The dalmatian, or "dal" as his friends call him, is the only spotted breed. Not only is he well known as a firehouse mascot, but in previous centuries he was used as a coaching dog, following horses and carriages on long journeys. He's still an energetic runner today.
Dalmatian puppies are born white, without spots. Spots start appearing when the puppy is about 10 to 14 days old, and spots continue to appear on the dog's body as it grows.
No two dalmatians have the same number and pattern of spots. Your dal's coat is absolutely one-of-a-kind, just like a snowflake. Cruella DeVille probably didn't know this fact when she was plotting to make herself a dalmatian coat. If she'd succeeded, the pattern wouldn't have matched. While most dals are white with black spots, others are white with liver, or brown spots. These two colors are permitted in the breed standard. Dals with yellow spots or tri-colored dals, those with brown and black spots, can't be exhibited in the show ring.While the spotting process slows as the dog ages, even older dals continue to get new spots.
Up to 12 percent of Dalmatians are deaf, according to the Dalmatian Club of America. Many other dals can hear in only one ear.
The Romany people, commonly called gypsies, favor the dal and this breed often travels with them, according to the American Kennel Club.
Over the years, the breed has gone by other nicknames. These include the carriage dog and English coach dog. Those make sense, but other British names include the plum pudding dog and the spotted dick. Not hard to figure why that last one went out of fashion.
101 Dalmatians in any of its several screen versions might have been your introduction to the breed. The downside of those popular films is that some viewers decide the dal is the breed for them without doing the right research, and unscrupulous breeders start mass-producing poorly-bred puppies. That means many dals ended up in shelters when their owners realize what an energetic dog they bought. If you really want a dal, research the breed and only buy from a reputable breeder.
Because they were bred to follow coaches and spent a great deal of time in the stable, dals tend to get along very well with horses. If you trail ride, a well-trained dal can easily keep up with you and your horse.
- Dalmatian Club of America: Frequently Asked Questions About the Dalmatian
- Dalmatian Club of America: A Short History of the Dalmatian
- Dalmatian Club of America: The Dalmatian
- American Kennel Club: Dalmatian - Did You Know?
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Dalmatian
- Dog Breeds Online: Dalmatians
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.