Dalmatian Intelligence – Are they Smart or Dumb?
Dalmatians are considered intelligent animals because of their ability to learn new commands quickly and to successfully complete the tasks they were bred to do. Dalmatians can be referred to as dumb because of their independent thinking, stubbornness, potential deafness, high energy output or stereo-type roles (clown mascot etc). Proper understanding of the breed and correct training methods are needed to take advantage of their intelligence and convince them into being good family pets.
What makes a smart dog
A smart dog will successfully learn and complete tasks they were bred to do, for the Dalmatian that was providing protection for horse and carriage. This translates into good guarding and protective instincts with a high energy output for Dalmatians in the modern world. A smart dog will usually have higher than average intelligence, although this is not always the case as a dog with lower intelligence can still have the ability to fulfill their breeding purpose. Intelligence in dogs is measured in 3 categories.
- Complete the tasks the dog was bred to do
- The ability to learn and complete tasks
- The ability for the dog to learn for itself from mistakes or experiences
The first 2 categories are easy to measure and compare in all dog breeds to create a list of the smartest and below. The results in these first 2 categories are very consistent in each individual dog breed when comparing different dogs within the same breed. This places Dalmatians above average intelligence within these 2 categories.
The 3rd category is much harder to measure and varies between dogs within the same breed. The Dalmatian breed seem to be independent thinkers that love to play and explore. They will get bored easily which suggests the need for more mental stimulation and definitely more physical exercise than other breeds. They also have a need to be with their owners constantly and not left alone for long periods of time. This makes them extremely loving and loyal when treated correctly.
Measuring intelligence is a difficult practice that in many instances relies on an individuals own perception, which in turn creates conflicting information and opinions. The 3rd category being hard to measure and differing between individual dogs adds to the measurement of intelligence problem. Your individual Dalmatian may be smarter or not than the average Dalmatian because of this. This is why a list of intelligent dog breeds from high to low is up for interpretation and not included in this article.
Intelligence measured against other dogs
The main measure for intelligence in dogs that’s useful in today’s society is how many repetitions it takes to learn a command – then the success rate at completing the command once it’s learnt. Dalmatians on average can learn a command in around 20 repetitions, with an average of a 70% success rate in performing the command once learnt. This is a definitely above average intelligence for all dog breeds. The top breeds learn a command on average after 5 repetitions with a 95% success rate in performing the command once learned to help give some context.
These statistics only take into account 1 of the 3 intelligence measures so it is not a definitive measure of intelligence. It is enough to prove that Dalmatians are not dumb in the slightest, and will make great family pets if trained correctly as they can learn and repeat commands quite quickly compared to other dog breeds.
Intelligence isn’t the only measure of whether a dog is smart or dumb. Personality and temperament is extremely important when it comes to owning a dog, even a working dog. Dalmatians have a very unique personality and temperament. Their independent thinking and stubbornness can make them appear slow or dumb when trying to teach new commands or even obey commands they already know. Understanding of a Dalmatian’s personality traits and temperament is extremely important for owners as it is vital in providing the correct training and treatment of the animal. Because of this independent thinking and stubbornness, they need a strong leader to follow or they will fill this position themselves. Being a good leader for a Dalmatian will entail the following:
- Being patient, clear, calm and collected when directing or teaching – A good leader will give clear instructions without getting angry, frustrated or raising their voice. Good patience will help the dog to understand what you want as they want to please their owners.
- Spending lots of time with the Dal in training, socialising and chilling – Learning is a slow process and requires repetition and patience. A Dal is constantly learning what you want from them so spend the time. It seems like the more time spent with a Dalmatian, the bigger the bond.
- Strong, stern but calm voice when giving commands – Be calm and clear with your Dal, make sure they can’t mistake your commands for human gibberish.
- Provide good management strategies in the Dals day to day life, depending on age, limits and knowledge – Set up your Dalmatian to win. Don’t put your Dal in a situation where they are likely to fail. A good example of this is letting them off the lead without training recall or leaving them in the backyard unattended and being surprised when they dig. Be present during the learning phase to help correct wrong behavior, this circles back to spending lots of time with your Dalmatian.
- Stick to your guns. Enforce your own rules and don’t allow misbehavior. – This is especially important with Dalmatians as they will always test you and push their luck. They need to know your serious when you say no or when you raise your voice, it’s time to be serious. If something dangerous is about to occur, you want your Dal to listen when you yell out. Raising your voice is usually a negative training technique but can be useful in certain situations.
Dalmatians absolutely love humans and thrive on a close and healthy relationship with their owners or carers. Spending lots of time with your Dalmatian is the best thing you can do for them. They love to be around their owners at all times, regardless of circumstance. They are very sensitive animals and will not respond well to harsh or negative training methods, so refrain from yelling or losing your temper. They also have good memories and will remember mistreatment. This may also contribute to people thinking Dalmatians are dumb.
Dalmatians are extremely loving and loyal to their owners. They will always try to please you and get upset when they realise they have done the wrong thing. Dalmatians are definitely smart animals. Their ability to learn new tasks and understand specific words is very high in comparison to other breeds. Their constant want for food and treats make training productive and effective. Many Dalmatians within the breed will learn by themselves from past and present experiences and mistakes. Don’t mistake their stubbornness and defiance as being dumb or stupid, as its the complete opposite. They are smart enough to constantly test you and push the boundaries you set, so always be on your toes.