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The 11 Oldest Dog Breeds in the World

A painting of a dog standing in the desert.

Dogs are known as man’s best friend, and for good reason. They have been loyal companions for humans for thousands of years.

Over time, different breeds of dogs have been developed, each with their own unique characteristics and traits.

Some of these breeds have been around for centuries, and even millennia, making them some of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

These ancient breeds have a rich history and have played important roles in human society throughout the ages.

From hunting and guarding to companionship and even as sacrificial animals, these dogs have been an integral part of human life.

But what makes these breeds so special? What sets them apart from other, newer breeds?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the oldest dog breeds in the world and learn about their fascinating histories and characteristics.

Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound is a breed of dog that is believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

This majestic breed is known for its flowing, silky coat and regal appearance.

According to Wikipedia, the Afghan Hound is a basal breed that predates the emergence of modern dog breeds in the 19th century.

It is most closely related to the Saluki, another ancient breed of dog.

Afghan Hounds were originally bred in Afghanistan to hunt game, such as deer and wild boar.

Afghan Hounds are known for their elegance and grace.

They have a thin build and can run up to 40 miles per hour, making them excellent sighthounds.

This breed is also known for its endurance and can run for long distances without getting tired.

One of the most distinctive features of the Afghan Hound is its coat.

This breed has a long, flowing coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition.

Afghan Hounds come in a variety of colors, including black, cream, and red.

Akita Inu

The Akita Inu is a Japanese breed of dog that is thought to be around 10,000 years old [1].

They are a powerful and loyal breed that were originally used for hunting in ancient times, and later as guard dogs by the samurai class in feudal Japan.

The Akita Inu has a short double coat that is similar to that of many other northern spitz breeds [2].

They are known for their bear-like appearance, with a broad head and a powerful jaw.

One interesting fact about the Akita Inu is that they are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners.

They have been known to wait for their owners for hours, even days, at train stations and other public places [2].

This loyalty has made them a popular breed in Japan and around the world.

Another interesting fact about the Akita Inu is that they are known for their stubbornness.

They can be difficult to train and require a firm and consistent hand [1].

However, with proper training and socialization, they can be excellent family pets.

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The Basenji is a unique dog breed that is known for its intelligence, independence, and distinctive yodel-like bark.

It is often referred to as the “barkless dog,” but that is not entirely true.

They do not bark like other dogs, but they make a range of sounds that are unique to the breed.

Basenjis are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, with a history that can be traced back to ancient Egypt.

They were used as hunting dogs and were highly valued for their speed, agility, and intelligence.

These dogs are small to medium-sized and have a short, fine coat that comes in a range of colors, including black, red, and brindle.

They have a distinctive curled tail and upright ears that give them a regal appearance.

Basenjis are known for their stubbornness and independence, which can make them challenging to train.

They are also highly intelligent and require plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

Despite their independent nature, Basenjis are loyal and affectionate with their owners.

They are great with children and make excellent family pets for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to train them properly.

Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei is believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, with a history that dates back over 2,000 years.

This fascinating breed is known for its distinctive appearance, with loose, wrinkled skin that served as a natural defense against predators in its early days.

Originally bred for various purposes, including hunting, guarding, and herding livestock, the Shar-Pei is a versatile and intelligent breed.

They are steadfastly loyal to family, but standoffish with strangers, making them excellent watchdogs.

One of the defining features of the Shar-Pei is its deep wrinkles, which are often the subject of jokes and memes.

However, it’s important to note that not all Shar-Peis have excessive wrinkles.

A traditional, less wrinkled form is maintained in Hong Kong, where the breed originated.

The Shar-Pei has physical characteristics that make it a unique and interesting breed. For example, its tongue is blue-black, which is a rare trait in dogs.

The breed is also prone to certain health issues, such as skin problems and hip dysplasia.

However, with proper care and attention, Shar-Peis can live long and happy lives.

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is a breed of dog that has been around for over 2,000 years.

They are believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

This breed is known for its distinctive blue-black tongue, which is a unique trait among dog breeds.

Chow Chows are a medium-sized breed that can weigh anywhere from 45 to 70 pounds.

They have a thick, fluffy coat that can be either smooth or rough.

Their coat comes in a variety of colors, including red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.

One of the most interesting things about Chow Chows is their personality.

They are known for being independent and aloof, almost cat-like in their behavior.

They are also known for their loyalty to their owners and their protective nature.

Chow Chows can be wary of strangers and may be aggressive towards other dogs if not socialized properly.

