The term ‘Man’s Best Friend” is thrown around a lot. While it may hold true for the modern conception of what dogs mean to us, it does canines a massive disservice. Dogs are a reflection of us, and are creatures entirely of our own design. These Dog Breeds From Around The World that are most important till today.
Indeed, some dogs were bred to be ‘Man’s Worst Nightmare’. Breeds like the Molossus were utilized by the Romans to chase down fleeing enemies, viciously goring the weak and the injured. Other breeds helped us hunt, sniffed out delicacies, and even pulled carts for us!
In an age when survival took priority over luxury, dogs were bred like machines are built, designed to be extensions of us and do all those jobs difficult or too tedious for a human to do. They represent thousands of years of genetic engineering, and are arguably one of our greatest achievements as a species.
Dog Breeds From Around The World
1. Asian Dogs – Dog Breeds From Around the World
The Chow Chow has an adorable, fluffy exterior, but don’t be fooled, this thick coat hides a fearsome predator! The Chow Chow is one of the oldest surviving dog breeds known to man, first believed to have been bred in the Mongolian region where its fluffy coat helped it to survive harsh winters.
As a result, Chow Chows are known to be overly protective of their owners, and sometimes have aggressive temperaments, reflecting their close ancestry with their fierce wolf cousins. But as with any dog breed, good socialisation from a young age can mould this breed into a loving family pet.
When most people think of dingos, they think of wild animals, similar to coyotes or wolves. However, the Dingo’s history and current status is slightly more complicated. Genetic analysis of Dingos suggests that they share the same common ancestor as dogs (an Indian or Arabian wolf some 10,000 years ago). They are also quite a late arriving species to the Australian mainland, suggesting that Aboriginals brought the breed with them as tame hunting companions.
Modern day Dingos have a sordid relationship with humans. Many farmers see them as pests to be eradicated. They hunt as wolves do and so can seriously injure or kill livestock. However, a growing number of people seek to further domesticate the Dingo. It is possible to train individual Dingos as family pets or working dogs, though this seems highly dependant on the individual character of the Dingo.
The Chin isn’t named for it’s petite little lower jaw, that’s for sure! Instead, many believe that the name comes from the Qin (pronounced Chin) dynasty, which was the first major Chinese empire. The dynasty that brought us the Terracotta Army also brought us one of the world’s first ‘toy breeds’.
The Chin is an ideal template for what people want in a ‘Toy Dog’. It’s large infant-like eyes beg for attention, and it’s elegant fur coat begs to be groomed. Also it’s ridiculously small and pretty much useless at hunting or fending for itself. The Chin was incredibly popular in Japan, where the families of noble Emperors or Shoguns would receive them as gifts.
2. British Dogs – Dog Breeds From Around the World
King Charles Spaniel
Classed as another ‘Toy Breed’, the King Charles Spaniel shares the petite stature and bulging eyes of the other toy-breed dogs, such as the pug. Indeed, it was these dogs that were actually introduced to Europe during the high middle ages, and themselves evolved into breeds such as the King Charles. This is one of the best Dog Breeds From Around The World.
The King Charles Spaniel first emerged in Europe during the 17th Century. Though the breed is commonly associated with English Monarch, Charles 2nd, there is no evidence that royal breeding was in any way responsible. The King Charles Cavalier is a sub-breed that originated later on, and was designed to emulate the looks of the late, great King. As a result, most modern King Charles Spaniels have flowing, droopy ears, that closely resemble the wig worn by the Renaissance ruler.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The poor Pitbull has had a bit of a bad press over the recent years. The breed is popular with gang members, and several high-profile accidents involving badly socialised terriers attacking children have cemented its reputation. The Dangerous Dogs Act has actually made it illegal to own Staffordshire Pit Bull Terriers in the UK, though the law is widely ignored.
Despite this, Bull Terriers can actually make for affectionate and loyal family pets. The main problem with the breed is down to its hunting instinct. They were historically used as fighting dogs, and took on much bigger animals than themselves, such as bears or bulls. This means that WHEN a Pitbull bites, it is incredibly hard to convince it to let go, as releasing from a bite could actually spell death for the dog if it was trying to take down an animal such as a bear.
However, as with any dog breed, proper exercise and socialisation will pretty much eliminate any aggressive tendencies an animal may have. It is also important to teach kids how to properly handle animals, as many a bite has occurred due to a child pulling on a dog’s tail, or misinterpreting a warning growl for a playful bark.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world’s tallest dog! Standing at over a meter tall, the Irish Wolfhound was traditionally used to hunt wolves, and as a result needed an intimidating presence.
