Description & History

The origin of this striking breed is not known. In spite of its name, there are no facts to support that it came from Dalmatia on the east coast of the Adriatic.

Evidence of the breed's existence from the seventeenth century is seen in paintings and engravings by artists from different countries - Holland, Italy and England. One painting by the Dutch artist Jan Fyt (1606 - 1661) depicts a hunting scene showing various breeds - Greyhounds and Spaniels - but the dog in the foreground of the painting is unmistakably a Dalmatian.

Down the centuries Dalmatians have had a close affinity with the horse. In Victorian times they would accompany carriages often travelling long distances.

The reason for this was twofold. Firstly, they were decorative, they looked very smart trotting beside or ahead of the horse or even under the front axle. Secondly, they were extremely good guard dogs. This attribute was needed especially when leaving the towns and passing through the countryside which could be very dangerous two or three hundred years ago.

As well as guard dogs they were ratters and would sleep in the stables not only to protect the coaches and horses but to keep vermin under control.

Always a popular dog, the breed reached new heights of popularity with the release of the Walt Disney film 101 Dalmatians based on a book by Dodie Smith.

The Dalmatian is also known as either the Plum Pudding Dog or Spotted Dick!

Down the centuries Dalmatians have shown great endurance and todays dogs are no different. Plenty of exercise is essential, with time allowed for plenty of free galloping.

Rosamund Walters.

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