Egyptian Saluki

The Egyptian Saluki, also known as the Royal Dog of Egypt, is one of the oldest known breeds of domesticated dogs.

According to archaeological evidence, the Saluki has been around for at least 5,000 years (1).

These elegant and athletic dogs were used by nomadic tribes to hunt primarily by sight for game animals (2).

They were also considered the favorite companion animals of the ancient Egyptians and were often depicted in tombstones and sculptures (3).

The Saluki is a distinct breed and type that was identified by some historians as long ago as 329 B.C when Alexander the Great invaded India (4).

They are known for their slender build and feathered ears, and their name means “noble” in Arabic (1).

Despite their long history, the Egyptian Saluki remains a relatively rare breed today.

However, those who are lucky enough to own one know that they are loyal, intelligent, and affectionate companions.

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, with a history that dates back thousands of years.

These dogs were originally bred by the Mahlemut tribe in Alaska, who used them for hunting big game and pulling sleds loaded with gear.

Malamutes are incredibly strong and were bred for their strength and endurance, making them ideal for hauling heavy freight as sled dogs.

They are also known for their loyalty and affectionate nature, which makes them great family pets.

According to AKC, Malamutes have a proud history of working and living in extremely harsh conditions.

They are members of the Arctic sled dog breeds and have been used for transportation, hunting, and as a hound.

They closely resemble other arctic breeds such as the husky, the spitz, the Greenland Dog, Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Siberian Husky, and the Samoyed.

Malamutes are known for their thick, double-layered coat, which helps protect them from the harsh Arctic climate.

They come in a variety of colors, including shades of gray, black, and red. They are also known for their distinctive howl, which can be heard from miles away.

Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog breed that originated in northeastern Siberia, Russia.

These dogs were bred by the Chukchi people as sled dogs to pull heavy loads across long distances in harsh weather conditions.

Siberian Huskies are known for their striking appearance, with their thick double coat, erect ears, and distinctive markings.

They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, gray, and red.

These dogs are also known for their friendly and outgoing personalities, making them great family pets.

One interesting fact about Siberian Huskies is that they are closely related to other sled dog breeds, such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Alaskan husky.

A DNA study conducted in 2015 revealed that these three breeds share a close genetic relationship and are related to Chukotka sled dogs from Siberia (Wikipedia).

Siberian Huskies are highly intelligent and energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

They are also known for their strong prey drive and should be supervised around small animals.

Overall, Siberian Huskies are a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and loyal following.

If you’re considering adding a Siberian Husky to your family, be prepared for a lifetime of love, laughter, and adventure!


The Samoyed is a fluffy, white, and friendly dog breed that originated in Siberia.

They are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, with a history that dates back over 3,000 years.

Samoyeds were originally bred by the Samoyedic people to help them hunt, herd reindeer, and pull sleds in the harsh Siberian climate.

Samoyeds are medium-sized dogs with thick, double-layered white coats that keep them warm in cold temperatures.

They have a distinctive “smile” caused by the shape of their mouth and eyes. Their ears are erect and their tails are plumed and curl over their backs.

They have a sturdy build and are well-suited for working in the snow.

Samoyeds are known for their friendly and affectionate personality. They love to be around people and are great with children.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small, toy dog breed originating from Tibet. According to Wikipedia, the breed is believed to be bred from the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso.

The Shih Tzu breed is one of the world’s oldest, with documentation going back at least 1,000 years.

Shih Tzus are known for their long, flowing coats and their adorable faces.

Their hair can grow very long, and many owners choose to keep it in a topknot or a ponytail.

However, their long hair requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling.

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus have a big personality. They are known for being loyal, affectionate, and playful.

They love to be around people and are great with children. They are also known for being stubborn and independent, which can make training a challenge.

One interesting fact about the Shih Tzu breed is that it has been featured in many works of art throughout history.

According to Betterpet, the breed was often depicted in Chinese artwork during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

It was also a favorite of the Dowager Empress Cixi during the late 1800s.

Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier is a breed of dog that originated in Tibet and is one of the oldest breeds in the world.

This breed was originally bred by Tibetan monks to be a companion dog, and they were highly valued for their loyalty and companionship.

Tibetan Terriers are a small to medium-sized dog breed that typically weighs between 20 and 24 pounds.

They have a long, thick coat that can be any color, including white, black, gray, and gold.

Their coat is also hypoallergenic, which makes them a great choice for people who suffer from allergies.

These dogs are known for their intelligence and are relatively easy to train.

They love to play and are great with children, making them an excellent family pet.

However, they can be a bit stubborn at times, so it’s important to be patient when training them.

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