The Dalmatian is alert and active, possessing great endurance, speed and intelligence. Their short coat is white with black or liver (brown) spots. According to the American Kennel Club, spotted dogs have appeared throughout history in Europe, Asia, and Africa, credited with a dozen nationalities and as many native names. The dog we know today as the Dalmatian has been a dog of war, a draft dog, shepherd, ratter, fire-apparatus follower, firehouse mascot, bird dog, trail hound and retriever. Most importantly, he is the original and only coaching dog. His affinity for horses remains a basic instinct to this day and the breed is a natural follower and guardian of the horse-drawn vehicle. Dalmatians become very attached to their people and therefore also make good and loyal watch dogs.
Dalmatians are perhaps best known for their role as fire-fighting apparatus escorts and firehouse mascots. Since Dalmatians and horses are very compatible, the dogs were easily trained to run in front of the carriages to help clear a path and quickly guide the horses and firefighters to the fires. The era for Dalmations as escorts for fire departments ended with the introduction of motorized cars and fire engines. However, they are still on duty in many fire stations today acting as companions to the firefighters and as watch dogs protecting the equipment. They are still chosen by many firefighters as pets in honor of their heroism in the past. The fun-loving, people-oriented Dalmatian thrives in a family environment. They are a high-energy breed and require daily exercise on leash or within a fenced area, so anyone considering a Dalmatian needs to evaluate the time they have to give to the dog.