Guidance for members doing carriage dog displays

It is one of the Dalmatian’s historical roles to be a companion, guard and attractive accompaniment for passengers of a horse drawn vehicle. It would attend its carriage over long distances, giving reassurance to horse and owner alike on the road and at the inn.

This guidance is offered by the British Carriage Dog Society to any member proposing to do a public display of the working Dalmatian.

Its purpose is to help members to uphold the aims and policies of the Society and to present a consistent picture of what a working carriage dog should look like. This will promote clarity in relation to the role of the modern working Dalmatian and will help maintain a degree of consistency with the carriage dog trials and the training of working Dalmatians.


Only Dalmatians over 12 months of age should be included in working displays. If younger dogs are shown, it should be made clear in the commentary that the BCDS discourages prolonged training and working of dogs under this age, which could be detrimental to the long term health of the dog.

Way of Working

The dog should ideally be shown off lead. If a lead needs to be used to comply with the event regulations, or for safety, or to ensure the dog stays with the carriage, it should be made clear in any commentary, if possible, that dogs would normally be expected to work off lead. At no point should a dog be tied to a carriage – a lead should be carried by the groom or passenger.

The British Carriage Dog Society trials regulations states that a carriage dog shall be in a semicircle behind the horse’s head in line with the direction in which the horse and carriage are facing, and as close as practicable without crowding or obstructing the horse’s motion and within one horse’s length of the carriage. The dog may be running under, behind, or next to the carriage, but it is of paramount importance that the dog should be running in a position that is both safe and comfortable. It is desirable for dogs in displays to work in a manner consistent with this description.

Groom Handlers

We encourage members to ensure that where a dog is handled by a groom, that all concerned are aware of the emergency procedures for the whole turnout.

Further advice

The British Carriage Dog Society is always willing to offer advice and guidance to organisers of displays and other events involving working carriage dogs.

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