Dogs have been man’s best friend for the past 40,000 years. As our societies have changed and grown, so have our canine companions. Along the way, we have lost many dog breeds. Fortunately, not all have been forgotten and lost to time. In fact, many extinct dog breeds played pivotal roles in history and have contributed to the dog breeds we have today.
15 Extinct Dog Breeds
Extinct breeds of dog can be difficult to describe when there are few records left. Luckily for us, not all extinct dog breeds have been completely lost to time. Through paintings, ancient texts, and sculptures, extinct breeds of dog can be re-imagined and appreciated by us today.
The Alpine Mastiff was a Molosser breed originating from Northern Europe before 500 B.C. This surpasses the modern English Mastiff and Saint Bernard. In fact, the Alpine Mastiff was the progenitor of the Saint. Bernard. It was also a major contributor to today’s English Mastiff.
At the time, the Alpine Mastiff was one of the earliest breeds to reach truly gigantic size. The largest Alpine Mastiffs may have been over 1 meter (39 inches) tall at the shoulder and weighed more than 350 lbs.
In 1829, a light brindle dog of the breed was described. A writer in 1847 described the Alpine Mastiff breed as large and powerful, short-coated, deep-jowled, and fawn-colored. Earlier on, another depiction in 1820 presented the breed as broad and short with a blunt muzzle. Between 1835 and 1845 an engraving as issued from a portrait of an Alpine Mastiff. In addition, the dog stood 31 inches at the shoulder and measured 68 inches from nose to tail. Its coat was a tawny red color.
The Alaunt was bred by the Alani until the 17th century. The Alani were an Iranian nomadic pastoral people who were excellent warriors, herdsmen, and breeders of dogs. Subsequently, Alaunt dogs were renowned for their excellent work as large-game catch dogs, guard dogs, and war dogs.
These fierce dogs influenced many breeds in England, Spain, France, and Portugal and the “Alaunt” name became synonymous with a type of working dog rather than one specific breed. For example, in France, the Alaunt was separated into three categories based on the duties it performed: the Alaunt Boucherie, Alaunt Gentile, and Alaunt Veantre.
Alaunt dogs were large with short coats. Also, they typically had long and broad heads. Some resembled our present-day Dogo Argentino or Caucasian Shepherds, except they had short hair and a mesocephalic head. Not much else is known about these extinct dog breeds.
English White Terrier
The English White Terrier was developed in the early 1860s in Great Britain. Breeders of terriers were eager to create a new breed deriving from the prick-eared versions of white working terriers. Later on, these dogs developed into the Jack Russell Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, and Fox Terrier.
In the end, the UK Kennel Club decided that the English White Terrier was not distinctive enough to be classed as its own breed. Moreover, the English White Terrier’s genetic problems made it unpopular. Not only was the breed fragile, but it was subject to total or partial deafness. Within 30 years of arriving on the Kennel Club scene, the prospective breed became extinct.
English White Terriers were bred with a close, short, and pure white coat. Colored markings were considered a disqualification. The flesh and muscles were to be “hard and firm”. Dogs of the breed should weigh 12 lbs to 20 lbs.
Old Spanish Pointer
The Old Spanish Pointer, or Perro de Punta Español, originates from Spain and is said to be the ultimate ancestor of all pointing dogs. Old Spanish Pointers were brought to England around 1700. The pointer was crossed with Greyhounds and Foxhounds to create today’s English Pointer.
Similarly, the German Shorthaired Pointer was created using the Old Spanish Pointer, Bloodhounds, and other German hounds. It may have also been involved in the development of the now-extinct Braque du Puy, as the Braque Francais originates from the Old Spanish Pointer.
The Old Spanish Pointer weighed between 55 and 65 lbs. Its average height was 23 to 26 inches. Over time, the breed was developed for more speed and endurance. This was achieved by crossing the Old Spanish Pointer with foxhound breeds. The pointer’s ribs became more rounded to allow for greater lung capacity. The ears became finer, the nose more square and the nostrils more open.
Blue Paul Terrier
The Blue Paul was a Scottish breed that became extinct in the early 20th century. It is thought to have been a bull and terrier cross, descending from Bulldogs and terriers in Scotland with other dogs mixed in too. The breed was popular in the 19th century. Unfortunately, this breed was used for its great strength and courage, considered as experts in tactics that made them more enjoyable in dog fights.
To illustrate their appearance, Blue Paul Terriers weighed around 45 lbs and their height is unclear. Some state that the breed stood at 36cm, while others suggest that it stood as tall as 51 cm at the shoulder. Its head was large and its forehead flat but not receded like the Bulldog. The ears were small and high-set, usually cropped.
