Man’s best friend has been around for ages, and while there are hundreds of breeds walking around today, would you believe there used to be more? From golden retrievers to bulldogs and even to the more obscure breeds such as the dreadlocked puli dog, the variations of pooches is endless.
Around 360 different breeds have been recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), more commonly known as the World Canine Organization. Like the dinosaurs of the canine family, some dogs are lost to us forever. Take a look at these now-extinct dogs that once kept our ancestors company.
Believed to be one of the ancestors of the modern-day beagle and bloodhound, the talbot was a hunting hound that was common in England during the Middle Ages. It is uncertain whether the dog was bred to be a scent or sighthound, or if they were used for digging out prey.
The dog was illustrated in art as small to medium-sized, with white fur, large, powerful feet, a deep chest with a slender waist, long drooping ears like a bloodhound, and a very long curled tail. The talbot existed until the end of the 18th century.
St. John’s Water Dog
Little is known about the genetic makeup of the St. John’s Water Dog, but it is guessed to be a random mix of old English, Irish, and Portuguese working dogs. Due to their excellent temperament and quality working behavior, they became the favored breed for fishermen, retrieving nets of fish and bringing them back to the boat. St.John’s were medium-sized, strong, and stocky, with distinct white patches on their chest, chin, feet, and snout.
The St. John’s water dog went extinct in the 1980s, in its homeland of Newfoundland. Thankfully, this good boy was one of the ancestral breeds that helped create the modern-day retriever.
Tweed Water Spaniel
The Tweed water spaniel was a local dog that could be found around Berwick-upon-Tweed close to the Scottish border. This breed may have been a cross between local water dogs and the St. John’s Water Dog, another extinct breed. They were described as mostly brown, with curly fur and a long curly tail. These dogs were eager to please, making their loyalty and athleticism invaluable to the fishermen in the Tweed River.
They are known for their help in creating the modern-day curly-coated retrievers and golden retrievers. Unfortunately, this beautiful breed went extinct in the 19th century.
The Cumberland sheepdog is the relative to border collies and the beautiful Australian shepherd. This sheepdog was a working dog, their 20-inch height and slight weight making it easy for them to move quietly, quickly, and low to the ground. They were characterized as having dense black and white fur, muscular legs, and ears that fell over the front of their head. So pretty much they were adorable.
In the early part of the 20th century, they started to be referred to as border collies, which may have been the reason for their extinction — they were grouped in with another breed.
The Turnspit has a sad history. The working pooch was known as a lowly and common dog, bred to run on a wheel that rotated meat over a fire. Known for its long body, short and crooked legs, and suspicious and un-happy facial expression, the Turnspit was classified as an “ugly dog.” But maybe he was just misunderstood.
This breed probably had such a personality! Some consider the Turnspit to be the ancestor to the Glen of Imaal terrier and Welsh corgi. No records were effectively kept of the breed, and it was lost to history.
English Water Spaniel
One of the only dog breeds to be mentioned by name in the works of William Shakespeare, the English water spaniel has existed as early as the 16th century. A popular companion for hunters, the spaniel would flush out waterfowl from their hiding places, and fetch them once shot. The most notable quality was their ability to dive as well as a duck.
These spaniels had a lean body, long legs and ears, and a white underbelly with a brown back. Unfortunately, English water spaniels became extinct in the first part of the 20th century when other water dogs, like labradors, became more popular.
The toy bulldog existed in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was specifically bred for a popular biting sport. After the fighting rings were outlawed in 1885, toy bulldogs were domesticated, becoming some of the best pets for children. The little balls of muscle were known for their serious, wrinkly face, and short, stunted legs.
There have been several attempts to breed this dog. Unfortunately, neither effort was able to produce this exact breed of toy bulldog. Now, the term “toy bulldog” is occasionally used to describe miniature bulldogs.
Considering the size of modern-day mastiffs, it’s not hard to believe that the Alpine mastiff is one of the first dog breeds to reach a truly gigantic size — 39-inches tall and up to 350 pounds! Originating in northern Europe before 500 B.C., these gentle giants are some of the very first purebred mastiffs.
