Did you know that dogs have been domesticated since 16,000 years ago? Not as we would typically believe, but they were trainable and did work for their masters much like an ox or horse might. According to Express.co.uk’s research, “Chinese Emperor Ling Ti falls so in love with his dogs that he gives them the rank of senior court officials.”. It was back then in 168 AD that dogs became pets. What are the oldest dog breeds? Scientists aren’t completely sure because of cross-breeding between species for the majority of their existence, but they have a fairly good idea based on DNA, ancient records, and various other theories. Here are nine of the breeds singled out as being the oldest remaining breeds on Earth.
1. Chow Chows:
These puffy protectors hail from Northern China, Mongolia, and Siberia. Their existence has been traced back as far as the 2nd or 3rd Century. Chows have been depicted in pictures with Chinese Emperors and are believed to be the closest relation in reality to Buddhist Temples’ Foo Dogs. Originally used as a working dog, hunter, and protective guardian, Chows are still in existence today and have retained their fierce guard dog skills and immense loyalty quite well.
2. Chinese Shar Peis:
Chinese Shar Peis are believed to possibly be related to Chow Chows due to the geographic location of their origin, which is also China, in addition to their trademark bluish- black tongues and characteristic bone structure. The Shar Pei is believed to have been primarily used as a guard dog, herder, and hunter back in and around the 13th Century while some believe that it was trained as a fighter at one time as well. Its interesting coat and characteristic wrinkles are what sets it apart from other breeds, but it is also known for its need to be independent, and this can make it a hard dog to train. Much like Chows, Shar Peis are sometimes overprotective and can pose a threat to anyone who is unfamiliar or irritating to an animal who is not properly trained and supervised.
3. Tibetan Terriers:
Kept by Lamas in Tibetan Monasteries for several Millennia, Tibetan Terriers are actually a type of Apso as opposed to a Terrier. They were only named such due to their uncanny resemblance to European Terriers. These shaggy companions were always considered good luck, and were excellent at protecting the homes of masters. The Tibetan Terrier remained largely purebred for at least 2000 years, which was due to them being so isolated from other animals. As such, and much like with royal dogs in China, they were given as gifts.
4. Shiba Inus:
Considered to be the smallest of Japanese dog breeds, the Shiba Inu was considered a hunter, and has been around just as long as the Chow Chow (since the 3rd Century at least). This gorgeous animal has a plush double coat of short hair that gives it the ability to protect itself from the elements while keeping somewhat dry. Shibas are still very active, and require exercise in order to stay healthy and happy, which is, of course due to their natural instinct to give chase.
5. Akita Inus:
A close relative to the Shiba Inu, Akita Inus are also from Japan but are quite large in comparison. The Akita has also been around since 3rd Century AD, but was bred to hunt larger game such as bears and wild boar. Akitas are extremely loyal and can be trained well with the proper leadership. One famous Akita in history was the 1920s born Hachiko. The story is that the dog would accompany his master to and from the train station each day. When his master passed away at work, Hachiko continued to come to and from the station each day for nine years after his master’s death. This brought about an annual day of celebration in Japan that honored the faithful Hachiko and a statue in veneration to him and his loyalty.
6. Samoyeds: A classic working dog from Siberia, the Samoyed was a hunter, herder, and general load bearing dog that was commonly used for dog sledding. These fuzzy and energetic dogs have been in existence for the last 3000 years. Samoyeds have been sheared like sheep due to their thick double coats of long and seemingly hypoallergenic hair, and some feel that sweaters made of clippings from its coat are as warm as wool. Samoyeds are very tenacious dogs who can’t escape their genetic tendencies to chase animals and perform duties like herding well because of this.
7. Alaskan Malamutes:
Originating from the northernmost parts of North America such as Alaska and the rest of the Arctic Circle, Alaskan Malamutes have been around for thousands of years and are thought to have been related to the Siberian Husky. These dogs have always been quite hearty due to their geographical origins and have been faithful working dogs for their masters for their entire history. Alaskan Malamutes are currently used as sled dogs and also make great companions.
The Saluki is a very statuesque creature from the hound family. The breed is thought to come from as far back as 10,000 BCE when it was found depicted in paintings in Persia and Sumeria and, later on, in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. The dogs were bred as hunting animals that would go along for the ride with nomadic tribes or with merchants on trading runs over the Silk Road. As with most hounds, the Saluki was said to have been fast enough to hunt down gazelle and are said to be used by wealthy hunters in the area to this day.
9. Afghan Hounds:
These gorgeous long-coated hounds have their origins in the colder areas of Afghanistan, but there are no viable records of how old the breed truly is. The exception is the Afghan Hound’s genetics, which have shown that specific aspects of their DNA is as closely linked as possible to that of wolves. These hounds are excellent at hunting, and are lean and long, giving them the competitive edge on prey when it comes to speed. Interestingly, the first successfully cloning of a dog was accomplished in 2005 with the creation of an Afghan Hound named Snuppy.