Oldest Dog Breeds

Oldest Dog Breeds

Oldest Dog Breeds: Basenji, originating from Africa, known for being barkless and catlike. Saluki, dating back to 3,300 BCE, excels in speed and agility. Shar Pei, from China, famous for loyalty and wrinkles. Akita Inu, Japan’s ancient breed, symbolizes courage and dignity. Afghan Hound, pre-dating Christianity, stands out with its regal demeanor. Newfoundland, with its impressive size and swimming skills, makes a gentle family pet. Shiba Inu, originating from Japan, embodies independence and loyalty. Discover more about these ancient breeds steeped in history.


Rarely seen outside its native range, the Basenji is a distinctive barkless African dog with a rich history dating back thousands of years. Believed to be related to Ancient Egyptian dogs around 5,000 years ago, Basenjis display unique catlike behavior and yodel instead of bark. Prized for their versatility as hunters with keen senses, they also possess the extraordinary ability to leap vertically due to their adaptation to the African savanna. Basenjis are known for being clean, odor-free, intelligent, inquisitive, and loyal companions.

Despite their ancient lineage, Basenjis are less common in the US and Europe compared to other breeds. Recognizable by their pointed ears and tightly wound tails, these dogs have retained their distinctive features over centuries. Used for hunting and as pack animals by African tribes, Basenjis have maintained their place in history as a rare and intriguing breed with a special place in the hearts of those familiar with their unique characteristics.


With a history dating back to ancient civilizations, the Saluki breed stands out as a symbol of elegance and speed among dog enthusiasts. Originating around 3,300 BCE, Salukis were highly valued by Arab tribesmen and Egyptian nobility for their exceptional speed, reaching up to 42 mph. These agile dogs excel in various activities such as agility, lure coursing, and jumping.

Origin3,300 BCE
SpeedUp to 42 mph
ActivitiesAgility, lure coursing, jumping
PopularityRare in Western countries

Despite their historical significance, Salukis remain relatively rare in Western countries, where their hunting abilities and graceful appearance continue to captivate dog enthusiasts. This ancient breed requires ample outdoor exercise and thrives best with active families who appreciate their energetic nature and noble demeanor.

Shar Pei

The Shar Pei, a distinctive wrinkly dog originating from China, is renowned for its history of being used for hunting and guarding purposes. This ancient breed’s name translates to ‘sand skin,’ a nod to its unique coat texture. Shar Peis possess a strong, independent nature and are known for their loyalty and protective instincts towards their families.

Their signature wrinkles served a practical purpose in their origins, as they helped protect the dog during fights and hunts. Despite their rugged past, Shar Peis are affectionate and devoted companions, forming strong bonds with their owners. They require early socialization and consistent training due to their strong-willed personalities.

In addition to their protective nature, Shar Peis are recognized for their calm demeanor and low energy levels, making them suitable for apartment living. With their distinctive appearance and rich history, the Shar Pei continues to capture the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide.

Akita Inu

Originating from Japan, the Akita Inu is a venerable breed with a rich history and distinctive characteristics. Believed to be the oldest breed of dog in the world, the Akita Inu originated around 10,000 years ago and was primarily used for hunting large game. Known for its dignity, courage, and loyalty, the Akita Inu holds a special place in Japanese culture and is venerated in its homeland.

With a double-coated fur that provides protection against the harsh winters, the Akita Inu is happiest when tracking or hiking. These dogs exhibit extreme loyalty and are highly protective of their families, making them ideal guard dogs. However, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened, requiring proper training and socialization from an early age.

Due to their territorial nature and guarding instincts, Akita Inus excel in roles where protection is needed, making them valuable companions for those seeking a faithful and watchful four-legged friend.

Afghan Hound

Having originated in Afghanistan, the Afghan Hound is a breed known for its elegant appearance and long history of hunting large game. This majestic breed has captivated many with its striking features and unique characteristics.

Here are some key points about the Afghan Hound:

  • Known as Tazi in its country of origin.
  • Bred for hunting large animals and guarding sheep.
  • Pre-dates Christianity.

With its long, silky coat flowing gracefully as it moves, the Afghan Hound stands out for its regal and dignified presence. Their independent nature adds to their allure, making them a breed of choice for those who appreciate both beauty and individuality.

The Afghan Hound’s popularity is not just due to its looks but also its mellow personality, making them cherished companions for many households. This ancient breed continues to enchant dog lovers around the world with its timeless elegance and charm.

