Beyond being man’s best friend, dogs are humans’ oldest companions. Scientists believe that dogs are the descendants of wolves that came in contact with hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago. Humans have been living with dogs ever since, breeding and raising them to help with hunting, carrying, guarding, and herding.
Though many have disappeared throughout the centuries, some of the oldest dog breeds are still alive today. If you’d like to share a pet with ancient Chinese emperors, Egyptian pharaohs, or Romans, look no further than this list, which covers the 10 oldest dog breeds in the world. Keep reading to learn all about the oldest dog breeds in existence.
According to paleontologists, the first domesticated dogs may have looked like Basenjis. These dogs can be found in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art and were given as gifts to the Egyptian pharaohs.
Basenjis are smart, graceful, and fast. They have shiny, short coats, curled tails, and wrinkled foreheads, and are known to be cat-like and somewhat hard to train. Famously, these dogs don’t bark.
Elegant and slim, Salukis have been the hunting dogs of kings as far back as 7,000 BC. These beautiful hounds were favorites of Egyptian pharaohs and Alexander the Great.
Salukis are energetic, independent dogs with gentle, dignified temperaments. They’re leggy and strong and may have feathered or smooth coats. They need a fair amount of exercise and can become destructive when bored.
3. Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound predates written history by several thousand years, making its exact origin hard to determine, though we know it originated in modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. These beautiful hounds are independent, regal hunters.
Fast and lean, Afghan Hounds have distinctive silky, long coats and are surprisingly hardy. These mountain dogs have sweet temperaments but can also be stubborn and aloof.
4. Alaskan Malamute
The playful Malamute is an ancient Arctic sled dog, likely descended from the domesticated wolves that crossed land bridges into North America over 4,000 years ago. These tough, muscular dogs can pull many times their weight, as well as help with hunting seals and bears.
Stocky and powerful, these dogs are hard-working and need regular exercise. They’re also affectionate, loyal, and gentle with kids.
Samoyeds are believed to have migrated to Siberia around 1,000 BC. These strong, beautiful dogs originally hunted and herded reindeer, as well as pulled heavy loads across vast expanses of Siberian ice.
The Samoyed’s thick white coat is designed to withstand extremely cold temperatures of at least -60 Fahrenheit. These dogs are also perpetually smiling, a trait that evolved to prevent icicles from forming at the edges of their mouths. Smart and social, Samoyeds have friendly, playful temperaments.
6. Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is an ancient Japanese spitz dog bred to be a versatile hunter. Once restricted to the imperial household, these dogs can be found all over the world and have an important role in Japanese culture, representing happiness and longevity.
Akitas are alert and eager to please, making for excellent guardians. Independent and energetic, these stocky dogs have dense coats and need plenty of exercise. They’re also protective, loyal, and dignified.
7. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is one of China’s oldest breeds, appearing in artifacts from around 206 BC and acting as companions to Chinese nobles and emperors. They worked as hunters and guardians and may even have been a food source in lean times.
The Chow Chow is known to be particularly clean and has a distinctive lion-like ruff and wrinkled forehead. They’re often stubborn, reserved, and dignified, but are also loyal and intelligent.
Strong, distinctive, and independent, Shar-Peis extend back to China’s Han Dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago. These dogs belonged to peasants and worked as hunters, livestock guardians, and herders.
Shar-Peis are often stubborn and reserved, though loyal and calm with their families. These dogs have coarse coats, loose skin, and very wrinkled faces.
9. Siberian Husky
Independent but friendly, the Siberian Husky was originally bred by semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to carry light loads across vast expanses. They’re better known as Alaskan sled dogs, where they arrived in the early 1900s. These endurance dogs can also withstand freezing temperatures.
These agile, energetic dogs need quite a bit of exercise and can run very quickly. They have thick double coats and distinctive almond-shaped eyes that can be brown, blue, or one of each.
The Pekingese is a toy dog bred by ancient Chinese royal families. These flat-faced dogs are affectionate, loyal, and regal, with a unique rolling gait and a lion’s mane coat.
Pekingese are well-adapted to city living and are calm, independent, and alert. Bred to be companions, these social dogs don’t need very much exercise and can be stubborn and reserved.
For thousands of years, humans have raised dogs as companions, hunters, and protectors. From the mighty Husky to the adorable Pekingese, these ancient dog breeds have stood the test of time. We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the 10 oldest dog breeds in the world. Why not adopt a dog your ancestors would recognize?