From Anecdotes of Dogs, by Edward Jesse, Esq., London: Bell & Daldy; 1870; pp. 459-466.
This dog, says Mr. Bewick, has been erroneously called the Danish dog by some authors, and by Buffon the harrier of Bengal; but his native country is Dalmatia, a mountainous district on the Adriatic coast. He has been domesticated in Italy for upwards of two centuries, and is the common harrier of that country.
The Dalmatian is also used there as a pointer, to which his natural propensity more inclines him than to be a dog of the chase: he is said to be easily broken, and to be very staunch. He is handsome in shape, something between the British foxhound and English pointer; his head more acute than that of the latter, and something longer: his general colour white, and his whole body and legs covered with small irregular-sized black or reddish-brown spots. The pure breed has tanned cheeks and black ears. He is much smaller than the large Danish dog. A singular opinion prevailed at one time in this country, that this beautiful dog was rendered more handsome by having his ears cropped: this barbarous fancy is now fast dying away.
The only use to which this elegant dog is applied is as an attendant upon a carriage, for which the symmetry of his form and beauty of his skin peculiarly fit him. He familiarises readily with horses, and is therefore invariably entrusted to the stables. A most erroneous notion has long prevailed that neither 460 this nor the great Danish dog has the sense of smell. They have been indiscriminately called the Coach-dog.
Mr. Dibdin, in his “Tour through England,” says, “I took with me last summer one of those spotted dogs called Danish, but the breed is Dalmatian. It was impossible, for anything to be more sportive, yet more inoffensive, than this dog. Throughout the mountainous parts of Cumberland and Scotland his delight was to chase the sheep, which he would follow with great alertness even to the summits of the most rugged steeps; and when he had frightened them, and made them scamper to his satisfaction (for he never attempted to injure them), he constantly came back wagging his tail, and appearing very happy at those caresses, which we, perhaps absurdly, bestowed upon him.
“About seven miles on this side of Kinross, in the way from Stirling, he had been amusing himself playing these pranks, the sheep flying from him in all directions, when a black lamb turned upon him, and looked him full in the face; he seemed astonished for an instant, but before he could rally his resolution, the lamb began to paw and play with him. It is impossible to describe the effect this had upon him; his tail was between his legs, he appeared in the utmost dread, and slunk away confused and distressed; presently his new acquaintance invited him, by all manner of gambols, to be friendly with him. What a moment for Pythagoras or Lavater! Gradually overcoming his fears, he accepted this brotherly challenge, and they 461 raced away together, and rolled over one another, like two kittens. Presently appeared another object of distress. The shepherd’s boy came to reclaim his lamb; but it paid no attention except to the dog, and they were presently at a considerable distance. We slackened our pace for the convenience of the boy, but nothing would do; we could no more call off the dog than he could catch the lamb. They continued sporting in this manner for more than a mile and a half. At length, having taken a circuit, they were in our rear; and after we had crossed a small bridge, the boy with his pole kept the lamb at bay, and at length caught him; and having tied his plaid round him, it was impossible for him to escape. Out of fear of the boy, and in obedience to us, the dog followed reluctantly; but the situation of the lamb all this time cannot be pictured; he made every possible attempt to escape from the boy, even at the risk of tumbling in to the river, rather than not follow the dog. This continued till the prospect closed, and we had lost sight of our new ally, whose unexpected offer of amity to the Dalmatian seemed ever after to operate as a friendly admonition, for from that day he was cured of following sheep.”
Lord Maynard, some years since, lost a coach-dog in France, which he in vain endeavoured to find. He returned to England, where he had not long arrived before the dog appeared; but the mode of his return remained for every unexplained, though it is more than probable that the dog’s sagacity, when he made his 462 escape from confinement, prompted him to go to the sea-coast, where he found means to get on board some vessel bound for the opposite shore.
The late Mr. Thomas Walker, of Manchester, had a small Dalmatian dog, which was accustomed to be in the stable with two of his carriage-horses, and to lie in a stall with one of them, to which he was particularly attached. The servant who took care of the horses was ordered to go to Stockport (which is distant about seven miles), upon one of the horses, and took the one above mentioned (the favourite of the dog), with him, and left the other with the dog in the stable; being apprehensive lest the dog, which was much valued by his master, should be lost upon the road. After the man and horse had been gone about an hour, some person coming accidentally into the stable, the dog took the opportunity of quitting his confinement, and immediately set off in quest of his companion. The man, who had finished the business he was sent upon, was just leaving Stockport, when he was surprised to meet the dog he had left in the stable, coming with great speed down the hill into the town, and seemed greatly rejoiced to meet with his friendly companion, whom he had followed so far by scent. The friendship between these animals was reciprocal; for the servant, going one day to water the carriage-horses at a large stone trough, which was then at one end of the exchange, the dog as usual accompanying them, was attacked by a large mastiff, and in danger of being 463 much worried, when the horse (his friend), which was led by the servant with a halter, suddenly broke loose from him, and went to the place where the dogs were fighting, and with a kick of one of his heels struck the mastiff from the other dog clean into a cooper’s cellar opposite; and having thus rescued his companion, returned quietly with him to drink at the conduit.