The Brief History of the Dalmatian


During the past century, there has always been a strong bond existent between British dog fanciers and the Dalmatian.  It is said that these dogs have been known there for the past 200 years, and there has even been exploration of a theory that they are actually partially descended from the early English hunting hounds, the Talbot in particular, so similar are they to these dogs in type, character, and hunting ability.

Quite possibly a century or two ago there was some Talbot blood infused into the European dogs who, by their striking appearance, caught the eyes of travelers from Great Britain, then gained their admiration by their intelligence, along with their strong guard dog tendencies, and thus were brought back to Britain with the tourists.  There seems no disputing the fact that the Dalmatian has his roots in very ancient times, and that the evolution in the breed has been numerous.

When, in 1860, Great Britain held its second dog show there were only five breeds represented.  These included the Dalmatian, and so far as history records, this was the breed’s initial appearance in dog show competition.  Were it not for a gentleman named Fred Kemp, who was President of the British Dalmatian Club and a third generation owner of this breed with which he himself was involved for more than half a century, Dalmatians might not have survived World War I.

Mr. Kemp is credited with having kept alive dogs in his kennel through the difficult and in many cases devastating period between 1914 and the Armistice in 1918, providing breeding stock at the end of this period.  It is exciting to contemplate what happened to Dalmatians in England at the close of World War I.  They fairly leaped ahead in popularity, the two Dalmatians registered with the Kennel Club in 1918 having increased to 125 by 1925 and to 889 by 1932.  When the world famous dog show resumed, following World War I, there were two Dalmatians entered.  In 1934, no fewer than 199 Dalmatian entries filled the classes for the breed, of which 15 were provided.