Argentine Polar Dog
The Argentine Polar Dog was developed by the Argentine Army and went extinct in 1994. The goal was to develop a breed that was capable of carrying loads over long distances and was easy to maintain. Above all, they had an excellent sense of direction and were reliable in rescue work. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty invoked to remove the breed from Antarctica by April 1, 1994. Subsequently, all Argentine Polar Dogs were moved to Argentina.
After working continuously in Antarctica without contact with other dogs, the breed lost its natural immunity to common diseases. Only two dogs from the first group survived after the move, which sadly puts it on our list of extinct breeds of dog today.
Argentine Polar Dogs had a distinct appearance. Males weighed 132 lbs and females weighed 115 lbs. They had a triple coat and a subcutaneous adipose layer 2cm thick. This allowed them to work in temperatures of -70°C to -89.2 °C. Unfortunately, whilst they were bred to be loyal to humans and well-adapted to the cold, the breed was prone to inter-dog aggression. Most deaths were caused by fighting between the dogs.
Tweed Water Spaniel
The Tweed Water Spaniel was bred in England and went extinct in the 19th century. A type of water dog, the Tweed Spaniel may have been developed by crossing St. John’s water dog with local water dogs. The dogs were known for their intelligence, sporting ability, and courage.
By the end of the 19th century, Tweed Water Spaniels were gradually replaced by the Golden Retriever. The main pairing from which the Golden Retriever descended was between a Wavy-coated retriever and a Tweed Spaniel. The resulting puppies were yellow. This led on to the development of the Golden Retriever.
Similar to the Irish Water Spaniel, this breed had a long tail and a curly liver coat. It was distinguishable from the Irish Water Spaniel by its heavier muzzle and more pointed skull. The forelegs were feathered. Its hind legs were not. Tweed Water Spaniels were the size of a small retriever.
Braque du Puy
The Braque du Puy was bred in Poitou, France, in the 19th century. The story goes that two brothers named du Puy crossed a Braque Francais with a Sloughi to create the Braque du Puy. It was developed to be fast and flexible, making it the ideal hunting companion. While it was once relatively popular, the Braque du Puy never achieved the fame of the other French Braque breeds. It is now considered to be extinct, but some fanciers suggest that the extinct dog breed lives on in remote regions of Europe.
Color of the Braque du Puy was typically white with liver or orange markings. The breed was a medium to large size. It was known for its refined and sight hound-like appearance. The breed was said to reach 63 to 68 cm at the withers. Its weight was between 48 and 61 lbs. This is one of the lesser-known extinct breeds of dog and not much information exists about its appearance.
The Chien-gris was bred in Medieval times in France. The breed was a scenthound. It formed part of the royal packs of France. From 1250 to 1470 the packs were composed exclusively of these hounds. The true origin of the Chien-gris is unknown – according to King Charles IX, the breed was given to Saint Louis as a gift during the Crusades. Old writers offer different accounts, suggesting that the Chien-gris originates from Tartary, a historical region in Asia. It is thought that the breed became extinct by the 19th century. This was due to crossbreeding and the effects of the French Revolution on hunting.
As their name suggests, Chien-gris dogs were gray on the back with the forequarters and legs red or tan. Their coats may have been rough, but it is not clear if these accounts were the result of interbreeding with indigenous French hounds or if they were characteristic of the actual breed. Accounts describe these dogs as medium or large, without a keen sense of smell. Later on, the Chien-gris went on to be the ancestor of modern French rough-coated Griffon breeds.
Bull and Terrier
The Bull and Terrier was a type of dog created between 1860–1870. It became extinct by the end of the 19th century. This cross was created to satisfy the need for vermin control and the taste for blood sports. In England there were several varieties. Only three survived until the 1930s. These types were the Darlaston type, influenced majorly by terrier blood, the Walsall type, influenced by the Whippet, and the Cradley Heath type, the most influenced by bulldog blood. The Cradley Heath type became recognized as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier by 1935.
Around the same time, many people emigrated to America with their bull and terrier type dogs. Over time, the descendants of these dogs grew taller and heavier. The resulting dogs were the American Pit Bull Terrier and its close kin the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The crossing of terriers and bulldogs produced a dog that no longer fell into either of their foundation stock. As the ancestor of all bull-type terriers, Bull and Terrier dogs were stout with muscular bodies. Their exact height and weight are unknown due to how variable their ancestry is.
