The Dalmatian

The Dalmatian
101 Delights


1. That really cute spot right over his tail.
2. Sense of fun.
3. Those spots on his face.
4. Sleek, elegant look.
5. Intelligence.
6. The way a whole bunch of spots just about covers one ear.
7. Love of horses.
8. Spots between his toes.
9, 10, 11, 12…Well, we think you get the spot…er, point. 

The dashing Dalmatian has as many qualities to recommend him as he has spots sprinkled over his coat. But because the Dally’s other qualities are so often camouflaged by that eye-catching
pattern, we’re going to pretend for a moment that he’s just a plain, white, monochromatic dog. We’re going to forget that he even has those you-know-whats.

In fact, no one really knows why Dalmatians look like they were standing too close when an artist shook out her brush full of dark paint. The origins of the breed are not known. Some argue that the name Dalmatian comes from the Dalmatia region on the Adriatic Sea in eastern Europe. Others attribute it to a man named Jurij Dalmatin who may have been associated with the breed in the 16th century. Another theory is that the name is a corruption of dama-chien and that the Dally was originally bred to hunt fallow deer (dama is Latin for fallow, chien is dog in French).

Whether or not hunting was the Dalmatian’s original purpose, its most famous career path has been following horses; up hill and down, over rocky roads and through bustling towns, in snow, rain, and beating sun, the Dal has trotted faithfully behind cobs, coaches, and carriages. Most Dalmatians have a natural affinity for equine friends, making them ideal stable guardians and journey companions during a period when all transportation required real horsepower.

Fire wagons charging to the scene of a blaze might be accompanied by a bold Dalmatian, perhaps to clear the way for the firefighters or to ensure that the galloping horses were not harassed by loose dogs in the street. Today, the dog that kept the firehouse and its stables clear of rats has evolved into a personable mascot and fire safety instructor, often used to teach children basic fire drills such as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” or how to crawl to safety in a burning building.

The breed also has a long history as a showman, from being a travelling performer with gypsy caravans and popularity as a circus clown, through to premier roles in advertising, TV, and movies. How many dog breeds can claim their own video game? The Dal has two: Escape from DeVil Manor and 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue. With The 101 Dalmatians Musical currently hitting stages across the US, Dals are even garnering rave reviews in live theatre.

The dog stars of the musical illustrate an important point, however: many of them are rescue dogs that were adopted from shelters. Dalmatians are high-energy, intelligent dogs with a need to be with people and to do something, like the amazing work they perform on stage. Unfortunately, too many people acquire Dalmatians after seeing a cute cartoon or for their appearance alone and without considering that they may not be the right owners for this breed. When their little Patch or Penny turns into an adult dog with exercise demands and willful personality, they dump the “problem” at the local humane society.

Another reason Dalmatians may end up at a shelter is hearing disabilities; the Dalmatian Club of America’s official Position on Dalmatian Deafness states that from 10 to 12 percent of the breed is deaf. Opinions vary on how difficult it is to own a deaf dog. Some experts warn against it, while others argue that with some extra attention and training, deaf dogs can lead happy and full lives. (For more on training a deaf dog, see page 88 in this issue.) Hearing disabilities are inherited in Dalmatians and, while dedicated breeders are working to eliminate deafness through testing and careful breeding, anyone who wants to live with a Dal must be aware of the potential problem.

Other health concerns for the Dalmatian include urinary stones and allergies affecting the skin. A planned diet can go a long way toward controlling both of these conditions.

The average Dalmatian is a happy, athletic dog designed for long-distance running. The American Kennel Club breed standard describes him as “strong, muscular, and active…poised and alert…capable of great endurance combined with a fair amount of speed.” His coat must be pure white with short, fine hair and markings of either dense black or “liver” (dark brown)—no other colours are acceptable. Nose colour must match the spots.

Whoops—did we just say spots?

Oh, to heck with it—how can we celebrate the Dalmatian without saying how we love his unique look? Take away those splashy markings and the Dal would still be a dog of 100 delights—but the spots make it 101.

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Comments (3)

kudos! A trustworthy blog, thanks for putting an effort to publish this information. very informative and does exactly what it sets out to do. thumbs up! :) Joseph Aidan
Fri, 10/05/2012 - 19:57
ayayay! having a great time reading your blog post. you know what your readers want. Keep posting. pepperspray
Wed, 12/05/2012 - 17:10
If there's one little flaw from your POV (which is rahter different from most), you automatically hate a movie.That is incorrect. I did get asked in that other thread what movies I think are good (which was part of the amusement with the other comment about my taste... I guess Walt Disney, Studio Ghibli, James Whale, Paul Grimault, Darren Arronofsky, Jean Cocteau, and Orson Welles are bad now because I like them). Nobody asked me what movies I like that are bad and why I would like them anyways. A really interesting exercise is finding all the faults in movies that one likes. I can tell you exactly what they are for my favorites. If I have a little flaw as a critic, it's that I trust the trailers too much. That's because, moreso than a critic, I am a consumer, a member of the movie-going public. I don't want to waste my time or money on a terrible movie. Sometimes trailers are deceptive (oh The Fountain...) but if it makes a movie look bad, then I won't bother seeing it. Originally I wanted to see On Stranger Tides, Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, and Captain America, but then I saw the trailers. And then I read the reviews. I'm baffled by Cap's RT rating, since even positive reviews mention the same faults as the negative reviews. I gues maybe it's a matter of taste. Which, if I may venture, is your guys' flaw. In some ways I share Honor's exasperation that it has become some mission amongst you guys to convince me to see some bad movie you happen to like. I don't like Pixar or Lord of the Rings either, so harangue me about that for a change. It's as though you take my not wanting to see it as some kind of personal insult. It's even reached the level of a grudge now, where people bring it up in entirely different posts just to try digging at me.Jeez, get over it.
Sun, 03/03/2013 - 00:24

Dog of the Week!

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