German Shepherd vs Dalmatian – Breed Comparison & Differences

When it comes to choosing between breeding German Shepherds or Dalmatians, there are quite a few things to consider. Indeed, on the one hand, German Shepherds are known for being loyal, watchful, highly intelligent, obedient, confident, and courteous.

On the other hand, Dalmatians are most commonly associated with traits such as being smart, outgoing, energetic, sensitive, and playful. Therefore, deciding which dogs to breed can be a matter of which dog personality you find to be most appealing or the type of dogs that those who may be interested in taking on more of a guard dog versus a lovable companion.

Personally speaking, I love each of these dogs for different reasons.

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Comparing their Coats

As a gorgeous dog with a unique black and white spotted coat, those who prefer Dalmatians typically do so based on doggy love at first sight.

Nevertheless, they must also beware of the fact that their short, dense coats are known for shedding all-year-round. These lovable dogs are known for having puppies that are pure white and start to sprout spots when they are around four weeks of age.

On the other hand, German Shepherds do have beautiful coats (though, in the more classical sense). They are a double-coated breed, which means they have two layers of fur.

The top layer, which is known as the guard coat, is slightly more wiry and abrasive. However, the underlayer is softer and lighter in color.

The combined layers help to regulate their temperatures, repel water, and protect their skin. Nevertheless, this means they have a lot of fur to shed!

So, not only do they shed fur continuously, but they also shed their entire undercoat twice a year (during the spring and fall), which means you should basically prepare to lint roll and vacuum everything in your house, pretty much every minute of your life. No biggie.

Temperament Differences

In terms of temperament, Dalmatians are actually less stranger friendly than German Shepherds. However, each of these dogs is known for being very child/ senior-friendly.

They are both relatively cat-friendly. Neither of these dogs is especially office-friendly. So, if you ever have a take your dog to workday, it may be a great idea to leave these guys at home.

Although each of these dogs comes with an array of benefits, neither of these dogs are ideal for first-time dog owners as they require a great deal of patience and care before they become fully acclimated to their new families and environments.

Also, neither of these dogs are especially great boat dogs or cart-pulling dogs, nor do they need a large amount of sleep.

In terms of weight gain, Dalmatians are much more prone to gaining weight that German Shepherds; neither are especially known for drooling.

Size Differences

In terms of the sizes of these dogs, while it may seem like Dalmatians are the biggest dogs around, German Shepherds are actually somewhat bigger than Dalmatians.

The average weight of a grown Dalmatian is 55 pounds; In terms of height, males are between 22-24 inches while females are between 20-22 inches.

The average weight of a male German Shepherd is 77 pounds and the average female is 60 pounds; the average female weighs between 49-71 pounds, while the average male weighs 66-88 pounds.

The average height of a male German Shepherd is 24-26 inches, the average height of a female German Shepherd is 22-24 inches.

Personality Differences

While all dogs are known for possessing certain traits, much like humans, every dog has both negative and positive traits. It’s no secret why there was a whole movie made about having 101 Dalmatians.

They are not perfect by any means. However, most of us would much rather deal with a 101 of these puppies over 101 German Shepherds.

A well-behaved Dalmatian is known for being playful, dignified, highly intelligent, and dependable. Highly athletic, these dogs are ideal for pet parents who enjoy the outdoors and staying active on a regular basis.

Despite their generally playful temperament, they are also known for being somewhat stubborn and require an owner that is confident and always prepared to take charge.

Nevertheless, puppies that are poorly bred and cared for are most likely to end up with a number of behavioral issues. For instance, if they are not getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, Dalmatians can become hyperactive or even destructive.

Some breeds can even become skittish or aggressive in certain situations.

While German Shepherds are known for being considerably less playful, they are not without their own lovable traits. As one of America’s most beloved dog breeds, German Shepherds are courageous and highly devoted to their owners.

They can be trained to do a variety of things and typically excel once they have been trained to carry out any task.

They can be trained to complete tasks herding, search and rescue, guide and assist the handicapped, drug detection, competitive obedience, and of course, they are capable of being faithful companions in general.

They can also be friendly with the family and children, they have high energy levels, are incredibly intelligent when compared to many other breeds, need to exercise regularly, and can be both intense and playful.

This makes these dogs ideal for those who enjoy spending time with dogs but also do not mind if they are not always feeling playful and wish to spend time on activities that allow them to channel their aggression.

Training Differences

When it comes to training Dalmatians, they are akin to training small children, in some respects. Their naturally playful nature and high level of intelligence can actually make training them more challenging.

Sure, they are very lovable, but they can also be difficult to train and require a lot of patience to fully train them.

Properly training Dalmatians is based on rewarding good behavior while taking the time to lovingly correct bad habits. Moreover, the sooner you start training Dalmatians, the better. To achieve quicker results, you must positive, confident, and consistent.

