British Carriage Dog Society
The Dalmatian’s role as a carriage dog in this country began in the 17th century when young English aristocrats brought spotted dogs home from their travels in Europe.
Undoubtedly one attraction was the Dalmatian’s striking appearance, but they also had a very practical use. Their feet and legs are strong and they could maintain long distances alongside a horse or carriage on rough roads. They also had or developed an affinity with horses. The Dalmatian’s strong guarding and hunting instincts were useful when travelling, and in the inns at night they guarded the horses in the stables and kept the vermin down.
Carriage Dog Trials
Trials started in 2003 after founder Alison Burgess visited the US to observe the working trials sanctioned by Dalmatian Club of America. The UK Trials had to be adapted to suit UK tradition and modern working conditions for both carriage and road dogs.
The Trials provide a modern competition to demonstrate the Dalmatian’s traditional role as a companion to horses and carriages. It is an endurance and obedience event and all competitors must do a basic obedience test, from their horse or carriage, with their dog as part of the Trial.
Trials test the dog’s willingness to work, its obedience, and its ability to keep up at speed. It is also a test of the dog’s endurance and physical condition is assessed by a vet judge during the test. Dogs which qualify earn the title of Road or Carriage Dog bronze, silver or gold depending on the distance covered (from 10km to 40 km).
National trials are held every year and occasional regional trials are held in different parts of the UK. Spectators are always welcome – there is always camping available to make a weekend of it and the organisers usually put on some fun events on the Sunday morning after the Trials.
Welfare Dogs have entered at most levels of the Trials and in all disciplines. We have had Welfare carriage dogs, carriage dogs handled by the groom, and road dogs.
Patches Silverstone, who was involved with the first Dalmatian rescue service, has kindly donated a trophy for the highest placed rescue dog at the national trials. This is the Tanstar Trophy and it has been won most years by a dog re-homed by Dalmatian Welfare. Many of their owners have said that the discipline of training for the trials has helped with their rehabilitation. If you’d like to get started with your welfare dalmatian, do contact one of the committee members of the British Carriage Dog Society (see link below) who will be able to advise you.
The British Carriage Dog Society was established in July 2006 and exists to:
- Preserve the working heritage of the Dalmatian.
- Run national Trials
- Encourage common standards for all Carriage Dog Trials.
- Offer advice and support.
Becoming a member of the Society gives you the opportunity to support the Dalmatian in its traditional role. You will get a regular newsletter and access to information and events.
To join, please contact the Secretary or download the form from our website.