Best known as the star of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, this sleek and athletic dog breed has a history that goes back several hundred years. He started out as a coach dog but has also served in many other capacities, including hunter, firehouse dog, and circus performer. As charming in life as in film, he goes from gallant to goofy to gallant again in the blink of an eye, and loves to be a part of everything his family does.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
About this Breed
The Dalmatian is a breed of large dog, noted for its unique black or liver spotted coat and mainly used as a carriage dog in its early days. Its roots trace back to Croatia and its historical region of Dalmatia. Today, it is a popular family pet, and many dog enthusiasts enter Dalmatians into kennel club competitions.
Dalmatians are a relatively healthy and easy to keep breed. Like other breeds, Dalmatians display a propensity towards certain health problems specific to their breed, such as deafness, allergies and urinary stones. Reputable breeders have their puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to ensure the status of the hearing on their pups.
Particularly in the United States the use of Dalmatians as carriage dogs was transferred to horse-drawn fire engines. Today, the Dalmatian serves as a firehouse mascot and is sometimes used to educate the public in fire safety, but in the days of horse-drawn fire carts, they provided a valuable service, having a natural affinity to horses. They would run alongside the horses, or beneath the cart axles. The horses have long since gone, but the Dalmatians, by tradition, have stayed. As a result, in the United States, Dalmatians are commonly known as firehouse dogs.
Dalmatians on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Dalmatian ancestry.