- The Chow Chow breed is known for its distinctive blue-black tongue, which is a unique trait among dog breeds. This feature is believed to be the result of genetic differences that distinguish the Chow Chow from other breeds.
- The Chinese Shar-Pei breed is known for its wrinkled skin and distinctive appearance. The breed’s skin wrinkles serve a practical purpose, providing protection for the dog’s head and neck during fights.
- The Alaskan Malamute is a powerful and sturdy dog breed that was originally bred for sledding and hauling heavy loads in the harsh Arctic environment.
How old is the world’s oldest dog breed? More specifically–what was the first dog on earth? The answer isn’t quite as clear-cut as we’d like. While some research has pointed to the earliest dogs being domesticated 40,000 years ago, fossil evidence also points to dogs becoming man’s best friend about 14,000 years ago.
Regardless, the oldest dog breed would have lineages that can date back to varying lengths. A recent study from Nature zeroed in on ancient dog breeds whose DNA points to them originating before today’s most popular breeds like golden retrievers and Labradors.
To figure out what was the first dog on earth (or breed), we compiled data from the Canine Genome Project as well as Nature and Science Magazine to pinpoint the oldest dog breeds, according to today’s most up-to-date research.
Only nine breeds made our list which was selective and only included ancient dog breeds that could be agreed upon by scientific research.
So, what’s the oldest dog breed in the world today? Read on to discover 9 of the oldest dog breeds ever!
9. Chinese Shar-Pei (At Least 2,200 Years Ago)
While there are no records of the origin of Chinese Shar Peis, genomic testing confirms that the breed’s lineage can be traced back several thousand years. This dog breed is considered one of the ancient dog breeds. It is believed that Shar Peis were first bred in China in roughly 200 B.C.
Today, Shar Peis are beloved for their appearance. However, thousands of years ago they were valued for protecting farms and livestock from predators and hunting. Believe it or not, but this ancient breed that has existed for more than 2,000 years was almost wiped out in the 20th century!
With Shar Pei populations decreasing dramatically during China’s communist revolution, a breeder from Hong Kong issued an appeal in Life Magazine to save the breed. The resulting attention from the magazine feature led to a boom in Shar Pei adoptions and breeding across the United States.
Incredible fact: the Shar Pei was so rare that the Guinness Book of World Records named it the rarest dog in the world in the late 1960s!
8. Alaskan Malamute (2,000 To 3,000 Years Ago)
Known for its Alaskan origins, the Malamute is said to cross into Alaska from Siberia. Endurance and ability as a working dog, the Malamute, is valued by villages and tribes. The dog is playful and mischievous and makes a great family pet.
Their thick fur gives them the protection they need in the Alaskan climate but needs lots of care. They shed year-round, but especially in the spring. You can expect a sea of fur whenever you brush them.
They need companionship and a job to do. If left unattended, they will become bored. When boredom hits, it may be destructive. They require plenty of exercise and are highly intelligent. They are known for their “talking” to their humans by the “woo woo” sound they make.
7. Samoyed – (3,000 Or More Years Ago)
Another Arctic dog, Samoyeds have an ancient lineage. Thousands of years ago, the dogs were bred to hunt, haul sleds long distances, and herd the livestock of tribes that lived in sub-zero conditions in Siberia.
While Samoyeds originate from cold weather climates like other ancient dogs on this list, they differ in some key areas. For example, the breed is less aggressive than Siberian huskies. Samoyeds are extremely social creatures that struggle when left alone and crave attention.
6. Afghan Hound (3,000 Or More Years Ago)
There is some debate about the origins of this beautiful dog. Some believe they come from Egypt, while others believe in Afghanistan, as the name suggests. Long silky hair, narrow face, and thin build give this breed an unmistakable elegance.
This hound is known for speed and was used for hunting antelopes and leopards. Before long, British soldiers took them and brought them back to the UK as show dogs. Some feel they are not smart dogs, but in fact, they can be stubborn when you try to train them, preferring to keep their hunting instincts intact.
Afghan hounds will do well in any family, but be prepared to do many brushing and exercising to keep up with their energy level. They do well in warm and cold climates and adapt very well to their living circumstances. A sociable dog, likes plenty of attention from its owners.
