Why Do Firefighters Have Dalmatians? – The Most Interesting Facts

Dalmatians are a unique breed of dog in both appearance and intelligence which is why they appeared in the famous film 101 Dalmatians in 1996. In addition to being featured in movies, we also often encounter these dogs accompanying firefighters to the fires. Why do firefighters have dalmatians and not another breed? Turns out they had a whole history of working alongside each other. 

The Rich History Between Dalmatians and The Fire Department

The story began in 1700 when English aristocrats used dals to accompany their carriages to protect people and property. People found that these dogs run as fast as horses and are able to keep up their sprint speed for long distances. Dalmatians also protected and repelled the factors that could spook or attack the horses during the ride.

why are dalmatians associated with firefighters

Dalmatians are famous dogs in history

 Before fire trucks had engines, horses were used to pull the firefighter’s wagon, and Dalmatians, thanks to their special horse-protective instincts, were chosen as guards to clear the way for the horses to run. 

 When the fire alarm sounded, the Dalmatian ran out of the firehouse first and barked as loud as possible to let people around know there was a blaze, and they needed to get out of the way for the wagon. The dogs then ran alongside the wagon to the fire site. When firemen were on duty, these dogs helped guard their belongings, equipment, and horses. The presence of Dalmatians also helped comfort the horses when they approached the blaze. 

When the engines were invented, the horses left but the Dalmatians stayed to help guard the firefighter’s possessions and killed rats in firehouses. Some fire departments have kept these dogs simply to preserve tradition.

Why Do Firefighters Have Dalmatians in Fire Departments Today?

Fire trucks are now equipped with sirens and Dals no longer need to bark to clear out the road or run along to guard the carriages. Dalmatians are now associated with fire departments to comfort the firefighters and support the coach in teaching fire safety to children.

why do firefighters use dalmatians

Molly – the famous fire safety Dalmatian

One case of a dog that helped comfort firefighters was FDNY Ladder 20’s dalmatian named Twenty. Thanks to Twenty, the company was able to weather the loss of seven firefighters in the September 11 attacks. This dog later died in 2016 in the mourning of many people.

 Another dalmatian in the Los Angeles Fire Department named Wilshire helped teach children how to escape danger when their clothes caught on fire and how to crawl to escape a smoky place. Wilshire died in 2021 when he was almost 20 years old.

Interesting facts about Dalmatians

  • Dalmatians are called Fire Dogs because they are commonly kept in fire departments.
  • Many celebrities in the world own Dalmatians including Ingrid Bergman and Paula Abdul.
  • It is thought that this breed may have appeared in ancient Egypt
  • No two Dalmatians have the same spots
  • At birth, Dalmatians do not have any spots on their coat, instead being pure white.
  • Studies have shown that up to 12% of Dalmatians are born deaf.
  • Became more famous after the movie 101 Dalmatians.

How to identify Dalmatians?

You won’t confuse Dalmatians with any other breed because of their coats. The common coat color of Dalmatians is white with black spots. At first glance, you will think this dog has no hair, but in fact, they have a rather short coat.

why were dalmatians chosen as firehouse dogs

Dalmatians can weigh up to 53 pounds for female dogs and 70 pounds for male dogs. The average height of adult male and female dals is 22 and 24 inches, respectively.

This dog from Croatia is very active. They love to run and jump and do physical activities to release energy.

The Dalmatian has a very good memory. They can memorize everything from their route to their workouts. They can even remember people who treated them badly.

They are very obedient to their owners and are more intelligent than many other dogs, so they are preferred to be used as guard dogs. 

However, sometimes Dals are tenacious and do not succumb to any opponent to protect their owners. With all these excellent characteristics, the Dalmatian deserves to be the most successful fire dog in the world.


Why do firefighters have dalmatians? It is because Dalmatians once helped firefighters in guarding the wagon to the fire when the engine wasn’t even invented. Today, Dals serve in fire departments as a comforter to firemen and a trainer who helps train children in fire safety. They are very intelligent, active, agile, and brave. Therefore, there is no dog more worthy of being a fire dog than a Dalmatian!

You may also like: