Best Dog Food for Dalmatians
The Ultimate Dalmatian Food Buyer’s Guide
Dalmatians are a medium-large breed easily identified by the spots on their white coat. They have long been known as coach dogs and firehouse dogs. The breed seems to trace back to Croatia in the early 17th century but it was largely developed later in England.
Dalmatians have had many duties over the centuries. They have been used for hunting, guardian work, and as war dogs. They make good watchdogs. Dalmatians seem to have a particularly good relationship with horses which may explain why they have historically been used to escort horse-drawn coaches. They may have been kept as firehouse dogs, riding along on horse-drawn fire trucks, for the same reason. They could guard passengers and others, and lead the way on the roads when necessary. Today the Dalmatian makes a very good family pet.
They are smart, outgoing, dignified dogs. Dalmatians do have lots of energy so they need an owner who is committed to providing them with plenty of exercise. The Dalmatian is currently the 64th most popular dog in the United States.
Top 3 Best Dog Foods for Dalmatians
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Dalmatian Diet & Nutrition
Male and female Dalmatians stand 19-23 inches tall at the withers. Male dogs may weigh up to about 70 pounds; female dogs don’t usually weigh more than about 55 pounds. (Note that these are FCI weights. The AKC does not give weights for the breed.) Dalmatians have a white coat with either black or liver spots. Puppies are born white and the spots develop as the puppy grows. Puppies will have all of their spots after a few months.
As already mentioned, Dalmatians are a very active breed. This is something you will need to take into consideration when determining how many calories your dog will need in his meals.
Growing puppies and young adults use a lot of energy. They require a diet that features good quality protein. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Dalmatian weighing 60 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 1504 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A Dalmatian puppy weighing 40 pounds needs an estimated 1233 calories per day.
Feeding Your Dalmatian
Dalmatians are considered a medium-large breed. Adults can generally eat most good quality dog foods. However, this is a breed that is prone to hyperuricemia which means dogs (especially middle-aged males) can develop kidney and bladder stones. Breed experts often recommend that Dalmatians avoid foods that have high concentrations of purines. Purines help form DNA and they can raise uric acid levels in the body, triggering gout attacks. They are found in high concentrations in meat, especially in organs such as liver and kidneys. They are also present in large amounts in anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, scallops, game meats, and yeasty foods. Moderate amounts of purine are found in beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, peas, lentils, and oatmeal. So, lots of typical dog food ingredients can contain purines. If you are feeding a Dalmatian you should take this into consideration. Your dog may be better off with a food that has more plant protein, as long as it’s not too high in peas and lentils since they also contain moderate amounts of purines. You should definitely try to avoid organ meats for your Dalmatian.
As always, we recommend that you choose a food with good quality nutrition and good sources of protein. Experts usually recommend that you choose a food that has two or three meat protein sources listed in the first five ingredients, though this can be more difficult if you are trying to avoid purines. (Ingredients on a dog food label are listed in order of weight before cooking so there is more of the first few ingredients in the food, by weight.) It’s also a good idea to select a food that has fewer carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t necessarily mean grain free. Many grain free dog foods are loaded with carbs. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example, can send carb percentages very high. On the other hand, some dog foods with grains have modest amounts of carbohydrates.
For medium and larger size dogs, it’s usually easier on the pocketbook to feed kibble instead of canned food. Kibble costs less per ounce than canned food. Canned food can have more protein than kibble but some dry dog foods today have very high percentages of meat protein. They can also be very expensive. Again, some of these things are personal choices that you have to make for yourself depending on your budget. You can find very good kibbles with good meat protein for reasonable prices, especially if you order online from sites like Chewy.com. We always recommend that you figure the dry matter basis for the foods you are considering, whether they are canned or kibble, so you can make a good comparison of the protein, fat, fiber, carbs, and other nutrients.
We also suggest that you measure the amount of food you feed your dog instead of free feeding. Free feeding – or leaving the food sitting out all day – tends to encourage dogs to overeat which can lead to obesity. Even active dogs like Dalmatians can become overweight. Most adult dogs do well eating two meals per day. Puppies usually do well eating three meals per day until they are old enough to switch to an adult schedule.
Theoretically, when you buy and feed better quality dog food you feed your dog less food. Unfortunately, we do not find that to always be the case. If you are used to feeding two scoops of the old food, for example, you may continue to dish out two scoops of the new ultra super max premium dog food – which has double the calories. And your dog happily eats all the food. Next thing you know, Rex is the size of a Thanksgiving Day float. If you are switching foods, make sure you check the label and see how many calories the food has. Have a good idea how much food you need to feed so you don’t accidentally overfeed your dog.
