CHAPTER VII. THE DALMATIAN
Before the Kennel Club found it necessary to insist upon a precise definition of each breed, the Dalmatian was known as the Coach Dog, a name appropriately derived from his fondness for following a carriage, for living in and about the stable, and for accompanying his master's horses at exercise. As an adjunct to the carriage he is peculiarly suitable, for in fine weather he will follow between the wheels for long distances without showing fatigue, keeping easy pace with the best horses. He appears almost to prefer equine to human companionship, and he is as fond of being among horses as the Collie is of being in the midst of sheep. Yet he is of friendly disposition, and it must be insisted that he is by no means so destitute of intelligence as he is often represented to be. On the contrary, he is capable of being trained into remarkable cleverness, as circus proprietors have discovered.
The earliest authorities agree that this breed was first introduced from Dalmatia, and that he was brought into this country purely on account of his sporting proclivities. Of late years, however, these dogs have so far degenerated as to be looked upon simply as companions, or as exhibition dogs, for only very occasionally can it be found that any pains have been taken to train them systematically for gun-work.
The first of the variety which appeared in the show ring was Mr. James Fawdry's Captain, in 1873. At that period they were looked upon as a novelty, and, though the generosity and influence of a few admirers ensured separate classes being provided for the breed at the leading shows, it did not necessitate the production of such perfect specimens as those which a few years afterwards won prizes. At the first they were more popular in the North of England than in any other part of Great Britain. It was at Kirkby Lonsdale that Dr. James's Spotted Dick was bred, and an early exploiter of the breed who made his dogs famous was Mr. Newby Wilson, of Lakeside, Windermere. He was indebted to Mr. Hugo Droesse, of London, for the foundation of his stud, inasmuch as it was from Mr. Droesse that he purchased Ch. Acrobat and Ch. Berolina. At a later date the famed Coming Still and Prince IV. were secured from the same kennel, the latter dog being the progenitor of most of the best liver-spotted specimens that have attained notoriety as prize-winners down to the present day.
In appearance the Dalmatian should be very similar to a Pointer except in head and marking. Still, though not so long in muzzle nor so pendulous in lip as a Pointer, there should be no coarseness or common look about the skull, a fault which is much too prevalent. Then, again, some judges do not attach sufficient importance to the eyelids, or rather sears, which should invariably be edged round with black or brown. Those which are flesh-coloured in this particular should be discarded, however good they may be in other respects. The density and pureness of colour, in both blacks and browns, is of great importance, but should not be permitted to outweigh the evenness of the distribution of spots on the body; no black patches, or even mingling of the spots, should meet with favour, any more than a ring-tail or a clumsy-looking, heavy-shouldered dog should command attention.
The darker-spotted variety usually prevails in a cross between the two colours, the offspring very seldom having the liver-coloured markings. The uninitiated may be informed that Dalmatian puppies are always born pure white. The clearer and whiter they are the better they are likely to be. There should not be the shadow of a mark or spot on them. When about a fortnight old, however, they generally develop a dark ridge on the belly, and the spots will then begin to show themselves; first about the neck and ears, and afterwards along the back, until at about the sixteenth day the markings are distinct over the body, excepting only the tail, which frequently remains white for a few weeks longer.
The standard of points as laid down by the leading club is sufficiently explicit to be easily understood, and is as follows:—
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