adopted. I said, “I’ll take her.” The volunteers that worked there all hugged me. Her name had been Angel. My parents had a dog with that name, so I named her Abby……Dear Abby. My husband soon began calling her “Issues” and she had many. She had occasional seizures, and a neurotic obsession with her feet. She would literally put her entire foot in her mouth and naw on it until she had no hair on her feet, and would become inflamed. Her other obsession was with her ears; sticking her feet in her ears and scratch till it hurt and would cry as she continued to dig in those ears. She broke blood vessels in her ear flaps at least 6 or 7 times. Often requiring anesthesia to drain and and cross-stitch. Despite her issues, Abby has been a very sweet dog and never aggressive towards other dogs or people. Any kids she came in contact with, she would wag her tail and loved being patted or petted by any age child. She has never been a nuisance barker. If she been one of many dals that day, I still would have chosen her. Perfect spot distribution, with a perfect heart on her left shoulder blade. I always say she wears her heart on her sleeve. Abby is 15 now and has become very hard of hearing. She has some bad days, when getting around is slow and difficult. But she always makes it out the doggy door to do her business. I give her 2 baby aspirin with her lunch every day along with pureed sweet potato. She is nearing the end and I know her days are now numbered. Her eyes are still very clear, and when I look into her eyes, I see the past 11 years that she has been in my life, and despite her neurotic issues she found her “place” in my home and among the other dogs, and quickly went from being a sad, thin, depressed dog with no home, to being a happy, healthy dalmation and an important part of my family, If every dalmation were like Abby, I would take an entire litter.


adella cotton February 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Kari Martin: that was a sweet story. As my mom had 2 Dalmatian. Pretty and pongo. Pretty was with as for about 3 years – pongo almost 14 years. Pretty came from PAWS. She could not hear and had seizure. They both had a good life with my mom. Now all she has is midget.


stacey hamilton April 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I have a deaf dalmation and I’ve read that they are hi risk to bite humans is that true??


Susan Linden April 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

That is NOT true! Deaf Dals do very well in life. Like all dogs, they live primarily in a world of scent and have no trouble understanding their world. Take a look at our posters created for Deaf Dog Awareness Week 2013: http://www.pinterest.com/susanhlinden/deaf-dog-awareness-week/


Jim Langstaff October 14, 2014 at 6:24 am

Susan & Staff,

I just wanted to give you an update. I follow your organization on Face Book, your site, etc. I always enjoy seeing the pics of the Dals that come into care-rescue, and the very happy endings when they find new families!

Autumn & Parker are wonderful, happy, and my absolutely devoted companions. They are very much a couple, with Autumn running the show, and Parker remains very much the big puppy and always will be. They go everywhere with us…including the farm, and love the horses, etc. I will always be grateful to you for matching us up with these two wonderful dogs! I wish you could see how they enrich our lives! I would be lost without them! Their eyes never leave me…tracking me constantly, following me from room to room…such an alert and devoted breed. For anyone considering rescue of a Dal…go for it! You can’t go wrong…wonderful family dogs!

Jim Langstaff
Fairbury, IL


Jessica Arbuckle December 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Hi there, I am hoping for some advice on my dalmation golden retreiver mix. We have had him since he was a puppy and he used to be very good with small children but over the last year he has become increasingly aggressive towards small children.He has bitten both my children although never broken skin. My husband is in the military and we recently got orders to move to Germany. Bear is a part of our family but we are now wondering if it is time to find him a better home. On top of his nervous biting he has severe separation anxiety and does not tolerate being kenneled at all. He used to but around 8 months the separation anxiety started. That’s also when he first showed aggression towards small children. Even when we leave him out with our other dog in our bedroom with plenty of chew toys he will still sometimes destroy blinds, bedding and the corners of our dressers. Bear is truly a wonderful dog. so happy most of the time and full of energy. He has the sweetest eyes and when I look into them I know he’s looking back and feeling nothing but love. It’s amazing and I can’t imagine life without him but I want him to be balanced and happy all the time and not feel anxious or uncomfortable because of our children. Please if anyone has any advice please share. Thank you!


Lorry March 27, 2015 at 10:50 am

Interested In Adopting A Puppy/Female With Less Spots. My Husband And I Had A Beautiful Dalmatian….She Was Deaf…She Was Only 6 Weeks Old When We Got Her….She Lived A Wonderful Life Of 16 Yrs Old….!!!! And Both My Husband And I Are Ready To Get Another…Spark, Has Been Gone 4 Years…..So Very Interested In Getting Another……Preferably Not Deaf……I Was Recommended By Many To Contact Your Site…..Thank You…..Lorry


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