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Why Is My Dalmatian So Small? 4 Reasons Why & What To Do

Are you wondering why your Dalmatian looks smaller than others?

This is a very common question asked by many Dalmatian owners. So in this article, I’ll cover the correct sizes for Dalmatians, why your dalmatian may be smaller than usual, and what you can do about it.

All will be explained in full detail below.


What’s The Correct Size For a Dalmatian?

According to the AKC, Dalmatians are a large breed that is lean, muscular, and fit with the following height and weight averages:

Averages for Male Dalmatians:
Height: 21-24 Inches
Weight: 60-70 lbs (27-31kg)

Averages for Female Dalmatians:
Height: 19-22 Inches
Weight: 45-60 lbs (20-27kg)

After speaking to countless owners, it’s a shared opinion that Dalmatians seem to be getting bigger and bigger as time goes on.

Most owners thought their Dalmatian was on the small side when in actual fact did adhere to the breed standard… But it does seem that Dalmatians are getting bigger, all it takes is to see a few abnormally large Dals, and you’ll start wondering if your Dal is too small.

Let’s take a look at the growth chart for male and female Dalmatians. The following ranges are rough averages (wither height).

AgeMale Height Low-High RangeFemale Height Low-High Range
2-4 Months10-12 Inches8-12 Inches
4-6 Months12-14 Inches10-12 Inches
6-8 Months14-16 Inches12-14 Inches
8-10 Months16-18 Inches14-16 Inches
10-12 Months18-20 Inches16-19 Inches
12-14 Months21-24 Inches19-22 Inches

Take a look at the ranges and see how your Dal compares to them.

4 Reasons Why Your Dalmatian Is Small

If you have discovered that your Dalmatian is in fact on the small side, let’s take a look at the most likely explanations.

For each reason, I will provide some guidance on what you can do, and whether it’s anything to worry about.

1. Genes

Genes and breed variation is something to consider first. To really have a good understanding of this you’ll need to have some information regarding the parents of your Dalmatian. Better still, to have actually seen them.

Just like it works with us, the size of the parents will certainly have an effect on the size of the offspring. If your Dalmatian had parents on the smaller side, it’s more than likely your Dalmatian will also be on the smaller side. And vice versa.

There may also be a chance that your Dalmatian has a crossbred somewhere in his blood lineage. It’s rare but genes can skip generations and could be the cause for a change in appearance and overall size in subsequent offspring. Unless both parents are pedigree Dalmatians, this could be the case.

What To Do:

There’s not really anything that can be done about genes. If you have contact with the breeder, I would ask them for more information about the parents of your Dalmatian.

Depending on how long ago you got your pup, this may be difficult information for your breeder to access.

Recommended Read: Why Does My Dalmatian Follow Me Everywhere?

2. Diet and Eating Habits

Diet and eating habits will certainly play a role in your Dalmatian’s growth and general size. But not to be confused, with being underweight (skinny) which is different and will be explained further below.

Some Dalmatians are fussy eaters, and others will eat anything. If you notice that your Dalmatian is sometimes leaving his food, this should be addressed as soon as possible.

Using a high-quality, premium dog food brand suited towards large working dogs will be the best option. Brands like Orijen, Taste of The Wild, and Acana are ideal. The quality of the ingredients will affect how nutritious the overall food is, and how much of that nutrition actually gets absorbed.

What To Do

Before making any changes it’s a good idea to observe your Dalmatian for the next few mealtimes.

This will give you an idea of whether he enjoys his food, does he seem to pick at it, does he leave any? These are great questions to think about first. After doing that, you may want to consider the following:

Be sure to use a quality brand.

As mentioned above, premium brands use far better ingredients than cheaper brands. Cheap brands use many fillers and by-products, and while these add mass to the food, the nutritional value is far less per cup of food. More nutrition, goodness, and calories will come from a brand like Orijen, Acana, and Taste of The Wild compared to a cheaper brand.

Try following a food split. 80% dry kibble 20% wet dog food.

This is commonly recommended by veterinarians as a way to add extra nutrition and flavor to your dog’s mealtimes. Wet dog food contains far more protein, healthy fats, calories and contains fewer preservatives, chemicals, and additives. Mixing in a little wet food will help your Dalmatian eat his entire meals while providing a boost of nutrition. Recommended option (Amazon)

Stick to the feeding schedule.

