One of the curious, yet funny consequences of owning a Dalmatian is that you get a myriad of comments and questions from virtually all the people you encounter. There you are, out with your pooches, enjoying a walk, when someone decides the presence of a Dalmatian requires comment. Ranging from children out with their parents, pointing and crying out ‘look Mum, there’s a Dalmatian’, to those who seem to possess an exceptional knowledge on the characteristics of your dog! For fun, we thought we should share some of our personal favourites.
Where’s the other 100 Dalmatians?
This question is doubtless a direct result of the Walt Disney film, ‘101 Dalmatians’, based on the Dodie Smith book ‘The 101 Dalmatians’
It is surely therefore a simple maths’ equation – 101 minus the dog you are out with is 100. We have 2 Dalmatians which tends to make the maths’ a little more difficult as we are still frequently are asked ‘where’s the other 100?”
Technically, the correct answer would be 99, but astonishingly, we have also had the figures of 80, 90 and even 200 projected at us in a form of algorithmic good humour. The simple answer we always give is ‘2 is more than enough!’ This will usually leave our verbal assailant a little speechless, but has now become our standard “get out of jail free” card.
Hello, my name is Cruella
Another regular favourite; a witticism everyone is convinced you’ve never heard before. Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians is the evil fashion icon intent on creating a coat made from stolen Dalmatian fur. Ah yes, the curse of all Dalmatian puppies and every owner of one out for a quiet walk ever since her character first made an appearance in the book.
You don’t see many Dalmatians these days
Actually you do! Historically, there have been periods of over breeding, which have tended to coincide with the release of the Disney films in 1961, 1996 and 2000. You may not see as many Dalmatians now as during over breeding periods, but there are still plenty of them about. We ‘spot’ them everywhere (excuse the pun!) and like most other Dalmatian owners, we tend to point them out and smile….. even when out on your own!
Have you counted the spots?
Virtually impossible. Never work with animals or children they say and with good reason as they don’t stay still long enough, unless asleep. Even then, you could only count the spots on the visible side. On average a Dalmatian will have between 50 and 500 spots, which can be black, brown, dark blue, lemon, orange or grey, with black spotted being the most common.
Do they get more spots?
A Dalmatian will have most of its spots within a few days of being born, typically 10 days which continue to develop until they are around 18 months old.
Are they born white?
Dalmatians are born with white coats, but many of their spots are present as pigment in the skin. When the puppies are 5 – 6 months old, their spots become darker, with more definition. New spots can continue to appear until they are about 18 months old.
Weren’t they used as carriage dogs.
Indeed they were. They were known as carriage dogs or coach dogs and were popular with nobility in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They ran alongside carriages and their horses, not only due to their striking appearance, but also for protection from animals and hostile threats.
Are they fire dogs?
Dalmatians are known in the USA for their historical role as fire dogs where they would escort Fire fighting apparatus and act as mascots. Since Dalmatians and horses are compatible, the dogs could be trained to run in front of the carriages to help clear a path and guide the Firefighters to the fires.
Dalmatians are still hugely popular with Firefighters today and will often be the ‘station dog’. Nowadays, Dalmatians are not the only breed to be a fire station dog. It is not uncommon for Firefighters to have adopted dogs they have rescued from fires who then go on to become the station dog.
Is your dog called Pongo?
We often answer, ‘sometimes’ to this question! Of course, Pongo was the name of one of the lead character Dalmatians in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and is the name the vast majority of people we encounter remember from the film. Even though we have 2 exceedingly pretty bitches and have always owned Dalmatian bitches, I can never recall being asked if the dog was named Purdy!
Paws for Thought!
So there we have it; a few of the questions a Dalmatian owner faces when out and about with their dogs. Is it annoying? No, not in the slightest. It is sheer delight to own such an iconic, well regarded dog. Dalmatians seem to evoke such a genuine level of interest and are thought of so fondly by most people we meet. A lot of people we meet have good memories of Dalmatians from their childhood and it is our pleasure to allow them an opportunity to reminisce. It also allows us (and our dogs) to socially interact in such a warm way. It’s also great to have a dog with a rich heritage which is also shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
Thanks to the Disney films, children believe them to be capable of extraordinary feats; indeed lending them more than adequately to the title of “mans best friend”. It should be noted that Dalmatians are high energy, intelligent dogs, which require a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation/training to allow them to live life to the full. Although very often affectionate and loyal, they are not a Disney character and require consideration and a full understanding of the breed.
Would we change to a breed that didn’t evoke so much interest….. not a chance, although it could be argued that sometimes it may be nice to be more ‘invisible’ when out, it’s also nice to be recognised. Do we mind being known and possibly defined by our dogs. Not at all, even if we may be known as ‘Pongo’s Mum and Dad!