Have you ever wondered how long your favorite dog breeds have been around? If you’ve done any amount of research on various dog breeds you will have likely come across names of breeds that no longer exist.
These extinct dog breeds played a huge role in the timeline of breeding and many of the breeds that are no longer with us are responsible for several of today’s recognized breeds. Not all extinct breeds are ancient breeds, either. Here is a look at ten of the extinct breeds.
English White Terrier
Dog shows and the popularity of them in the 1860’s can be credited with the development of this breed. The desire to develop an all-white terrier resulted from the dog shows.
Speculation points to a cross breeding with Italian Greyhounds which produced the White Terrier. However, most of these dogs were deaf. They were split into two different weight classes at the dog shows, 7-pounds and lighter and dogs over 7-pounds.
Ongoing breeding activity saw a shape change in the head of the White Terrier to an apple configuration. Although the ancestry of these dogs went back to working stock, the breed was far from that point as they were a delicate dog. By the 1890’s the breed was gone but is possibly responsible for the English Bull and Boston Terriers.
This breed is responsible for the St. Bernard and the Clumber spaniel. Or at least that’s what the ancestral finding of both dogs leads to. The Alpine Spaniel dates back to at least 1829 when it appeared in publications on dog breeds.
You’ve likely heard that historically St. Bernard’s are the dogs that rescue skiers in the alpine regions. Well, some historians have pointed to the fact that several of the dog rescuers were in fact Alpine Spaniels.
The Monks living in the Alps have been created with breeding spaniels with farm dogs and through this breeding, the Alpine Spaniel slowly started to disappear. The St. Bernard’s that were being produced no longer had visible Alpine Spaniel traits and the breed in actual fact – disappeared.
Based in northern England, this breed dates back several years and had gained the reputation of being an excellent working dog. With a long and lithe body, with light, muscular legs and a low set tail, the Cumberland stood about 20-inches and weighed between 40 and 50-pounds.
Lord Lonsdale was quite fond of the breed and had owned several in his lifetime. He even attempted to save the breed from extinction but ended up out crossing with the German Shepherd in 1899. That spelled the eventual end of the Cumberland breed.
Compared to the Welsh Sheepdog, several Sheepdog Trails winners that have been identified as Border Collies have been dogs bred from the historic Cumberland Sheepdog line.
Hare Indian Dog
Possibly related to the Viking Dog, this breed was primarily found in northeastern Canada and the United States where it thrived in the Arctic region. The dog had grey eyes, light yellow and slender legs with a bushy tail and webbed, hair-covered feet.
The dog was a fast hunter, could pull toboggans, pack sleds and herd. It rarely barked but was highly social with humans. The Hare Indian Dog was friendly, playful and affectionate with anyone one would encounter. They were small in size, standing 17 to 19-inches.
As Aboriginal hunting methods declined, so did the numbers of this breed. They were not large enough to bring down big game, but could climb trees and capture birds and other game. They no longer exist.
The origins of this breed are murky, with ties apparently to the Duke of Norfolk. When the Spaniel Club was formed in 1885, it issued a breed standard for the Norfolk Spaniel. This gave the breed official recognition status although the general public did not appear to agree.
The Norfolk was considered a generic land spaniel by many. However, by the 1890’s, the breed was common in many parts of England. Also known as the Shropshire Spaniel, the Norfolk had a liver and white or black and white coat. They were difficult to train but because of the attachment one would have with an owner they became good hunting dogs on both land and water.
By 1903 the breed ceased to exist when the Kennel Club updated the Spaniel breed standard and regrouped it under a different category of Spaniels.
Cordoba Fighting Dog
From Argentina, this breed of dog had the distinction of being courageous, determined and ferocious. So much so, the Cordoba became a fighting dog that would be pitted against other dogs in the same breed in fights to the death.
When not fighting with each other, Cordobas were commonly used for hog hunting as well as guard dogs. They were also known as the Fighting Dog of Cordoba, Perro de Presa de Cordoba and the Argentine Fighting dog. The Cordoba’s history dates back to the colonial period when this breed was used as a war dog. By the 18th and 19th centuries, dog fighting became popular in Great Britain.
The breed started dying off in the 20th century and was gone sometime after the 1930’s.
Another common fighting breed of dog was the Dogo Cubano. Although the details of the history of this dog are hard to pin down, it is said that the breed is part of one of the oldest groups of domestic dogs. One claim says they are descendants of Ancient Egyptian war dogs.
