If it seems like there are more dog breeds around today than anybody could possibly count, consider this: there used to be a whole lot more, and many went extinct.
All dog breeds are the result of human domestication, and these long-gone types served many of the same roles as their contemporary counterparts: companions, hunting buddies, and watchdogs. Here are some of the most interesting dog breeds that no longer exist today!
1. The now-extinct breed known as the talbot, an ancestor of the coonhound and the beagle, was bred for its remarkable sense of smell. Experts have compared its abilities to those of the modern bloodhound.
2. The St. John’s water dog came from a mix of the breeds that accompanied sailors from Newfoundland and Portugal. Regarded for its fearlessness around water, the dog’s descendants are present-day Labrador retrievers.
3. The Cumberland sheepdog used to be very popular in the pastures of Northern England and Scotland, and the breed is believed to be the ancestor of the modern Border Collie, named for the English-Scottish border from where it originated.
4. The last English Water Spaniels died out sometime near the beginning of the 1900s, but prior to their extinction they were used for hunting water fowl.
5. The Old English bulldog is the ancestor of today’s bulldogs, but the breed was bigger than our present-day variety. It was bred to have a lower jaw that extended significantly further than the upper jaw for the purpose of bull-baiting, a once-popular medieval sport.
6. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the English bred the toy bulldog as a smaller, lap-dog version of the Old English Bulldog. This breed eventually died out due to health and fertility issues that arose from over-breeding.
7. Toy trawler spaniels were bred as hunting dogs in an attempt to recreate the features of the King Charles Spaniels of the 16th century. Most people preferred them as pets, though, and by 1920 they had mostly died out.
8. Turnspit dogs were bred to run on a wheel that twisted a spit with meat on it, so they had short legs and long bodies. They were also popularly used as foot warmers by attendees of church services, but they were largely extinct by the 20th century.
9. Bred in Cordobá, Argentina, Cordoba fighting dogs were said to be so aggressive toward other dogs that they would fight instead of mate. Given the brutal nature of dog fighting, it’s little surprise that the breed didn’t last too long.
10. Hare Indian dogs may have actually been domesticated coyotes tamed and bred by Northern Canada’s Hare Indians. They are believed to have slowly gone extinct after years of breeding with other types of indigenous dogs.
11. Tesem were ancient Egyptian hunting dogs, and experts believe that the breed dates back to between 2609 and 2584 BC!
12. The Cuban Mastiff, or Dogo Cubano, was bred as a fighting dog and was often used to catch runaway slaves, which explains why the breed died out slowly after the Cuban government banned slavery.
13. The Medieval scent hounds the Chien-gris were a breed primarily used in French royal hunting packs between 1250 and 1470, but they only died out for good sometime after the French Revolution.
14. Supposedly, the Blue Paul terrier, known for its fighting prowess, was one the first breeds of dog to be brought to America in large numbers, but its actual historical origins are unclear.
15. The German-bred hunting dogs Bullenbeissers were the ancestors of present-day boxers, and their extinction happened because they were more or less crossbred out of existence.
16. Braque De Puys were extremely quick hunting dogs, and it’s commonly speculated that they were actually a crossbreed between Braques and a type of greyhound.
17. The Moscow Water Dog was developed in Russia in the years after World War II to help with water rescues, but the dogs were often so aggressive with the people they saved that the decision was made to stop breeding them.
18. The Molossus, a breed that is likely the ancestor of modern mastiffs, was used for herding livestock and hunting. It is also said to have been the philosopher Aristotle’s favorite type of dog.
19. The Tahltan bear dog was bred to hunt bears by the Tahltan natives in British Columbia, but it was actually considered a very gentle dog.
20. Paisley terriers were the ancestors of today’s Yorkshire terriers. Like their modern counterparts, they were bred to be pets and show dogs.
Although it’s sad to consider all the wonderful types of dogs that have died out over the years, looking back at these breeds speaks to the close bond that humans and their canines have shared for centuries!