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With its unique spots, no dog is more easily identified than
a Dalmatian. It is also the only known animal to be born pure
white, the spots appearing some 10 to 14 days later. Why the
distinctive marking? Camouflage possibly, for a dog bred to hunt
in desert country, where the white coat blends with the sand and
the spots are lost among the pebbles.
The earliest history of the breed begins in 3.700 BC with
King Cheops, the builder of the Great Pyramid, who owned a
spotted pet dog. Wall paintings and friezes found in Greece
and Crete show hounds were imported into Greece to create a breed
with size, speed and elegance, suitable for hunting deer. This
resulted in a dog closely resembling today's Dalmatian.
Collectors of pottery will have found that early Staffordshire
figures show groups of Dalmatians hunting fallow deer. Even the
origin of the name can be found here - a corruption of Dama
(Latin for Fallow Deer) and Chien (French for dog) became 'Damachien',
akin to Dalmatian, which evolved later. In the late 16th
century, the style of hunting changed and the 'Damachien' went
out of fashion. Gypsies and wandering players on the Continent,
attracted by the dogs' unusual appearance incorporated them into
their troupes. They were also noticed by English aristocrats on
their travels in the 18th century, who brought a few back to
England. They soon discovered that the spotted dogs had feet and
legs strong enough to run on the rough roads for 30 miles or so
without breaking down. So it was then they became carriage dogs,
and many contemporary prints showing them trotting happily
behind their masters' carriages.
An adorable puppy in the house is one thing, an adult member
of a highly complex breed another! Spend some time with adult
Dalmatians if you're considering owning one. Seek medical advice
if any member of your family has asthma, or a related breathing
disease. Then double check by spending some time in close
proximity to a Dalmatian. They have a constant moult, losing
little white hairs everywhere which can cause problems for asthma sufferers.
A Spot of Patience
Whatever the outcome of your discussions - never rush. Your
Dalmatian is going to be part of your family for 14 years or so.
I cannot better the words of a very wise friend, now sadly dead,
who wrote; 'If you are prepared to value your dog as a member of
your family, give him wise training, companionship and the
stable home life you would wish for your children, the Spotted
Dog will reward you lavishly with his own special gift of
affection and lifelong devotion'.
Another site of
interest Dalmation 4U: categorized resource directory for everything about dalmations.