Differing from the modern-day mastiffs this specific breed is more slender with a longer tail, and short, brindle fur. Even though they led to the breeding of St. Bernards and English Mastiffs, around 1815 Alpine’s became extinct.
Tahltan Bear Dog
Having somewhat of a rough history, the Tahltan Bear dog was bred for hunting one thing: bears. Their tiny, double-jointed, agile bodies were perfect tools for the rough, mountainous terrain of northwestern British Columbia and southern Yukon. Before a hunt, the dogs would be ceremonially bled in the hindquarters with the fibula bone of a fox or wolf.
This breed was known for its fox-like appearance and “yaps” when distracting their prey. When European explorers came over, bringing with them a variety of new dog species, the Tahltan bear dog’s gene-pool became diluted. Past 1960-1970, there have been no records of purebreds.
Old Spanish Pointer
Originating in Spain, the old Spanish pointer, or perro de punta español, is believed to be the original ancestor of all pointing dogs. Generally growing up to 26 inches and weighing between 55-65 pounds, the pointer was commonly used for hunting birds.
Brought to England in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mild-tempered and trainable dog was “remodeled” by the British who thought the breed defected — they wanted a more aggressive, quick, and endurance sustaining animal. David Taylor, a veterinarian, stated that the English crossed the old Spanish pointer with greyhounds and English foxhounds, resulting in the slimmer English pointer.
Cordoba Fighting Dog
Bred to be put in Argentinian fighting rings, hot hunt, and be used as a guard dog, the Cordoba is a crossbreed of multiple dogs: a Spanish bulldog, mastiff, bull terrier, bulldog, and boxer. This breed was notorious for its aggressive behavior, high stamina, and strong body. They were known to have a very high pain tolerance and their willingness to fight to the death.
The Cordoba could hunt in a small pack of one male and one female, but two alphas were likely to turn on one another. The deadly fighting is a large factor in the fighting dog’s extinction.
Originating in Scotland, the Paisley Terrier was bred for two reasons: to be a pet and become a show dog. The breed was described in 1894 as “an excellent house dog, and most suitable for a lady who wishes something more substantial than a toy.” Considering all of that long, silky fur Paisley’s were known for, it must have been similar to brushing a doll’s hair.
The popularity of the Paisley Terrier swiftly declined in the 19th century when people became more interested in the Yorkshire Terrier and Skye Terrier. The resulting effect was the extinction of the breed.
Braque du Puy
The Braque du Puy (hound of the de Puy brothers) was a hunting dog, bred to catch game in the lowlands of France. The dog is known for its speed, flexibility, and its coloring of white with orange or liver-colored spots. The Braque du Puy was very popular but didn’t quite garner the fame as other French hounds.
The breed has naturally died out, but some people insist that this specific Braque still exists in remote regions of Europe, and can be found for sale through rare breed dealers. That sounds a bit like a black market for dogs.
The Bullenbeisser, also known as the German Bulldog, had been around since the 16th century and is believed to be derived from the ancient Mastiffs of the Holy Roman Empire. The name translates to “bull-biter,” which makes sense, considering the species was utilized for bull-baiting and boar hunting.
This breed is best known for its role in the creation of the boxer, one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Due to the high demand of boxer breeding, a shortage in purebred Bullenbeisser breeding occurred. Finally, by the end of World War II, the Bullenbeisser was entirely extinct.
Although the pretty pooch in the picture looks oddly like a golden retriever, it is, in fact, a Russian tracker. This domestic breed was used for hundreds of years to protect and herd the sheep of the Indo-Aryan people of the Caucasus Mountains. They were known for their agility and high intellect.
Legend has it that these wise and capable dogs were able to keep themselves and their herd alive and well for months without the help of humans. Researchers are uncertain why this breed inevitably went extinct, but the dogs could still be found in the late 1800s.
The Kurī is the Māori peoples’ name for the Polynesian dog. According to Māori legend, the demigod Māui (yes, The Rock plays him in Moana) transformed his brother-in-law, Irawaru, into the first Kurī. Talk about family drama.
