If the Dalmatian were prone to sorrowful reflection he might be justified in the same, for, alas ! as with many other things Victorian, he has had his doggish " day." Seldom nowadays is his spotted coat seen as the proud adjunct to a high-stepping pair and pompous, sleek coachman. The noisy motor, and the fickle fancy of man, have changed the times for all three.
Yet the Dalmatian-or, as he was once aptly termed, the coach dog-is a decent fellow enough, and intelligent as well as handsome. He can be trained to most of the pointer's duties, though classified among the non-sporting breeds by
Kennel Club rules. It should be noted, however, that he prefers feathered to furred game. But his most ardent affection seems to be reserved for the horse, and this may, perhaps, account for the fact that many people, otherwise dog-lovers, underrate both his intelligence and his fidelity. His race has fallen into an undeserved neglect, from which, no doubt, the turn of Fortune's wheel will one day rescue it, as it has done with other breeds. It is to be hoped, however, that it may not dwindle to the verge of extinction, as was the case with the noble Irish wolfhound, or is now the fate of the fine English white terrier.
As regards the early history of this dog, it seems certain that Dalmatia was indeed his original habitat. Possibly he was introduced into these islands as a sporting dog, but, in any case, his good looks and docility soon brought him into favour for other reasons. The year 1873 saw the first specimen benched, a dog called Captain, belonging to Mr. Fawdry. Whether it was the novelty of his appearance or the animal's own intrinsic merit that caused his popularity, it is hard to say. He seems to have been more of a favourite in the North than elsewhere, and the names of such fanciers as the president of the North of England Dalmatian Club, Mr. William Proctor, and of Mr. William Whittaker, of Bolton, are associated with the most generous and disinterested efforts on behalf of the breed. The former is known as the owner of perhaps the most perfect bitch of this breed ever exhibited, Champion Balette, the undefeated winner of a hundred first prizes within eighteen months. A portrait of this beautiful bitch is given herewith. Mrs. Bedwell-whose dogs may be recognised by the prefix of " Rugby "-Mrs. Preston, Dr. Wheeler O'bryen, and Mr. and Mrs. Braithwaite, are others of his enthusiastic supporters.
Some of the names that will be found in pedigrees of well-bred dogs may be of interest, especially to those who possess a liking for the "spotted dog." The roll includes Champions Acrobat and Berolina -a famous purchase of Mr. N e w b y Wi1son's -Champions Moujik, Primrose, President, Defender, Fauntleroy-a marvellous dog as regards markings-and the "Rugby" Champions Bridget and Brunette, as well as a host of others.
The general appearance of a Dalmatian is much that of the pointer, except as regards head and markings. He should be smart and well built, without heaviness of body or coarseness of skull. A study of the illustrations will show the type desired, and the lines on which the dog should be built.
The all-important markings may be either liver-coloured or black, upon a pure white ground. Great value is attached to the regularity of the distribution of the spots. They must not run into one another, or be patchy, but distinct and evenly distributed. The tail must not be ringed with colour. The black or liver hue of the markings should
A well "spotted" example of a Dalmatian dog. This breed is docile and affectionate and easily trained Photo, Terry Hunt be dense and pure. The eye-rims, or sears, should be black or brown, and the ears neat and well-placed. The feet should be catlike in form, and the legs straight and clean, with strong, but not coarse bone. As with the hound, good feet are essential, for the dog is by nature one intended for long and fast exercise. In the early days of the breed the ears were cropped, as was the case with the Great Dane. Sometimes the whole flap was cut away and the cavity left exposed. This cruel and barbarous practice is now abolished and illegal.
If the novice desires to choose a very young puppy, or is the fortunate owner of a fitter, she must not be disappointed to find that at birth the puppies are pure white, and until a line of colour appears-at the age of about fourteen days-on the stomach, the spots should be invisible. After that date they begin to show on the neck and ears, and then on the back, and by about three weeks, or sooner, the full complement of markings should have appeared. The tail may be somewhat slower in acquiring what spots it will possess.
The Dalmatian is a hardy dog, and can be treated and fed as any other dog of his size. A dry, sheltered bed, for choice he would say in a snug stable, daily grooming if possible, good food, which includes sound meat, and adequate exercise and human companionship will make of him a happy and affectionate animal and a very fair guard. As before stated, he can be made also a useful companion in the shooting field, though his education in this respect is usually neglected in favour of one of the many varieties of spaniels or setters.
Puppies are not expensive, and cost from about £1 upwards, according as a companion or show dog is desired. They are not difficult to train, as they are both intelligent and affectionate; nor are they troublesome to prepare for the show-bench, needing only constant exercise, daily grooming, and good feeding, so that they are in hard condition.