DALMATIANS: ANCIENT BREED TO MODERN VERSATILITY COMPANION
by THE DALMATIAN CLUB OF AMERICA
T he Dalmatian breed is easily identifiable by almost anyone of any age, but how much do you really know about it? This article seeks to highlight its pos- sible origins, capabilities, key points of the AKC standard and the health of the breed. WHERE DID DALMATIANS ORIGINATE? “A good deal of uncertainty as to the origin shrouds the undoubted antiq- uity of the Dalmatian dog.”—Herbert Crompton, 1904. Most canine historians link the origi- nation to Dalmatia, a state in modern day Croatia. However, there is little evidence that the breed was ever really there! The name may have come from a religious vestment—a tunic type gar- ment called a Dalmatic developed in Dalmatia that sometimes was trimmed in ornamental bands of ermine—a spotted creature. The earliest illustration of a spotted dog dates back to 3000 BC in the tomb of Redmera at Thebes. It is unlikely that this was a Dalmatian, but it may have been a forbearer of the breed we know today.
1700 BC—A fresco at Tyrnia, the birthplace of Hercules, depicts a stag hunting scene with a large number of dogs very closely resembling Dalmatians. 1556—a print was published of a “recently imported Indian dog” that was white and covered in small black spots. ROMANY GYPSIES MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE Some evidence exists that Dalma- tians were a favorite of Gypsies who migrated from the Upper Himalayas into Western Europe in the late 15th Century. Dalmatians hunted, guarded, and because of their striking appear- ance, provided moneymaking enter- tainment for their Gypsy masters. Their association with the nomadic Gypsies may well explain why they appear in so many geographic regions historically with no one single source of origin. WHAT WE DO KNOW 1560—Dalmatians were imported from France to England 1665—Dalmatians were used in Italy as hunting dogs dating at least from the early 1600’s.
272 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2018
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