Take a walk around the nearest park, and you will cross paths with many pet dogs. Most of them probably belong to one of the popular breeds of the modern-day. That is not surprising, as Labrador Retrievers, Akitas, Bulldogs, Pinschers, Terriers along with several others, have been competing for the title of the favorite breed for years now.
But did you know that the list of rare and extinct dog breeds many of us have barely heard of is much longer than you would ever think?
If you look back into the past, you will probably be startled about all the dog breeds that used to live side by side with people. They came in all shapes and sizes, some looking adorable, others being incredibly strong, some even quirky. What most of them have in common is the fact that they are no longer encountered, and even the biggest dog lovers seem to know quite little about them.
What follows is basic information about some of those canines that, for one reason or another, have not made it to the present day.
Throughout history, we have said goodbye to a large number of dog breeds (and also said hello to the new dog breeds created). Extinction of dogs, especially domesticated ones, can be somewhat puzzling to those eager to find out more about it. So, how does a dog breed see its end?
We can identify a few fundamental reasons why some pups are not around any longer. Natural selection, in combination with human-related factors, resulted in the loss of breeds which used to be common in the past.
In several instances, the disappearance of a particular civilisation led to dying out of canines living by their side. But in the majority of cases, whether we like to admit it or not, certain breeds have simply got out of fashion. Sadly, it looks like the extinction of some furry tailwaggers is a matter of whether people perceive them as trendy or not.
Some pups were bred to do specific jobs, and such examples are abundant. Over time, technology developed, and machines replaced these dogs, so there was no demand for them any longer. Turnspits, a breed once popular in the UK as a reliable labor force with a single task of turning a spit until the roasting was complete, died out after being replaced by a mechanical turner.
At the same time, in the wild, some species like the African wild dog face the verge of extinction because of a high incidence of deadly diseases, habitat loss, struggling to find food etc.
A long-gone breed, mentioned by Aristotle and Virgil, appears to have quite a lot in common with today’s Mastiff types.
It is not possible to determine with complete certainty what the role of these large pups was. Some experts see it as a canine used for fighting, whereas others believe their task was to look after the livestock and serve as guard dogs.
According to the existing records, this pooch was created by and named after the du Puy brothers, who crossed two types of dogs – a Braque Francais dog and a North African Sloughi.
In the 19th century, they were used as hunting dogs, due to their high speed and agility.
A long time ago, the name itself used to denote an individual hound, but the 17th-century records distinguish it as a separate breed. It is believed that Bloodhounds and Beagles descend from these canines. They became extinct by the end of the 18th century.
Today, the word can be encountered in the names of pubs and inns in England.
Following the end of World War II, Russian soldiers developed a breed whose main task was to assist in water rescues. These pups were strong and resilient, but on many occasions, they demonstrated their aggressive side by biting sailors.
In the 1980s, they were officially regarded as extinct, as it was no longer possible to distinguish between them and Newfoundlands.
The territory of present-day British Columbia is where this breed originated from, as one of the native pooches of America. Its coat was used by local tribes to make blankets and other forms of textile.
The introduction of sheep to the American continent brought an end to the existence of this dog, whose role for the native people became far less significant.
The bloodline of the North country Beagle disappeared during the 19th century, following the breeding practices with other kinds of canines. Some scholars believe that they originated from Talbots. They had a strong sense of smell and were fast runners.
Modern Beagles descend directly from these pups.
The city of London hosted violent dog-fighting and bull-baiting events in the early 19th century, with Old English Bulldogs being the main stars of these tournaments. In 1835, The Cruelty to Animals Act introduced significant restrictions, and the events of this kind took place far less frequently.
Unfortunately, following these changes, the breed lost its popularity and eventually died out.
Another representative from the Mastiff family, i.e., one of their ancestors, was originally bred in Cuba. This giant breed is also known by the name Cuban Mastiff. It was powerful and alert and was hence used for protecting livestock, dog-fighting and tracing slaves who were on the run.
Abolition of slavery in Cuba led to a decrease in their popularity, making them extinct eventually.
An early ancestor of retriever breeds, this large canine inhabited the region of Newfoundland in the 16th century. It was used as a working dog and performed best in water-related jobs. The modern breed of Newfoundlands traces their genes to these energetic pups.
These small pups took part in shows and were recognizable by their glossy, long coat. Paisley Terriers were crossed to produce the Yorkshire Terrier. The latter grew more popular over time, which resulted in the extinction of their older counterparts.
The Tahltan people used to live side by side with these pups, whose stamina and courage made them excellent partners in bear hunting. Despite being fierce fighters, according to existing records, they had a reputation of being gentle and affectionate.
A relative of American Coonhounds, this pup entered the official list of Brazilian Kennel Club in 1967. However, the breed itself was not long-lived at all. Only six years after the formal recognition, an outbreak of disease caused the extinction of these hunting dogs.
Being named after the only task they performed, Turnspits used to be bred in England as household helpers. They were placed in a unique wheel-like device and walked inside it, helping to turn a spit, until the meat was evenly roasted. Advancements in technology left these pups out of work and the interest in them disappeared entirely.
The 6th Earl of Lonsdale, Edward Lowther, was believed to have his favorite in the canine world. Cumberland Sheepdogs lived with the Lowther family for more than a century.
It was a working canine with strong herding instinct, similar to that of a Border Collie.
Their extremely thick coat made these pooches tolerant of freezing weather. These giants used to inhabit the Swiss Alps and took part in rescue missions around the St. Bernard’s Pass.
A spread of a lethal disease brought an end to the breed’s existence. However, Alpine Spaniel genes have been preserved in today’s Saint Bernards.
