Dogs have been around for millennia. Records show that the very first dogs that man domesticated lived some 14,000 to 36,000 years ago. These figures remain debatable, of course. But it doesn’t hide the fact that hunter-gatherers were the first humans to tame wolf-like animals to become part of their existence. Some of these dogs live to this very day. Canine organizations call many of these dogs as basal breeds, having genetics that bear close semblance to their original strains. There are also records of dogs unearthed during explorations of ancient human settlements. If you’re curious about the dog breeds that are the oldest in the world, we’re giving you 10.
There’s no mistaking the Afghan Hound with its fine and silky coat. There are anecdotal reports saying this dog has been around since 6,000 BC. This makes the dog one of the world’s oldest breeds. It is also one of the planet’s most aristocratic dogs. It exudes cool elegance that commands respect. It will never follow its human master around the home. Instead, it will laze around or stay in its favorite corner all day long.
But don’t mistake the Afghan Hound’s aloofness with laziness. This dog is a prized courser. It can course a gazelle high up in the rugged terrains of Afghanistan. If not a gazelle that it has its sights on, the Afghan Hound can course hare. It is well-known for its athleticism and speed. Today, however, some of these beautiful ancient breeds can be found in therapy centers, canine rally courses, and in the homes of the affluent.
If you look at the Saluki, you’ll mistake it for the Afghan Hound. Their only difference is that the Afghan Hound has a beautiful, almost-enviable silky coat. The Saluki comes with short coat, but with very distinct feathered ears and tail. Like its Afghan brother, the Saluki is a sighthound, relying on its vision to hunt.
Sumerian wall carvings depicted Salukis as dogs with erect and pointed ears. These wall carvings date as far back as 6000 to 7000 BC. Like all hunters, the Saluki has a reserved demeanor around strangers. It is also a very independent breed and quite difficult to train. This is another aspect of this dog that it shares with its Afghan brethren. Nevertheless, the Saluki is an ancient dog that loves to hunt. It also doesn’t mind a more laid-back lifestyle.
From the jungles of the Congo in Central Africa, the Basenji is another ancient dog breed. The earliest records of Basenji-like dogs are from Twelfth Dynasty models and drawings that date back to 2050 BC to 1652 BC. These dogs were prized hunters of small game like rabbits and pheasants, among others.
Like the first two breeds in this list, the Basenji is a sighthound. It is, however, smaller. There is one characteristic that is quite unique to this dog. Instead of eliciting the usual “bark”, it yodels. Come to think of it, the Congo is not an Alpine environment that’s perfect for yodeling. However, the Basenji does it so well that it earned for itself the nickname of “barkless dog”.
The Chow Chow is one of the most unique dogs you’ll ever see in the world. It comes with a Teddy Bear coat that makes it a huggable hound. However, don’t expect this dog to love being hugged. It also features a lion’s scowl, a great characteristic to dissuade potential troublemakers. Its tongue is also unique in that it comes with a bluish black hue. There is another thing you should never forget about the Chow. It is a great all-purpose hound.
This Chinese-bred dog is fully capable of pulling carts, herding livestock, and guarding the home. It is also a reliable hunting partner. There are two theories as to its origins. One is that it has a Chinese ancestry that dates as far back as 2 millennia ago. And then there is the theory that this dog originated from the Arctic regions of Asia some 3,000 years ago. Whichever theory you would like to believe, the Chow Chow remains one of the world’s oldest dog breeds.
It is not clear when the Akita Inu first appeared in Japan. What people know is that it is a very ancient breed. Verbal and written Japanese history put the Akita to as far back as 8000 BC. This puts it as the oldest breed in our list.
What makes the Akita Inu so endearing both to its native people and to the rest of the world is its unmatched loyalty. The story of Hachiko is testament to the dog’s unquestionable loyalty. But if you think this is the only trait that is remarkable in this Japanese national treasure, you’re wrong. It is an independent breed and one that is intelligent, too. It takes patience and skill to train an Akita. But once you’ve earned its trust, this is one dog that will never say goodbye to you.
Chinese Shar Pei
The Shar Pei is another ancient breed that’s known for its blue-black tongue like the Chow Chow. It also comes with deep wrinkles that make it look like a mastiff. The Shar Pei is a very stocky breed. Like the Akita, the Shar Pei is also very loyal to its human family and is suspicious of strangers. It has a very independent streak. It is not suitable for those who don’t know how to train such a breed.
Shar Peis have their origins in the Chinese province of Guangdong. Fans of the breed say the dog may have existed as early as 206 BC. The ancient Chinese bred Shar Peis to help them in the hunt for wild boar. Its loose skin helped it to fend off aggressive maneuvers by wild boars.
The Samoyed looks like a giant Japanese Spitz. It can stand up to 22 inches at the shoulder and can live up to 13 years. Like the Japanese Spitz, the Samoyed only comes in white. It is a herding dog bred by the Samoyedic inhabitants of Siberia. As these people kept reindeers, Samoyeds helped them in their herding chores.
It is possible that the Samoyed may have been around since 1000 BC. This breed of dog is well-known for its happy expression and friendly disposition. It has the friendliness of a Golden Retriever, making it ideal playmates for children. While they make poor guard dogs, Samoyeds make excellent watch dogs.
It may not be as fast as the Siberian Husky, but the Alaskan Malamute can haul heavy cargo with relative ease. This dog is well-known for its strength and endurance. It thrives in the harsh winter of the Alaskan wilderness and the Arctic regions.
The Malemiut Inupiaq people bred the dog some 1,000 years ago. It shares a genetic relationship with the smaller and faster Siberian Husky. While its work ethic is unquestionable, its love of people is something that is more admirable. There are stories of Malamutes serving as warmers for human children. Their dense double coat serves as an insulator against the freezing temperatures of the Alaskan wilderness. Young children would cuddle close to the Malamute and the dog would oblige. It keeps these children warm as if they were its own children.
One look at the Peke and you’ll know this is no ordinary lap dog. In fact, it is a favorite among Chinese Emperors and their members of the royal court. They’ve been around since 2000 BC and very little about this dog has changed. It remains affable and affectionate. However, do take note that it doesn’t like very young children as they can get rowdy. As such, Pekes prefer older children who know how to respect the dog’s dignity.
The Pekingese has a self-esteem that is bigger than its size. Some individuals look at it as ill-tempered, selfish, and spoiled. What they don’t realize is that it has a very vigilant nature. This makes the Peke a worthy watchdog to have in the home.
Don’t be fooled by the demure looks of the Lhasa Apso. This ancient breed may have the dignified look of a Tibetan monk or a Chinese Emperor, but its mischievous streak is second only to that of Loki. Like the Pekingese, the Lhasa Apso has a very suspicious nature. They are very curious and will study a person first before deciding whether to accept him or not. This is something that is already ingrained into its genes. After all, this is the primary purpose of the Lhasa Apso.
Tibetan Buddhist monks bred the first Lhasa Apso some 2,000 years ago. However, there are also unverifiable reports that say the dogs have been around much earlier – as early as 800 BC. Whatever the case, the Lhasa Apso is one of the world’s oldest breeds of dogs.
Very little has changed since these dogs were first bred several millennia ago. To this very day, these breeds of dog remain true to their ancestors’ remarkable heritage.