Dalmatian vs Labrador Retriever

Dalmatian vs Labrador Retriever – Which Breed is Right for You?

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So, you’ve decided to add a furry new addition to your family? Wonderful! After putting the time and effort into thinking about which breed you’d want as a future four-legged friend, you’ve finally decided to narrow it down between two breeds – Dalmatian vs Labrador Retriever. Now, which one of these breeds is better for your lifestyle?

Both breeds have a lot in common, however, they do have quite a few apparent distinctions that you should be aware of.

Basic Characteristics

basic characteristics of a Dalmatian

Dalmatians fall under the non-sporting dog category, while Labradors are sporting dogs. Despite their different grouping, both breeds are very similar in size and measure around the same height. Males are about 23-24 inches at the shoulder and females coming in slightly shorter, around 20-22 inches. When it comes to weight, Dals usually weigh in around 55-60 pounds, while Labs tend to be a little heavier at 60-75 pounds.

Labrador Retrievers have a broad head with friendly eyes. Their athletic bodies are covered by a short double coat, which protects them from severe outdoor conditions. Their coats are available in three different colors, chocolate, black, and yellow. There are some Labs whose coats are considered fox red or white, but these are just variations of the yellow coat. They also possess a noteworthy aspect in the form of its “otter tail” and were bred to retrieve birds, which helps them to swim fluidly in water.

Dalmatians, on the other hand, were bred to run alongside coaches. Therefore, they are equipped with a sleek, muscular body and a very slender but strong tail. Dals are one of the most recognizable dogs in the world, thanks to their spotted coat. Their short, fine coat is white and is covered in black spots. The coat is always white; however, the spots aren’t always black. They can also be liver or lemon spotted. You might gain a lot of attention while walking your pup down the street, so be prepared to be stopped frequently by passers-by who might ask lots of questions about your Dalmatian.

Grooming and Varieties

Shiny coat of a Labrador Retriever

There’s an obvious difference between each breed’s coat. However, no matter which breed you choose, be prepared to have dog hair everywhere! Both breeds shed—there’s no denying it. In order to minimize the amount of dog hair that you might have around your home, it’s recommended to brush your pup daily. It also wouldn’t hurt to invest in a quality vacuum and keep a lint roller handy.

When it comes to bathing, either breed only needs a bath once every month or two. Honestly, unless your Dalmatian rolls in something completely disgusting, you can easily take a baby wipe and wipe down his coat to keep it clean. Both dogs are prone to skin allergies and can have sensitive skin. So if your pup decides to take a swim, you may want to wash him off so his coat will be clean from any chemicals or salt which can cause skin irritations. It should also be noted that both breeds can get ear infections. That said, it’s always a good idea to clean their ears and make sure they are dry after a swim or a bath to keep avoid such infection.

No matter which breed you decide on, you’ll also want to keep an eye on your pup’s teeth and nails. Brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a week and trim their nails every now and then as well.


Funny photo of a Dalmatian hugged tightly by it's owner

The most popular breed between these two is the Labrador Retriever. It’s a well-known fact that most of us love them because of their easy-going temperament and versatility. Aside from being an adorable pet, they can also be trained for hunting, becoming a service dog, and assisting police on search and rescue operations.

Dalmatians have an excellent temperament as well. They are extremely intelligent and have a great sense of humor. So if you’re planning to pick a dalmatian, don’t be surprised when you see them do silly things that might make you laugh out loud.

Separation anxiety is real when it comes to Dals and Labs. Both breeds hate being alone and yearn to have their owner’s attention and affection. When you do bring your dog home, be sure to include him in everyday activities whenever possible. He will absolutely love you for it!

Both breeds get along great with children, adults, and other pets.  They especially love kids and are very trustworthy around them. Dals and Labs are known to get a little rowdy and rambunctious at times, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out if they’re running around and you have little ones in the family. And like most dog breeds, proper socialization and training are essential for Dalmatians and Labrador Retrievers.


Labrador puppy walking with pet owner

If you are a couch potato or you live in a small apartment, neither of these breeds will be a good fit for you. Dalmatians and Labradors thrive for mental and physical stimulation. Just like any other breed, Labs and Dals have excellent dispositions, but the lack of training and exercise could lead to bad behaviors. So whichever breed you choose, you should see to it that they are trained as early as possible.

Most puppy training classes start as young as 8 weeks old. Meaning, before even getting a pup, you should’ve already checked if there are training facilities around your area. You could also sign them up for obedience courses – it’s another great way to train and help your dog to socialize.

As mentioned before, both breeds have lots of energy that’s why they need regular exercise. A walk around the block won’t cut it for either breed. Aim to provide your pup with at least an hour’s worth of activity each day. 