You’d be forgiven then for thinking that Wolfhounds would make good guard dogs. However, they are quiet and friendly family pets, and are more likely to lick a stranger than scare him away. It is important for them to have space to roam though, as with any large dog.
As well as being one of the world’s largest dogs, Wolfhounds are also one of the shortest-lived. The average Wolfhound only lives for around 7 years, as bone and stomach disorders are serious problems for large dogs.
3. American Dogs – Dog Breeds From Around the World
The Cheeky Chihuahua, master of handbags. The Chihuahua is named after the region of Mexico from which it originates, and is unsurprisingly the world’s smallest dog breed. This comes with all sorts of complications, the biggest being the Chihuahua’s struggle to give birth to live young. The breed is so small that a C-section is often required for this, in order to ensure the safety of the mother and her pups.
Chihuahuas ooze attitude, and anyone who has dared to dip into a fashionista’s handbag knows how… temperamental they can be. A rather grumpy outlook on strangers and other dogs probably comes from being so small, the Chihuahua lives in a world where most things are bigger than it, and so feels the need to project aggression in order to protect itself and its owner
The humble lab is the most popular breed on the American mainland, and for good reason. They are fun-loving and energetic family pets, and can’t help but look like they are grinning every time they glance in your direction.
The Labrador is named after the region in Canada where the breed is first distinguished. The lab is an evolution of the St. Johns, which also appears on our list. Both were originally bred as ‘gun dogs’, and were tasked with retrieving game that had been shot by a human hunter.
Labradors specialise in retrieving water-fowl, and as a result are natural swimmers. Their feet are slightly webbed, and their mouths are soft so they don’t crush any game they might be retrieving. Any lab with free access to a stick and a river is one happy pooch.
It’s weird to think of dogs as beasts of burden. Sled dogs are some of the last ‘working dogs’ on the planet, along with sheep dogs and guide dogs. The Alaskan Malamute is one such dog. It is heavier and slower than its Siberian Husky cousins, but is also far stronger.
The Alaskan Malamute is an extraordinary breed, with many wolf-like traits preserved. They have a double coat that can be as thick as 2 inches, have a strong urge to hunt smaller prey, and will often yowl instead of bark. Despite these seemingly ‘wild’ traits, they are incredibly prized family pets, and generally do very well with people
4. European Dogs – Dog Breeds From Around the World
Trust the Italians to turn the dog’s incredible sense of smell to the pursuit of the smelliest mushrooms. The Lagotto Romagnolo is translated as ‘Lake Dog’, for its history of hunting water fowl, but the breed is also an incredible truffle hunter!
For those who don’t know, truffles are incredibly pungent mushrooms that grow underground and are used to make a (very expensive) oil. Truffles are often more expensive than gold gram for gram. The Lagotto is an expert in the field of truffle hunting, due to its small size and strong nose.
Once a Lagotto catches the scent of something it’s looking for, it’s very hard to take its attention away from the source of the smell. Many dogs have this ‘sniffing instinct’, akin to a ‘hunting instinct’ or ‘breeding instinct’, which can take complete control over the animal.
The Bloodhound is another ‘scent hound’ with an exceptionally sensitive nose, that first appeared in France during the Middle Ages. Its ancestor, the St. Hubert, was first bred in Belgium by the monks of the St. Hubert, monastery. St. Hubert is the Catholic patron saint of hunting, and the monks were clearly hunting for something relevant to do.
Its modern name comes from England, and derives from the breed’s ability to sniff out the scent of blood on an injured animal. Despite a dark past, the modern Bloodhound is more well-known as a police-dog. Fictional bloodhounds like ‘McGruff the Crime Dog’, have cemented this reputation.
Modern police forces use it as a ‘tracker dog’. It specialises in tracking missing people or escapees over distances of several miles. This is a different role to other sniffer dogs, such as the Beagle, which specialise in detecting illicit substances (such as drugs) over a short distance.
Most of us informally call this breed the ‘sausage dog’. Ironically it was first bred in Germany, though thankfully it’s never made its way into any Frankfurters that I’ve eaten. Its rather cumbersome shape actually once served a practical purpose! Dachsunds were originally bred to hunt small burrowing animals, such as badgers, and so its elongated shape was perfect for fitting down a small hole, and flushing its resident out for a lazy farmer to shoot.
The Dachsund’s unique shape has made it a favourite among dog fanciers. This shape comes at an immense price though. About a quarter of all Dachsunds will develop severe spinal problems at some point throughout their lives. This drastically reduces the dog’s life-span and quality of life, so bear that in mind if you are thinking of getting one.