All About Dalmatians

About This Breed

The Dalmatian was brought to England from an Arabian coastal area known as Dalmatia. They were known as coach dogs, as their job was to protect the coach and the passengers inside.

Physical Characteristics

The Dalmatian is a large bodied dog. It is heavily muscled, with a deep chest and a high tucked abdomen. The head is short with a wide forehead. The eyes are black and the ears droop. The tail is skinny and pointed.

COLOR(S)

White with black spots.

COAT

Short and slick.

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

High

POSITIVES

Dalmatians love to play and they make good watchdogs.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Dalmatians can be aggressive toward strangers; they also like to chase cars and other dogs.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

Dalmatians would do well in the city or country.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The breed requires daily exercise; they are high energy dogs.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in Dalmatians:

  • Deafness
  • Bladder stones

History and Background

Although the origin of the Dalmatian’s coat pattern is not known, it is one of the most interestingly patterned breeds. Paintings of dogs resembling the Dalmatian have been found throughout the centuries. One such painting, a fresco from 1360, is held in the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.

It is thought the ancestors of the Dalmatian may have been pointers and the spotted Great Dane. And while it did not originate in Dalmatia, a southern region in Croatia, the breed did derive its name from the region. Even the Dalmatian's original function is obscure, but the breed probably had more than one role. Throughout the years, it has been a shepherd, a war dog, a sentinel, a retriever, a draft dog, a ratter, a trailer, a bird dog, and a circus dog.

In Victorian England, the Dalmatian served as a coach dog, fulfilling both aesthetic and practical roles — protecting horses from marauding dogs while looking handsome. The dogs trotted in front, alongside, or below the axle of the coach. There is now evidence that the coaching role may have been a hereditary factor that was bred into the Dalmatian.

The introduction of the automobile dimmed the Dalmatian’s position in high society, but it continued to work as a coach dog for fire engines, which were drawn by horses, giving it the well known "fire-dog" status that still holds today. The first Dalmatian was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1988 and the breed's U.S. Club, the Dalmatian Club of America, was founded in 1905.