The Dalmatian is the canicross loving topic of today's 'Meet The Breed'. Easily recognizable with their white coat and black spots, the Dalmatian has become a symbol of Fire departments nation wide. As it turns out, the reason for their fire department mascot status is a mystery to most people. We will uncover the mystery today.
The origin of the Dalmatian is still debated by many people. Spotted dogs resembling the Dalmatian have been know to exist in Africa, Europe and Asia throughout history. In 1700 a dog in England, know as the Bengal pointer, closely resembled the Dalmatian. Until recently, the breed was thought to hail from Yugoslavia. In 1993, however, the FCI finally recognized the Croatian roots that the Dalmatian likely has. even its name sake is the Dalmatia coast of Croatia.
Dalmatians were bred for several purposes, but found their mark in running along side horse drawn carriages. This job is the reason Dalmatians have made a name for themselves as the firehouse mascot. Back when fire departments used horses to pull a wagon full of water as their 'fire truck', Dalmatians were used to run alongside and ahead of these buggies. They would bark as they ran, alerting pedestrians of the fire wagon coming through. On scene, they guarded the buggy. Back at the fire station, they were guard dogs and rat catchers. They were so useful to fire departments,then, that they still represent them, now.
As previously stated, the Dalmatian is quite an easily recognizable breed. They are born all white, and later develop black or liver spots. These spots can be round, oval or misshapen. Round, black, evenly distributed spots are the most desirable for the show ring.
Dalmatians are large, strong, muscular dogs. Their eyes can be brown, blue, or a combination of the two. As with most canicross worthy dogs, they have long legs and a deep chest.
Dalmatians are a high strung breed. They are not at all well suited for lazy apartment life. They need tons of daily exercise and are best suited for someone who runs, hikes, and brings their dog along for all their adventures. When bored, Dalmatians can be destructive indoors, and dig huge holes outdoors. I would not recommend a Dalmatian to a new dog owner. They can be somewhat difficult to train. They need very early socialization and obedience training. However, with the right owner, Dalmatians make a wonderful companion.
Dalmatians are prone to urinary stones. Their uric acid levels are typically higher than that of any other breed. These stones can cause urinary blockage. They are also prone to some skin allergies. Most of these allergies are caused by synthetic fibers in carpets and upholstery.
The biggest concern for Dalmatians is deafness. Roughly 10-12% of Dalmatians are born completely deaf. A slightly higher percentage are born partly deaf. While it is very possible to raise and train a well adjusted deaf dog, special consideration must be made. Fortunately, a dog who is born deaf, doesn't know other people and dogs can hear. They just live their lives the way it is presented to them. In training, your body language and visual cures will be much more important to a deaf dog.
If you do adopt a deaf Dalmatian, any questions regarding their care and training can be addressed by me or any other experienced trainer.
Dalmatians are a wonderful breed for a very active person that loves to take their dog on all their adventures.
Credit for the photo goes to Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay