One of cinema’s most iconic breeds, the Dalmatian, is set to be thrust back into the SPOTlight this weekend, with the theatrical release of Cruella. The new feature film is based on the infamous villain from the novel and Disney film, 101 Dalmatians, which was originally released in cinemas in 1961, with a live-action adaptation in 1996.
However, with the previous iteration sparking a surge in people buying Dalmatian puppies in the nineties, both The Kennel Club and breed experts are urging the public not to rush into making impulsive puppy purchases and taking on a breed that doesn’t fit their lifestyle.
Statistics released today (27 May) by The Kennel Club show that Dalmatian popularity was at an all-time high in 1996, reaching nearly 4,000 annual registrations, with the plentiful puppies from the film winning the hearts of viewers and placing the breed as the 13th most popular breed for that year. The dotted dogs remained in the top 20 most popular breeds in the UK until 2004 when numbers then began to slip, much to the relief of Dalmatian breed rescue volunteers who see first-hand the repercussions of a puppy sale that goes wrong. Similarly, the 1961 film almost doubled Dalmatian popularity, with puppy registrations rising from 791 to 1,549 between 1959 and 1963, and peaking as the 16th most popular breed in 1968.
Margaret Cuthbertson, Secretary and Vice-President for the North of England Dalmatian Club, said: “Dalmatians are loving and loyal companions but, despite their enduring popularity, are not suitable for everyone. They are an active and energetic breed that requires a lot of exercise and are best suited to those with a large house and garden. Equally, as demonstrated by Rolly in the original film, they also love food, and there is a lot of time and expense needed to properly care for these dogs.
“We are concerned that seeing these distinctive dogs on the big-screen again will prompt many people to rush into buying one, without considering whether they actually have the means necessary to own one long-term.”
Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club, added: “We often see trends for certain dog breeds fluctuate as a result of what people see in films or on television and the Dalmatian, an elegant breed that can turn heads in its own right, is certainly no exception. Whilst they can make wonderful pets when raised in the right environment, they can be too much of a handful for some, especially when there are 101 of them! Although Pongo and Perdita lived in a townhouse in London, in reality these breeds are much more suited to a larger living space with access to a garden.
“Of course, no one should be buying a dog simply because they’ve seen them in films or on TV, but instead should be carrying out extensive research to find out which breed is right for them. Each of the 222 breeds in the UK are unique and have different needs and individual traits that must be understood by their potential owner, to make sure they are the perfect match.”
Further information on finding the right breed for your lifestyle can be found via The Kennel Club’s Breed A-Z tool.
Find out more about the work of North of England Dalmatian Club.