The Dalmatian's origins are unknown. The spotted dogs are known to have traveled with the nomadic bands of Romanies, sometimes called gypsies, and it's unclear where they may have first appeared. The Dalmatian obtained his name during his stay in Dalmatia, a province on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, the area that is now known as Croatia.
Dalmatians have been utilized for a variety of jobs during their long history, never specializing in one area. They were used as guard dogs in Dalmatia, shepherds, ratters, retrievers, circus dogs, and coaching dogs.
It was in England that the Dalmatian was developed as the definitive coaching dog. He was used to clear a path before the horses, run alongside the coach or under the coach between the axels. He guarded the horses and coach when they were at rest. To this day the Dalmatian has a natural affinity for horses.
This affinity took the Dalmatian on a different career path in the United States. Here he became a firehouse dog, running with the horses to the fire, watching over the equipment during a fire, and sometimes even rescuing people from burning buildings. When the excitement was over, they accompanied the fire wagons back to the station and resumed their duty as watchdog. Today most Dalmatians are companions and family members but many firehouses across the country still have Dalmatians as mascots.