They were introduced to New Zealand during the East Polynesian Māori migration in the 13th century A.D. Kurī’s were known for their bushy tails, short legs, powerful shoulders, and their ability to hunt birds. Like most Polynesian dog breeds, they howled instead of barking. The breed went extinct in the 1860s. The Kurī was unable to survive the interbreeding with European dogs.
Argentine Polar Dog
The Argentine Polar dog was bred by the Argentine army for one purpose: to equip their Antarctic base with sled dogs. These dogs were able to live in the cold weather because of their triple layer coat, one of which was wool. The Polar dogs helped the soldiers avoid cracks and deadly traps in the ice. They were also known for their keen sense of direction, even during large snow storms.
The breed went extinct in 1994 when the Argentine army moved out of Antartica in compliance with the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antartic Treaty.
The Chiribaya Dog was an ancient Peruvian llama herding dog from the southwest of Peru. The dogs were longer than they were tall, with short legs, a long snout, and long fur. The BBC later stated that they resembled small golden retrievers.
As all dogs should be, the Chiribaya were honored and received special treatment in life as well as after death. The Chiribaya people built a pet cemetery for these dogs, honoring them as they would a friend. They even went as far as burying them with blankets and treats so they would enjoy the afterlife. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
This fast and fearless dog was part of a breed in Wales used for herding and droving cattle. The Welsh Hillman was a large but slight dog, close in appearance to a German shepherd, and thought to be a decedent of ancient Welsh herding dogs. Their ears were pointed, and the coat was usually a light fawn, sandy or gold-red with a black back, white chest, and white on the legs and tip of the tail.
Blue Merle dogs were occasionally seen, but not as frequently. The Welsh Hillman is thought to have gone extinct around 1990.
North Country Beagle
The North Country Beagle was a breed scent hounds in Britain up until around the 19th century. This breed was large and bony, with a square head and long ears. Due to this dogs speed, he was a fantastic hunting partner. In The British Encyclopedia of 1809, William Nicholson says that they could “run down a brace [of rabbits] before dinner.”
The Northern Beagle fell out of popularity during the 18th century when hunters began to use faster dogs. The exact date of extinction is not known, but it’s likely that the decline of purebreds was due to interbreeding.
Hare Indian Dog
The Hare Indian dog was a coydog, the name for a domesticated coyote. They were bred in northern Canada for coursing. These old boys had slender legs, a long snout, and a bushy tail. Although they weren’t docile, they were apparently playful and readily befriended strangers.
After aboriginal hunting techniques declined, the Hare Indians no longer had a need for this breed. Over time, the Hare Indian dog became extinct. Some people claim that this breed still exists in a modified form, although researchers have yet to support this claim.
If this dog looks like an Ancient Egyptian deity, it’s not–but it was an Ancient Egyptian hunting dog. Literature from the time describes these canines as prick-eared with a curled tail. However, it was sometimes described as lop-eared. The Tesem’s appearance mirrored the modern-day greyhound.
The Tesem is presumed to date back to 2609 BC. One dog, named Akbaru, accompanied King Khufu. They continued to appear in records from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom. Although no one knows when they died out, their latest appearance popped up around 1069 BC.
Nowadays, people joke around calling their dog “doggo.” If you want a real-life doggo, see the Dogo Cubano, also known as the Cuban mastiff or the Cuban bloodhound. These dogs mirrored Bullmastiff breeds and were initially bred for bull and dogfighting.
In the days of slave-trading, Dogo Cubanos were bred to catch runaway slaves. After the abolition of slavery in 1886, they were no longer bred. Few purebred Dogo Cubanos survived into the 20th century. However, their modern descendant still exists as the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The Chien-gris, also called the Gris de Saint-Louis, was a Medieval French scenthound. The name means “the grey hound of Saint Louis,” although they didn’t look like the modern Greyhound. These hounds were rough-haired with legs that were tan or red.
According to King Charles IX, Saint Louis first encountered the Chien-gris while imprisoned during the Crusades. It is unknown when they began to decline, and why. By the 19th century, St. Hubert claimed that they were almost impossible to find. Historians believe that they were mainly bred between 1250 and 1470.
