10 Oldest Dog Breeds In The World
While no one can ever be sure which animal man domesticated first, we can say with utmost confidence that the dog is man’s FIRST animal friend. Man domesticated horses sometime in 3500 BC while goats and sheep were tamed around 9000 BC. Cats started becoming household “essentials” as vermin-busters in 7000 BC. As for dogs, the estimate is between 11000 and 28000 BC. That’s about 13,000 to 30,000 years ago. A 2008 Belgian archeological project revealed dog bones from the site that are 31,700 years old. With the molecular clock from ancient dog fossils now being unearthed, the earliest dogs that man befriended could already be 20,000 years old. That’s what you call a friendship that’s as old as time itself. And if you’re like most people, you’d also want to know which of the hundreds of dog breeds are the oldest. Here are 10 of them.
Famous for their sighting abilities, the Saluki is a well-respected hunter that can take down prey with its amazing speed and agility. It’s like a cheetah that uses its aerodynamic body and slim legs to chase prey. It’s easy to look at the Saluki as a lighter and smaller version of the Greyhound. Here’s one more thing you ought to know about the Saluki. The Greyhound may be the fastest dog breed on the planet, but it cannot sustain its speed like the Saluki. Over great distances, a Saluki can outrun the fastest Greyhound you can find.
The secret is in the Saluki’s heavily-padded paws, giving it excellent impact-absorption capabilities. It’s like going the distance with high-tech running shoes. And why not? This breed of dog is an excellent hunter of gazelles, jackals, foxes, and hares that roam the plains of the Fertile Crescent since 7000 BC. This makes it a very old breed. There are artifacts from archeological sites in Iran that date the breed’s existence to not later than 6000 BC. It’s also a basal breed, having very few genetic differences from the grey wolf.
There’s no denying the charm of the Akita Inu, one of Japan’s national treasures. With the loyalty of Hachiko inculcated into the minds of every Japanese kid, this is a dog that has shown remarkable loyalty for more than 9,000 years. Some say the Akita has its origins in 200 BC, while others put it at a much earlier timeline. If this is correct, then the Akita has been in the company of the Japanese people since 8000 BC.
The ancient Japanese loved the Akita because of its intelligence and raw power. They used this dog to help them with many of their chores. And while this Japanese breed is known for its exceptional territoriality, one can never question its loyalty to its owners. In fact, the story of the faithful Hachiko is always taken as a great reminder of the Japanese people’s role in maintaining their loyalty to the emperor. These are very hardy dogs, capable of surviving the harsh conditions of the mountainous areas of northern Japan.
Long before it became the prized pet of European royalties and the nobility, the Afghan Hound has been the mighty hunter of the Afghan landscape. They look a lot like the Saluki, except that these dogs have a longer coat. It’s what they need to protect them from the bitter cold of the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East.
For more than 8,000 years, the Afghan Hound helped its human owners in hunting. It is an excellent coursing hound, utilizing its long neck and amazing eyesight to spot a prey from miles away. It then uses its long legs and streamlined body to work with other scenthounds in catching the prey. These dogs never use their sense of smell. Only their vision will do when it comes to hunting. It has speed and stamina that can rival that of the Greyhound. This is an ancient hunter that has already found its place in modern history as a glamour dog. It’s a dog that will never follow you to get your attention. It has a huge ego that following you is something that it considers degrading.
From the plains of Africa comes another basal dog breed that may not be as famous as other canines. The Basenji may look like an ordinary dog but this hound has something that other canines don’t. The Basenji doesn’t bark like any other dog. If it did, then it will not be able to protect its people and their property from wolves, coyotes, and other wild animals. You see, the Basenji howls or yodels to mimic the vocalizations of African wild animals. Hence, when a predator hears these “sounds”, it thinks that there are no human settlements nearby.
The Basenji has been doing this for more than 8,000 years. It’s an African hunter that helped its people look for food. Its indomitable spirit and hardiness in the wilderness make it a worthy companion of ancient African hunters. Unfortunately, it was only in 1895 when Europeans discovered these so-called pariah dogs. They didn’t know that what they’re referring to is a smart, lively, and mischievous dog. Its playfulness can border destructiveness. As such, one has to have a good sense of humor to live with the ancient Basenji.
When the ancient peoples of the Mahlemut tribe had to haul their stuff over great distances of the harsh Alaskan landscape, they only had one dog to help them – the Malamute. This is a breed that’s known for its remarkable power and stamina. It’s not a sled racing dog. It will never win any sprints for dogs on snowy terrain. But when it comes to hauling freight of various weights and sizes, then the Alaskan Malamute is the king.
