The Dalmador combines two of the most beloved canine companions: the Labrador and the Dalmatian. This Dalmatian Lab mix should be a devoted, outgoing, and active pet. Although crossing these popular breeds may seem foolproof, it is always worth researching adding any new member to the family.
Considering its heritage, the Dalmador could serve in a wide range of roles, from a loyal companion dog, to working as a service or therapy dog. Their Labrador parent may also make them a great candidate for hunting or fieldwork, making them one the more versatile hybrids in the dog world.
Breeding so-called ‘designer dogs’ or ‘hybrids’ is a relatively new and sometimes controversial trend, and the Dalmatian Labrador mix is no exception. This means that there isn’t much background information available on the Dalmador’s background, sadly.
Fortunately, understanding the history of their well-established parent breeds can help inform you of what to expect should you be thinking of bringing one of these cuties into your home.
The Origin of the Dalmatian
The Dalmatian is indeed an historic breed. Its exact history is unknown, but many speculate that it goes as far back as ancient Egypt, where engravings depict a spotted dog following an Egyptian chariot.
Although the traveling Romanies spread it across Europe, the Dalmatian can first be positively identified in early artworks of Dalmatia, part of historical Croatia.
A versatile dog with a varied history, the Dalmatian has served as a guard dog and a dog of war.
It gained massive popularity in England during the Regency era as a striking coach dog. With their unique affinity for horses, a fit Dalmatian can still run up to thirty miles a day beside a coach or rider.
They are famous for being made popular in the movie 101 Dalmatians and being the preferred mascot for firefighters.
The Origin of the Labrador
The Labrador was first popularized after the St. John’s Water Dog arrived in England in the 1830s on trading ships sailing from Newfoundland, Canada. The St. John’s Dog was used by fishermen in icy waters to retrieve fish that had slipped off hooks or even to haul in fish-filled nets.
In England, these dogs’ superior swimming abilities did not go unnoticed, and they were crossed with the local hunting dogs to create what is now known as the Labrador Retriever.
They soon became the preferred field dog of the aristocracy. Their soft mouths and superior swimming ability—also found in their cousins, the Newfoundland—made them ideal for retrieving game birds from the water without harming the carcass.
Today they are more often seen as companion dogs, but their trainability has also made them common working dogs, being effective sniffers, rescue, seeing-eye, and therapy dogs. They also still retain their hunting instincts and are common as gun and field dogs.
The Physical Features of a Labrador Dalmatian Mix
A Dalmador can inherit any aspect of the way it looks from either of its parents. This means a puppy could be the spitting image of a Labrador or Dalmatian or anything in between!
In general, based on the parent breeds’ physical appearance, we can still make certain predictions about how your Dalmadore is likely to look.
A Dalmatian Labrador mix is likely to stand between 19 and 24 inches at the shoulders and weigh between 50 and 80 pounds, making it a large dog.
It may inherit its coloring from either parent. The AKC accepts yellow, black, and chocolate labs, although a new silver variation is appearing. On the other hand, Dalmatians are white with either liver or black spots.
Many Dalmadors are born all black, sometimes with white paws or chests. However, they can also be spotted, or entirely white, yellow, or cream.
The Labrador has a dense undercoat that ‘blows out’ twice a year and sheds mildly the rest of the time, while the Dalmatian has a short straight coat that is known to shed consistently. A Dalmador can be born with a coat taking after either parent.
Although there is no such thing as an entirely hypoallergenic dog, the Labrador parent’s undercoat and the mild but frequent shedding of the Dalmador do not make the Dalmador a good candidate for anybody with dog allergies.
They will probably inherit dark or brown eyes of the soft and melting variety, so don’t expect ever to eat guilt free again!
General Care of a Labrador Dalmatian Mix
The Dalmatian is born a runner, and while some companion labs are known to couch potatoes, any offspring resulting from these two is more likely to be a high-energy mutt. This means lots of exercise and stimulation, or you may have to deal with destructive behaviours. Loving but firm boundaries will go a long way for any Dalmatian offspring.
A Dalmador will possibly inherit the Labrador’s keen dedication to its family and should be kept indoors where it will do best close to its humans.
If kept outside, they will need frequent interaction to prevent loneliness and destructive behavior. They should also have housing that protects them from all kinds of weather.
Most importantly, this is not an apartment dog. With a proud lineage of runners and hunters, this mixed breed will need a moderately sized yard at the very least to stretch their legs.
Food & Diet Requirements
Any dog owner should always discuss their dog’s nutritional requirements with their veterinarian before making a decision.
As a large breed puppy, the young Dalmador will likely need food specially formulated to support their growing hips and joints.
They may also need specialized diets if they inherit specific food allergies, affecting their skin or stomach. Labs are particularly prone to obesity, so it may be a good idea to watch the calories with these dogs.
Many owners have found feeding the dogs the natural raw food diet has shown fantastic results in terms of shinier coats, cleaner teeth, and less allergy-related problems. While the raw diet can be beneficial, anyone considering this diet must research it thoroughly to ensure their pup’s diet remains balanced.
It is also important to note that the Dalmatian is unique amongst dogs in its inability to metabolize purines. This means it should never be given purine-yielding proteins such as those found in beef.
This does not exclude the Dalmador from the raw diet, but it does mean that any owner should take particular care to avoid feeding both too much protein and meat that may cause urinary and kidney stones.
