For most Americans, just hearing the word “Dalmatian” conjures up the 1996 comedy adventure film 101 Dalmatians with the evil Cruella de Vil plotting to dognap, kill and skin the stolen dogs to make a spotted coat.

Fortunately, the movie has a happy ending with the dogs being rescued and adopted into one very large family!

Even before the breed’s rise to movie stardom, Dalmatians were long known as “firehouse dogs”, riding on fire engines and were often pictured in older print and television ads in this way. But the Dalmatian’s traditional job as a coach dog was like no other AKC breed. They were trained to run beside horse drawn coaches as well as to keep an eye on the horses and coach when the driver was not there.

The Dalmatian’s origin is murky and hotly disputed, but it does seem clear the breed also ran beside the caravans of the Romani (the gypsies) which may explain why their ancestry is hard to trace.

Dalmatians are dignified and reserved so they make good watchdogs. But they are also quite loving and loyal with their human family members. Most people don’t know that Dalmatian puppies are born without spots.

These dogs are very active and require regular exercise, as they are built for running, which makes them wonderful companions for people who love to run and hike.

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