5. Siberian Husky (Up To 4,000 Years Ago)
Siberian Huskies were first bred in Chuckchi Peninsula which sits less than 100 miles from Alaska. Despite this proximity, the bed wasn’t brought to Nome, Alaska until 1908. Today, sled dog racing has made Siberian Huskies an iconic breed that’s widely associated with Alaska’s vast frontiers.
While the Alaskan Malamute also makes this list, recent genetic evidence shows the breed is closely related to the Siberian Husky. Today, Siberian Huskies are popular for their moderate size. The breed rarely weighs more than 60 pounds, a size much smaller than the closely related Alaskan Malamute.
4. Saluki (More Than 4,000 Years Ago)
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Salukis as their oldest dog breed and notes the breed dates back to at least 329 B.C. Yet, Guinness also notes that cave paintings of dogs that look like Salukis date back 9,000 years, which shows just how difficult deciphering the exact age of specific dog breeds can be. No matter when Salukis first emerged, the bottom line is that they’re one of the world’s most ancient dog breeds.
Arab tribesmen and Egyptian nobility both valued the Saluki. Their speed, endurance, and hunting skills made this breed a valuable asset. Running at speeds up to 42 miles per hour, the Saluki was used for hunting Gazelle and deer.
If you want a lifelong companion, this dog might be for you. They are loyal, lifelong companions, and need lots of exercise and a high fence. They are high jumpers and will not think twice about escaping to hunt. Prey consists of goats, foxes, otters, raccoons, snakes, squirrels, and deer.
Salukis like long-distance running. They need to stretch their legs in a full run, so prepare to give them 300-400 yards where they can run. Having very little body fat, they will sleep on your bed or couch for comfort when indoors to rest. They will become very attached to their humans and do not like to be left alone.
3. Akita Inu (Unknown, Perhaps More Than 5,000 Years Ago)
There is significant debate about the origins of the Akita Inu. In 1962, Japanese archeologists unearthed the bones of two canines at the Kamikuroiwa Rock shelter site. Carbon dating put the date of these two dogs at between 9,200 and 9,400 years ago, a time far before the origin of many dog breeds on this list.
Many have taken this discovery to date Akita Inus as the oldest dog breed, however with this list being based on genetic evidence, we do not believe the Akita Inus would rank as the oldest dog breed.
The Akita Inu breed is part of the Husky family. They are a fearless breed that is calm and dignified. The dog is very loyal to their family, making it an excellent match for therapy dogs, police dogs, and family pets.
A native of Northern Japan, these dogs are sometimes called Japanese Akita or the Great Japanese dog. Originally they were bred to hunt wild boar, deer, and bear in the winters in Northern Japan. In 1931 an Akita named Hachiko was declared a Japanese National Monument.
The Akita was introduced to America when Helen Keller was given two after visiting Japan and becoming enamored with the breed. They have a dense fur coat that can be almost any color but are frequently seen as shades of red, fawn, white, brindle, or sesame.
2. Basenji (More Than 6,000 Years Ago)
While some sources may list different dog breeds as the oldest, genetic research points to the Basenji being the oldest dog breed in the world.
The Basenji is an ancestor to dogs and the Egyptians, but some claim they are native to Africa. Keeping traits of its ancestors, this breed has a more catlike personality, including its need to remain clean. Basenjis don’t bark but make a sound similar to yodeling.
They are nicknamed the “jumping up and down dog” because of their ability to leap vertically in tall grasses. They need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. A great family pet, this dog was once used primarily for hunting small game and controlling rodents in villages.
Basenjis don’t bark. They yodel. Basenjis are very intelligent but can be a bit stubborn. They can learn all commands you teach but getting them to do what you ask is another story. Don’t trust them off-leash; they will bolt out an open door and climb over fences when their hunting instincts kick in.
1. Greyhound (Around 8,000 Years Ago)
The greyhound breed is considered to be the oldest purebred domesticated dog breed, with indications of its existence dating back to the era of the Pharaohs, and the earliest documented records of greyhound-like dogs are from about 8000 years ago; all modern sighthound breeds are believed to have descended from the ancient greyhound.
Greyhounds have been selectively bred for millennia to chase and capture prey by visual tracking and high-speed running, making them the swiftest dog breed globally, and their elegant, athletic physique is mesmerizing when running at full speed; Greyhounds are also renowned for their excellent temperament.
