The Dalmatian Club of America
A Short History of the Dalmatian
No breed has a more interesting background or a more disputed
heritage than that dog from long ago, the Dalmatian. His beginning is buried
so deep in the past that researchers cannot agree as to his origin. As
to the great age of the breed, and the fact that it has come through many
centuries unchanged, investigators are in complete agreement.
From: The Complete Dog Book
Offical Publication of the American Kennel Club
Eighteenth Edition, 1992
Models, engravings, paintings, and writings of antiquity
have been used with fair excuse but no certainty to claim the spotted dog
first appeared in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Perhaps some of the divergencies
in opinion as to the original home of the Dalmatian can be accounted for
by the fact that the dog has frequently been found in bands of Romanies,
and that like his gypsy masters, he has been well known but not located
definitely in any one place. Authoritative writers place him first as a
positive entity in Dalmatia,
a province of Austria on the Eastern shore of the coast of Venice. Though
he has been accredited with a dozen nationalities and has as many native
names - he is nicknamed by the English, the English Coach Dog, the Carriage
Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and the Spotted Dick - it
is from his first proved home that he takes his correct name, the Dalmatian.
We find references to him as Dalmatian in the middle eighteenth century.
There is no question whatsoever that his lineage is as ancient and his
record as straight as that of other breeds.
His activities have been as varied as his reputed ancestors.
He has been a dog of war, a sentinel on the borders of Dalmatia and Croatia.
He has been employed as draft dog, as shepherd. He is excellent on rats
and vermin. He is well known for his heroic performances as fire-apparatus
follower and fire-house mascot. As a sporting dog he has been used as bird
dog, as trail hound, as retriever, or in packs for boar or stag hunting.
His retentive memory had made him one of the most dependable clowners in
circuses and on the stage. Down through the years the intelligence and
willingness of the Dalmatian have found him in practically every role to
which useful dogs are assigned.
Most important among his talents has been his status
as the original, one-and-only coaching dog. The imaginative might say that
his coaching days go back to an engraving of a spotted dog following an
Egyptian chariot! Even the practical minded will find no end of proof,
centuries old, of the Dalmatian, with ears entirely cropped away and padlocked
brass collar, plying his natural trade as follower and guardian of the
He is physically fitted for road work. In his makeup,
speed and endurance are blended to a nicety. His gait has beauty of motion
and swiftness, and he has the strength, vitality, and fortitude to keep
going gaily till the journey's end. The instinct for coaching is bred in
him, born in him, and trained in him through the years. The Dalmatian takes
to a horse as a horse takes to him, and that is to say, like a duck to
water. He may work in the old way, clearing the path before the Tally Ho
with dignity and determination, or following on with his ermine spottings
in full view to add distinction to an equipage. He may coach under the
rear axle, the front axle, or, most difficult of all, under the pole between
the leaders and the wheelers. Wherever he works, it is with the love of
the game in his heart and with the skill which has won him the title of
the only recognized carriage dog in the world. His penchant for working
is his most renowned characteristic, but it in no way approaches his capacity
There is no dog more picturesque than this spotted
fellow with his slick white coat gaily decorated with clearly defined round
spots of jet black, or, in the liver variety, deep brown. He does not look
like any other breed, for his markings are peculiarly his own. He is strong-bodied,
clean-cut, colorful, and distinctive. His flashy spottings are the culmination
of ages of careful breeding.
His aristocratic bearing does not belie him, for the
Dalmatian is first of all a gentleman. He is a quiet chap, and the ideal
guard dog, distinguishing nicely between barking for fun or with a purpose.
His courtesy never fails with approved visitors, but his protective instinct
is highly developed and he has the courage to defend. As a watchdog he
is sensible and dependable. He is not everyone's dog - no casual admirer
will break his polite reserve, for he has a fine sense of distinction as
to whom he belongs. Fashion has not distorted the Dalmatian. He is born
pure white, develops quickly and requires no cropping, docking, stripping,
or artifices of any sort. He is all ready for sport or the show ring just
as nature made him. He is extremely hardy, an easy keeper, suited to any
climate. He requires only the minimum of care, for he is sturdy and neat