Dalmatian Grooming

Dalmatians' short-haired, spotted coats are undoubtedly their signature--and luckily, they're fairly easy to maintain. Although a Dalmatian won't require a lot of coat care, they will need regular maintenance in other areas. See below for tips on caring for a Dalmatian's coat, its paws, and other areas that need regular attention.

Dalmatian Coat Care

Overall, Dalmatian grooming is a relatively easy task. This breed's short coat does shed a lot, so frequent brushing (3-4 times per week) will be necessary, but since Dalmatians are fond of cleaning themselves (and have little to no "doggy odor"), baths are only needed occasionally.

Brushing a Dalmatian often removes the dead hair from its coat and minimizes shedding; it's a good idea to brush the dog outdoors to save any extra vacuuming in the house. To brush, first wet the coat with mist from a spray bottle. A soft rubber curry brush works best for these dogs; use the typical line brushing method, starting at the shoulders and working downward and backward.

Baths aren't needed often--and bathing a Dalmatian too frequently will remove the naturally dirt-repelling oils from its fur. These dogs are very clean, and have a habit of licking themselves to cleanliness. In case your Dalmatian gets unusually dirty or smelly, though, a bath might be the best option. Bathe these dogs in a bathtub (or in an outdoor kiddie pool using a garden hose); use canine shampoo only (available at pet stores), as human shampoo can dry out the dog's skin and remove the natural oils from its fur. Towel-dry, then give the Dalmatian a quick brush-through to make the coat look neat and super-clean.


The best brush for Dalmatians is one of those topics that are difficult to resolve, as there are a great many brushes that Dally owners and trainers recommend. Some say that slickers are best, and others say that horse scrapers beat all, while still others swear by high-end vacuum attachments. You may want to avoid actual horse scrapers and grooming blocks, however, as these can be harsh on your dog's easily scratched skin. A brush that is able to quickly and easily go over your dog's entire coat is what you want. You'll also want to consider your own ergonomics so you don't get fatigued due to the frequency of brushing sessions.

Your Dalmation has a short, shiny coat of seemingly invisible or hairs that fail to shed, but if you look closely, you'll see that this is not at all the case. These dogs shed constantly and everywhere! As such, you'll need to spend at least four to five brushing sessions weekly, or those "invisible" hairs will gather into a storm on your floor. Because of this, two of the best recommended brushes are the Kong Zoom Groom Firm Dog Blue and the WeCare Pet Grooming Glove and Shedding Mitt.


These dogs tend to keep themselves pretty clean, so Dalmatian bathing is only necessary if the dog gets especially dirty or stinky.

It's important when bathing a Dalmatian to use shampoo made for dogs, as the human kind has a different pH and can irritate the dog's skin. The best Dalmatian shampoo includes brands like Buddy Wash, Earthbath, and Frisco--all of which will make your Damatian smell, look, and feel fantastic.

Before the Dalmatian bath, give the dog a good brushing. You can bathe the dog either in a bathtub or in an outdoor plastic pool using a garden hose. First wet the coat, then apply some shampoo to the dog's back. Lather well, working downward and outward; don't forget the legs, underbelly, and tail! Clean the face, head, and ears with a washcloth, then rinse the coat completely.

Towel-dry the coat, then give the dog another quick brush-through to make it look clean and neat.

Paw Care

Since Dalmatians spend as much (or more) time on their feet as any breed, caring for their paws is important. Here are some tips for keeping your spotted canine friend's paws in good shape (and it's recommended that you start performing this care when the dog is a puppy, if possible, so it can get used to the process):

  • Trim nails: A Dalmatian's nails should reach to about half an inch from the ground. If you hear the nails "click" when the dog walks/runs on a hard surface, it's time for a trim. Cut the nails (but not too close, as doing so can cut into the nail's "quick," and be painful and bleed) every 6-8 weeks. Many use their own nail clippers, but it's good to consult a vet or groomer on how best to do it.
  • Clean between the pads: Small debris--twigs, pebbles, glass shards, etc.--can become trapped between the dog's paw pads, and eventually become infected. Check in between the pads every few days, and remove any objects with a Q-Tip.
  • Moisturize the pads: The paw pads can become dry, and even crack--especially if a Dalmatian spends a lot of time on hot, hard surfaces. Once or twice a month, apply paw moisturizer (available at most pet stores) to your dog's paw pads. Veterinarians advise against using hand moisturizer for humans, as this can make the pads too soft, and make them susceptible to injury.
  • First aid: Treat any minor cuts or abrasions with antibacterial wash or hydrogen peroxide. For major injuries, see a veterinarian immediately.
  • (BONUS) Nail art: This is for those who love to pamper their Dalmatian. Nail art such as flower patterns, rainbows, or the ever-popular white with black spots (to match the Dalmatian's coat) can be painted on the dog's nails. This can easily be done at home, but be sure to allow the nails to dry for 2-3 minutes before the dog is allowed to walk/run.

Other Care

Some other areas a Dalmatian will require regular maintenance:

  • Teeth: Just like humans, a Dalmatian's teeth will need regular brushing to prevent decay and bad breath. Use toothpaste specifically designed for canines, as human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs. Brush the teeth 2-3 times per week using the same method you use to brush your own.
  • Ears: The inside of a Dalmatian's ears can sometimes collect dirt or debris and become infected. Check the dog's ears once or twice a week, and if needed, clean the inside area with a cotton ball and a gentle, vet-approved cleanser.

Dalmatian Styling & Haircuts

Even if you don't have a Dally like Wiley and his phenomenal heart-shaped nose, there's usually not much you need to do beyond basic grooming to keep your Dalmatian's coat in super shape! And while a Dalmatian-styled faux-fur coat is occasionally all the rage — on the silver screen or at a party — the look sits quite nicely at all times on this breed and does so with basically no clipping, cutting, or styling.

Then there is the very rare Long Coat Dalmatian. These long-haired dogs number in the low hundreds worldwide, and if you have one, you know that there is some room to style parts of their coats. At the least, you will need to occasionally trim their leg, ear, tail, and "beard" hair as it gets longer than the rest of the coat, is prone to tangles, and is best styled in a feathered fashion. The beard hair needs only be kept from getting so long as to be unmanageable. While a "beard" trim seems simple and easy, it can just as easily look off-balance if not done properly. Let a groomer do it and show you how until you are ready to do it right.

Finally, never shave a Dalmatian unless it's a medical emergency. This breed tends to not have the problems that most dog breeds have with massive tangles and gnarly mats, and shaving off the coat can quickly cause a lot of serious health concerns. Skin infections, sunburn, and doggy depression are just a few of the many conditions that are sure to occur with a shaved Dally. If you prefer a short, tight coat, have a professional do it so that you don't cut their delicate skin or end up with hot spots.