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10 Oldest Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team


10 Oldest Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

New dog breeds are being developed all the time. While many of today’s most popular dog breeds are newer, there are also many breeds that are very old. Often, we don’t know exactly when these breeds started, as they came about before the days of registries and kennel clubs.

However, we do have a general idea of when these breeds came about. Below, we’ll take a look at the oldest dog breeds and provide some basic information about them. Many of these breeds are rare, but you can still find them today.

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The 10 Oldest Dog Breeds

1. Basenji

Image By: Pexels

The Basenji is known as the “barkless” African dog. While these dogs don’t bark like other breeds, they are very noisy. Therefore, they aren’t best for those looking for a quiet dog despite them being described as “barkless”.

They’re small, unassuming dogs that were purpose-bred. You can still find them today, however, they are very rare outside of their normal range. They aren’t popular companion dogs, though they are quite friendly. We don’t know exactly when this breed came into existence. However, they’re an ancient breed that has probably been around for thousands of years.

2. Saluki

saluki dog face
Image By: elisabettabellomi, Pixabay

The Saluki is another older dog breed. They look a bit like a Greyhound, and there’s a good reason for that. Like the Greyhound, they are sight hounds, which means they were made to chase down prey. As you might imagine, these dogs are very sleek and fast.

Originally, these dogs were said to have been the companions of pharaohs and kings. They’re renowned for their speed and hunting abilities, which is one reason. They were so popular among royalty in the ancient world. In Western countries, they are quite rare. You can sometimes find them, however, western sighthounds like the Greyhound are much more common.

Saluki are energetic dogs that chase just about everything. They can make good family dogs but they do best with more active families.

3. Shar Pei

fawn shar pei dog sitting outdoor
Image By: taranova oxana, Shutterstock

Moving to another part of the world, we have the Shar Pei. This wrinkly dog comes from China and likely has a history dating back thousands of years. However, like most older dog breeds, we don’t know exactly when this canine was developed.

We do know that they were originally used for hunting and guarding, though. Today, they are still protective companions, which can make them harder to keep as family pets. They require a lot of socialization and training. However, for those looking for a guard dog, the Shar Pei may be a breed to add to the list.

4. Akita Inu

close up of an akita inu chow chow mixed breed dog
Image By: Seregraff, Shutterstock

The Akita Inu is another ancient Asian breed. They’re a powerful, dignified breed that has been around since the Samurai—and probably even longer than that.

Like many Asian breeds, the Akita can be aggressive if not properly socialized. They are naturally territorial, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for in a dog. However, they can be more difficult to keep due to their high training needs.

This breed was originally used for hunting and guarding. Today, it functions mostly as a protective companion animal.

5. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound lying on the sand
Image By: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock

The Afghan Hound comes from the mountainous region of Afghanistan. They have an elegant appearance with a long, flowing coat. We don’t know exactly when this breed showed up. However, we do know that they have been around for thousands of years in one form or another. They were commonly used for hunting large game in the past and may still be used for this purpose today.

It’s challenging to find breeders specializing in this breed, especially in the United States.

6. Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hound
Image By: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

Tracing its origins to ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh Hound is known for its sleek build and distinctive “blush” when excited. This breed was revered by pharaohs and used for hunting. As you might guess, these dogs are sighthounds and were designed to run down larger prey. They’re pretty rare in Western countries, like most of the dog breeds on this list. However, you can occasionally find breeders that specialize in them.

These dogs are very energetic and purpose-driven. They chase just about anything, so they usually aren’t good in multi-pet homes.

7. Basque Shepherd Dog

This ancient breed comes from the Basque region of Spain, hence the dog’s name. As you might guess, this breed was developed to herd and guard livestock. They have a very strong work ethic and herding ability.

This breed was never bred to be a companion animal. Therefore, they do best when given a job to do. They’re very energetic and intelligent, so they can easily become bored in your average home. However, they are one of the best shepherd dogs out there.

8. Tibetan Mastiff

beautiful Tibetan mastiff
Image By: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

As the name suggests, Tibetan Mastiff is from Tibet. They have a long history of guarding and herding livestock in the region, which is very mountainous and can be quite dangerous. Therefore, they are very hardy dogs, as you might expect.

Their imposing size and thick coat can make them quite intimidating. They are sometimes used as guard dogs, though they do best with livestock. Many people use them as farm dogs in tougher climates. We only recommend these dogs for experienced dog owners, as they are imposing, big, and protective. These traits can make them harder to handle.

9. Newfoundland

a drooling newfoundland dog lying on the grass outdoors
Image By: JRJfin, Shutterstock

Hailing from Newfoundland, Canada, these dogs date back to the 18th century when they were developed as all-around water-working dogs. They’re very large and powerful swimmers, allowing them to excel at water rescue. Today, they’re still trained and utilized for this purpose.

These canines are very hairy, as you might guess. Their coat is water-resistant and helps them stay dry. They have a natural love for water, but they still have to be introduced to it at a young age. Otherwise, water can be a bit unknown and scary.

We know a bit more about this breed’s history, as they were developed a bit sooner than the others on this list. However, at hundreds of years old, they’re still one of the older dog breeds out there.

10. Shiba Inu

shiba inu dog sitting on grass
Image By: Maks Akinin, Shutterstock

Native to Japan, the Shiba Inu is one of the oldest and smallest Japanese breeds. It’s known for its fox-like appearance and spirited personality, often used for hunting small game. This breed is fairly similar to others that are from Japan. They’ve been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. We don’t know exactly when they appeared on the scene, like most of these older breeds.

Originally, these dogs were bred to hunt small game, like rabbits. They did this on difficult, mountainous terrain, so they’re very sturdy dogs. To this day, they still have a strong prey drive and tend to chase small animals.

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Summing Up

There are many ancient breeds of dogs still around today. In the past, there were probably hundreds of different breeds that were developed for different purposes in different areas. However, many of these breeds were sadly lost. Often, they transformed into a newer breed or were out-competed by a different dog breed.

Luckily, though, we still have some ancient breeds that we can enjoy today. Dogs like the Akita and Shar Pei show us just how different dogs can be, especially if you’re more used to Western-style canines.

Many of these older breeds are very purpose-driven. They weren’t originally created to be companion animals, unlike many of the breeds around today. Therefore, you should ensure you can meet their needs before adopting one, as they tend to be more high-maintenance than more modern breeds.

More Exotic Breeds to Check-Out:

Featured Image Credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock

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