Luckily, the Dalmador is not a long-haired breed and should not need the trimming, clipping, and other high-maintenance work that is typically involved with the more majestically maned canines.
Regardless of whether they inherited their coat from their Labrador or Dalmatian parent, the Dalmador will need at least one brushing a week for which a simple pet grooming glove will work well.. If it has the Lab’s dense undercoat, it may need a bit more during the molting season.
A firm bristle brush will remove most mud and dead hair. The Dalmador may also inherit the Lab’s love of water and rolling in the smelly things they have a gift for finding on walks. In this case, a bath will be needed.
Finally, nails should be kept short, and you can ask your vet for recommendations on how to clean ears to prevent infections and teeth to prevent decay.
Does the Dalmatian Labrador mix shed?
While the Dalmatian is often described as a light shedder, Dalmatian owners will tell you that they shed pretty consistently throughout the year. Likewise, the Labrador never completely stops shedding, and this becomes significantly worse when it loses its undercoat during the molting season.
If you can’t stand the sight of dog hair all over your new blouse, the Dalmador may not be the right breed for you. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to keep a lint roller on hand at all times.
The Health of a Dalmador
As mentioned above, the Dalmador is likely to be a high-energy pup. This is not an apartment dog or for an owner who is not up for long walks or visits to the dog park in all kinds of weather.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fun activities a Dalmatian Labrador mix would be perfect for. Hiking, biking, and even sledding are great options for this dog. It’s advisable to keep such a high-energy large dog leashed on a sound, no-pull harness to keep your walks pleasant and safe.
Should you be an equestrian, you might be surprised how well a Dalmatian cross might get along with your horse and will be a great companion on outrides.
Sports are also fantastic opportunities to bond. A Dalmador could excel as a field dog, in agility or it could even be put to work as a service or therapy dog.
|Severe Health Problems||Hip and elbow dysplasia
|Mild to Moderate Health problems||Dental problems
Bladder infections or stones
|Occasional Health Problems||Deafness
While many argue that cross breeds tend to be healthier or exhibit what is often called ‘hybrid vigor,’ this can be misleading. Although mixed breeds can avoid many of the inherited defects which plague purebreds, both parents can still carry genes that may cause health problems in your pup.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are common in both the Dalmador’s parent breeds and large breeds in general, and breeders should always screen both parents before breeding.
Similarly, a Dalmador may be prone to patellar luxation, which is when the kneecap moves out of place, usually only for a moment. While a dog can often live with this condition, it can endanger their cruciate ligaments or predispose the dog to arthritis later.
A further concern for any Labrador offspring is their tendency toward obesity. Their high food drive might make them extra trainable, but it can also cause them to pack on the pounds.
Deafness is found in up to 30% of Dalmatians, as it is linked to the white gene. Fortunately, crossbreeding with a lab should minimize the chances of this in the Dalmador.
As mentioned above, because of the Dalmatian’s struggle in breaking down purines, the Dalmador may inherit a tendency toward developing kidney stones.
Autoimmune Thyroiditis or Thyroid disease is another inherited problem to look out for, although it is treatable, as are certain kinds of cancer.
The lifespan of a Dalmador
Looking at the parent breeds’ average age, a healthy Dalmador should live between 10 and 14 years.
The Dalmador should be quite highly trainable, provided the effort is made. The Lab’s eagerness to please and strong work ethic make it one of the world’s most trainable working dogs.
Their healthy appetite makes them easy to reward, and because of this, they have flourished in a variety of roles. They can regularly be seen as sniffer dogs, seeing-eye dogs, and service dogs for the differently-abled, therapy and emotional support dogs because of their binding affinity for humans, while still working well in their original role as retrievers.
This extreme trainability of the Lab is likely to filter down to any Lab cross, at least to some extent.
Likewise, the Dalmatian is a highly intelligent and trainable dog, if not quite as tractable as the Lab. Dalmatians tend to be more independent, strong-willed, and even stubborn at times, with a stronger guarding instinct.
This means that training a Lab Dalmatian mix might require more patience and lots of positive reinforcement.
Both breeds were designed to be active and can be high-energy, especially as puppies.
Therefore, Dalmador pups could become destructive or develop behavior issues if not given the attention, stimulation, and exercise they need.
Sociability with other pets
In general, the Dalmador does come from two breeds that should get on well with other animals—particularly horses—provided you socialize them from a young age.
Pups bred from field dogs, however, may have a stronger prey drive, which may lead them to chase smaller animals. For this reason, it is always worth meeting the parents of your pup and speaking to the breeder beforehand.
Do Labrador Dalmatian Crosses make good family pets?
Provided the Dalmador is given the exercise and stimulation it needs, it should make an excellent family pet, particularly if it inherits its Labrador parent’s love of children.
Keep in mind, however, that some behavioral problems such as fear or aggression are genetic. Therefore, it is always advisable to make sure you get your puppy from a reputable breeder who breeds for both temperament and health.
A Dalmador might be available locally in shelter or rescue; however, a specialist breeder may be necessary if you believe this is the dog for you. In this case, since it is not an established breed, prices may vary sharply but are usually upwards of $800.
In brief, this lively and friendly hybrid is likely to become more common as its popularity increases. An athletic and intelligent dog, it is bound to be an excellent addition to any family willing to meet its exercise and stimulation needs.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.