CLOSE
istock
istock

11 Spotted Facts About Dalmatians

istock
istock

You've probably seen this spotted dog on the back of a fire truck or in the movies, but how much do you really know about the unusual breed?

1. The origins are mysterious.

Like many other old breeds, the origins of the Dalmatian are hard to pin down. Some people believe the dogs come from Dalmatia, a region in modern day Croatia. The canines were dogs of war and used as sentinels. Others believe the dogs are as old as the ancient Egyptians—paintings of spotted dogs running by chariots can be found in the tombs. 

2. They have many monikers. 

The old breed has taken on a lot of names over the years, including the English Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and the Spotted Dick. 

3. Dalmatians are all-purpose dogs.

The breed is very versatile and has been used for many purposes over the years. They're talented sporting dogs, and are used as birding dogs, trail hounds, boar hunters, and retrievers. What's more, thanks to an excellent memory and interesting coat, the pooches made good performers on the stage and in the circus. 

4. But they’re best known as firedogs.

Dalmatians have many talents, but they’re possibly best known for their skills as coaching dogs. The canines get along famously with horses, making them the ideal dog to run alongside carriages. The helpful Dals warded off stray dogs, guarded the coach at stops, and most importantly, kept the horses calm.

This job eventually translated to the firehouse, where Dalmatians would run behind fire trucks. Horses were skittish around fire, but the Dals kept them composed. Their distinct features also make them a great mascot, so you can still find the dogs riding in modern fire trucks today. As a bonus, they’re also excellent ratters and keep firehouses pest-free. 

5. Budweiser still uses them. 

Keeping with the tradition of coach dogs, Budweiser keeps three Dalmatians to travel with the Clydesdale hitches. The breed has been associated with the brewery since 1950, when a Dal was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales' mascot. The current Budweiser dogs are named Chip, Brewer, and Clyde.

6. George Washington loved them. 

The first president was an avid dog fan and was known to be an early breeder of Dals. His coach dog was a Dalmatian named Madame Moose

7. Spots can be found everywhere.  

Dalmatians are distinct for their piebald pattern. Usually these spots are black or brown, but sometimes they can be lemon, blue, or brindle. Every Dal is different, but most have these marks all over their body. If you open up a Dal's mouth, you can even find spots in their mouth

8. But none when they’re born. 

Despite being covered in spots in adulthood, puppies are born snow white. Pups generally don’t grow their trademark spots until about four weeks. This news might come as a shock as it directly negates what the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians might have suggested. 

9. 101 Dalmatians did some damage to the breed. 

Besides giving viewers an inaccurate idea of what the puppies looked like, the movie encouraged a lot of people to go out and buy one of the dogs they saw on the big screen. Unfortunately, the Dalmatian boom led to a lot of Dals in shelters. Families found that the breed shed a lot and did not always get along with children. The pups need a lot of attention and training, and many adopters were not ready for the responsibility. As a result, many Dals found themselves without a home.

Increased demand for the breed also led to a lot of amateur breeders and puppy mills flooding the market with dogs with health problems and aggressive behavior. Shelters urged people not to adopt dogs without first doing their research. 

10. Deafness is a problem. 

If your Dal seems to be ignoring you, it could just be because it can’t hear you. Around 30 percent of all Dalmatians are inflicted with deafness as a result of their spotted markings. Breeding dogs with this coat can lead to a lack of mature melanocytes (melanin producing cells) in the inner ear. Without these, dogs can become hard of hearing. Dogs with larger patches of black are less likely to be deaf. 

11. Dalmatians are willful and independent. 

Dalmatians are very intelligent and, as a result, very independent dogs. Without the proper training, they can be willful and stubborn. The demanding dogs need a lot of attention and exercise. Don’t get a Dal unless you’re ready to wake up early and go for long walks. 

All images courtesy of iStock

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Courtesy of The National Aviary
arrow
Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios