by Kathy Dannel Vitcak 2 min read

So Much More Than 101 Puppies On A Disney Movie

Dalmatians are one of those breeds of dog that qualify as mysterious multi-taskers. Not only is the Dalmatian breed's history clouded in mystery, but these dogs have been used for everything from hunting to performing in circuses to firehouse mascots. Let's dig a bit deeper into what's behind the spots...

The mystery is that no one can agree on exactly when and where the Dalmatian emerged as a separate and distinct breed. Some say the hail from a region in today's Croatia once known as Dalmatia and others swear they go back to ancient Egyptian times. 

Even their name has been changed over and over again. In addition to the Dalmatian name of today these dogs were also called the English Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and the Spotted Dick. (stop snickering, that's also a dessert in England)...really.

dalmatian dog history

The multi-tasking Dalmatian trait comes from the breed's endless versatility. Their high-energy and tenacity makes them great hunting dogs and filed dogs. This energy trait is also what led Dalmatians to become coach dogs. Coach dogs ran beside the carriages and coaches and warned of bandits and thieves, wild animals and whatever else danger was out there. Hmmm, Game of Thrones could have used some Dalmatians. Their keen intelligence and ability to learn quickly made them sought after circus performers during the heyday of carnivals and circuses.


How did the Dalmatian become so closely connected with fire stations? Back when the Dalmatian was the go-to dog for the coach dog job, fire engines were pulled by horses. Horses are usually terrified of fire (duh) and the dogs were used to keep them calm enough to pull the fire wagons close enough to the fires.

When horses were no longer used to pull the fire engines, the Dalmatians were such an integral part of the fireman's lives, they stayed on as moral support and community ambassadors.


  • Dalmatians are also known as companions to the Budweiser Clydesdales. 
  • Since March 30, 1950, a Dalmatian has been part of the Budweiser Clydesdales' team.
  • To this day, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches (East Coast, West Coach, St. Louis). They are always seated on the wagon next to the driver.
  • This was just a quick peek into the Dalmatian's journey from hunting dog to coach dog to firehouse dog and Clydesdale companion.

OK, there weren't 101 way cool Dalmatian facts about the breed's history, forgive my exaggeration! 


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