With a long history of working with horses, the Dal also worked with chariots in ancient civilizations. In the Middle Ages, gypsies and their wagons roamed with their Dalmatians through European states. This breed developed its characteristic stamina that allows it to exercise for hours and for miles. Although documents indicate this dog's existence in Dalmatia, Croatia, this country may not be the country of origin. In 1573 a Bohemian duchess gave Serbian poet Jurij Dalmatin two Turkish dogs that he later bred. Dalmatin's dogs, however, may not be the ancestors of the modern breed.
In 18th-century Britain, the Dalmatian won the hearts of aristocrats. This coach dog worked horses and accompanied his master on country excursions and trips to festivities. In the 1800s, London fire brigades needed the energetic Dalmatian to help clear the streets and open the way for the horse-drawn water-wagons.
The medium-sized Dalmatian sports a vivid, spotted coat, black or liver on a white background. The muscular frame has a square outline with the height of the withers matching the length from the point of shoulder to the outside rump. This breed has a level back, an arching neck and a curving tail. Height ranges from 56-58 cm (22-23 in) for females, and 58-61 cm (23-24 in) for males. Both females and males weigh 23-25 kg (50-55 lbs).
The Dalmatian's head is of fair length with a deep muzzle and black or brown nose. The medium eyes may be black or amber and set well apart. The moderate ears, set high, have rounded points and hanging tips. With round, cat-like feet, the Dal runs with a long, powerful stride and can trot for miles.
The friendly Dalmatian, is a dedicated pet, if cared for properly. Temperaments can range from shy to aggressive. This high energy dog may experience distress if left alone. Owners must train their puppies to avoid bad habits. Owners need to consider carefully if they can handle the Dal's great strength and stamina. Owners need to exercise their Dal for two hours daily, including a walk for miles. A physically active family with a house and a fenced yard fares better with this breed. Without discipline, dogs can be hyper. The Dalmatian may take two or more years to settle.
The Many Roles of the Dalmatian
The Dalmatian has a proven track record as a coach dog, guardian and shepherd vermin dog. Sparky the Dalmatian, a fixture at some fire stations, visits schools and helps students learn about fire prevention.
In 1956, a book by Dorothy Gladys Smith entitled The One Hundred and One Dalmatians or The Great Dog Robbery, helped popularize the Dal. In 1961 Walt Disney Studios created the animated film 101 Dalmatians. A live action film followed in 1996 with over 200 Dalmatians in the cast.