The Carriage Dog, the Dalmatian

Since the movie about 101 Dalmatians, this spectacular leopard has become famous. However, the Dalmatian’s history goes beyond the film. They are also known as “wagon dogs” or “fire dogs”. Before the “horseless wagon”, horses were used to pull fire wagons and dogs were a common sight around Fire Stations in the United States. The dogs were used as carriage protectors, trained to run under the wheels and protect the horses by guarding other farm dogs. Dalmatians are guard and protection dogs and are also used as hunters.

The Dalmatian is an easy care breed, a simple wipe of the coat will keep it clean. A white coat with lots of spots looks great. Puppies are born all white and gradually as they get older spots start to appear. The coat has short stiff hairs that shed over the years, so a quick rub with a towel several times a week will help loosen the hairs and prevent shedding on furniture. The breed standard describes the coat specifically: “white must be visible on the ears” and “only black spots or only the heart” not a combination of the two. In the United States, blue eyes are acceptable but European and British standards call for black or brown eyes.

They are generally healthy, but the breed has an inherited trait of deafness. Dalmatians are also a breed known to have some skin problems related to allergies. There is little hip dysplasia in the breed but with all larger dogs it is necessary to be x-rayed to rule this out.

The dog’s temperament is steady but protective. They don’t do well with kids if they don’t show up early. They are intelligent and need work to be at their best, so obedience training is a good option if you have these dogs in an urban environment. Lots of exercise is key. Joggers are great owners for Dalmatians because they are very adaptable to jogging alongside their owners and protecting them from stray dogs! He is a stable dog choice in Horse company.

Since the movie, the Dalmatian has become a popular dog in general, which is not always the best for any breed. They have been over produced by breeders who have bred these dogs for the lure of dollars rather than the quality of the breed. This often leads to many of these puppies appearing in pet stores. People buy on impulse, having no idea that they will actually end up with a dog that is protective, that needs a lot of exercise and with all the usual housebreaking and training that is always necessary for a family pet. As usual when this happens, there are quite a few Dalmatians already at the shelter. Fortunately the National Club has an active “rescue” group that can be found by visiting the AKC web page.

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