The Dalmatian has many talents. He has been used to herd sheep, pull carts, track and retrieve, kill rats, and perform in circuses. In England, before the time of automobiles, he rose to his greatest fame as a working companion to coach drivers, owing to his happy, hard-working attitude.
The Dalmatian's origins are mysterious. While researchers know they are an ancient breed, no one can be certain exactly where they came from. That may be because they were developed over the centuries by nomadic peoples wandering throughout Europe. The dogs were given the name Dalmatian after an area in the former Yugoslavia called Dalmatia.
He is a well-behaved gentleman, but needs plenty of exercise. He loves to jog for miles alongside his owner. He is reliably polite with strangers, but also a good watchdog. His love and devotion to his owner are boundless.
Dalmatians have short, hard coats with no undercoat. They need a quick daily brushing because they shed year round. Puppies are born white and develop their spots in two to six weeks. The spots, which can be black or liver, should range in size from a dime to half-dollar.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: Poised and alert, distinctively spotted, muscular and active, not shy, intelligent.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--between 19 and 23 inches at the withers.
When horse-drawn carriages were the way to travel, many drivers kept Dalmatians to trot alongside the coach. Here they put many of their skills to work. If loose farm animals wandered onto the road, they would herd them out of the coach's path. And when the driver stopped for a rest and a bite to eat at the village inn, he knew he could safely leave his coach and horses under the watchful eye of his Dalmatian. The dog's steady character even gave confidence to skittish horses as they traveled. For all these reasons, the Dalmatian was prized by firefighters using horsedrawn wagons. He became renowned as their mascot.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.