The Bible specifically mentions the greyhound breed of dogs, as stated in Proverbs 30:29-31 in the King James Version, where it lists three things that are impressive in their movement: a lion, a greyhound, and a male goat.
Another Ancient Breed: The Chow Chow (At Least 2,000 Years Ago)
Chow Chows originated in China, where they were valued as retrievers, pointers, or sled dogs. They can adapt easily to their environment. Described as affectionate, strong, sweet, and confident, this dog keeps well-groomed and easy to train.
Although a great companion, this dog does not like a lot of fuss. They choose a favorite person and will be very loyal to them, but will show loyalty to their favorite person’s family. The Chow Chow is very territorial and will protect, giving warnings to strangers.
They should be exposed to socializing at an early age, and need plenty of exercise, but are not runners. You can expect to brush them two or three times per week to keep their fur maintained.
Bonus: A New Oldest Dog Breed? The Greenland Sled Dog (9,500 Years)
The scientific debate on the oldest dog breed will remain ongoing. We will probably never know what was the first dog on Earth. However, recent evidence points to the Greenland Sled Dog having a strong claim to the title of the world’s oldest dog.
Scientists recently sequenced the genome of a dog from an archeological site on Russia’s Zhokhov Island. What they found was astounding, the remains of this sled dog were similar enough to today’s Greenland Sled Dogs to reveal that sled dogs have not interbred with wolves across the past 9,500 years.
The study opens up the door that today’s rankings of oldest dog breeds could continue to change with new archeological finds and advancements in genetic testing!
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Dog?
Dogs are widely considered to be man’s best friend and for good reason. These beloved companions bring joy and love into our lives and are a constant source of comfort and support. But how long do dogs live?
The average lifespan of a dog varies depending on the breed, size, and overall health of the animal. On average, small dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs, with some breeds having an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years or more. Large breeds, on the other hand, often have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years or less.
Factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health can also play a role in determining a dog’s lifespan. Dogs that receive regular veterinary care, have a balanced diet, and engage in daily exercise tend to live longer and have a better quality of life.
In general, the lifespan of a dog ranges from 6 to 16 years, with an average lifespan of around 10 to 13 years. However, with proper care and attention, many dogs are able to live long, happy lives well into their senior years.
Summary Of The 9 Oldest Dog Breeds (One Might Be 10,000 Years Old!)
|Bonus!||New Breed! Greenland Sled Dog||9,500 years old|
|1||Greyhound||8,000 years old|
|2||Basenji||6,000 years old|
|3||Akita Inu||5,000 years old|
|4||Saluki||4.000 years old|
|5||Siberian Husky||4,000 years old|
|6||Afghan Hound||3,000 years old|
|7||Samoyed||3,000 years old|
|8||Alaskan Malamute||2,000 to 3,000 years old|
|9||Chinese Shar Pei||2,200 years old|
Honorable Mention: Other Old Dog Breeds
There are many different dog breeds that can trace their ancestry back many years but not all can be the oldest. While exact dates of origin may be questioned and up for debate, one thing that can be agreed upon is that these breeds have an impressive history. Here are a few classic breeds that can trace their lineage back a couple of thousand years:
- Poodle – although many think this breed comes from France, they actually originated in Germany and date back to the 15th century, although it could be even earlier. This breed of water dog was intended as a hunting dog, more specifically a water retrieving dog. They are extremely intelligent, as well as highly trainable, and because of this, were popular in circuses. If smaller dogs are more for you, you’re in luck because the poodle comes in toy, miniature, and medium.
- Tibetan Terrier – this medium-sized dog originated around 2,000 years ago, in Tibet, in a region known as the Lost Valley where it is also known as the Holy Dog of Tibet. Not a true terrier, this breed has been utilized for years by Tibetan monks in a variety of manners, from watchdogs, and companions to herders and good luck charms. They were even used to retrieve items on mountainsides.
- Pekingese – originating in ancient China, and developed by Buddhist monks, these little dogs were a favorite of Chinese royalty and the Imperial family, where they were used as close companions since about 2,000 years ago, in 700 CE. There are quite a few legends about how these smush-faced dogs were created, like one particular tale of how Buddha shrank a lion down to dog size. What may be closer to actuality is that Pekingese were larger dogs that were bred down to their toy size.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Leamus
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How long ago were dogs first domesticated?
Researchers believe that dogs were first domesticated sometime between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago.
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