The archeological documentation and genetic analysis found dogs’ remains laid to rest beside humans more than 14,200 years ago. However, there are still arguments whether they dated back 36,000 years ago.
So, there are still many debates about the list of ancient dog breeds and which one can be called the oldest. But I hope this list will at least cover some basics of the subject.
Are you interested in particular ancient dog breeds? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we'll cover:
- Oldest dog breed of all
- Oldest domestic dog
- Ancient dog breeds closest to wolves
- Ancient Egyptian dog breeds
- Ancient American dog breeds
- Ancient dog breed from China
- Ancient extinct dog breeds
- Ancient guard dog breeds
- Dog breeds from ancient Rome
- Ancient Viking dog breeds
Oldest dog breed of all
While there’s still no 100% certainty when answering the question, “what’s the oldest dog breed?” some dogs definitely stood out and have a better predisposition for being called ancient. (Given that first domesticated dogs were not the breeds we know and love today).
When we’re talking about ancient dog breeds still in existence, the list contains Salukis from the Middle East. Definitely, one of the oldest dogs breeds out there, going back to 10,000 BC. The breed is genetically very close to the wolves, too.
Akita Inu is another honorable mention. While the exact date of origin of the breed is unknown,
Archeological discoveries suggest that there was an ancestor of a dog called Matagi-Inu between 8,000 B.C. and 200 B.C.
Oldest domestic dog
As with the most ancient dog breed, it’s hard to point out the first domesticated dog breed, but some scientists have come closer to the subject. Therefore, some of the findings suggest a single domestication event of contemporary dogs from a population of gray wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. And definitely, one of the most peculiar pieces of data on the breed was the sequencing of the genome of a 5000-year-old ancient dog from Ireland.
Ancient dog breeds closest to wolves
According to Dr. Robert K. Wayne, a molecular geneticist at UCLA, modern dogs only differs from gray wolves by 0.2% of their DNA.
So, technically, dogs are generally very close to wolves. But some come closer than others, though. Among those are Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Shih Tzus.
The first one has a very similar appearance to wolf ancestors, so it is not surprising they are also very close genetically.
Siberian Husky is very similar to wolves too. Overtime not only has the resemblance to wolves stayed similar, but the genetic composition has as well.
And, surprise-surprize, Shih Tzus may not look similar to a wolf, but the DNA proves otherwise.
Ancient Egyptian dog breeds
Basenji is known to be one of the oldest breeds in the world, according to a recent report evaluating the genetic data of 161 existing breeds of dogs. It is estimated that these roots begin on the continent of Africa, where they have been used for hunting and hunting prey. Although Basenji’s age is uncertain, it is recorded that it was given as a gift to the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. Their image has been depicted in some Egyptian tombs. It is believed to have been portrayed in hieroglyphs since that period.
Ancient American dog breeds
Often known as “Mexican Hairless,” this breed is said to be hypoallergenic. This pet comes in three sizes so that you can get the one that best suits your living situation. Mexico / Central American Native Peoples are believed to be the first to have these ancient dog breeds as pets. They are one of the oldest breeds in the world.
Peruvian Inca Orchid Dog
This breed was first depicted in ancient pottery around 750 AD. It’s believed that the Peruvian Inca Orchid was the Incan tribes’ dogs and their descendants, the Quechua. The breed comes in three sizes and can be either hairless or covered in a range of colors. Loyal, alert, and active, the Peruvian Inca Orchid dog needs a lot of physical activity.
Often referred to as the American Dingo, the rare Carolina Dog may have been closely related to the very first dogs to migrate to North America. Some scholars suggest that the Carolina Dog is a descendant of the breeds that could have crossed the Bering landmass more than 8,000 years ago.
Ancient dog breed from China
The Chow Chow is a dog breed from China. From the very beginning, they have been used for various activities, including hunting, herding, pulling, and defense. They made excellent guard dogs in ancient times.
The Chinese Saluki, also known as Shanxi Xigou, is considered one of the most ancient Asian dog breeds. Its origin was traced back to 685 BC during the Tang Dynasty. It was an ancient job both as a hunter and as a watchdog.
This ancient race was considered sacred in China when they first appeared on the scene.
The ancient breeding of these canines as royal sacred animals led them to have a similar attitude. They don’t like children, strangers, or other pets. These dogs are stubborn and difficult to train. They’re hard to groom, too, and they don’t do well in hot weather.
And believe it or not, they are also one of the closest relatives to the wolves (at least genetically speaking).
Ancient extinct dog breeds
Salish Wool Dog (aka Woolly Dogs)
This breed was previously referred to as the Comox breed. And as its name suggests, the breed was distinguished by its white wool fur. This extinct breed was developed by the citizens of the State of Washington and British Columbia. With the absence of sheep at that time, people would cut the dog’s coats early in the summer to make Salish blankets and other textiles. It sounds like a brilliant idea, considering that their fur was super thick and fluffy.
Kuri dog lived in New Zealand. The name Kuri originated from the Maori tribes as their ancestors carried the dog breed while migrating from East Polynesia in the 13th century A.D. The Kuri dog is one of the oldest dogs to have walked on Earth and left behind many legends. The Maori tradition claimed that the Maui brother-in-law had been turned into the first dog. Kuri’s dogs became extinct in the 1860s when the European settlers started to flood into New Zealand. This extinction was because Kuri dogs could not survive interbreeding with European dogs.
Ancient guard dog breeds
The Molossus of Epirus is an ancient animal guardian dog of the Greek breed. It has been bred since Alexander the Great’s reign to defend livestock from wolves, jackals, and bears.
It’s a pure Greek breed and is claimed to be one of today’s mastiffs’ chief ancestors. The breed is also closely related to the rare Greek Shepherd. It is the only remaining remnant of the “extinct” Molossus.
Dog breeds from ancient Rome
With Greyhound-like dogs depicted in the Greek, Egyptian and Roman times, this ancient breed also became popular among English nobles and commoners. Known for its ability to run and catch a game at a very fast speed, Greyhounds were valuable for rabbits in the 1800s, and then as race dogs in America in the 1900s. Sensitive, independent, and well-managed indoors, Greyhounds are usually calm and well-controlled around other pets and dogs that they have grown up around.
Ancient Viking dog breeds
The Norwegian Elkhound is the most common and well-known breed originating in Norway. They have an ancient past, too. This is another breed that was believed to have been introduced by the Vikings. The Elkhound-like dogs can be seen in the folklore of the North. They get their name from the big game they used to hunt, Elk included.
In more recent times, the Elkhound has acted as the protector and herd of remote Norwegian farms’ livestock.
Credits: thanks for the cover photo to Canva.
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