The World Canine Organization assembled a list of 339 different dog breeds that are agreed upon and recognized internationally. That’s a lot of dog breeds! But what this comprehensive list doesn’t include are the many different breeds that used to be documented, but are now extinct.
You may wonder how a dog breed becomes extinct. It’s generally at the hands of humans. We have either lost interest in preserving a certain breed or we have selectively bred that particular dog breed into a completely new breed. Here are a few interesting dog breeds that are no longer with us.
A slow and methodical tracker, the Southern Hound was one of the oldest scent and tracking breeds ever documented. This big, plodding dog with long legs and a deep voice dates all the way back to the early 1400s. Known for his ability to track trails that had already gone cold, he was an expert (albeit slow) rabbit and deer hunter. As the Renaissance was coming to an end, hunters began to favor faster prey, so fox hunting rose in popularity. Because the Southern Hound was such a deliberate, steady tracker, he wasn’t the best choice for this fast-moving sport. Looking for a speedier dog, hunters began cross-breeding Southern Hounds with quicker, lighter breeds. The result was the beginnings of modern-day scent hounds including Beagles, Bloodhounds and Foxhounds.
Have you seen the movie Because of Winn Dixie? We watched it recently and fell in love with the big, scruffy mutt that played the title role. But wait – was the role of Winn Dixie really played by a mixed breed? Many famous animal actors really are mutts. For instance, the famous Higgins of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame was a rescued shelter mutt, so it’s entirely possible that Winn Dixie was too. Curious, I decided to research it and discovered that he wasn’t a mutt at all. Even though the dog that played Winn Dixie looked like a shaggy, loveable cross between several breeds, he was actually a Berger Picard.
Pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR,” the Berger Picard is a rare French purebred dog whose origins date back to the ninth century. This herding breed is also referred to as a Picardy Shepherd.
The breed was introduced to northern France by the Celts in the ninth century. The Berger Picard became useful for herding sheep and cattle as well as for smuggling tobacco and other contraband across the borders between France and Belgium. In the early 1900s, the Berger Picard was considered a legitimate breed and the first breed standards were written.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about Unusual Cat Breeds. One of the breeds profiled was a hairless cat known as the Ukrainian Levkoy. While unusual, it’s not the only hairless breed in the feline family; there are several others including the Elf Cat, the Bambino, the Peterbald, the Donskoy and the Sphynx.
As unusual looking as hairless cats are, can you imagine what hairless dogs looks like? There is a dog breed called the Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican hairless that is – you guessed it – hairless. This is one of the oldest and rarest dog breeds in existence.
Many modern dog breeds are the result of crossing two breeds or some other type of manipulation by human interference. Xoloitzcuintlis, on the other hand, are considered an original breed shaped by natural selection.
The word Xoloitzcuintli is a combination of the word Xolotl, the Aztec god of fire and the deity responsible for escorting the dead to the underworld, and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. You pronounce Xoloitzcuintli like this: show-low-eats-queen-tlee. The breed is also referred to as the Xolo (show-low).
These unusual looking dogs are thought of as “healing” dogs or “doctor” dogs because people with arthritis or other similar conditions find relief when they cuddle with a Xolo; apparently they give off intense body heat. I’ve even seen Xolo’s referred to as living hot water bottles. They are also said to have the magic of a healing touch, with special abilities to help people with things like rheumatism, asthma and even insomnia. Another otherworldly gift, they are said to have the power to frighten off evil spirits. Read More »
Growing up, I always had my nose stuck in a book, which was usually about the adventure of a dog, cat or some other animal. One book was about a dog described as having wirehairs sticking out around his muzzle, which gave him a grizzly sort of look. It was an old library book, written sometime in the 1940s or earlier, and about the only thing I remember is the breed of the dog. He was an Otterhound, a unique dog originally bred to hunt only one critter.
The exact origin of the breed isn’t known. Britain is where the Otterhound was developed, but it’s believed the breed began in France because of similarities the breed shares with the French Griffon Nivernais in coat type, appearance and conformation. Although a large dog weighing 65 to 125 pounds and standing 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder, the Otterhound has a rough, unkempt-looking double coat with a somewhat oily undercoat and water-repellent outer coat. His feet are large and webbed which helps him do the job he was originally bred to do: hunt river otters.
The earliest writing that mentions the “Otter Dogge” was in England in 1175. William Twici, a 14th century huntsman, described the breed as “a rough sort of dog between a hound and a terrier.” During the early years in England, fisherman had to compete for trout and other fish with river otters that were considered to be vermin. Hunters used terriers to flush otters from dens dug into banks along ponds, lakes and rivers. Once the otter was on the run, packs of Otterhounds followed the animal on land or into the water.
There are some dogs that, when they look at you, their personality just shines from their face. This is true of the Pumi. If you’re looking for an adorable fur baby that is loyal and fun, then look no further. If you want a dog that is intelligent, eager to please and excels in agility and working tasks, then a Pumi also fits that description. This is a truly well rounded breed that makes an excellent pet and a great working dog. Since I’m not a very active person, I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing I’ve only seen photos of the Pumi breed, because I know that if I looked into one of those lovable, expressive faces I would want to take the dog home!
The Pumi is a Hungarian herding breed that originated in the 17th and 18th centuries as an adapted version of the ancestral Puli breed. These dogs were used to herd farm animals including sheep, goats and pigs. They were very versatile and intelligent on the job, being equally useful for gathering, driving and keeping stock within boundaries.
Not a large dog, the Pumi is a square shaped breed, meaning that the height at the withers is the same as the distance from the prosternum to the buttocks. They are typically between 15 to 18 inches tall and weigh between 22 to 29 pounds, with the males being on the larger end of these ranges.
The Pumi has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service classification since 2001, but the breed has been recognized around the world as show dogs, agility dogs and working dogs for many years.
The Dachshund may not look feisty, but this short-legged dog is a badger’s worse enemy. This breed was created to hunt – a job they are extremely good at – and is the only AKC recognized breed that was developed to hunt above and below ground.
The Dachshund is the smallest member of the Hound Group, even though he was bred to go to ground after his prey, like a terrier. In 1874, the Dachshund was recorded as a German Badger Hound in the English stud book, which started a somewhat heated debate – is the Dachshund a hound or a terrier? A breed expert was quoted in 1906 as saying, “That it is used occasionally as a hound in the sense that it follows rabbits and hares by scent as does a beagle, does not alter the fact that it is essentially a dog that goes to earth and is therefore a terrier.”
Dog historian Edward Ash also got in on the debate in 1927 saying, “A Dachshund is, in fact, a terrier with very crooked legs, but possessing in a very great degree both the appearance and fine nose of the beagle.” Needless to say, this breed has fine qualities of both the hound and terrier!
The Dachshund was created in Germany in the early 1600s, but illustrations of dogs with short legs and elongated bodies hunting badgers have been found dating back to the 1400s, and writings from the 1500s mention the “earth dog,” “dachsel,” and “badger creeper.” In Germany, this breed is known as the Badger Dog, and the Teckel. The German word for badger is “dachs,” and “hund” means dog.
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