The Dalmatian breed of dogs comes from Dalmatia and the country adjacent to the Gulf of Venice. In their native land they serve the purpose of the Pointer and resemble them closely in conformation and appearance.
In this country their sporting proclivities have never been developed, but they display such marked fondness for the stable and the companionship of horses that they are known as coach dogs. The well bred coach dog’s devotion to horses is really second nature or an instinct. He will assume the duties of guard about a stable, follow the horses at exercise, and take up a position between the wheels of a carriage on the road, without any particular training. He is peculiarly adapted for the purpose, as he is of a size and build that will enable him to keep easy pace with the horses for a long distance. He is big enough and plucky enough to command the respect and caution of intruders. His smooth, short coat is always clean, and his symmetrical proportions, intelligent features and clean, white body, evenly spotted with black, make him an attractive addition to any equipage. By reason of his markings, he is also easier seen at night than any other breed. The Coach Dog is usually of friendly disposition, though inclined to be distrustful of those who take liberties with the equipage to which he may be attached, and although he is sometimes said to be deficient in intelligence, the fact that he is usually a clever member of all performing dog acts contradicts this opinion.
In selecting puppies, it is well to remember that they are born pure white, the spots developing with age. Puppies curl their tails, which often become straight with age. After that general symmetry, soundness, clean pointer-like heads, and distinctness of spots are the points to be looked for.
The standard and scale of points of the Dalmatian Club is as follows:
THE DALMATIAN in many respects much resembles the Pointer, more especially in size, build, and outline, though the markings peculiar to this breed are a very important feature, and very highly valued.
IN GENERAL APPEARANCE the Dalmatian should represent a strong, muscular, and active dog, symmetrical in outline, free from coarseness and lumber, capable of great endurance, combined with a fair amount of speed.
THE HEAD should be of fair length, the skull flat, rather broad between the ears, and moderately well defined at the temples-i. e., exhibiting a moderate amount of “stop,” and not in one straight line from the nose to the occiput bone, as required in a Bull Terrier. It should be entirely free from wrinkle.
THE MUZZLE should be long and powerful, the lips clean, fitting the jaws moderately close.
THE EYES should be set moderately well apart, and of medium size, round, bright, and sparkling, with an intelligent expression, their color greatly depending on the markings of the dog: in the blackspotted variety the eyes should be dark (black or brown); in the liver-spotted variety they should be light (yellow or light brown). The rim around the eyes in the black-spotted variety should be black; brown in the liver-spotted variety; never fleshcolored in either.
THE EARS should be set on rather high, of moderate size, rather wide at the base, tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head, be thin and fine in texture, and always spotted, the more profusely the better.
THE NosE in the black-spotted variety should always be black; in the liver-spotted variety, always brown.
NECK AND SHOULDERS.-The neck should be fairly long, nicely arched, light, and tapering, and entirely free from throatiness. The shoulders should be moderately oblique, clean, and muscular, denoting speed.
BODY, BACK, CHEST, AND LOINS.-The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious; ribs moderately well sprung; never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed); the back powerful; loin strong, muscular, and slightly arched.
LEGS AND FEET are of great importance. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong, and heavy in bone; elbows close to the body; fore feet round, compact, and well arched; toes cat-footed, and round, tough, elastic pads. In the hindlegs the muscles should be clean, though well defined, the hocks well let down.
NAILS.-In the black-spotted variety, black and white; in the liver-spotted variety, brown and white.
THE TAIL should not be too long, but should be strong at the insertion, gradually tapering toward the end, and free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too low down, but carried with a slight curve upward, and never curled. It should be spotted, the more profusely the better.
THE COAT should be short, hard, dense, and fine, sleek, and glossy in appearance, but neither woolly nor silky.
COLOR AND MARKINGS.-These are most important points. The ground-color in both varieties should be pure white, very decided, and not intermixed. The color of the spots in the black-spotted variety should be black, the deeper and richer the black the better; in the liver-spotted variety they should be brown. The spots should not intermingle, but be as round and well defined as possible, the more distinct the better.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Head and eyes, 10; legs and feet, 15; ears, 5; coat, 5; neck and shoulders, 10; body, back, chest, and loins, 10; color and markings, 30; tail, 5; size, symmetry, etc., 10. Total, 100.