Dalmatian (dălmāˈshən) [key], breed of hardy, strong-bodied nonsporting dog probably developed in the Austrian province of Dalmatia (now Croatia) several hundred years ago. It stands from 19 to 23 in. (48.3–58.4 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 35 to 50 lb (15.9–22.7 kg). Its short, dense, hard coat is glossy white with black or dark-brown spots. Long associated with horses and valued for its speed, endurance, and dependable nature, the Dalmatian has also been called the coach dog and the firehouse dog. In addition to its historical service as protector and companion to carriages, it has also successfully assumed many other roles, e.g., sentinel, draft animal, shepherd, sporting dog, and circus performer. Today it is largely raised as a companion and pet. See dog.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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