Dalmatian VS Golden Retriever: 19 Differences

Updated May 8, 2023

When deciding between a dalmatian vs. a golden retriever, consider your personality and lifestyle.

Both golden retrievers and dalmatians are gorgeous, intelligent, exuberant dogs with a lot in common, but they have important distinctions.

The similarities between golden retrievers and dalmatians include intense shedding, temperament traits, barking level, and suitability for specific purposes.

However, one of the breeds is better suited for families with other pets and service work. They also have different exercise and grooming needs.

No one can tell you which breed is better, but you can determine which one you prefer by evaluating the pros and cons of each.

Size & Weight

Golden retriever males reach 23-24 inches in height, although English golden retrievers may be shorter and weigh 65-75 pounds. Female golden retrievers are usually 21-22 inches tall and weigh 55-65 pounds.

Dalmatians are also medium-sized dogs not exceeding 23 inches in height. However, they are leaner than golden retrievers, weighing 45 to 60 pounds depending on the lifestyle, age, and sex.


Perhaps, the primary pitfall of owning a golden retriever is dealing with constant heavy shedding. Goldens shed year-round, with intense shedding phases twice a year, when they blow out their dense undercoat in a matter of weeks.

Although dalmatians don’t have the fluffy undercoat and long overcoat of golden retrievers, they also shed a lot. Dalmatians shed so much that some inexperienced owners sometimes worry about their dog’s health.

But while both dogs shed a lot, dalmatian fur is less noticeable on furniture, carpets, and clothes because of its shorter length.


Golden retrievers are the friendliest, most outgoing dogs. They are natural-born extroverts who are credulous towards strangers. Golden retrievers are curious dogs that love to explore new environments and meet other animals.

Goldens are very affectionate and loyal, so they genuinely suffer when their owners are away. They are playful and sometimes goofy, even at an adult age.

Dalmatians are equally energetic dogs with lively personalities. They are loyal and affectionate yet can be reserved with strangers and aggressive towards other dogs. Dalmatians are very sensitive and are said to remember abuse for years.


Golden retrievers are perfect family dogs. They are gentle, affectionate, and goofy, so kids can hug them and play together for hours. Furthermore, golden retrievers rarely bark and are unlikely to wake up a baby.

Dalmatians share the same traits that make goldens excellent dogs for families with children. They are highly protective of their little friends and very stable, so they are unlikely to engage in unpredictable behavior.

However, both breeds are very active and may accidentally hurt a child during play, so supervision is always necessary with young kids.


If you already have a pet and want to get it a companion, a golden retriever may be a better choice. Goldens are rarely aggressive towards other dogs unless they attack first and have a low prey drive, so they won’t chase smaller pets.

In contrast, dalmatians often become territorial and jealous of the owner’s attention. Dalmatians can become buddies with another pet, but they need to be socialized since puppyhood.

Barking Level

Golden retrievers don’t bark often. Although the Guinness world record for the loudest bark belongs to a golden, these dogs only vocalize when necessary.

Dalmatians can also be considered quiet dogs. They can bark loudly and scary but only do so when they sense danger, are overly excited or need to draw the owner’s attention.

For this reason, both dogs are perfect for families with babies or those living in apartments with quiet-loving neighbors.

Intelligence & Trainability

According to canine researcher Stanley Coren, Ph.D., golden retrievers are the fourth most intelligent dog breed among 138 study participants.

Golden retrievers have achieved this impressive result because of their obedience, memory, empathy, and problem-solving skills.

Dalmatians are ranked 62nd in the same study. They’re more intelligent than an average dog because of their guardian instincts and independence. They memorize commands in a matter of hours and obey them with a 70% success rate.

However, they don’t memorize commands as quickly and obey them as frequently as goldens. In practice, though, you likely won’t notice a difference.

Common Behavior Problems

Dogs may develop behavior issues without proper socialization, training, and sufficient exercise.

Golden retriever and dalmatian behavior problems are similar – both breeds are prone to separation anxiety, phobias, and destructive behavior (chewing, digging, pacing, howling).

However, dalmatians are more likely to behave aggressively towards other dogs and strangers, whereas golden retrievers are more likely to jump on people and pull on the leash.

