The History of the Dalmatian

We are still not absolutely sure of the exact origin of the Dalmatian. The most reliable of sources suggests he originated in the eastern Mediterranean from where he spread to India and over Europe. Some suggest he did this while travelling with gypsies. The name suggests the breed came from Dalmatia, but researchers have found this wasn't the case. The name Dalmatian did come relatively late in his history approximately around the late 1790's, but there are records of spotted dogs in paintings, sketchings and artifacts dated well before this time. The so called then spotted dog was seen beside war chariots and with all types of horse drawn carriages, This is probably how he received his second name The Carriage Dog. During the centuries he was used as a guard dog, war dog, faithful companion, coach dog and a mascot for the horsedrawn fire engines. The Dalmatian will gait with horses for many miles. And this is something he has a natural affinity for.

Appearance and Temperament. The picturesque spotting of the Dalmatian makes the breed the most distinctive of dogs. No- one could mistake him with his black or liver spots, his streamline muscles or energetic dash. Elegance and humour are the hallmarks of the breed. He is a fun loving natural clown. His 'smile' is often taken for a snarl, until one spots his furiously wagging tail!

Historically, the Dalmatian's purpose was to accompany carriages. The dogs travelled under the axle, between the lead horses, or alongside and cleared the road of stray animals. They also served as guard dogs. To be able to fulfill this purpose the Dalmatian had to be capable of covering great distances and also had to be protective. Therefore, genetically, the Dalmatian is predisposed to be very active and somewhat territorial. It is extremely important for prospective owners to understand the activity level. A well-bred dalmatian is highly active and requires opportunity for exercise. A fenced yard and an owner willing to throw a ball are usually all that is needed or a run off lead once a day in an off lead park.

Cleanliness and a minimum of grooming are other characteristics of the breed. Having a short dense coat, they need only an occasional brushing to present a well groomed appearance. This short hair however does have its drawbacks. Dalmatians shed hair. This bears repeating. Owners are fond of saying that Dalmatians shed twice a year, six months in the spring and six months in the autumn. The hair has barbed ends and sticks to everything. Daily brushing keeps shedding to a minimum but there is no way to stop it altogether. Fastidious housekeepers or those fond of wearing black and navy unadorned by short white hairs may find the breed unsuitable.

Dalmatians are house dogs. They are very social and need to be part of the family. Dalmatians who are confined to a yard or kennel away from family activities frequently become barkers or diggers. This is not to say a Dalmatian cannot be left alone during the day while the owners are at work. It is just that when the rest of the family is spending time together at home, the Dalmatian wants to be apart of it. Dalmatians are fairly large dogs. An adult male will be around 61cm tall and weigh close to 25-27 kilos. A female will be slightly smaller.

The Dalmatian should be confident, alert the family to strangers, and, if need be, protect their family. As with all dogs it is necessary to provide ample opportunity for socialization. with dogs as well as with people. Dalmatians are very intelligent In fact, they are often too smart for their own good. They have a tendency to be independent thinkers with a touch of class clown. Novice owners should definitely plan to attend a basic obedience class. Dalmatians make good pets for older children. If looking for a companion for very small children remember a Dalmatian puppy grows quickly and is incredibly active. Their size and activity level may be intimidating for toddlers.

Dalmatians may be "smilers." When a Dal smiles, he curls his lip and bares his teeth. It looks very much like a snarl but it is usually a sign of affection. A Dal may also smile to show submission or when he thinks he may be in trouble. Their theory being no one could be angry at a smiling dog. (It usually works!) However, for the uninitiated a "smile" can be a bit unnerving.

Medical issues Dalmatians are usually a very healthy dog however Dalmatians do have have a uric acid anomaly that can lead to the formation of urate stones in some dogs. This occurs more frequently in males than in females but is not very common. In those dogs that are predisposed to this, purines found in some foods form crystals in the urine. The crystals can clump together and form hard, smooth stones that can block the urethra. An obstruction is not only painful but can be life-threatening.

Dalmatians can also be born deaf. Other Dalmatians may have normal hearing in only one ear (unilateral hearing). The majority of Dalmatians have normal hearing in both ears (bilateral hearing). Responsible breeders will not sell a deaf puppy. It will be humanely put to sleep.

There is no right breed for every person. Each breed has its own good and bad points. Naturally there are both pros and cons to owning a Dalmatian. If you are thinking about a dalmatian as a pet I would recomend that you visit breeders or go to dog shows to see the dogs and talk to the owners...