These dogs were also known by the name of Gris de Saint Louis. People kept them in medieval times. Their character was rather fierce, and they featured a high level of aggression.
It is assumed that all the specimens of this breed died out before the turn of the 19th century.
Mid 19th century saw the creation of English White Terriers. The breeders who developed these pups aimed to breed a white terrier of a smaller size with pricked ears. Several types of terriers descended from the English White, including Jack Russell, Fox, Boston and Sealyham.
These canines were true giants, weighing up to 350 pounds and standing almost 40″ at shoulder level. They inhabited the region of Northern Europe as far back as 500 b.c.
Several breeds existing today have their ancestor in Alpine Mastiffs.
Robust and vigorous, Russian Trackers used to perform the task of flocking and protecting sheep from predators for many years. These pups, also called Russian Retrievers, were highly intelligent and surprisingly fast.
They share some of their genes with today’s Golden Retrievers.
Crossing with other types of dogs eventually led to Southern Hounds becoming extinct. These pooches existed in the 18th century in Britain but lost their popularity at one point when people started to favor Foxhounds.
They were marked by a keen sense of smell, bony body and deep chest.
It is believed that these pups have their direct ancestors in the Sussex Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel. Initially, they were used as sporting pups. Over time, they were turned into show toy dogs.
The breed’s popularity grew as they spread across Europe, particularly in Italy and the Netherlands.
These canines got their name from the Tweed River. It was similar to Irish Water Spaniel, with a long tail and curly, brown coat.
It was an agile, courageous and intelligent breed which faced dying out in the 19th century.
This rare pooch is native to the island of New Guinea and is most likely related to Australian dingos. It got its name from the unusual vocalization typical for this canine. It hardly ever barks.
Native people of New Guinea keep them as hunting dogs. These canines have a broad head with pointed ears and short legs. They have a friendly nature, although they can be reserved towards strangers.
Stabyhouns’ original home was Friesland, and nowadays they rank among the five rarest kinds of dogs. They feature many positive characteristics such as playfulness, loyalty, obedience, patience and gentleness.
Marked by an excellent sense of both smell and sight, these devoted pups make fantastic retrievers and are used in duck and bird hunting. They are active and very curious and love engaging in physical activity, games and training.
Several centuries ago, this type of canine was developed through the breeding of Bloodhounds, English Mastiffs and Bulldogs. Also known as Brazilian Mastiffs, these robust pups were in charge of protecting farms and plantations from dangerous animals such as jaguars.
Strong and muscular, known for their wrinkled skin, these giants perform well at tracking and hunting jobs. However, their nature is individualistic, and they can potentially turn aggressive. That is why they are usually not recommended as family pets, but require a strong authority figure rather than an inexperienced owner.
This rare type of dog originated in Africa and was initially bred and used by the Sahel tribes. They were introduced to other parts of the world in the 1970s.
Azawakhs are slender, long-legged and extremely active, with short, multicoloured coat. These canines enjoy running, and energetic training and are very resistant. They make loyal companions to their owners.
Norway was the original home to this tiny pup that almost faced extinction after the end of World War II. His primary role was puffin-hunting. A Lundehund is very small in size and weighs no more than 16 pounds.
These miniature puppies are known for their friskiness and agility. Plus – they are exceptionally skilful climbers. Their coat is silky, but it sheds excessively and calls for a lot of care.
These vigorous little hard-workers excel at the demanding task of locating and digging out truffles – a popular and pricy delicacy. Usually weighing less than 35 pounds, they feature soft, curly coat that keeps the water away, leaving their skin dry.
Easy to train and very intelligent, they thrive if engaged in lots of energetic activity and mental stimulation. There are not many specimens of this breed, and trained ones can reach high prices.
It is an ancient breed, dating back 4000 years. However, today they are sporadic, and according to official records, their number in the U.S. does not exceed 300.
Thai Ridgebacks are classified as medium-large pups, weighing between 35 to 75 pounds. They are short-coated and usually come in four basic colors, including fawn, red, black and blue. These pups are very intelligent and require a great deal of daily physical workout.
Back in the 1950s, the experimental crossing of a German shepherd and a Carpathian wolf created a new breed known as Czechoslovakian wolfdog. The total number of these canines in the U.S. amounts to only a couple of hundred.
These large pooches weigh up to 60 pounds. People typically keep them as work dogs that specialize in tracking and rescue. They have an independent character and require an experienced authority figure.
Hungary is the country of origin of this energetic breed, which is closely related to Hungarian Pulis. Like their relatives, Mudis were used extensively as herding dogs, due to their great diligence in dealing with livestock.
Mental and physical stimulation is a necessity if this pup is kept as a pet. Their level of energy, in combination with high intelligence, make them easy to train and learn tricks. Mudis perform successfully at obedience competitions and shows.
This duck-hunting specialist got almost extinct after WWII. This small breed originated in the Netherlands. It has recognizable soft coat, usually in two colors – orange and white.
Kooikerhondjes will typically not exceed the weight of 24 pounds. They are prone to developing some health issues, with epilepsy being the major problem when this breed is in question. This type of pooch is very rare and very expensive to buy, too.
Throughout history, a vast number of dog breeds came into existence, but a comparably large one faced extinction, too. The reasons for their disappearance were various, ranging from natural and genetic factors to those closely related to developments and trends in human society.
Our knowledge about some of the rarest types of canines from the past is often somewhat limited, and so are the sources we can rely on. Yet, learning about what some of those long-gone canines used to be like can be quite amusing to a keen dog lover.
Who knows – some unanticipated discovery may reveal your furry buddy’s ancient ancestors and origins you previously knew almost nothing about!