Do Dalmatians Need Much Exercise?

Dalmatian Exercise

Dalmatians are a very high energy dog breed. They have extreme endurance due to their breeding purpose of running alongside horse and carriage for protection. A solid daily exercise routine needs to be in place to keep a Dalmatian happy, healthy and a pleasure to live with. A dalmatian without this may become depressed, destructive and just a general pain in the ass. Exercise for dogs can come in a huge variety of different activities ranging from general walks around the block or local park, to more extreme versions of exercise such as running or even agility training. Letting a Dalmatian run daily is ideal, although with the busy lives people lead these days, it’s understandable if this is only a few times a week or on the weekend.  

Puppy Vs Adult

It’s important to note that there is a big difference between exercise routines when it comes to a puppy vs adult Dalmatians. A puppy will still need plenty of exercise, training and regular walks to properly socialise and help mold the puppy into a good family adult dog. It is very important to not let your puppy Dalmatian run for long periods of time or to over-exercise, as their bones and muscles are still developing and we don’t want to cause any damage or growth issues. Your Dalmatian puppy will tell you when he/she is tired and you need to listen to prevent over exercising. This is more than likely in the form of wanting to nap or sitting and not wanting to continue in the exercise. Exercising for shorter periods of time at a higher number of intervals is a good idea. Be careful how far you walk your puppy as you may be carrying the tired pup home. At 1-1.5 years old, a Dalmatian is considered an adult and has usually stopped growing, meaning they will require much more exercise including lots of running.   

Day to day exercise routine

A solid 1 hour long walk each day is recommended as a minimum for Dalmatians. If you have the time for 2 walks each day this is ideal. Every dog is different within a dog breed, and each individual Dalmatian will have different exercise requirements but the 1 hour walk each day is a good generalised minimum for the breed. Keep in mind any exercise is better than none if you’re struggling to meet this recommended minimal requirement. If you only have time for a quick 10 minute walk around the block, your Dalmatian will forgive you, as long as some better exercise is around the corner. A large backyard is a recommendation when first purchasing a Dalmatian as this makes it easier for the dog to get in its required exercise each day. Teach your Dalmatian how to fetch for some easy running time. 

Even though it’s extremely hard to over-exercise a Dalmatian, it is possible. Make sure your Dal has access to plenty of water, try to avoid hot weather conditions and keep an eye out for any change in behaviour. Dalmatians need to drink lots of water often to help flush out their system, helping to prevent urinary stones. Signs of over-exercise may include exhaustion/lethargy, a change in physical stamina and endurance, not wanting to go out or signs of an injury or developing injury. Any sudden changes in an exercise routine can cause problems and over-exercise issues. This may be changing a 30 minute a day walking routine into a 2 or 3 hour running session each day without building it up slowly.    

Excursion trips

Dalmatians love to run as it is what they were bred to do. Due to our busy lives and living conditions, letting your Dalmatian run free can be a difficult task due to many external factors. If your house doesn’t have a backyard big enough for a little running, it is recommended to find a safe, secure place in your neighbourhood for your Dalmatian to run a few times a week. Closed in ovals or fenced off parks at quiet times of the day is a good place to start. Although dogs do like to walk the same paths to catch up on all the smells, exploring different areas or walking paths and trails helps with mental stimulation and wellbeing. 

Excursions outside of your local area is a great way to exercise a Dalmatian. Go for a weekend adventure out to some more isolated areas where you and your Dalmatian can explore, get in some good exercise, fresh air and mental stimulation. This is just as good for a Dalmatians mind, body and soul as it is your own.  

Diet Vs exercise

Diet is just as important for a dog as it is for a human to stay in good, healthy shape. It’s important to feed your Dalmatian strictly at mealtimes (with the exception of treats or a bone) with the correct amount of food for their size, weight and activity level. A more active Dalmatian will require more food to stay within a healthy weight and size range. Dalmatians need a more specific low purine diet. This is easier to make from scratch than to buy specific dog food (excluding dry food of course). When purchasing dry food look for low protein and avoid filler ingredients. For more information on dry dog food, click here. A good rice and/or pasta stew with some vegetables and chicken is a great place to start. 

Exercise ideas and Mental Stimulation

It’s just as important to provide some kind of mental stimulation each day as it is providing exercise for your Dalmatian. Combining the two is a good idea for busy owners with limited time. Engaging with your Dal in some kind of game such as tug of war or fetch is a great example of exercise and mental stimulation at the same time. Here is a useful list of exercise ideas:

  • Hiking
  • Accompanying you on any training such as cycling, skateboarding, running etc
  • Swimming
  • Fetch
  • Obedience training
  • Tug of war
  • Agility training

What happens if exercise is neglected?

Any dog that isn’t getting the required amount of exercise will exhibit negative symptoms, some more obvious than others. If your dog is showing any of these signs or behaviours listed below ,increase their daily exercise routines or put one in place to help eliminate or control these negative symptoms.  

  • Weight gain – Calories in vs calories out. Lack of exercise, overfeeding or a combination of the 2 is the usual culprit. 
  • Destructive behaviour, attention seeking or sad and depressed – Your dog may be trying to burn their energy in other ways, a classic sign that more exercise is required. If your dog changes its behaviour and becomes antisocial or barking or whinging more often, this can also be a sign they need to get out more.
  • Constant barking, whining or anything else outside their normal behaviour.  

Although it’s very likely that these signs or behaviors are the symptom of not enough exercise or mental stimulation, they may also be something else, like an underlying health condition. If an increase of exercise or reduction of food or change in diet isn’t helping with these symptoms, it’s time to see your local vet. 

Dalmatians require more exercise than the average dog. They have a slim-lined athletic build and require lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep happy and healthy. They are very smart animals and will require plenty of mental stimulation. They will definitely let you know when these needs are not being met. Incorporating a solid exercise routine including some games into you and your Dals lives will help you both prosper together.