Blue Paul Terrier
Not much is known about the Blue Paul Terrier, also called the Blue Poll. We know that they were once popular dogs in Scotland, especially for dogfighting. However, historians don’t know where they came from. Some legends say that John Paul Jones brought them to Scotland, while others say that Romani people did.
Based on illustrations, researchers assume that the Blue Paul Terrier was a bull and terrier cross. They became popular in the 19th century, but by the 20th century, they had disappeared. Like greyhounds, Blue Paul Terriers often sported a dark blue coat.
Moscow Water Dog
Without the Moscow Water Dog, we wouldn’t have the Black Russian Terrier. The Moscow Water Dog was bred by the Soviet Union after World War II, since most working dogs had died in the war. They mixed a Newfoundland, East European Shepherd, and Caucasian Shepherd Dog to create this breed, among other breeds.
Initially, Moscow Water Dogs were bred to save lives through water rescue. But according to O. Krasnovskaya, “That was not a good idea as [they] were not willing to save drowning people, but mostly were looking to bite them.” Hence, breeders stop developing the Moscow Water Dog.
No, not the sugary sauce–the dog breed. This ancient breed dates back 7,000 years and is believed to be the ancestor to the Mastiff. The Roman Empire employed these dogs in combat, usually arming them with spiked metal collars and chain mail armor.
Most historians agree that the Molossus came from the Molossis people, a tribe in ancient Epirus known for producing vicious hounds. Although the Molossus is now extinct, some breeders aim to recreate them through careful cross-breeding. You can buy “Molossus” puppies for $5,000 each in Italy.
The Hawaiian Poi Dog once protected the families of Hawaii. They were considered the spiritual protector of children, and they were hunted as a source of food. Poi dogs likely originated in Indonesia and were never used for hunting. After all, the Hawaiian Islands didn’t have large land mammals other than hogs.
The Poi had two jobs: to act as a luck charm and a source of food. Eventually, eating dog meat became unfashionable, resulting in the Poi’s decline. Historians aren’t sure when the breed died out, but it definitely didn’t survive into the 20th century.
Techichis are the pre-Columbrian ancestors of modern Chihuahuas. These tiny, mute dogs first appeared in Mexico in the ninth century, where they joined the Toltec people. They had a sturdier, saucier-looking appearance than the Chihuahuas we know today. Historians suggest that the Techichi may have had religious symbolism, but this claim needs more evidence.
Researchers don’t know why the Techichi vanished. One theory suggests that the invading Spanish over-hunted the Techichi. Another theory indicates that the Techichi was cross-bred out of existence. One of its many descendants is the Chinese Crested Dog.
English White Terrier
There is little information about the English White Terrier due to its short existence. In the 1860s, breeders developed new working terrier breeds including the Jack Russell Terrier. However, the English White Terrier’s genetic problems made it unpopular.
Within 30 years of being recognized by the Kennel Club, the English White Terrier faded into extinction. Its ancestors live on as the Boston Terrier and Bull Terrier. These small dogs had prick ears and smooth, white coats and they didn’t survive beyond the 1890s.
The Rastreador Brasileiro was first recognized in 1967, making it one of the most recent extinct dog breeds. However, an outbreak of disease and overdose wiped out the breed in 1973. They first appeared in Brazil as hunting dogs and scenthounds.
The Rastreador Brasileiro, also called the Urrador, came in many colors. But it was always a large dog with a short, smooth coat. It looked similar to an American coonhound. In recent years, the Brazilian Kennel Club has tried to recreate and re-recognize the breed.
While this breed may look like the English Springer Spaniel, it’s actually the Norfolk Spaniel which went extinct in the early 1900s. They were thought to have originated from the Duke of Norfolk, but historians have disproved this theory. Norfold Spaniels look like large English Springer Spaniels.
Norfolk Spaniels formed strong attachments with their owners, although they could be ill-tempered. They were headstrong, willful, and described as “babbling.” They made a noise similar to hounds but far quieter. The breed was used for hunting and navigating the water.
