Extinct Dog Breeds

Due to the enduring popularity of dogs and the abundance of dog breeds in existance today, it may come as a surprise to think that some of our best friends have actually become extinct due to one reason or another. However it is not all bad as many of these lines became extinct after being crossbred to form other breeds. Here are just a few we know of.

Alaunt

Alaunt

The Alaunt is said to have resembled the Caucasian Ovcharka or the Central Asian Shepherd. These dogs were the working companions of the nomads of Indo-European Sarmatian background - the Alani tribes. Much like elsewhere in the world, the Alans bred specific lines for specific purposes, mostly herding, guarding and hunting. After the Alani tribes were conquered by the Huns, many other bloodlines were introduced, leading to their extinction as a breed. The Alaunt de Boucherie, a mastiff-type dog, is believed to be the foundation for many of the molosser dogs we see today.

Alpine Spaniel

Alpine Spaniel

The Alpine Spaniel was a large dog and not typically spaniel-like by todays standards, measuring some six feet long from nose to tail. Possibly the predecessor of the Saint Bernard and the Clumber Spaniel, these dogs were kept in Alpine monasteries where they helped in the rescue of stranded travellers. These clever animals would work in pairs to seek out lost people and would lead the monks back to them.

By the 1830s their numbers possibly began to fall due to the dangerous nature of their work. In 1847 a spreading illness threatend the breed and so a sole survivor was moved out to keep the bloodline going. The Alpine Spaniel was crossed with Newfoundlands to creat the direct foundation of the Saint Bernard. It was then crossed with the Basset Hound to orinate the Clumber Spaniel.

Chinese Happa Dog

Chinese Happa Dog

The Chinese Happa Dog was a short-haired dog much resembling the modern day Pekingese, Japanese Spaniel and perhaps also the Pug. The Happa dog had a wide-legged front stance but was narrower at the rear. While long haired dogs were kept by the nobles in the Forbidden City, it is believed that Happa dogs were kept by lesser ranking nobles.

Dogo Cubano

Dogo Cubana

The Dogo Cubano was a Mastiff-type dog used in Cuba for guarding against runaway slaves, and also for dog fighting. It is thought that the breed was brought over from England in the 1500s. These dogs were known to be driven and fierce. Over time the breed was crossed with Argentine Dogos and few were kept, as slavery was outlawed and they were costly to feed. Gradually they faded into extinction.

English White Terrier

Englsih White Terrier

The English White Terrier was developed in the 1860s by a group of fanciers that wished for a prick eared version of a working white terrier. Unfortunately genetic problems arose in the line, almost all were deaf for example, and so they were unsuited for the task they were bred for, namely working in the fields. The line ran dry in the 1890s but crosses of English White Terriers and English Bulldogs led to the modern Bull Terrier and the Boston Terrier.

Hawaiian Poi Dog

Howaiian Poi Dog

The Hawaiian Poi Dog was a Pariah Hound brought to Hawaii by the Polynesians over 1000 years ago, and they soon became an important part of the native tribe society. Potbellied with flat heads, these poor dogs were considered not too intelligent and were often found roaming around with hogs. They were raised as food for the villagers and were fed a vegetarian diet. However, they were also considered as good luck charm. In time the eating of dogs became taboo and the Poi Dogs were crossbred with dogs coming in with European settlers and so the original breed became extinct. In 1990 the Honolulu Zoo attempted to genetically recreate the Poi Dog, but the project was discontinued after 12 years with little success.

Indian Hairless Dog

The Indian Hairless Dog resembled nude a greyhound and was last seen in the mid 1800s. These dogs wereawere used for hunting game in some of the hottest parts of India. While mostly hairless they did have tufts of hair on the head, feet and tip of the tail. The skin tended to be either grey or red.

Salish Wool Dog

Salish Wool Dog

The Salish Wool Dog was a Spitz-type dog with long white hair, and it was developed and bred by the native people of what is these days called Washington State and British Columbia.

Because the Salish people did not have access to sheep, and gathering wild mountain goat wool was pretty difficult, the fur of the Salish Wool Dog was highly prized for making the famous and rare Salish blankets. It is hard to imagine now but the dogs were sheared just like sheep are now, usually in May or June, and the Ceremonial blankets made from the fleeces were highly prized, being almost as valuable as slaves. The dog hair was often mixed with goat wool, feathers, and certain plant fibres.

Extinction of the Salish Wool Dog began with contact with Europe. Hudson Bay blankets were suddenly available, sheep were introduced, and combined with the decimation of the indigenous population by an influx of European diseases, this signalled the end of the breed. Once kept pure at great lengths (we're talking kept safe on islands or gated caves here), the Salish Wool Dog began to interbreed with other dogs and lose its unique identity, and by 1858 the Salish Wool Dog was considered extinct as a distinct breed. The last dog that could be called a Salish Wool Dog died in 1940.

Tahltan Bear Dog

Tahltan Bear Dog

The Tahltan Bear Dog, despite the imposing name, was a small breed kept by the Tahltan people of British Columbia, Canada. Although they were indeed small, only weighing around 15 lbs, this was a fiery primitive breed that used for bear hunting. Working in teams of two they would taunt and attack bears from both the front and the back, running on top of the snow, avoiding claws and teeth until hunters arrived. While Tahltan Bear Dogs continued to exist upto the 1960s, the dogs seem to lack immunity to common ailments of domestic dogs, and so the gene pool grew smaller and smaller.

Turnspit Dog

Turnspit

The Turnspit Dog was bred for pure hard labour! These poor dogs were kept for running inside wheels that turned meat spits over fires for cooking.

The Turnspit Dog is thought to be the ancestor of the Glen Of Imaal Terrier, and they are descried in the 1500s as being long-bodied with crooked legs, and unfortunately as ugly dogs with suspicious unhappy looks. Hardly surprising considering what they were forced to do! They were normally kept in pairs for working alternate shift rotations. In kitchens where meat was roasted on a daily basis it is thought the dogs worked one day on and one day off, with the other dog taking its turn. It is reckoned the saying every dog has his day comes from this tradition.

By the late 1800s the breed had become extremely rare due to mechanisation becoming more commonplace for turning spits.