See Spot run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

When you think of a spotted dog, you think of the Dalmatian. In fact, the Dalmatian is the only fully spotted dog recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club). Spotted dogs have appeared throughout history in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The breed was originally known as a dog of war, a draft dog, a shepherd, ratter, trail hound, and most notably, a firehouse mascot.

Even today, some firehouses still keep a Dalmatian as a mascot. Dalmatians were first used by firefighters when they employed horses to pull the pump wagons.

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Legend has it that the Dalmatian help to clear the streets by running ahead of the fire wagon. His bark was known to help alert the public that there was a fire and help was on the way. They were also known to have a calming effect on the horses.

Most horses have a fear of fire and the dogs were used to help distract them and calm them down. European firefighters made the Dalmatian famous by their wide use.

The Dalmatian also served as a protector for the fire houses.

This came in handy because horse theft was common before the industrialization of Europe. While the men battled the fires, they protected the equipment on the wagon and they also helped guard the station by night.

They also made good exterminators by keeping the firehouse free of mice.

The Dalmatian’s popularity also made is susceptible to a large amount of folklore. It was believed that the Dalmatian was deaf and therefore would not be frightened by the loud sirens.

Others thought that the dogs had extraordinary sight and that it gave him the ability to see through smoke.

They were also thought to be attracted to the color of red and therefore loved spending time around the fire wagons.

Within the AKC, the Dalmatian belongs to the Non-Sporting group and should stand between 19 and 23 inches tall.

The American Kennel Club describes them as poised, alert, muscular, active, free of shyness, intelligent in expression, and symmetrical in outline.

The Dalmatian has become a symbol of hard-work, bravery, and selflessness- the Firefighter.

For more information on the Dalmatian, contact the Dalmatian Club of America, Inc. at This article is dedicated to every firefighting hero. Thank You!

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop