THE HISTORY OF THE DALMATIAN
The history of the Dalmatian is ancient and very jumbled. There is evidence of pointer shaped, spotted dogs throughout Europe before and especially during the middle ages. They have a strong tie to the gypsies, who were quick to grab the flashy animals as an addition to their street performances. Since the gypsies were nomadic, the dal was quickly dispersed throughout eastern and western Europe. When the keeping of dogs regained popularity they were used as sight hounds, scent hounds, bird dogs, and guard dogs for the carriages and horses from roadmen and thieves. Whatever they were used for, they have always had an affinity with horses. Type varied greatly throughout this time, and there is usually no mention of color. They were known as the “Bengal Harrier” and were said to have come out of India from a tiger and a dog. They were, at that time, used as a harrier also. It is not until later thorough British write ups that we see a connection to the color liver, which was probably contributed by setters and pointers. Tricolor was also prominent.
Although many people still try to connect the breed to the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia, there is no information whatever of spotted dogs of any kind being indigenous to the region. It is unknown how it gained its name, perhaps by chance or by mistake.
In its early years as a recognized and bred breed of dog it much resembled a pointer. In the 1800s, they were discovered widely and it became fashionable to have one or usually two of these flashy dogs running underneath your coach just after the first axel. In those days it was tradition to crop the entire leather of the ears. They were also bred by the fire departments to run out in front of the horses and act as a modern day siren might, clearing the way, and also to calm and ease the horses during this chaos.
They came to the United States and became popular about the late 1800s. As automobiles were created, they went on to become circus performers, and companions, but their connections to the fire department remained.
They come in Black, Liver, Tri-color, blue, brindle, lemon, and orange, however black and liver are the only recognized colors. Their fur is smooth and soft, lying flat and thin to the coat. They shed immensely all year long, but other than a brushing regularly and a bath every few months, there is almost no maintenance required.
The ears of the Dalmatian should be moderately set, tapering down in a triangle shape to a soft point. They should lay flat against the head. "Flying nun" ears are to be faulted. When being judged, the markings are worth 25% of the total. Although this may seem outrageous, when individual components of structure are added up the equal almost as much.
When Disney produced an animated version of Dodie Smith's book (which, by the way, contained the correct ratio of livers) they decided to show the happy-go-lucky, high energy, intelligent (which makes them stubborn) yet mostly willing to please dogs as low energy and eager and willing to cater to your every request. Uneducated buyers want cute little puppies, which they don't bother to train or socialize and then our WONDERFUL breed gets a nasty attitude.