If you are still uncertain about what to feed your Dalmatian, we recommend checking with your dog’s breeder. We also like the site DogAware.com.
And, of course, keep plenty of fresh water available for your dog at all times.
Dalmatian Health Problems
According to health surveys in the U.S. and the UK, Dalmatians have a lifespan of about 9.9 and 11.55 years, respectively. (Note that the sample size for these surveys is very small.) The Dalmatian Club of American states that the average lifespan of the breed is between 11 and 13 years, with some dogs living well into their teen years. They are considered to be a relatively healthy breed. However, there are some health issues present in the breed. Problems that can occur in the breed with some frequency include deafness, allergies, and urinary stones. Autoimmune thyroiditis affects an estimated 11.6 percent of Dalmatians. Arthritis can become a problem for very elderly dogs.
Dogs can be subject to several different kinds of deafness. The kind that affects Dalmatians is related to their coat color. It affects many breeds with the piebald gene such as English Setters, Bull Terriers, Boxers, and Border Collies. It is estimated that 10-12 percent of Dalmatians are deaf. Dogs can be deaf in one or both ears. Fortunately, there has been a simple test for this form of deafness that can be performed on puppies as young as 5 weeks old for the last several decades. It has allowed breeders with these breeders to seriously reduce the percentage of deafness in their breeds. For the most part, only dogs that have bi-laterally normal hearing are used for breeding. However, dogs that are deaf in one ear can make wonderful pets. The Dalmatian Club of America takes the position that dogs that are deaf in both ears should always be euthanized and they should not be sold or placed in pet homes. (Other breeds with deafness issues do not take this position, though they do not use deaf dogs for breeding. For example, some English Setters that are deaf in both ears are competing in agility with their owners using hand signals.)
The other major issue with Dalmatians is hyperuricemia which results in kidney and bladder stones. Many Dalmatians have trouble with their liver being able to break down uric acid. The uric acid can build up in their blood serum and causes gout. It can also build up in a high concentration in the dog’s urine when it is excreted, which leads to kidney stones and bladder stones. This is most likely to happen with male dogs during middle age. Males Dalmatians over the age of 10 are prone to kidney stones so they should have their calcium regulated or your veterinarian should place them on preventive medication. Owners can also try to reduce the risk of gout and stones by limiting the intake of purines found in organ meats, animal by-products and other ingredients that contain high amounts of them. Hypouricemia does respond to treatment.
Hyperuricemia is inherited in Dalmatians – the breed does not have the normal uricase gene to break down uric acid. There was an effort to reintroduce this gene to the Dalmatian gene pool through breeding to a Pointer in 1973. Kennel clubs (the AKC, the Kennel Club in Great Britain) have generally been supportive of this effort but the breed clubs and Dalmatian breeders have been less enthusiastic. Currently, the AKC (with acceptance from the Dalmatian Club of America) is registering the descendants of the Dalmatian-Pointer backcross as purebred Dalmatians.
The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA) is the AKC parent club for the breed in the U.S. As with other purebred parent clubs, the DCA promotes health research for the breed. You can find out more about Dalmatian health research and health testing on their web site.
The club recommends that dogs considered for breeding have the following health tests (the CHIC test is normally recommended for dogs being considered for breeding).
Both of these tests:
- Hip Dysplasia – Results accepted from OFA (OFA, OVC, or PennHIP)
- Hearing – BAER results accepted from OFA
And one of the following tests:
- Eyes – Results accepted from CERF (OFA or GDC)
- Thyroid – Results accepted from OFA (by an approved Lab only)
Dogs must have permanent identification (microchip or tattoo) to be entered in the CHIC program.
Along with good breeding practices, health testing, and good vet care, many dog lovers try to keep their dogs healthy by feeding dog food that has more natural ingredients. There is a belief that this can helps keep a dog’s immune system stronger. Many people recommend feeding a food that is free of some of the most common food irritants such as corn, soy, and wheat. These are not the most common dog food allergens – beef, dairy products, and chicken, for example, lead to more food allergies for dogs than corn, soy, and wheat. But many people like to avoid soy and grains in dog foods. There are many good grain free dog foods today if you want to feed one to your dog. Avoiding artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives is also suggested as a way to help keep the immune system stronger.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
Protein and fat are the main ingredients in the diet for the Dalmatians, as they are for most dogs. However, not all proteins and fats are the same. It’s important that the protein and fat in the dog food comes from good sources if you want your dog to be healthy.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands. “Meat meal” is not the same thing as a named meal such as chicken meal. These terms have specific meanings according to AAFCO which determines what they are allowed to contain. If you are in doubt about what a term means, you can always check the AAFCO meaning – though be warned that AAFCO definitions make everything sound pretty awful.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Dalmatian may still be able to eat some other grain or cereal. Barley, for example, can be a good source of dietary fiber. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
You may or may not want to use a large breed formula dog or puppy food for your Dalmatian. Since they are a medium-large breed (50-70 pounds) they may benefit from a large breed food but it’s probably not essential to their diet. The breed is not considered a high risk breed for hip dysplasia or other joint problems. If you have a Dalmatian puppy from very large parents or the breeder recommends a large breed food, it’s a good idea to feed a large breed puppy food. If your Dalmatian seems to be growing very large, you may want to consider feeding a large breed dog food or adding joint supplements to your dog’s diet.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Dalmatian
Every dog is an individual. Even dogs in the same breed can have different food needs. Some dogs need more calories than others. Some dogs will do better with more protein or fat than other dogs.
We are recommending a variety of foods here. We have tried to find foods that have fewer obvious purines so we have avoided foods that use beef, organ meats, herring, and some other ingredients that are high in purines. This means that we have omitted brands like Orijen which include lots of organ meats in their foods. Some of the foods we have included have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to accommodate him. We also recommend reading this helpful section from Dogaware.com about low purine diets. This page on diet for Dalmatians is also helpful.
Best Dog Foods for Dalmatian Adults
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Fromm Adult Gold Dog Food
We think that Dalmatians can eat many of the foods from Fromm Family Foods, especially their Gold and Four-Star product lines. Their Adult Gold formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein and 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It also contains oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many dogs will do well on this food.
Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold
Designed specifically for large dogs over 50 pounds, Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold is one of our favorite dog foods for large dogs. It contains duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. Chicken cartilage is added for a natural form of glucosamine to keep joints supple which is important for large dogs. The food contains no wheat, corn, or soy that might irritate the digestive system. Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold features moderate protein and fat which is better for large dogs. The food is moderate in terms of calories (378 kcal/cup) which helps your big dog stay slim. This food has slightly fewer calories than Fromm’s Adult Gold formula (see above) but we like both foods for Dalmatians. Fromm’s products do not generally use organ meats or other ingredients that are high in purines so many of them would be good selections for Dalmatians.
Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Adult Recipe
Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Adult Recipe is made by Petcurean. You may be more familiar with some of the other product lines from this Canadian company, such as Go!, Spike, or Summit. This food for large dogs is made from 100 percent fresh turkey, salmon, duck and 100 percent fresh omega 3 & 6 oils from coconuts and canola. It has no corn, wheat, or soy, and no other grains, gluten, or beef. It uses no rendered meats, no by-products, and no artificial preservatives.
The food does feature New Zealand green mussels and glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. It has added L-Carnitine for a healthy heart and to help turn fat into lean muscle. It has taurine for good vision and heart function. And it has added pre- and probiotics for better digestion. The food contains 363 kcal/cup and has 27 percent crude protein and 13 percent crude fat, with 3 percent fiber and 10 percent moisture. The first five ingredients are de-boned turkey, whole dried egg, potatoes, peas, potato flour. This is a maintenance dog food. As long as your dog can eat potatoes, we think this food would be a good choice for a Dalmatian.
Best Dog Foods for Dalmatian Puppies
Dalmatian puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They often have the most experience with raising Dalmatian puppies and can guide you.
With all puppies it’s important to pay attention to the calcium in the dog food. The recommended calcium to phosphorus ratio should be about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1. Most puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio in this neighborhood. It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. Do not supplement with any added calcium such as yogurt or other dairy products. Giving your puppy extra calcium can lead to bone problems later.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Dalmatian puppies.
Canine Caviar Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Holistic Entrée Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
No question about it: this is an expensive food. However, it has a lot desirable points. No corn, no wheat, no soy. It’s grain free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and it’s considered a limited ingredient diet. It contains no by-products, tapioca, or potatoes. It’s specifically designed for small and medium breed puppies so it’s nutrient-dense. It has a single protein (dehydrated chicken) and carbohydrate source (split peas – though we aren’t sure if sun-cured alfalfa counts as a carbohydrate or not) and the meat is hormone-free, pesticide-free, and antibiotic-free. There’s more, but you get the idea. If you are trying to be very careful with your Dalmatian puppy, then this LID holistic puppy food from Canine Caviar is definitely a food you may want to consider. Canine Caviar also has several other formulas so you can rotate the proteins. Seriously, this food is so holistic we don’t even know what some of the stuff means, but we are impressed with it. For example, who knew that dog food could be alkaline? We’re still trying to figure out how lemons can be alkaline.