One way to stabilize your Dalmatian’s appetite, metabolism, and digestive system is to always follow your feeding schedule. It’s basic advice, but many people still deviate. Pick an appropriate time (7am and 6pm) and then stick to it. Your Dalmatian’s body will learn to be hungry at these times.

Time-restricted eating.

If your Dalmatian is still being fussy, time-restricted eating may just do the trick. This involves giving your Dal only 10 minutes to eat his food before removing it completely until the next mealtime.

This tells your Dalmatian that food isn’t always available and that he needs to eat it when it’s there. By the time the next meal comes around, your Dal’s survival instincts should have kicked in, and he’ll be eager to eat his food.

3. Too Much Exercise

Dalmatians are known to be a breed that requires A LOT of exercise, around 2 hours or more of exercise per day in fact.

But this is for when they’re grown adults…

If your Dalmatian is under 1 year old, he should not be receiving exercise to this extent. Although exercising puppies is still important, their bodies need adequate time to rest, recover, and grow. Too much exercise too early on could have detrimental effects on his physical development.

The growth and development stage is one of the reasons puppies sleep so much. Getting upwards of 16 hours of sleep per day is normal for puppies and allows their bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments to grow properly.

I have a full article on proper Dalmatian exercise here. But for your convenience, Dalmatian puppies should follow the 5-minute method. Let’s explain how this works below.

What To Do:

The 5-minute method is designed to give puppies a sufficient amount of dedicated exercise without over-exercising them. The routine consists of 5 minutes per day, per month of age they have. So a puppy at 2 months old, will exercise for 10 minutes per day, 3 months old will be 15 minutes per day, and so on. (excludes playtime)

This ensures your Dalmatian gets exercise, but not too much exercise. Follow this for the first year.

4. Health issues or illness

In rare cases, your Dalmatian’s smaller size could have been caused by a health condition while he was a puppy and it may even be an ongoing health issue up to this point.

The only way to know is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian and have them perform health checks.

If your Dalmatian seems to be in pain, slow, lethargic, unhappy, or generally “under-the-weather” then it’s best to schedule an appointment to perform some checks.

There are many health issues that have side effects of losing weight, becoming weak, frail, or hindering growth.

Recommended Read: How often should you bathe a Dalmatian?

Why Is My Dalmatian Skinny?

It’s important to note the difference between being skinny, and physically small.

Being small is more to do with overall height and build, compared to being skinny which may mean your Dalmatian is of normal height, but underweight.

If your Dalmatian is suffering from a weight issue (not overall size/height) then it’s likely due to his diet and eating habits or a health issue. These are the two main factors that will contribute to weight problems.

  • The average weight for male adults: 60-70 lbs
  • The average weight for female adults: 45-60 lbs

If your Dalmatian is still a puppy be sure that you are not over-exercising him, and that you are using a premium dog food brand that’s tailored towards puppies.

It’s important to use a puppy formula as opposed to an all-life stages formula due to the different nutritional needs of a puppy.

Adult Dalmatians will likely have an intense exercise routine, so it’s critical to be feeding them a highly nutritious diet that’s rich in protein and healthy fats with lower carbohydrates. Brands like Orijen, Acana, and Taste of The Wild are great for highly active dogs.

Is Your Dalmatian Happy and Healthy?

Size isn’t everything, right? As long as your Dalmatian is happy and healthy then his size doesn’t really matter too much. And besides, if he is still under 1 year, he’s probably got a little more growing to do first!

As long as your Dalmatian is free from health issues then there is nothing stopping him from living a happy life, regardless of whether he’s a little smaller than the rest.

Going back to something mentioned at the start of this article, it does seem that Dalmatians are getting bigger as a breed.

This may be due to better diets and overall breed evolution. Before writing this article I had spoken to several Dalmatian owners whose Dals looked pretty big to me… But to them, looked small after all having seen bigger Dalmatians at the local park. It turns out that all of the Dalmatians were well within the normal height range standing at 20 inches.

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Final Thoughts

So there you have it, you now have some good reasons as to why your Dalmatian is on the smaller side and you have some actionable tips to help. Or, you may have even realized after looking at the growth charts that your Dalmatian is in fact within the normal range!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.