The Dalmatian, A Spotted History
The uniquely spotted canine known as the Dalmatian was the recent subject of a Mutt Wisdom post. It prompted much conversation and curiosity here at Muttluks. We decided to delve deeper and profile this ancient and elegant breed.
While the Dalmatian’s exact origins are mysterious, there is strong agreement that the breed originated in the Croatian region “Dalmatia” for which it is named, on the Eastern shore off the coast of Venice. Ancient models, paintings, writing and engravings of Dalmatians appear in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Though the breed has been around for over 600 years, the name Dalmatian wasn’t used until the late eighteenth century.
Adding to the mystery of the breed name, Thomas Bewick coined the name in 1791 when Dalmatians were no longer living in Dalmatia. Dalmatians were later imported to Dalmatia by a ship owner who took his dogs to Dalmatia in 1930.
Plum Pudding Dog
Dalmatians have been known as the English Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, the Dally, the Plum Pudding Dog, Fire House Dog, the Spotted Dick, the Spotted Coach Dog or the Dal. Versatile Dalmatians have a long list of professions, such as dogs of war, circus dogs, sentinels on the borders of Dalmatia and Croatia, guard dogs, draft dogs, ratters and hunters of vermin, packs of boar and stag hunting as well as shepherds. They are also superb sporting dogs used as bird dogs, trail hounds and hunting retrievers.
Dalmatians to the Rescue
Dalmatians are the only recognized carriage dog in the world. The coach/carriage dog was a noble status earned by guarding the coach, its contents, people and horses. They could keep pace with horses and sprint long distances. Coach dogs also protected horses and fended off stray and marauding street dogs that would bark, dash out and nip at the horses legs.
While Dalmatians are best known for their heroic performances with fire trucks and as fire-house mascots, their association with fire trucks developed from their skills as carriage or coach dogs. Dalmatians helped clear a path to guide the horses and firefighters to the fires as quickly as possible. When a fire alarm sounded Dalmatians barked at bystanders to clear the way for the firefighters coming onto the streets shortly. Once the fire wagon was on the street the Dalmatians cleared the way by running in front or beside the horses. Horses are afraid of fire and it was the Dalmatians job to calm and distract the horses as they approached close to the fire. Once at the fire they stood guard near the wagon to ensure no one stole the firefighter’s belongings, equipment or horses.
Dalmatians became a status symbol of sorts. The more Dalmatians you had running with your coach the higher your social standing.
Naturally Dirt Repellant
Dalmatians are one of the most recognizable and distinctive breeds of dog. They’re born pure white and develop black spots as they mature. They have unique spot patterns with no two Dalmatians having identical spots. Despite their white colour, their coat is soft, shiny and naturally dirt repellant. You gotta love that!
The popularity of Dalmatians soared after the release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Their high degree of intelligence, excellent memory and willingness to please, make them suitable for just about any task. In fact, their affinity for work is their most renowned characteristic.
Just in case you were wondering, most Dalmatians take Muttluks boot size medium. That’s approximate - sizes vary by individual dog and front to back paws.
If your Mutt is a Dalmatian - Enjoy!