While we have no knowledge of the earliest date a Dal was brought to this country we do know George Washington bred coach dogs. We located two items which indicate this, First, in a letter to his nephew, George Augustine Washington, August 12, 1787, George Washington wrote.
At your aunt’s request, a coach dog has been purchased and sent for the convenience and benefit of Madame Moose: her amorous fits should theretofore be attended to, that the end for which he is sent may not be defeated by her acceptance of the services of any other dog. The original letter is in the Library of Congress collection.
Second, the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia has Washing-ton’s Ledger B. in it on August 14, 1787 he notes the amount he paid for the coach dog shillings. Apparently the purchase was made in Philadel-phia and charged to his cash account, Unfortunately he did not note the name of the dog’s original owner.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, no one used the term “Dalmatian until 1824. We know this is in error as we found the first edition of Bewick published in 17910 uses the term “Dahria.tian” and shows a picture of a Dal.
In more recent times than our first president, we find that the first Dalmatian to be registered by the American Kennel Club was known as “Bessie, 10519; whelped October, 1887; owned by Mrs. N. L. Harvey, San Francisco, CA., recorded as white, black and tan: breeder and pedigree unknown.
We also know that after the time of General Washington the Dalmatian or coach dog didn’t disappear from the face of America. In Alistair Cook’s great book. AMERICA, can be found a picture of Southern slaves and bales of cotton they have picked. Lying at their feet is a dog which is definitely a Dalmatian.
The general use of cameras seems to have developed about the time of the Civil War. And writing of Strawberry Mansion, the stately white house which stands above the Schuykill River in Philadelphia, Joan Church Roberts in an article in Architectural Digest. traces the history and development of the house.
The established date of its beginnings is 1797-98 when the central portion of the house was named Summerville. It was built by a brilliant Quaker lawyer, Judge William Lewis. Judge Lewis lived in the home until his death in 1819.
In 1821 the property was sold at a sheriff’s sale and was purchased by Joseph Hemphill, also a lawyer Mr. Hemphill had two sons. Alexander and Coleman. The Hemphill family lived there for about ten years and it would seem lived extremely well. Coleman Hemphill “built a race track, raised Dalmatian dogs and grew strawberries from “roots imported from Chile.”
Coleman had very little interest in business pursuits as in 1831 his father, in partnership with William Ellis Tucker, was involved in a china factory in Philadelphia where they produced Tuckerware, and he refused to become interested in the business.
There is a story to the effect that Coleman brought his Dalmatians into the showrooms at 17th and Chestnut Sts.. turned them loose, and the dogs had a field day romping about. They managed not to leave a single unbroken complete set of china.
Few people today would know the name of Alfred Maclay yet he was the first president of the Dalmatian Club of America. Harry T. Peters father of the well-known and popular multi-group judge, Harry Peters of New York, was the first vice president J. Sergeant Price was the secretary-treasurer Mr. Price remained a member of DCA until his death.
The written the first book about the breed in the United States. Copies of this original book (really a pamphlet by today’s standards) are quite rare and exceedingly valuable on the antique book market. In 1913 a young lady, Miss Flora McDonald, joined the club Mr. Peters had moved up to president.
The original rules of DCA limited the membership to 50 people was changed in 1937 because of the growing interest in the breed. The interest was sustained and furthered by the hard-working Mrs. Hohmiller and Mr Witlock, Mrs. Hohmiller was the first American Kennel Gazette columnist for the club although Mrs. Bonney did write a number of early columns for the magazine.
In the early days of the Dal in the U.S. the largest and apparently the most important kennel was Gedney Farms, White Plains, NY, owned by Howard Willets. Another important breeding kennel was Halnor Kennels, Oak Ridge, VA, owned by Mrs. C. Halsted Yates.
And Mr. Willock’s kennel, Gladmore, was among those of prominence. It was through Mr, Willock *s efforts that the DCA started specialty shows, the first one being held in 1926. Most of the entries were from his kennel, Mrs. Sanger’s Head of the River, and from the very well-known Tally-Ho kennels of Mrs. Bonney.
These people urged others to whom they had sold puppies to enter and make this a gala affair. A Mrs. West (later Mrs. Austin) had the honor of being the judge of the first DCA national specialty. The national scope of the club was actually limited to the eastern seaboard the Dalmatian Ancestry came from Dalmatia.
Shortly thereafter a breeder in the Michigan area became very active. Cressbrook kennels are still to be found in many of today ‘s pedigrees, The DCA sponsored at least two road trials for coaching Dals. The first was at Wissahicock Kennel Club and the second was held at the York, Penna.
Show Fred Lauer’s description of the trials makes us wonder why we aren’t holding tk.se trials today. Most of the dogs still carry the coaching instinct. Lauer gives detailed information on the method of training dogs to coach. And we well remember the story of the Fetners, Coachman Kennels, St. Louis. receiving delivery on a newly refurbished vehicle, a gig, and deciding to try it out with their driving horse_ They hitched up the gig and off they went for a drive in their immediate area.
