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Close Up... Dalmatians
From fireman’s friend to royal guard, this breed has a long history of helping humans. SCOTT MILLER explains what kind of pets these dotty dogs make.
Famously featured in Disney’s animated classic 101 Dalmatians (based on Dodie Smith’s popular novel) this is one of the most recognisable dog breeds with its distinctive black or liver (brown) spots on a white coat. Dalmatians are named after the Croatian province of Dalmatia, where they are thought to have originated. They have an ancient history; dogs similar to the spotty breed were depicted on Egyptian relics and the walls of medieval Italian cathedrals. They also have a long list of varied professions, from royal guards to hunters, avid pest exterminators to coach or carriage dogs. Known for their courage, intelligence and loyalty, Dalmatians have long been popular in the US as the mascot of firemen.
Back in the days of horse-drawn wagons, they raced ahead of the fire trucks, clearing a path, guiding firefighters, and protecting horses and equipment. Retaining almost boundless energy and stamina, today’s Dalmatian is now principally a companion breed.
Although its popularity has waned since the release of the Disney film in 1961, the Dalmatian remains one of the top 50 most popular breeds. And, since the release of a special edition of the canine classic in March this year, Dalmatians are sure to become more popular once again...
Are they for you?
Dalmatians are not the best choice for first-time dog owners and are best suited to active people with a keen interest in training and behaviour. While they enjoy children’s playfulness, as with any breed, they shouldn’t be left alone with little ones as their unbridled exuberance may end in tears. Dalmatians are very active indoors; they will love a house with a large garden to run around in, but shouldn’t be kept outside in the colder months. They’ll appreciate a doggy buddy for when you leave the house, and should also get on with other pets they’ve grown up with.