Now, here’s a breed that needs no introduction! As everyone knows, the Dalmatian was popularised in the 1955 animated Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp, and will forever be associated with the actress Glenn Close after she played the wicked Cruella de Vil in the remake. Do you remember her coat? Yes, it was covered in black spots and made from the skins of poor little Dalmatian puppies! She was such an evil character – probably the most evil character in the history of the cinema. Fortunately, in real life, the Dalmation is a much-loved breed that has been around for a lot longer than fifty years or so: indeed, it is one of the oldest breeds of dog on Earth.
Like Marco Polo and Goran Ivanišević, the Dalmatian is said to have originally hailed from Croatia. Although the breed is usually characterised by its heavily-spotted black and white coat, a special (and less common) liver-coloured version is also available. Pups are born in litters of six to eight, but without markings (these are added later). Whilst the breed generally enjoys very good health, a genetic predisposition to deafness has been identified. This is actually a good thing, as in the past many Dalmatians were drowned or discarded for being stupid or refusing to follow commands when in fact they simply couldn’t hear anything! (This is a bit like some teenagers, today, when they wear their headphones all day).
The Dalmatian is very good at sports such as hunting and running and is, on the whole, a kind dog. Dalmatians excel at catching vermin and helping firemen (so much so that the dog is now the official mascot of the American National Fire Protection Association). They are also associated with Budweiser, though they do not drink it themselves as they prefer Ožujsko, a native beverage. Dalmatians can live for as long as eighteen years, which is like a human being living to 216 years old! For this reason, they are not recommended for elderly owners. Like the Great Dane, they are also not suitable for people who live in small apartments.