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Q: I've always liked the looks of Dalmatians, but the ones I meet seem so hyper! Are they good family pets? -- W.D., via e-mail
A: For an active family with time to train and exercise an active breed, a well-bred Dalmatian can be an excellent companion. If the breed's a bad fit for your family -- or if you get a dog from a source that doesn't breed for good health and temperament -- you're in for trouble.
Remember that every breed is perfect for someone, and no breed is perfect for everyone. Even a well-bred Dalmatian is going to be too high-energy for many homes. These dogs were developed to run with carriages for hours, so it's no surprise they're going to be very unhappy without exercise. (On the plus side: They might be great companions for runners; check with your vet before starting a running program, though.) Unhappy high-energy dogs dig, bark, chew and generally drive their owners crazy.
Dalmatians also have a high potential for deafness and other health problems if the pup comes from a source looking to capitalize on the breed's popularity, which rises every time the Dalmatian gets another burst of movie-related publicity. The Dalmatian is indeed a breed to investigate thoroughly before adopting -- but honestly, aren't they all?
For more information, visit the website of the Dalmatian Club of America.
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