Where the Dalmatian came from is up for debate, with some attributing its early ancestry to what was formerly known as Dalmatia, located on the eastern coast of the Adriatic sea, in what is now Croatia. Spotted dogs aligning with our modern perception of the breed feature prominently in uncovered Egyptian pictorials, supporting its ancient heritage. Falling within the non-sporting 'utility' branch of canines, the Dalmatian rose to great popularity during the Regency period, wherein it was utilised as a carriage dog, leading or flanking the coaches of the nobility and acting to deter troublesome stray dogs, warning of highwaymen and guarding the carriage in the absence of the coachman. The versatile breed was traditionally employed in cattle droving, as a show and guard dog, as a draft dog during both World Wars, and as a 'Firehouse Dog' in the Victorian era.
Perhaps the most distinctive of all canine breeds, the Dalmatian is easily identifiable for its liver spots that show up against its pure white, sable, blue or lemon white coat. Boasting a muscular and athletic build, the Dalmatian is highly energetic and requires regular exercise, thus being best suited to a countryside setting where there is ample space for movement and play. Deep-chested, the breed has a large lung capacity for stamina when in exertion, strong, straight legs, triangular hanging ears and dark brown or blue eyes. The Dalmatian's characteristically short coat makes it easy to groom and manage, rendering it a low maintenance breed choice for the modern family. Another characteristic trait of the Dalmatian is its natural affinity with horses, perhaps arising from its earlier usage as a carriage dog.
Possessing an easy temperament, the breed is sweet-natured, compatible with children and other domestic pets, as well as intelligent, vigilant to change and threat and obedient to its owner when trained. The average weight of a healthy Dalmatian is 25 kg, although there are discrepancies across gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years when shown appropriate care. It is not uncommon for the breed to exceed this life expectancy average.
Despite being generally healthy and resilient, the Dalmatian is vulnerable to certain breed-related ailments, including skin allergies arising from certain synthetic fibres in carpets and upholstery fabrics, as well as urinary stones accumulating within the urinary tract. Besides this, Dalmatians are especially prone to early-onset deafness, a genetic condition, with 10-12% of dogs being born with the affliction.
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