The Alaskan Malamute is the dog of choice of the northern peoples when it comes to freight hauling. It started doing this some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. While this is a world-class freight-hauler and leash-puller, you will never find any other dog breed that’s as exuberant and joyful as the Malamute. It loves to play as much as it enjoys working. Keep in mind, though, that the Malamute has a very high prey drive. It will mix it up with other canines if it has to and will not hesitate to hunt wildlife.
Dignified but mischievous. This is how many dog fanciers describe the Lhasa Apso. It may have a very playful nature but when it comes to being the sentinel of many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, the Lhasa Apso never reneges on its duties. The ancestors of the modern Lhasa Apso were the dignified guardians of monasteries in 800 BC Tibet. Monks and the local townspeople alike call it the Apso Seng Kyi. In English, it stands for Bearded Lion Dog. The Lhasa Apso is also one of the world’s few dog breeds that share more genetic traits with the grey wolf than other dog breeds.
Lhasa Apsos are a joy to watch when in their playful mood. However, when a stranger comes along, their sentinel heritage kicks in. It will never hesitate to show its displeasure and distrust of strangers. When it comes to its family, the Lhasa Apso is an absolute darling. Its loyalty is unfathomable and has the intelligence to match. Sadly, this feisty breed can also be stubborn and assertive.
Chinese Shar Pei
No one knows when the Chinese Shar Pei first appeared. But since it’s considered to be a basal breed, then it must be an ancient dog. Records show that they are very famous during the Han Dynasty. This puts the dog sometime between 206 BC and 220 AD. Given this information, it is possible that the Shar Pei may have its origins from the first Chinese imperial dynasty. If this assumption is correct, it means that this dog breed may have been around since 221 BC.
The Chinese Shar Pei has many unique features. It has a bluish-black tongue that it shares with the Chow Chow. Its coat is short and quite rough, feeling more like a sandpaper. It also has a wrinkled appearance that comes with a broad and full muzzle. People look at its muzzle as resembling that of a hippopotamus. And while many consider the Shar Pei as cute because of these characteristics, they forget that it’s an independent and proud dog. It’s distrustful of people it doesn’t know and will fight any dog that it considers “competition”. Regardless, you can never question its devotion to its family.
Like the Chinese Shar Pei, it’s quite difficult to establish the origins of the Chow Chow. Some say it came from the group of dogs that traveled from the Arctic region and found their way into China some 3,000 years ago. Still, there are also reports of the dog as originating from 100 BC China. Whichever time period this dog originated, it is still one of the oldest breeds of dogs. After all, the Chow Chow is a basal breed.
This dog is huge. It has a lion’s scowl, a teddy bear’s coat, and an unusual bluish-black tongue. Many folks think of the Chow as aggressive. But this is only true if it’s not socialized as a puppy. Socialized Chows make excellent family companions that can also be wonderful playmates of kids. It has come a long way from its ancient tasks of herding and cart-pulling. It remains a good guard dog, however.
Smiling Sammie has a wonderful disposition. It is like a giant bundle of joy that’s more than ready to give you a warm embrace if only it could. Cats and other pets are welcome for a big nice hug, too. The Samoyed descended from dogs that the Nenets people of Siberia had, aiding them in herding a type of reindeer called “laika”. If not working with their human companions, the Samoyeds that existed some 1,000 years ago pulled sleds and assisted in hunting game.
Today, it is a family companion. However, not all families are well-suited to the temperament of the Sammie. True, it is energetic, fun-loving, and smart. Unfortunately, it can also be very stubborn and will respond only to proven methods of training. It is calm, gentle, and affectionate. It also has a friendly streak that is quite enviable. But this is a dog that is bred to work. If it doesn’t get its daily exercise, it will let you know in ways you never thought possible.
The Lhasa Apso is to Tibet as the Pekingese is to China. These two dogs are both known as Lion Dogs in their respective countries of origin. What’s interesting to note is that the Chinese have another “lion dog”, the Shih Tzu. However, it is important to point out that the Shih Tzu originated from the Tibetan plateau and underwent its development in China. The Pekingese, on the other hand, is a true-blue Chinese Imperial lion dog. Only members of the Imperial Palace can own a Pekingese. Plus, the Pekingese predates the Shih Tzu by at least 1,700 years.
Because of its Imperial heritage, the Pekingese possesses an air of self-importance. Its self-esteem is as huge as the whole of China. However, don’t ever think that this is a useless hound. It has a vigilant nature that can make it an excellent watchdog. It has the independent-mindedness of cats so it will never demand attention. They do as they please. This can make their training quite difficult. Pekes can be stubborn, too. They don’t see why they should follow your rules. After all, they descended from Chinese Imperial dogs.
Dogs are man’s FIRST animal friends, and for good reason. Throughout the millennia, man and dog has become almost inseparable. They’re like Tom & Jerry, Bert & Ernie, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Scooby Doo & Shaggy. The point is that these old dog breeds have lasted this far because of their strong relationship with their human companions.