The more readily accepted story is that the Dogo Cubano can be traced to the feared war dog Molossus of the Ancient Greek and Roman armies. Generally speaking, this breed was a Mastiff. It stood 20 to 22-inches and heavy – weighing up to 300-pounds. The bulk of the weight was muscle and it was known to be courageous and aggressive. However, the Dogo Cubano was also loyal and protective. By the end of the 1800’s, it was near extinction.
Tahitian Bear Dog
Bear Dogs were common in northwestern British Columbia, Canada where they were campfire companions. The history of this breed goes back a fair ways when they were bred to seek game. What they would do once finding an animal was to basically harass it with barking and nipping until hunters arrived on the scene with bows and arrows.
These were small dogs, standing 12 to 15-inches with a tail that was short and bushy, which was an identifying mark. In 1939 the BC Provincial Police pushed the Canadian Kennel Club to official recognize the breed. The same distinction soon followed in the American Kennel Club. However, the CKC rescinded the recognition in 1974 which in essence killed the breed off.
Moscow Water Dog
Also known as the Russian Newfoundland Dog, was developed in the 1950’s and 60’s. The history of this dog actually dates back to the end of WWII when purebred Newfoundland dogs were delivered to the Russian Army Red Star Kennel from Germany.
The army breeders started crossbreeding with other breeds and eventually the Water Dog was created. It was given the name Moskovsky Vodolaz. Vodolax is the Russian word for diver.
The dog was large, measuring 26-inches in height and was an excellent swimmer. However, it also had an aggressive and vicious temperament. They were hard to control and in testing, many sailors were bit rather than saved. By the 1980’s, the Water Dog was no more.
The Turnspit dog(Vernepator Curs) was actually a kitchen utensil. Dating back to the first mention of these dogs, which was in the first book ever written about dogs, that was published in 1576. Known also as the Kitchen Dog and the Cooking Dog, the Vernepator Curs was a small breed that was used to run inside a wheel assembly that caused a roasting spit to turn in cavernous kitchen fireplaces.
Before these dogs earned this job, it was a chore that went to the lowliest member of the kitchen staff, which was often a small boy. By 1850 the number of Turnspits had dropped drastically and in 1900 they had disappeared completely. As it turned out, advances in technology resulted in the demise of this hard-working kitchen utensil.
As a side note..
Extinct Doesn’t Always Refer To Endangerment
As has been outlined in many of the ten dog breeds described here, some of them met their demise through cross breeding and not by any other means. In fact, there is quite a difference between ancient dog breeds and extinct dog breeds.
Ancient breeds are those that can be traced back several centuries. The dog breeds we are familiar with in the present day have almost all been the result of breeding by humans. While some of the crossbred parent breeds can be traced to ancient breeds, the ‘new’ breeds created are not ancient.
Some of the ‘new’ breeds created from crossbreeding practices have died off, which makes them extinct. Various reasons for the extinction of several breeds exist. They include the following:
- Crossbred characteristics were not what was desired
- The purpose the breeding was done became harmful to the new bred of dog
- The new breed became part of a group of other recognized breeds
An example of a breed that contained undesirable characteristics was the Moscow Water Dog. It became far more aggressive than breeders were aiming for and as a result, further breeding with Newfoundland dogs eventually removed those negative characteristics.
The Cordoba Fighting Dog was bred specifically for fighting. Their aggression spelled disaster for opponents and typically the only breed that could stand up to one was another Cordoba. Eventually the fighting dogs basically killed themselves off.
A good example of when the kennel club’s that recognize a specific breed end up regrouping them is the Norfolk Spaniel. When the UK Kennel Club designated all medium legged spaniels that were neither Clumber nor Sussex as English Springers the Norfolk was moved into this group.
There Are Several More Extinct Dog Breeds
Depending on the definition used to identify extinct dog breeds, there are many more canines that are no longer with us. This list just represents a small sampling of the actual numbers of breeds that are either no longer recognized by kennel club’s or have actually died off and only exist in history books or as a distant part of a crossbred blood line.
Crossbreeding dogs dates back to ancient times and as a result, many different ‘breeds’ of dogs were created. It was through the efforts of governing bodies such as the Canadian Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club and UK Kennel Club where standards were established that identify specific breeds as a means of recording what constitutes a true member of a dog family.