Castor & Pollux also has a good puppy food. The first ingredient is organic free-range chicken. No corn, wheat, or soy. Organic ingredients are produced without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, artificial preservatives, added growth hormones or antibiotics.
Canidae – Life Stages Large Breed Puppy Duck Meal, Brown Rice & Lentils Formula Dry Dog Food
Many breeders recommend Canidae to their puppy owners and feed it themselves. You can feed an All Life Stages food or you can feed a puppy food such as Canidae’s Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula which features duck meal, brown rice, and lentils. It’s specially designed for puppies that will grow to be over 50 pounds as adults. Duck meal is high in omega-3 fatty acid which is good for reducing joint inflammation. Lentils are a non-grain, gluten free source of carbs. The food is also lower in protein and fat so it helps keep large breed puppies slim – which can help prevent hip dysplasia later in life.
As a puppy food, Canidae Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula also contains high levels of DHA to help with cognitive development. And the food has no corn, wheat, soy, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These are all things we look for in a good food for large breed puppies.
Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula
Similar to Fromm’s Large Breed Gold Adult formula, this large breed puppy formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy. The first three ingredients are duck, chicken meal, and chicken. The food is formulated for puppies who will grow to be over 50 pounds as adult dogs. Protein and fat in the food are moderate, and so are the calories, to help large breed puppies grow slowly. The technical analysis for the food shows the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for large breed puppies. Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula also has added DHA-rich salmon oil for good brain and eye development in puppies. The USDA-inspected ingredients for the food are delivered fresh each morning. We think this food should help large breed puppies grow slowly so they can avoid bone and joint problems as they get older.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Dalmatian
It’s not unusual for many medium-large sized dogs like Dalmatians to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your Dalmatian as he gets older. You should plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
One food we like if you are trying to avoid a lot of organ meats is Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Lamb Dinner with Lentils. This food (and several others in this product line) is potato-free with no corn or wheat, it’s easy to digest, and low-glycemic. It contains pumpkin and oatmeal for healthy gut motility. Meat protein comes from grass-fed lamb. The guaranteed analysis for the food shows 35 percent protein, 13 percent fat, 6 percent fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The calorie count (calculated) is Metabolizable Energy (ME) 3330 kcal/kg; 350 kcal/cup. Those look like good figures for senior dogs who may need more protein without extra fat.
Best Dog Foods for Dalmatians with Skin Problems/Allergies
Any dog can have skin problems due to allergies. If your dog is having skin trouble, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet and get a diagnosis. This can ultimately save you a lot of money – and help your dog. You don’t want to keep buying expensive dog foods thinking your dog has a food allergy if he really has a problem that’s not food-related.
If your dog’s skin problems are food allergies, here is a food we think might help. It is free of ingredients that commonly result in allergic reactions.
Wild Calling! Xotic Essentials Rabbit Meal Recipe
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Best Dog Foods for Dalmatians with Sensitive Stomachs
Some dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestive tract. If your Dalmatian has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different form a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
If your Dalmatian can eat potatoes, we recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Natural Balance has several L.I.D. foods so you can check them out to see if one would help your dog.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Dalmatians
If your Dalmatian becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise.
If your dog needs to lose more than a couple of pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a dog that needs to lose weight you might try Nature’s Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Meal, Rice & Barley Recipe. The first five ingredients are chicken meal, brewer’s rice, barley, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), and tomato paste. It has 298 kcal/8 ounce cup. The guaranteed analysis shows 25 percent protein, 8 percent fat, 4.5 percent fiber, and 11 percent moisture. This food is very low in fat so your dog might be hungry between meals. However, we like the fact that it is low in purines compared to many other weight control dog foods so it might be a good choice for a Dalmatian. This is a maintenance dog food.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Dalmatians are known for being smart, friendly, active dogs. They also make good watchdogs for the home. While most people probably associate these dogs with Disney films, they have a long, wonderful history of working as coach and firehouse dogs. Today they are still beloved mascots and ride with firemen. A Dalmatian even rides with the Budweiser Clydesdales! If you’re interested in a Dalmatian, they make wonderful pets. Talk to a good breeder and see if this is the right breed for you.
Below is a list of Products reviewed in this article
- Fromm Adult Gold Dog Food
- Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold
- Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Adult Recipe
Great Article, I found your recommendations very helpful. Heading over to poochles.in to see If I can pick up your recommended food for my dalmation! Thank you!