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The Dalmatian Dog Breed Essential Information

Jun 21, 2008
Dalmatians were well known as a carriage dog and so they were also known as Spotted Coach-dogs. Evidence shows that possibly the breed existed centuries before it was named in the 18th century. There is 4000-year-old Greek art showing dogs that look much like modern Dalmatians. The Dalmatian dog breed's popularity surged with the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, and also the Disney film based on the book.

Their size allowed them to fit under the rear axle of the coach, where they often ran. Their stamina allowed them to keep up with the horses and guard dog tendencies allowed the owners to leave the coach without worrying about their possessions. It was often said that a coach was better left in the care of the dogs than the coachman, who could easily be distracted by highway robbers.

The Dalmatian is most famous for being the firehouse dog. This probably started in London where they were first acquired as "ratters", to kill vermin in London's stables and firehouses. Soon they were running alongside the fire engine. To this day, many firehouses in Great Britain and the USA have a Dalmatian, although now, they are more likely to been seen riding on the fire truck instead of along side it.

The breed's first appearance in a dog show was in Great Britain in 1860. The first American shows appearance was in 1926, when the Dalmatian Club of American held its first National Specialty Show.

The exact time and location of the dog's origin are unknown. However, because Dalmatians appear in an Italian wall painting dated about 1360 A.D. and because these spotted dogs were named after Dalmatia, an Adriatic coastal region, one may
assume that they originated somewhere in this area. But, it wasn't until 1780 when the name "Dalmatian" was used in the English language.

In the 1700's, Dalmatians were used to protect horses that pulled English stagecoaches. Typically two Dalmatians would run next to the horses as they pulled the coach. When other dogs tried to run out and scare the horses, the Dalmatian team would chase them away. Over the years, Dalmatians formed a close bond with horses. During this time, horse theft was very common. Because of the potential for theft, stagecoach drivers would typically sleeping a hammock strung between two stalls where they would watch for thieves. However, because of the bond between the Dalmatians and the horses, the driver could sleep in a hotel or house if he owned a Dalmatian.

The Dalmatians would sleep with the horses and guard against horse theft. It is during the era of horse drawn fire apparatus that the Dalmatian becomes forever tied to the Fire Service. These fire house horses were required to spend hours at a time at a fire scene, or hours inside the fire house waiting for a call, and despite many misbelieves, these fire house horses were not broken down old hags, but fine spirited horses.
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For more information on the dalmatian or a complete list of dog breeds visit this Dog Behaviour website.
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