Although the most popular theory places the Dalmatian’s beginnings in his namesake country, Dalmatia, his actual origins are unknown. His history is a mysterious one, documented by pictures and paintings of spotted dogs strikingly similar to today’s Dalmatian. There are pictures of spotted dogs following Pharaoh’s chariots on the royal tombs of Egypt so it is possible the Dalmatian’s heritage is more ancient than originally thought.
No matter where his actual beginnings, he truly evolved into the dog he is today when he was adopted by the British. A spotted dog, popular in India, was introduced into Great Britain by the English aristocracy after their colonization of that country. His inborn love of horses, coupled with his handsome good looks, made him the first and only “Coach Dog”. His function, however, was not simply ornamental. He also served as a guard dog for the coaches, protecting travelers’ belongings at the frequent stops along the route. It was inevitable that the English would bring the Dalmatian to America when they migrated to the New World. It is a known fact that our illustrious first President, George Washington, kept and bred Dalmatians.
Before long, the Dal made the natural transition from coaching to running with the horse-drawn fire wagons, giving him another label uniquely his own, “The Fire House Dog”. He functioned as more than just a mascot by running ahead of the fire wagons, barking and clearing the way, thus serving as the original “siren”. Unfortunately, his tenure in this position was short-lived and eventually phased out due to the introduction of Henry Ford’s automotive engine. However, he established himself so securely in this position that even today, 100 years later, the Dal is still traditionally known as the companion to all firefighters. Although the Dalmatian is no longer a member of the working class, he has had the privilege of having served in several truly distinctive capacities. Today, he performs possibly his most valuable service of all, that of friend and companion to all those fortunate enough to make his acquaintance.