The Dalmatian dog breed is popular because it is the star of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Aside from that, they are also famed for their spotted coats. The Dalmatian is a sleek and athletic dog breed which has a history that goes back several hundred years. It is as charming in real life as in film and it can go from gallant to goofy to gallant again in an instant. If you love Dalmatians, then read on to know more about its history and characteristics.
There is no clear story about the exact origin of the Dalmatian dog breed but based on the most reliable sources, they originated in the eastern Mediterranean from where they spread to India and over Europe. Its name suggests that it came from Dalmatia, which was a historical region in Croatia, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. However, researchers have found that this was not the case.
The name Dalmatian came relatively late in their history, around the late 1790s. But there were records of spotted dogs in painting, sketches, and artifacts which were dated well before this time. These dogs were seen beside war chariots and other horse drawn carriages. This is where they received their other name which is “The Carriage Dog”.
Dalmatians before were used as dogs of war, guarding the borders of Dalmatia. Even until now, the breed retains a high guarding instinct. They have a strong hunting instinct and they are also excellent exterminator of rats and vermin. Aside from being dogs of war, they were also used as bird dogs, trail hounds, retrievers, or in packs for boar or stag hunting. They have also become successful circus dogs throughout the years because of their dramatic markings and intelligence.
Dalmatians are best known for their role as fire-fighting apparatus escorts and firehouse mascots. Since they are very compatible with horses, they were easily trained to run in front of the carriages, helping clear a paths to quickly guide the horses and firefighters to the fires. They were also kept in the firehouse as deterrence to theft because they are considered to make good watchdogs.
In the present time, most Dalmatians are companions and family members but they still firmly remain as an iconic mascot of the Fire Brigade. In fact, you can still find living examples of this across the country.
Characteristics of a Dalmatian
Average height: 1 foot and 7 inches – 2 feet tall
Average weight: 48 – 55 pounds
The Dalmatian belongs to the companion dogs breed group and they can live from 13 to 16 years. Both males and females can grow between 19 and 24 inches tall and can weight from 48 to 55 pounds. But males are generally larger than females. Dalmatians have distinctive coats that are lovely to touch because they are short, satiny, and fine. The top of their heads feel like velvet.
Their coats’ base color is white with well-defined dense black or deep brown round spots which vary from dime size to half dollar size which are evenly distributed over the coat. You can also see smaller spots on their legs, head, and tail. But did you know that where their spots came from is a mystery? Yes, because they do not have spots at birth and they only get spots when they grow older. Also, just like human fingerprints, no two Dalmatians have exactly the same pattern of spots.
There are also tricolored Dalmatians such as those with tan markings on the head, neck, chest, leg, or a tail of black or liver spotted dog. However, they are not suited for dog shows but they can still be excellent companion dogs.
Dalmatians are high-energy dogs that do not get tired of exercise. They love attention and have a strong desire to please, making them very easy to train. They are also smart dogs with a sly sense of humor. They are alert and interested with things that goes around them, which makes them excellent watchdogs.
They are also great playmates for older children but not to toddlers and young children because their rambunctious nature and swishing tails might be overwhelming. They are also fine with other dogs and cats around.
Caring for Dalmatians
Since Dalmatians are very active dogs, they will need plenty of exercise. But remember to exercise them on a leash because they are very fast runners with a great deal of stamina. They also thrive with human companionship that’s why they need plenty of time with their family. Also try to observe if your Dalmatian is urinating properly because they have unique uric acid metabolism. Make sure to provide them with easy access to fresh water all the time.
Dalmatians are considered as clean dogs and they only have little or no “doggy” odor. Their coats are dirt-repellent as well and it is unusual for them to roll around in the mud. But be aware that they shed all year round. To get the hair off them, make sure to brush their coats weekly using a medium-soft rubber curry brush. If you brush them regularly, there’s no need for frequent bathing and three to four times in a year is enough.
Remember to brush your Dalmatian’s teeth at least two to three times a week to prevent bad breath and gum disease. Also, trim its nails once or twice a month to avoid painful tears.
When feeding Dalmatians, the recommended daily amount of food a day is 1.5 to 2 cups divided into two meals. This depends on your Dalmatian’s size, age, metabolism, build, and activity level.
If you’re an active individual who loves running or hiking and you’re looking for a wonderful companion, getting a Dalmatian might be a great option for you. Dalmatians are also great as family pets and as watchdogs for your home.