While some people suggest waiting at least a couple of months before training any puppy, Dalmatians are the type of puppies that can begin learning right away.

These dogs start seeking approval for their behavior from the very beginning.

  • Positive Reinforcement: This is one of the best training tools for Dalmatians. While there is a wide variety of training tools that can be used to train them, they are not at all required. Also, tools, such as choking collars, are not at all recommended for these friendly dogs. Since these dogs seem to just live to impress their owners, this is one of the only tools you will need to train them. By simply showing them which behaviors are preferred and rewarding them with a treat when they complete the task correctly, these dogs will very quickly learn what to do and what not to do.
  • Obedience Training: When you are doing basic obedience training, always be mindful of the fact that, like most dogs, these dogs are prone to things such as barking, biting, chewing, and digging. Therefore, rather than trying to train them to stop these acts altogether, you need to simply encourage them to redirect the energy elsewhere. Barking and chewing are some of the best ways for these dogs to relieve stress so, much like you’d be devastated if someone stopped you from watching TV or drinking wine, you will have to learn to live with these habits if you want to raise a happy, well-adjusted dog. For instance, if you have a Dalmatian that loves to chew on your favorite shoes, first of all, find a new place for your shoes, and second of all, be sure to take the shoe and replace them with their own chew toys, bones, and other chewable objects.

On the other hand, since German Shepherds are known for a hardworking breed, they are very comfortable when they are being trained.

Since they are often dogs who are used in a professional capacity, they enjoy being trained because it keeps them busy on both a mental and physical level.

Training a German Shepherd requires you to be both stern and friendly. Much like with Dalmatians, you must reward positive behaviors and eliminate negative ones.

For instance, when you tell your puppy or dog to “sit” and he does so, be sure to rub their heads and remind them that they are a good dog, in your best puppy parent voice, of course.

On the other hand, if your puppy goes all mad dog when you are getting them food, and jumps around and barks like crazy when you are doing things like feeding them, be sure not to put the bowl down until the dog quiets down.

  • Socialize: Since German Shepherds are not necessarily a naturally social breed, you need to socialize these puppies from the very beginning. This is best handled by enrolling them in a puppy socialization class.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Additionally, positive reinforcement is also an effective tool for German Shepherds. Since these dogs are highly intelligent and very capable of following commands, this delivers the best results as it eliminates stress and allows them to form a better bond with their owners.
  • Obedience Training: German Shepherds must be given stimulation as well as boundaries in order to thrive. They can be taken to a professional or trained at home. However, despite the fact that these dogs are often aggressive, you should not yell or be overly aggressive with them during obedience training. You simply need to be stern and consistent, no matter what you are trying to teach them.


In terms of their levels of health, each of these dogs if known for living fairly healthy lives, as long as they are cared for properly.

The most common health issues for Dalmatians are allergies, deafness, hip dysplasia, iris sphincter, dysplasia, skin allergies, and urolithiasis. They commonly have a life expectancy of between 12-14 years.

On the other hand, the average life expectancy of German Shepherds is between 10-13 years. They have the propensity to develop considerably more health issues such as allergies, blindness, cancer, cataracts, chronic diarrhea, Cushing’s Syndrome, diabetes, digestive issues, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and many more ailments.


Since Dalmatians lack a certain enzyme that helps to digest food, they need a diet that eliminates foods that are dense in protein, such as organ meat.

They also need a balanced diet that includes great food that works well with their sensitive stomachs. This means that they are great candidates for home-cooked meals.

This gives their owners some much-needed control over the foods they are fed, their consistency, and the ingredients being used in them. Moreover, as with pretty much all dogs, they need a lot of water to drink.

This is especially the case for Dalmatians since they are prone to developing health issues, such as kidney stones.

In terms of treats, they are able to eat things such as eggs, yogurt, cheese, and certain cooked vegetables such as squash, zucchinis, sweet potatoes, etc.

In terms of feeding German Shepherds, here are a few tips to consider. Although many people frown on feeding dogs human food, German Shepherds can become quite healthy while living off of healthy human food.

For instance, they can eat foods such as meat, bread, fruits, vegetables, and much more.

This is especially the case for dogs who are having trouble with store-bought foods. They also need to eat several times a day. German Shepherds can grow to be huge and have an appetite to match.

You should always avoid feeding German Shepherds foods such as junk food, macadamia nuts, onions, anything spicy or greasy, etc.

Either way, be mindful of abrupt dietary changes, as they can often do more harm than good.

For instance, if you have your German Shepherd on a diet that you feel is detrimental to their health in some way, you should slowly but surely change the diet over to more nutritious foods and snacks. When in doubt, consult with a qualified veterinarian.