Dalmatian: Where is the Breed Really From?

As iconic as the Dalmatian is, experts still can’t agree about its origins. Images of Dalmatians appear in Hellenic friezes, as well as on frescoes, bas-reliefs and paintings from ancient Egypt, but some cynologists believe the dogs originated in the Middle East and accompanied Gypsies heading westward. Once settled in Yugoslavia, the dogs became part of daily life in the area known as Dalmatia (named after the Illyrian tribe, Delmati).

Other experts, however, point out that a breed named the Bengal Pointer, somewhat similar to the Dalmatian, showed up in England in the 1700s calling into question the breed’s Yugoslavian origin. Yet another claim maintains that the Dalmatian is a Croatian breed.  In 1993, the FCI actually learned that there are roots of the Croatian breed to the Dalmatian breed.  Perhaps not surprisingly, a Croatian source points out that in the Our Lady of Angels church in Veli Lošinj built before 1566, a depiction of a Dalmatian was found, and detailed descriptions of Dalmatians, the breed’s role and presence in the region,  as well as many other valuable data, are preserved in the Archives of the Diocese of Djakovo. It’s written, too, that the Bishop of Djakovo Petar described Dalmatians in 1374.  With all that, it’s our understanding that the FCI continues to deny Croatia standard patronage rights over the breed.  We always defer to breed experts who may have more updated information on this.

“Deja Vu” by Peter Szumowski is available as a print, poster, and many other forms here


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