Did you know?
If you counted all the black spots in the 1961 movie “101 Dalmatians”, frame-by-frame, you’d reach a total of 6,469,952!
Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday. – Thornton Wilder
Originally bred to trot behind carriages as guardians against highwaymen, the Dalmatian has been used as a watchdog, draft dog, shepherd, ratter, bird dog, trail hound, retriever, circus and stage performer, and of course as a firehouse mascot.
The Dalmatian has been around a long time, at least from the Middle Ages. Because of his compatability with horses, and ability to travel great distances at a steady pace, over time he began to be used as a dog to run with and guard coaches. As the “Spotted Coach Dog”, he also functioned as a guard for the stables. Later on, the Dalmatian became popular as a dog to travel with and guard horse-drawn fire-fighting equipment. He would run ahead barking to clear the way.
The Dalmatian is also called the “Anheuser-Busch Dog”, since the company’s beer wagon, drawn by a team of Clydesdale horses, is always accompanied by a Dalmatian. Dalmatians were historically used by brewers to guard the wagon while the driver was making deliveries.
Although Dalmatians are spotted dogs, in fact the only spotted dogs, they are generally born white, and begin to develop black or liver-coloured spots within a couple of weeks. Their spots range from dime-sized to two dollar coin size. Their coats are short and smooth. However, they do not possess any undercoat and therefore are sensitive to extremely cold temperatures.
The Dalmatian stands about 24 inches (61 cm) tall at the shoulder.
Dalmatians are poised, alert, strong, muscular, and active. They are friendly, outgoing dogs, and develop a very strong bond with their owners. They are not happy if left alone for long periods. Dalmatians are very versatile as they have been used effectively in a number of roles throughout history. Possessing a strong hunting instinct, they are excellent at keeping down the vermin population. Bred to travel great distances, they are known for having great endurance and speed. This makes them effective as bird dogs, trail hounds, retrievers, or in packs for wild boar or stag hunting. Their history of guarding and protecting property make them effective watch dogs.
The Dalmatian’s popularity jumped after the release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. However, this dog is not for everyone. He has unique dietary requirements and abundant energy, as well as a mind of his own and a determined will. If properly socialized from an early age, the Dalmatian can be an excellent companion with children.
Training should be firm and consistent and start early. Obedience training is very important for curbing the Dalmatian’s instinctive desire to be the boss. He is an independent thinker and easily bored, so training sessions should be short and fun.
Dalmatians were bred to walk…a lot! Several walks a day and weekly access to a secure area where they can run off the leash is necessary. They are athletic animals who enjoy jogging, hiking, or biking with their masters. They also excel in dog sports such as advanced obedience, agility, rally, and tracking. This is an animal who is always up for a challenge!
Photos displayed courtesy of Louise Baldock, Estate Reg’d, British Columbia