that spotty black and white dog known as a dalmatian come to be
associated with fire fighting? Dalmatians have
been around for about 600 years. So, to understand how
the dalmatian became the number-one firehouse mascot in
England and the United States, we must take a long look
back in history.
The exact time and location of the dog's origin are unknown.
However, because dalmatians appear in an Italian wall painting
dated about 1360 A.D. and because these spotted dogs
were named after Dalmatia, an Adriatic coastal region, one may
assume that they originated somewhere in this area.
But, it wasn't until 1780 when the name "dalmatian"
was used in the
Weighing 25 to 55 pounds (11 kg to 52 kg) and standing 19
to 23 inches (450 mm to 377 mm) high, the dalmatian was the
perfect size to serve as a coach dog. (In fact, in Great
Britain, dalmatians are still nicknamed "English coach dogs"
"plum pudding dogs.")
Dalmatian is a very physical breed, with a strong, muscular body,
and able to run great distances without tiring.
The Dalmatian also has what seems to be a natural calming effect
on horses. This trait about the breed
was seen very early on, and soon the Dalmatian was identified
with horses. Possibly horse mounted
warriors or hunters first used the breed in their activities.
During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries
when the mode of travel was by horse or by carriage, the Dalmatians
became a society dog, and
trained to run along side women's carriages. They became known
as Coach dogs or Ladies dogs
because of this. In fact, the term coaching is referring to how
the Dalmatian will take up position just
off the side and towards the rear of a horse and run with them.
In the 1700's, dalmatians were used to protect horses that
pulled English stagecoaches. Typically two dalmatians would run
next to the horses as they pulled the coach. When other
dogs tried to run out and scare the horses, the dalmatian team
would chase them away. Over the years, dalmatians formed
a close bond with horses.
During this time, horse theft was very common. Because of
the potential for theft, stagecoach drivers would typically sleep
in a hammock strung between two stalls where they would
watch for thieves. However, because of the bond between the
dalmatians and the horses, the driver could sleep in
a hotel or house if he owned a dalmatian. Why? Because the dalmatians
would sleep with the horses and guard against horse
It is during the era of horse drawn fire
apparatus that the Dalmatian becomes forever tied to the Fire
fire house horses were required to spend hours at a time at a
fire scene, or hours inside the fire house waiting for a call,
and despite many misbeliefs, these fire house horses were not
broken down old hags, but fine spirited horses.
The Dalmatian became the horses pet as it were, to help keep them
calm. There are many reports and stories
of seeing a fire team rushing to the scene of a call, with a Dalmatian
or two running between the horse teams.
Once on the scene of the call, the Dalmatian took over as guard
dog, insuring that nothing was
stolen from the apparatus. The Dalmatian is a very loyal breed
to its owners, and an admirable
foe when challenged.
of the dog/horse bond, the dalmatian easily adapted to the firehouse
in the days of horse-drawn fire wagons.
Since every firehouse had a set of fast horses to pull
the pumper, it became common for each group of firefighters to
a dalmatian in the firehouse to guard the firehouse
and horses. When the alarm came in, the dalmatian led the way
horse-drawn pumper. In this way, the dalmatian became
the firefighters' companion and a symbol of the fire service.
dalmatians are still found in many firehouses in England,
Canada, and the United States.
of this loyalty, the Dalmatian continued in the Fire Service once
the horses were replaced with mechanical apparatus.
Today, in many large cities, the Dalmatian is the guard dog of
the fire truck
while at the scene of fires and rescues. In
its long history in the Fire Service, there are also reports of
how the Dalmatian has rescued trapped firefighters
or victims. Overall, the Dalmatian is a brave and
With all these wonderful things said about
the Dalmatian breed, it should be noted that the Dalmatian is
everyone. They are a non-stop bundle of energy, and when not given
a release for this natural energy, they often
become bored and destructive. Many people have the misconception
that the Dalmatian is a hyper breed.
They are not hyper, but when not given the chance for proper exercise
and activity, they send their energy in other means.
When given the chance to run, exercise, and spend their natural
energy, their incidence in destructive mannerisms reduce greatly.
If you are not able to give a Dalmatian the time and effort required,
this breed is not for you.
Get a different breed instead. If you do though, the joys of having
a Dalmatian in your life are many,
and your quality of life will be increased because of them.