All About Dalmatians!


Jordyn Rae, Writer

Spending countless numbers of hours at home during this quarantine can get boring… what not a better time to lay down on the couch with the family, eat a whole bag of popcorn to yourself, and binge watch classic Disney films! Out of almost 60 classics ranging from 1937-present time, it is apparent that some of these films are overlooked and forgotten as new movies have replaced them. One of these buried treasures include: One Hundred One Dalmatians (1961).

‎One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) directed by Hamilton ...
1961 film

The movie was not only Disney’s most popular films of the decade, but also the tenth highest grossing film of 1961; accruing $6,400,000 in distributors’ domestic rentals during its first year of release. The film was based on the novel written five years earlier called, “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith. Due to the film’s popularity, it had encouraged people to buy one of these dogs that they had seen on the big screen. This led to the Dalmatian Boom of the 1960’s and 70’s that did not necessarily help the animals… Since dalmatians are very independent, intelligent, playful, highly-energetic dogs, they do not typically get along with children who do not give them the attention or energy they need. In result of people unknown to these traits, many of the dogs were sent back into shelters or left without a home. Also, the increased demand for the breed led to many amateur breeders and puppy mills flooding the market with dogs with health problems and aggressive behavior which did not go well for families. Information is what people had lacked when impulsively buying a breed of dog they had no knowledge about, and what not a better time to start off by learning the history of the breed…

History of Dalmatians

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph depicting what is believed to be an ...
Khui’s coffin decoration (1991- 1783 BC) The Twelfth-Dynasty in Ancient Egypt

Mysteriously, the origins of the dog are pretty difficult to pin down. Most have adopted the fact that the breed had originated from the region, Dalmatia, in Croatia (Central European and Mediterranean country) where, after all, their name was derived from. The evidence people use to come to this conclusion is found in the church “Gospa od andjela” in the town Veli Lošinj in Croatia. The dog was said to be found in an altar painting called “Madonna with Jesus and Angels”  dating from 1600-1630. Others date back to as early as 1991 BC to 1783 BC during The Twelfth-Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. Whereas the picture on the right depicts a decorated casket from man named Khui, a wealthy enough man to have the luxury of this illustration done, with a black and white spotted dog on a leash. This assumption of believing this is a dalmatian is a very bold one, considering the Egyptians were closely associated with may different cat and dog breeds.

The Firefighter Dog

Dalmatians As Carriage Dogs | Early 1900s photos of Dalmatia… | Flickr
Taken early 1900’s

Though the origins of this breed is difficult to know for sure, the history on how the dalmatian became known as the firefighter dog is not so puzzling. In the 1700’s, dalmatians were quickly put to work as soon as people realized how much energy and endurance they had obtained. Little did they know, the breed was great with horses and even calmed the horses down if scared or distracted. With this, the Englishmen carriage drivers of the mid-eighteenth century would have the dogs run on either side of the passenger carriage to calm the horses. For the firefighters, they took this to their advantage by using the dogs to clear paths and warn pedestrians that the fire-carriage was on its way to a scene. Then, when stopping at a site, the dogs would stay with the horses to calm them and keep away any pickpockets that would come their way. Today, the same imagery of the dalmatian in firehouses still remain, many even keeping one or two of the dogs as mascots at the station in honor of the tradition.