Suddenly they were aware that they were not alone. Coaching as though she had been trained to do it was a six month old puppy, Coachman’s Quadrille, who had been curled up on the patio when they took off with the gig and the horse. Oddly enough, this bitch soon to become a champion had the call name of Gig”.
In the late thirties obedience was introduced to the sport of dogs and among the most prominent in our breed to participate in the obedience trials were the Meistrells. Lois and Tots trained their dogs well and seemed to win the trials with increasing regularity until the war brought a stop to it.
The first champion CD I Dal was Mrs. Bonney ‘s Tally Ho’s Black Eyed Susan. Ch, Duke of Gervais. owned by Maurice Gervais,. was the first champion UD in the breed, The first liver Dal to win in, obedience was Virginia Prescott’s Roadcoach Cocoa UD.
Shortly after World War 11 a number of kennels became established and many of them have continued to this day . Before the beginning of those hostilities we had Roadcoach, Four-in-Hand, Ard Aven, Reigate, Brain Tree, Of the Walls, Sioux, Williamsclale, just to name a few of the more prominent ones.
Coachman Kennels. Colonial Coach, and Pryor Creek, all started at about the same time. Both Colonial Coach and Coachman are still producing fine Dalmatians. At Pryor Creek we are no longer active breeders.
The year 1950 is about the time that the breed started to proliferate. Oddly enough, a statistical study indicated that the percentage of Dalmatians being registered, shown, and bred has remained approximately the same as in 1950 in ratio to the over-all number of dogs being registered.
Shown and bred because the entire dog fancy has had such extensive growth, When DCA allowed its membership to be opened to more than 50 members the increase was very slight. As recently as the ’60s the figures of ISO to 170 remained the top of the membership.
By the end of that decade the number had grown to about ISO. At this time the DCA lists more than 500 members. The Dal standard has certainly changed since the beginning of DCA and the showing of the breed. Mr. Lauer in his book The Dalmatian, 1907, talks about the color in Dais.
Having expounded on the number of black ears on IDals, black at birth, The reason we do not often see the jet black ear (the ear that was black when born) at a show is, that as a rule this dog is most too dark and poorly marked for a show dog and the owner does not show him.
When you get a good spotted eared dog he is usually very lightly spotted over the body. A very good spotted dog in body has seldom a good spotted ear. How many litters are born in which there are not from one to four of the puppies with one black ear, or both, or with blotches on the face over the eye? Not many I presume, Therefore.
I have no objections to the black ears. and we should not penalize a dog for black ears nor for tan spots on the legs and cheeks, for these we know to have been proper Dalmatian colorings from the very first of our information regarding the breed up to the time the English Clubs were started and there is no reason why the change has been made.’
Another reason for the solid or poorly marked ears is probably the old custom of cropping the Dials* ears, The ears were not cropped in the fashion of a Doberman, Boxer, Schnauzer, etc., as we know the process today.
Considering the size of the United States of America it was natural that as the breed became more popular in given areas regional clubs developed which provided opportunities for discussion and learning. Such clubs also hold matches and engage in other activities to further the breed.
Dalmatians in American Club Group
Thirteen of them have been recognized by the American Kennel Club and are licensed to hold specialty shows at which championship points may be awarded. Four other local clubs have achieved eligibility to hold sanctioned matches under AKC rules.
Another eight are in various stages of development. Two other clubs, one in Florida and the other in Hawaii, have fallen by the wayside. In most cases, the club names in the list following tell us the part of the country in which they operate.
- Chicagoland Dalmatian Club
- Dalmatian Club of Detroit
- Dalmatian Club of Greater Atlanta
- Dalmatian Club of Greater New York Dalmatian Club of Greater St. Louis
- Dalmatian Club of Northern California.
- Dalmatian Club of Southern California Dalmatian Club of Southern New England
- Dalmatian Organization of Houston Davenport
- Dalmatian Club Greetcr Piiinburgh Dalmatian Club Puget Sound Dalmatian Club
- Western Reserve Dalmatian Club (Ohio) Sanctioned
- Dalmatian Club of Greater Indianapolis
- Dalmatian Club of Las Vegas
- Greater Sacramento Dalmatian Club
- Greater Washington Dalmatian Club (D. C.) Developing
- Aztalan Dalmatian Club (Wisconsin)
- Dalmatian Club of Greater Phoenix
- Dalmatian Club of Mount Hood (Oregon)
- Dalmatian Club of San Diego
- Dalmatian Club of the Finger Lakes (New York)
- Dalmatian Club of the Greater Twin Cities Delaware Valley
- Dalmatian Club Piedmont
- Dalmatian Club (North Carolina)