Routines that would serve as their exercise would be entirely up to you, but keep in mind that these breeds love to go outside. For example, you can grab your sneakers and take your Dalmatian out to run for a couple of miles. Who wouldn’t love a game of fetch? Labradors are born retrievers and will play fetch until your arm falls off. It doesn’t matter what activity you choose, just make sure your dog gets enough physical activity. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!

Dalmatian licking owner's face

As far as mental stimulation, training goes a long way for each of these breeds. There are many levels of obedience courses available. Once your dog has mastered obedience, you could consider signing them up for agility courses. Many facilities have competition courses for agility and obedience. By registering your dog in these courses, you could ensure that your dog could get the proper training and exercise that they need.

It’s also important for both breeds to get a solid amount of physical and mental exercise daily. That way, they wouldn’t get bored and take out their frustrations by showing destructive behaviors such as excessive digging (everywhere!), barking non-stop, and chewing just about anything they could to get your attention.

Labs, especially, are famous for being mouthy. You might have seen hundreds or even thousands of videos where Labs love to talk back and nibble on anything when they feel like it. So if you value your belongings and your sanity, make sure that you’ll give them plenty of activities to spend their energy on. That said, you may want to purchase several chew toys for tough chewers to keep their mouths occupied while you’re not home or able to play.

Food Consumption

happy Lab puppy

It’s very important that you feed them a portion of high-quality dog food and avoid overfeeding your pet.

Dalmatians require a low purine diet due to the fact that they are prone to develop bladder stones and crystals. This could be extremely painful and life-threatening if not treated. Most pet owners even suggest that this particular breed should drink distilled water since tap water contains minerals that might also cause bladder stones to form.

Labs love food, but they have also been known to munch on anything and everything, even if it’s inedible. Because of this, you have to make sure that you can keep an eye on whatever they put in their mouth and not ingest anything they shouldn’t. It would not be pretty if they happen to swallow something that might cause an internal blockage.

When feeding your dog, you have to take their age and activity level into consideration as well. It’s one way to ensure that you’re feeding them the right amount of food. It’s also recommended that you feed your dog at least twice a day, typically once in the morning and once in the evening.

You can also refer to the feeding guidelines printed on most dog food packaging. This way, you wouldn’t forget how much your dog should be eating daily. If you’re still having doubts, you can always talk to a reliable vet to make sure that you’re feeding your dog the adequate amount they need.

Health Problems

health problems with a Dalmatian

Labs and Dals are prone to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – an inherited condition that may cause extreme pain to dogs. Should they have this illness, medication can be prescribed to help ease the pain, but sometimes surgery may be required.

Labs can also suffer from Osteochondrosis Dissecans or OCD, which is an improper growth of cartilage typically around the joints. It causes stiffening to the point where they’ll find it difficult to bend without experiencing pain. This condition can be detected early in puppyhood, so make sure you ask your vet to check for it.

Labs can have a heart defect known as Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia, or TVD, which is a malformation of the valve on the right side of the heart. They are born with this disease and can be detected by an ultrasound. Some dogs live unaffected by this while others sadly passes away.

Bloat, or Gastric Dilation-Volvulus, is another serious health concern in Labs. This is a life-threatening disorder that results that affects larger dogs and results in the twisting of the stomach. Typically, it is caused when a dog eats too fast, drinks copious amounts of water, or partakes in strenuous activity after eating. Immediate medical attention is required in this situation.

Deafness is a disability that is very common in Dalmatians. Typically, while they’re still puppies, they should have BAER tests to determine if they have bilateral or unilateral hearing. If buying a Dalmatian through a breeder, be sure to ask for a copy of the testing to keep on file and to provide to your vet.

Dalmatians are also at high risk of urinary stones. Although any type of dog can form them, Dalmatians have higher levels of uric acid in their blood which contributes to the forming of stones. It is crucial that you provide you Dalmatian with plenty of water as well as frequent bathroom breaks to ensure that he doesn’t suffer from urinary stones.

Other common health concerns involve allergies, ear infections, dermatitis, and hypothyroidism.

It is always important to stay up to date with vaccinations and routine veterinary care. If you suspect something may be wrong or that your dog is not feeling well, please seek veterinary attention. Stay proactive when it comes to your dog’s health and if you think something may be off or your dog may be acting strangely, make an appointment with your vet.

Bringing Your New Dog Home

adorable labrador retrievers in costume

So there it is, everything you need to know about both breeds. Please keep in mind that while this is general information about both breeds, all dogs are different and unique. If you read something about one or both of these breeds that you think may clash with your current lifestyle, please consider a different breed.

There are numerous breed-specific rescues dedicated to helping find homeless dogs a loving home. Before buying a dog from a breeder or a pet store, please seek out rescues to search for your new family member. There are perfectly loving dogs just waiting to find a home like yours. 

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