Exercise Needs

Golden retrievers and dalmatians are high-energy dogs that aren’t suited for couch life. They need plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation.

Golden retrievers need at least an hour of exercise daily in adult age. Puppies need less exercise to prevent the development of joint issues.

Dalmatians need even more activity, about two hours daily. When getting a dog, ensure that you can provide it with so much attention to avoid health conditions and behavior problems.

Grooming Needs

The lustrous, long fur of golden retrievers requires a lot of upkeep. Owners must brush their dogs daily and bathe them regularly.

How often to bathe a golden retriever depends on its lifestyle, but the general recommendation is to wash the dog every four to six weeks. Golden retrievers don’t need haircuts, and shaving may permanently damage their coat.

Although dalmatians have a short coat, they need to be brushed every second day because of intense shedding. Regular bathing is essential, while haircuts are optional.


Golden retrievers and dalmatians have about the same life expectancy of 10-13 years. With proper care and a healthy lifestyle, these dogs can sometimes live longer, but a dog’s lifespan depends not solely on the owner’s effort.

Health Issues

Like all purebred dogs, golden retrievers and dalmatians are prone to breed-specific health conditions.

The most common golden retriever health problems include thyroid disorders, ear infections, skin conditions, progressive retinal atrophy, cancer, obesity, hip dysplasia, and seizures.

Dalmatians are susceptible to allergies, thyroid disorders, iris sphincter dysplasia, seizures, urinary stones, ear infections, and deafness. Cancer is becoming more widespread among dogs of the breed.


Golden retriever puppies cost $1,000-$3,000 on average. It’s a very popular breed, and breeders are unable to keep up with the demand, which is reflected in the price.

Show-quality golden retriever puppies may cost over $4,000, whereas some are available for $500. Dalmatians are cheaper on average, ranging from $800 to $2,000 because of lower demand.

Service dogs require special training and typically cost over $20,000, regardless of the breed. Rescue golden retrievers and dalmatians may be available for under $500.

Suitability for Inexperienced Dog Owners

Golden retrievers are a good choice for first-time dog owners. Although they aren’t low maintenance and require plenty of physical activity and upkeep, they are easy to train and rarely are aggressive.

Dalmatians aren’t the best breed for first-time dog owners but aren’t the worst either. Inexperienced owners may need the help of a professional in training, but dalmatians can’t be called stubborn.

The biggest risk of owning a dalmatian is aggression caused by a lack of socialization and destructive behavior triggered by insufficient exercise.

Suitability for Apartments

Many people considering getting a dalmatian or golden retriever wonder – can large dogs live in apartments? Generally, yes. Size isn’t the pitfall of keeping a dalmatian or golden retriever in a flat.

The problem lies in the high energy levels of these dogs, so the apartment must be located close to a park, stadium, or another place suitable for dog exercise. These aren’t breeds for small apartments in the city center.

Suitability as Service Dogs

A golden retriever is the best choice if you’re looking for a service dog. They are intelligent, obedient, sociable, and large enough to perform various tasks.

Dalmatians can also make excellent service dogs with proper training. The emphasis of the training should be on socializing the dog to avoid aggression towards other animals and strangers.

Suitability as Guard or Protection Dogs

To determine whether golden retrievers can be guard dogs, let’s outline the traits that make a good guard dog. They must be protective, loyal, large, intelligent, obedient, and have a capacity to be aggressive.

Golden retrievers fit the description, but they are way too credulous and affectionate. For this reason, they make excellent protection dogs but poor guard dogs.

Dalmatians are more aloof towards strangers but equally affectionate as goldens and cannot live outside the house. However, they are perfect protection dogs because of their loyalty and intelligence.

Suitability as Hunting Dogs

Both golden retrievers and dalmatians were historically used in hunting. Golden retrievers are primarily used to retrieve waterfowl, so they have a soft bite, webbed feet, and water-repellent coat.

Dalmatians can be used in various applications, including retrieving, trail hounding, and stag hunting. They have higher prey drive and stamina than golden retrievers.


Golden retrievers are very popular dogs. Dalmatians aren’t rare either, but their popularity is incomparable with goldens because few people can provide them with enough exercise.

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