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Did you know that a genetic study of dogs identified ancient breeds that could be traced to a small population of grey wolves in Asia 15,000 years ago? Researchers think that as few as three females gave rise to the modern dog population, similar to the human “Eve” identified by genetic research.
What are the most ancient dog breeds, and what makes them so unique? Here are the oldest dog breeds out there. Note: these are randomly arranged.
The breed originated in China and is said to date back to the Han era (206 bc-ad 220). It has quite a lot of genetic similarities to the wolf, which by simple deduction, would put them nearer to the ancient doggy ancestors.
This ancient breed has been said to have originated in China from about 200 BC. They are domestic dogs and were originally used for hunting and guarding but became famous as a fighting dogs following the entrance of bigger breeds from the West.
This breed is regarded as an independent dog and was created to hunt wild boar, safeguard farmers' livestock from predators, and protect its master's home.
The precise time in which the Akita Inu originated is uncertain; however, archaeological finds indicate that a dog named the Matagi-Inu, which is thought to be the Akita's ancestor, lived between 8,000 B.C. And 200 B.C.
Akitas are regarded both as great companions and as excellent guard dogs. They are known to be gentle and easily trained.
The Shiba, an old Japanese breed, is a small yet well-muscled dog that was previously used as a hunter. The energetic, good-natured Shiba has become on of Japan's most popular companion dogs.
The Basenjis have been documented as long back as 4000 BCE. These dogs were bred to be hunting partners between the Congo Basin and South Sudan in Central Africa.
Basenjis are excellent household pets; this breed was previously largely employed for hunting small game and controlling rats in villages. They don't even bark but yodel instead.
Siberian Huskies descended from a Siberian lineage that was already well-established even 9,500 years ago. They've been vital to the survival of the natives in the Arctic region ever since.
This dog was named after the Mahlemut people, a historic tribe who traveled from Siberia to Alaska between 2000 and 3000 years ago. This places malamutes among the few oldest dogs in the world.
This massive dog can weigh up to 85 pounds. This old breed is still used as a hunting dog and as a sled dog for moving large things, traveling, or more recreational sledding these days.
The Afghan sighthound is an ancient breed as quick and strong as any other sighthound breed, and it was developed to hunt antelope and, some claim, leopards. Afghan hounds are closely related to the Salukis.
The richly coated Lhasa Apso has been around for a thousand years. They guard remote palaces and monasteries in the Himalayas as sentinel dogs. Lhasas are complex, intelligent, and self-assured. However, they are typically reserved around strangers.
For generations, Pekingese dogs were raised to be the cherished pets of the Chinese imperial family. These shaggy dogs are still cherished household pets and show dogs today, bowing respectfully to everyone they encounter.
They've also often been referred to as "lion dogs" due to their similarity in appearance to Chinese lions, thus adding to their reputation. They gained a worldwide reputation with the coming of the Brits to China.
The Saluki dog breed is currently holding the world record as being the oldest there is. The Saluki has been documented archaeologically for at least 5,000 years.
This breed has a long and ornate history, tracing their remains to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Sumerians, and Persians. It's a favorite among royals due to its great hunting abilities alongside its graceful disposition.
With a history dating back more than 5,000 years, Samoyeds are among the world's oldest dog breeds. The name is a hunch to its origins, the Samoyedic people of Siberia, who bred them specifically to help with the workload.
Their exact age is quite hard to determine, but many experts agree that it has spanned for several centuries, as shown by their integral part in the Samoyed's culture. They gained popularity in the 19th century due to the arrival of European expeditions in the Arctic.
The Shih Tzu is a medium-sized dog breed and has been documented for at least 1,000 years. The breed's ancestors date even further back, namely the ancient Tibetan Terrier and Lhasa Apso breeds.
It is unsure what exactly is the reason what they were bred for, but what is undeniable is the fact that these little fur babies are some of the cutest pups out there!
They originated in the "Lost Valley" region of Tibet. The Tibetan Terrier has been around for almost 2,000 years. This breed was thought to bring good fortune to its owners and was never sold or bred with other breeds as a result.
Contrary to its name, it's not actually a terrier but more of a versatile and ancient dog breed. They were highly valued by Tibetan monks and herdsmen, serving as both good luck charms and working companions.
Most of these oldest dog breeds originated in Asia. Scientists think that the oldest Asian breeds arrived in Africa and the Arctic via human migration, noting that both canine and human DNA provide clues to human migration patterns.
While a few of the breeds on the list were bred as companion dogs, most were working dogs, performing tasks like guarding, hunting, and pulling sleds.
The majority of today’s other dogs were developed relatively recently (hundreds of years ago instead of thousands), mostly in Europe.
So the next time you see an example of one of these ancient dog breeds at the dog park or walking down the street (or in your own living room!), you’ll be looking at a dog with genetic fingerprints most similar to wolves, even if some of them don’t look much like wolves anymore…Pekingese, we’re talking to you!
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The oldest breed which still exists today is generally considered to be the Akita, a beautiful dog breed native to Japan.
Whether there is an even older dog breed to Akita remains unknown, as ancient records regarding canines are quite incomplete.
Currently, the oldest dog in the world is Bobi, a cute Portuguese dog. He recently celebrated his 31st birthday.