Old English Bulldog
The Old English Bulldog looked like a larger, more athletic version of a modern Bulldog. In the early 19th century, the English used these dogs for bull baiting and dogfighting. After England passed an 1835 animal cruelty law, the breed slowly went out of style.
Sadly, the Old English Bulldog died out in the late 19th century. But several breeders have attempted to recreate the breed. In particular, the Leavitt Bulldog of the 1970s looks similar to the original Old English Bulldog.
Coton de Reunion
The Coton de Reunion was a bichon-type dog found on the African island of Reunion, about 500 miles from Madagascar. Legend has it that the breed either arrived from France or the Canary Islands. Either way, the story goes that these dogs were brought on a ship before it wrecked. They swam from the open Indian Ocean to Reunion.
Because of the species’ isolation, there isn’t much information available on the Coton de Reunion. We know that they eventually became the modern basis for the Coton de Tuléar, although nobody knows when the Reunion died out.
The Alaunt was a popular dog breed that spread from Central Asia to Europe in the 17th century. They were large, short-haired dogs with different head types. In fact, the Alaunt was used to breed Molossus dogs in 1200 BC.
In France, the Alaunt eventually grew into three different breeds: the Alaunt Gentil (a greyhound-like dog), the Alaunt Veantre (a hunting dog) and an Alaunt de Boucherie (a mastiff-like dog). It is unclear how these dogs died out, although many believe that they were bred out of existence.
The Celtic Hounds were several breeds of dogs that date back to Gaelic Ireland. These elusive breeds were described in Irish legends and have very little known about them. Surviving art depicts them as appearing similar to a Greyhound and Irish Wolfhound.
Depictions of Celtic Hounds are found on jewelry dating back to the 17th century. They symbolizing hunting and the Otherworld, as they were believed to guide souls to the afterlife. The Tyrolean Hound, Galgo Espanol, and Austrian Black and Tan Hounds are thought to have descended from Celtic Hounds.
Diablo Dogs were the livestock guardians of Sweden. Also called Dalsland Mastiffs, they were bred to protect roaming cattle, sheep, goats, and horses from predators. Historians believe that they became extinct around 1870, as no dogs of this breed appeared during an inventory from 1913.
Descriptions of Diablo Dogs date back to the Icelandic Sagas. They were depicted as large, furry dogs with heavy coats. They usually had dark fur and sometimes sported white spots, similar to a Saint Bernard. Historians theorize that either the Swedish famine of 1867 or the rabies outbreak of 1854 resulted in their demise.
Unlike other extinct dog breeds, this one made a comeback. The Terceira Mastiff was a Portuguese breed that was declared extinct in the 1970s. It is the ancestor to the Fila Brasileiro. According to legend, Terceira Mastiffs were once popular fighting dogs among pirates.
This breed, nicknamed Rabo Torto, was already endangered by the 1880s. In the 1960s, breeders tried to revive it, but couldn’t work it out with government officials. By the time they were declared extinct, there were some individuals left in the Azores. Breeders have attempted to revive the dying breed.
The Fuegian Dog was an early domesticated fox. Also called the Yaghan Dog, it came from a red fox and grey wolf. While there might be some remaining specimens in Chile, this breed is largely declared extinct.
Fuegian Dogs have erect ears, a sharp snout, and a bushy tail. Surviving illustrations suggest that they’re the same size as a Shetland Sheepdog. Although they were domesticated, individuals didn’t remain loyal to their human owners. They weren’t aggressive, but they weren’t companions, either. Historians conclude that they may have been used to hunt otters.
Despite the breed’s name, Lapponian Shepherds didn’t hail from Lappland. They originated in southern Finland and were also called Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphound. In the 1930s, Lapponian Shepherds were created by crossing a Finnish Lapphund with a Karelian Bear Dog.
This breed was officially recognized in 1945. However, because of its declining popularity, Lapponian Shepherds faded into extinction. You can still find traces of their bloodlines in the more popular Finnish Lapphunds. Like the dogs’ ancestors, Lapponian Shepherds had a fluffy, German Shepherd-and-wolf appearance.