A Bit of Dalmatian History

By Maria Zorka

Dalmatians have been a pure breed for a long time. Some even claim that Dalmatian figures are depicted in Egyptian pyramids. It is known that the Dalmatians travelled with the Gypsies throughout Europe. Thus, they developed a special relationship with horses, being able to calm their larger friends.

When the British began to breed Dalmatians, they found the dogs useful as carriage dogs. The Dalmatians travelled under the axle or alongside the carriage, depending the dog's size. This beautifully decorated breed, with its large round spots, added flair and style to the nobleman's coach. When the gentleman and his guests would rest for the night at the traveller's Inn, the Dalmatians would keep the horses calm while guarding the possessions of the entire party.

Our first president, George Washington, raised Dalmatians. So did Benjamin Franklin, who was also a fireman. Other famous people who have owned Dalmatians are Arthur Fiedler, Glen Ford, Gloria Estafan, Richard Simmons and Eugene O'Neil.A beloved tribute to his dog "Blemie", in "The Last Will and Testament to an Extremely Distinguished Dog", was written by Eugene O'Neill about his Dalmatian.

When Dalmatians came to America, thanks, in part, to Ben Franklin, fire engines were horse drawn. Which dog would be the mascot as friend and courageous rescuer of animals and small children? Naturally, it was the Dalmatian. And what a handsome addition to the shiny red fire engine he was! When motorized vehicles were introduced and fire engines were no longer horse driven, Dalmatians remained the favorite mascots and friends of the firehouse.

Dalmatians have been noted in the "AKC Dog Book" as the "best all around dogs". Males and females are equally affectionate. The "Dally", who is good with children, shares his affection with the entire family. The Dalmatian is an excellent watch dog and companion. Very cat-like in cleanliness, he manages to keep his white coat clean with little effort.