The Dalmatian Dog is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region. He was named after Dalmatia either because it was his birthplace or because he was used in this region during the Balkan war. The Dalmatian is thought to be descended from the now extinct Bengal Pointer crossed with the Bull Terrier and the English Pointer. In the seventeenth century, the Dalmatian was popular at the Vatican. In eighteenth-century England, he was kept by the aristocracy to escort horse-drawn carriages, thus earning the nickname (coach dog). In the United States, the Dalmatian was adopted by firefighters as their mascot. Walt Disney’s movie "101 Dalmatians" (1961) helped popularize the breed.
Tough and athletic, the Dalmatian has great stamina and was first used as a draft dog and an escort for horse-drawn carriages. Calm, docile, affectionate, and very gentle with children, the Dalmatian is a wonderful pet. He rarely barks, is not aggressive, and is somewhat distant toward strangers, making him a good watchdog. He needs firm and early training. He can live in an apartment as long as he gets enough exercise. He needs regular brushing. Puppies are born all white; spots appear gradually and are not fully developed until the dog is one year old.
Dalmatian Physical Characteristics
Many Dalmatian dogs, such as the American Water Spaniel, have had their natural hunting instincts suppressed or altered to suit human needs. Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance, and behavior than any other domestic animal. Within the range of extremes, dogs generally share attributes with their wild ancestors, the wolves. Dogs are predators and scavengers, possessing sharp teeth and strong jaws for attacking, holding, and tearing their food. Although selective breeding has changed the appearance of many breeds, all dogs retain basic traits from their distant ancestors. Like many other predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, fused wristbones, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching and tearing. Compared to the bone structure of the human foot, dogs technically walk on their toes.
Sight: Like most mammals, dogs are dichromats and have color vision equivalent to red-green color blindness in humans.
Different Dalmatian breeds of dogs have different eye shapes and dimensions, and they also have different retina configurations. Dogs with long noses have a "visual streak" which runs across the width of the retina and gives them a very wide field of excellent vision, while those with short noses have an "area centralis" - a central patch with up to three times the density of nerve endings as the visual streak giving them detailed sight much more like a human's. Some breeds, particularly the sighthounds, have a field of vision up to 270° (compared to 180° for humans), although broad-headed breeds with short noses have a much narrower field of vision, as low as 180°.
Hearing: Dogs detect sounds as low as the 16 to 20 Hz frequency range (compared to 20 to 70 Hz for humans) and above 45 kHz (compared to 13 to 20 kHz for humans), and in addition have a degree of ear mobility that helps them to rapidly pinpoint the exact location of a sound. Eighteen or more muscles can tilt, rotate and raise or lower a dog's ear. Additionally, a dog can identify a sound's location much faster than a human can, as well as hear sounds up to four times the distance that humans are able to. Those with more natural ear shapes, like those of wild canids like the fox, generally hear better than those with the floppier ears of many domesticated species.
Smell: Scent hounds, especially the Bloodhound, are iconic for their keen sense of smell. Dogs have nearly 220 million smell-sensitive cells over an area about the size of a pocket handkerchief (compared to 5 million over an area the size of a postage stamp for humans). Some breeds have been selectively bred for excellence in detecting scents, even compared to their canine brethren. What information a dog actually detects when he is scenting is not perfectly understood; although once a matter of debate, it now seems to be well established that dogs can distinguish two different types of scents when trailing, an air scent from some person or thing that has recently passed by, as well as a ground scent that remains detectable for a much longer period.
The Dalmatian characteristics and behavior of these two types of scent trail would seem, after some thought, to be quite different, the air scent being intermittent but perhaps less obscured by competing scents, whereas the ground scent would be relatively permanent with respect to careful and repetitive search by the dog, but would seem tobe much more contaminated with other scents. In any event, it is established by those who train tracking dogs that it is impossible to teach the dog how to track any better than it does naturally; the object instead is to motivate it properly, and teach it to maintain focus on a single track and ignore any others that might otherwise seem of greater interest to an untrained dog. An intensive search for a scent, for instance searching a ship for contraband, can actually be very fatiguing for a dog, and the dog must be motivated to continue this hard work for a long period of time.
The meaning of "intelligence" in general, not only in reference to dogs, is hard to define. Some tests measure problem-solving abilities and others test the ability to learn in comparison to others of the same age. Defining it for dogs is just as difficult. It is likely that dogs do not have the ability to premeditate an action to solve a problem.
Dalmatian Coat Color: Domestic dogs often display the remnants of counter-shading, a common natural camouflage pattern. The general theory of countershading is that an animal that is lit from above will appear lighter on its upper half and darker on its lower half where it will usually be in its own shade. This is a pattern that predators can learn to watch for.
A countershaded animal will have dark coloring on its upper surfaces and light coloring below. This reduces the general visibility of the animal. One reminder of this pattern is that many breeds will have the occasional "blaze", stripe, or "star" of white fur on their chest or undersides.
Dalmatian Behavior and Intelligence
Many dogs can be trained to skillfully perform tasks not natural to canines, such as in this dog agility competition. Dalmatian Dogs are valued for their intelligence. This intelligence is expressed differently with different breeds and individuals, however. For example, Border Collies are noted for their ability to learn commands, while other breeds may not be so motivated towards obedience, but instead show their cleverness in devising ways to steal food or escape from a yard. Being highly adaptable animals themselves, dogs have learned to do many jobs as required by humans over the generations.
Dalmatian Dogs are employed in various roles across the globe, proving invaluable assets in areas such as search-and-rescue; law enforcement (including attack dogs, sniffer dogs and tracking dogs); guards for livestock, people or property; herding; Arctic exploration sled-pullers; guiding the blind and acting as a pair of ears for the deaf; assisting with hunting, and a great many other roles which they may be trained to assume. Most dogs rarely have to deal with complex tasks and are unlikely to learn relatively complicated activities (such as opening doors) unaided. Some dogs (such as guide dogs for the visually impaired) are specially trained to recognize and avoid dangerous situations.
The Dalmatian ability to learn quickly could be a sign of intelligence. Conversely it could be interpreted as a sign of a desire to please. In contrast, some dogs who do not learn very quickly may have other talents. An example is breeds that are not particularly interested in pleasing their owners, such as Siberian Huskies. Huskies are often fascinated with the myriad of possibilities for escaping from yards, catching small animals, and often figuring out on their own numerous inventive ways of doing both.
Assistance dogs are also required to be obedient at all times. This means they must learn a tremendous number of commands, understand how to act in a large variety of situations, and recognize threats to their human companion, some of which they might never before have encountered. Many owners of livestock guardian breeds believe that breeds like the Great Pyrenees or the Kuvasz are not easily trained because their stubborn nature prevents them from seeing the point of such commands as "sit" or "down". Hounds may also suffer from this type of ranking.
These dogs are bred to have more of a "pack" mentality with other dogs and less reliance on a master's direct commands. While they may not have the same kind of intelligence as a Border Collie, they were not bred to learn and obey commands quickly, but to think for themselves while trailing game.
Dalmatian Dog Breed Standard
Head: Long. Flat skull. Well-pronounced stop. Muzzle long and powerful, not tapering. Powerful jaws. Tight-lipped.
Ears: Set on high, medium-sized, carried against the head. Rounded tips. Thin, smooth, covered with coin-sized spots.
Eyes: Medium-sized, well-spaced, round. Dark in the variety with medium-brown spots, ranging to amber in the variety with liver spots.
Body: Square build. Neck moderately long, well-arched, without dewlap. High, wide chest. Well-sprung ribs. Well-defined withers. Well-muscled, slightly clean-flanked loin. Powerful, straight back.
Tail: Thick at the base, tapering gradually to the tip. Carried curved loosely upward but never curled.
Hair: Short, hard, dense, smooth.
Coat: Pure white ground. Black variety has dark black coin-sized spots; brown variety has liver brown coin sized spots. Spots should not blend together but instead be round, well-defined, well-distributed, and 2 to 3 cm in diameter. Spots on the head, tail, and extremities should be smaller.
Size: Dog: 56 to 61 cm. (22-24 in).Bitch: 54 to 59 cm. (21-23 in).
Weight: Dog: approx. 27 kg. (59.5 lb).Bitch: approx. 24 kg. (53 lb).