Pharaoh Hound

Continuing the exploration of ancient and esteemed dog breeds, the Pharaoh Hound emerges as a captivating breed with a rich history and distinctive characteristics. Originating from ancient Egypt, this sleek and elegant breed was historically used for hunting purposes.

The Pharaoh Hound is renowned for its striking appearance, with a distinctive blush that appears when excited. Known for its swift and agile nature, this breed was specifically designed to chase down larger prey, showcasing its purpose-driven qualities.

Apart from its physical traits, the Pharaoh Hound is recognized for its energetic disposition, requiring regular exercise to maintain its vitality. With a heritage dating back centuries, this breed has maintained its allure and hunting prowess throughout the years.

Today, the Pharaoh Hound continues to be cherished for its beauty, athleticism, and unwavering loyalty, making it a delightful companion for those who appreciate its unique qualities.

Basque Shepherd Dog

With a history steeped in the pastoral landscapes of the Basque region of Spain, the Basque Shepherd Dog emerges as a steadfast and versatile herding companion. Originating in a region known for its rugged terrain and sheep farming traditions, this breed has adapted to excel in herding duties while maintaining a loyal and protective nature towards its human counterparts.

  • Herding Instinct: The Basque Shepherd Dog possesses a strong innate ability to herd and protect livestock, making it an invaluable asset to shepherds in the Basque region.
  • Agile and Athletic: Known for its agility and athleticism, this breed can navigate challenging landscapes with ease, allowing it to effectively manage and control livestock.
  • Intelligent and Trainable: Renowned for its intelligence and trainability, the Basque Shepherd Dog responds well to commands and is quick to learn new tasks, making it an ideal working companion for farmers and shepherds.

These qualities have solidified the Basque Shepherd Dog’s position as a cherished and reliable partner in the agricultural pursuits of the Basque people.

Tibetan Mastiff

Believed to be the oldest of all Mastiffs, the Tibetan Mastiff originated in Tibet and is renowned for its protective nature. This large and powerful breed requires proper socialization and training due to its guardian instincts.

With an imposing size and thick coat, the Tibetan Mastiff is known for its intimidating appearance, making it recommended for experienced owners who can handle its protective nature.

Divergence time estimates through phylogenetic analysis suggest that the Tibetan Mastiff has been a distinct breed for around 5,000 years.

Historically, Tibetan Mastiffs were used to guard livestock and property in the harsh Himalayan terrain, showcasing their loyalty and protective instincts.

Today, they continue to exhibit their gentle yet territorial demeanor, making them excellent guard dogs.

Proper care and training are essential to ensure that the Tibetan Mastiff remains a well-adjusted and devoted companion in modern households.


Hailing from Newfoundland, Canada, the Newfoundland breed is known for its impressive size and powerful swimming abilities. These gentle giants have a rich history and unique characteristics that set them apart from other dog breeds:

  • Gentle Giants: Newfoundland dogs are renowned for their large size, often weighing between 130-150 pounds. Despite their imposing appearance, they are gentle, patient, and excellent with children.
  • Water Rescue Dogs: One of the most remarkable traits of Newfoundlands is their exceptional swimming abilities. They have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat, making them superb rescue dogs in water emergencies.
  • Loyal Companions: Newfoundlands are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families. They are affectionate, protective, and thrive on human companionship, making them excellent family pets and therapy dogs.

Shiba Inu

Originating from Japan, the Shiba Inu is a distinctive breed with a rich history and unique characteristics that set it apart in the world of dogs. Believed to be one of the oldest Japanese breeds, the Shiba Inu was initially used for hunting small game in mountainous regions. This agile and alert breed stands out for its fox-like appearance, with a curled tail, erect ears, and a confident demeanor.

The Shiba Inu is known for its spirited personality, independence, and loyalty to its family members. They are adaptable dogs but can be strong-willed, requiring consistent training and socialization from an early age. While they are relatively small in size, Shiba Inus have a robust build and a keen sense of their surroundings, making them excellent watchdogs.

Their clean and fastidious nature, coupled with their charming looks, has contributed to their popularity not only in Japan but also internationally, where they are cherished as beloved companions.


In conclusion, the ancient lineage and enduring characteristics of oldest dog breeds such as the Basenji, Saluki, Shar Pei, Akita Inu, Afghan Hound, Basque Shepherd Dog, Tibetan Mastiff, Newfoundland, and Shiba Inu showcase the resilience, utility, and distinct traits that have been prized by civilizations throughout history.

These breeds embody traits like loyalty, agility, and protective instincts, highlighting the enduring bond between humans and their oldest companions in the fascinating world of canine evolution and human-animal partnership.

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