Covering the globe, from Greece to Newfoundland, Brazil to British Columbia, these breeds existed as long ago as ancient Greece and as recent as the 20th century. While it might be troubling to realize these 15 unique dog breeds are permanently in the past, their unique histories are certainly worth contemplating.
In Medieval times, “talbot” was used to refer to an individual hound. But, by the seventeenth century, historical records show it as a specific breed. Credited as the ancestor of Beagles and Bloodhounds, the breed disappeared around the late eighteenth century. Its legacy lives on in the “Talbot Arms,” a name carried by some English inns and pubs.
2. Salish Wool Dog
One of two dog breeds native to the United States, the Salish Wool dog came from what is modern day British Columbia. The tribe had no sheep and would shear the dogs’ coats in early summer to create blankets and other textiles. The arrival of Europeans on the continent is blamed for its extinction, who brought with them sheep, making the breed’s fur less of desirable.
3. Braque du Puy
As the story goes, the Braque du Puy breed was created in the nineteenth century by two brothers, named du Puy, who crossed their Braque Francais dog with a Sloughi, from North Africa. It is most likely that they were actually created by crossing Braques repeatedly with greyhound-type dogs. Braques du Puy were fast, flexible and perfect for hunting.
4. Moscow Water Dog
After World War II, this breed was developed by the Russian army to perform water rescues. However, the temperament of the dog was rather aggressive and it tended to bite sailors, rather than pull them to safety. By the 1980s, the Moscow Water breed became indistinguishable from the Newfoundland and was subsequently categorized as extinct.
The ancient Molossus breed is considered an ancestor of today’s Mastiff-style breeds. Scholars debate its original purpose, some claim it was for fighting, while another faction believes its purpose was for hunting and protecting the house and livestock. While its original purpose may never be known, with mentions by Aristotle and Virgil, this breed certainly made its mark on history.
6. Tahltan Bear Dog
Companions of the Tahltan people, these dogs, as their name suggests, were used for bear hunting. While fierce hunters, their temperament was characterized as gentle.
7. Old English Bulldog
Sadly, this breed was used for bull-baiting and dog fighting in London in the early nineteenth century. The passage of the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835 led to a decline in the cruel sport and also interest in this breed, eventually leading to its extinction.
8. North Country Beagle
Native to the Yorkshire and Northumberland regions of England, the North Country Beagle was a breed of scent hound. Known for its fast hunting abilities and shrill voice, the breed was common for several centuries but disappeared in the nineteenth century, probably as a result of competition from the English Foxhound.
9. St. John’s Water Dog
An early retriever with its origins tracing back to Newfoundland in the sixteenth century, this working water dog is the antecedent of Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, among other breeds. It is also the founding breed of what we know today as Newfoundlands.
10. Dogo Cubano
Also known as the Cuban Mastiff, this was a Mastiff-type dog originating in Cuba. It was used in dog fighting, guarding livestock and tracking down runaway slaves. Its extinction is believed to have been a result of the abolition of slavery in Cuba.
11. Cumberland Sheepdog
The Cumberland Sheepdog was believed to be the favorite breed of Lancelot Edward Lowther, the 6th Earl of Lonsdale. It existed in his family for more than a hundred years, but by the beginning of the twentieth century, the breed was ultimately absorbed by the Border Collie.
12. Paisley Terrier
Bred to be a show dog, Paisley Terriers were characterized by their long, silky coats. The breed was used to develop the Yorkshire Terrier, whose overwhelming popularity led to the Paisley Terrier’s extinction.
13. Brazilian Tracker
The Brazilian Tracker was first recognized by the Brazilian Kennel Club in 1967. Just six years later, as a result of an outbreak of disease and an overdose of insecticide, this hunting breed, likened to the American Coonhound, was already extinct.
14. Alpine Spaniel
Renowned for their thick coats, Alpine Spaniels inhabited the bitterly cold climate of the Swiss Alps. Often used for mountain rescues near the Great St. Bernard Pass, disease wiped out this bread in the mid-nineteenth century. However, modern day St. Bernards are genetic descendents and proudly bear the name of the place of their ancestors.
15. Turnspit Dog
Oddly enough, the Turnspit Dog was bred to complete a household task. They were trained to run on a wheel, called a turnspit or dog wheel, that caused the meat to cook evenly over the fire. As technology progressed, the job became obsolete and the breed went extinct.