Cordoba Fighting Dog
Fierce, vigorous, and relentless, the Cordoba Fighting Dog was selectively bred for dog fighting. The breed originated from the city of Córdoba, Argentina. It was made up of the Alano Espñol, Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Boxer, and English Mastiff. Bred solely for fighting, the Cordoba Fighting Dog was deliberately developed to be dog aggressive. Because of this, it’s said that they could not hunt in packs without turning on each other. This is what ultimately led to the extinction of the breed. Soon after the Dogo Argentino was directly descended from this breed.
This fighting breed stood at 25 inches at the withers with a predominantly white coat. In some cases, the dogs had fawn, yellow and red markings predominantly around the head. The ears were usually cropped. Cordoba Fighting Dogs were well-muscled and broad with a wide chest. Overall, the breed’s appearance can be described as a cross between the Boxer and Mastiff.
Hare Indian Dog
Hare Indian Dogs became extinct in the 19th century. The ancestry of these dogs is currently unclear. They may have been a breed of domestic dog, a domestic coyote, or perhaps even a coydog hybrid. Hare Indian Dogs were first bred by the Sahtú peoples (historically called Hareskin Indians or Hare) who live in the vicinity of the Great Bear Lake, Canada. In its time, the breed was kept exclusively by the Sahtú, Bear, Dogrib, Cree, Slavey, and Chippewa tribes.
Accounts suggest that these canines were playful and readily befriended strangers, but they were not extremely docile and disliked confinement. The story goes that the Hare Indian Dog fell into extinction after the introduction of firearms which made its hunting abilities “unnecessary.”
Closely resembling coyotes, Hare Indian Dogs were a diminutive, slenderly-built canine with a small head. Their pointed ears were close together, erect and broad at the base. The coat was long and straight with a base color of greyish black and brown. Some of these canines had black patches around the eyes. In addition, Hare Indian Dogs had long hair between their toes much like a wolf.
The Molossus were dogs belonging to the ancient Greek tribe of the Molossians. The Molossians were renowned for their vicious hounds. Bred to protect livestock, the extinct Molossus dog breed was capable of fighting off wolves, jackals, and brown bears in the mountainous regions of Greece. Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, used these dogs during his campaign against the Romans. It is said that hundreds of these dogs would dig at the bases of Roman walls to make their foundations fragile. These dogs were so revered by the tribe that the Molossians issued silver coinage with the Molossus as their emblem.
Molossian dogs were described by Aristotle as mainly black or fiery in coloration. The Molossus of Epirus is the sole remnant of the extinct Molossus and best represents what the Molossus dogs would have looked like. This breed weighs between 88 and 143 lbs and is 64 to 75cm tall. Its coat is fine and smooth with uniform coloration.
Southern Hounds existed in Britain until sometime in the 19th century. The breed’s origins are equally as unclear. Some writers suggest that the breed was introduced by the Normans, while others argue that it had existed in the country since ancient times. Either way, the breed was common south of the River Trent throughout the 18th century. Further north, however, the Northern Hound and North Country Beagle were favored. Southern Hounds were used until the 19th century but only in conjunction with Foxhound packs – their better sense of smell helped them to pick up cold trails when the Foxhounds lost the scent.
The Southern Hound was a heavy but tall dog. This dog was slow but had great scenting abilities. Its lack of speed but deliberate nature made it useful for hunting game like hare or deer which could not escape to the safety of a burrow or den. In addition, many of our modern hounds are believed to descend from Southern Hounds, including Beagles, Foxhounds, Coonhounds, Harriers, and Bloodhounds.
A most unusual breed, the Talbot was a hunting hound common in England during the Middle Ages with an uncertain origin. It’s also unclear if the Talbot was a scent hound, sighthound or if it was used to dig out quarry. The type of quarry it hunted is also unknown. The name “Talbot” may have been extended to any large heavy white scent hound.
By the 17th century, a clearer breed existed. By then, larger and slower hounds were described as “Talbot-like” and while any color was acceptable, “milk-white” was described as the true Talbot. This breed may have developed into the Northern Hound and Southern Hound and, by the 18th century, the dogs were apparently no more.
A 1445 painted depiction of the breed gives us most of the details we currently know about it. Its depiction shows a small or medium-sized dog. It was white in color with short legs, large feet, long drooping ears, and a very long and curled tail. In addition, it may have been similar to the Bloodhound, as “white” was given as one of the colors of the Bloodhound through the 16th and 17th centuries.
Extinct Dog Breeds – FAQs
Need more information about extinct dog breeds? Our Frequently Asked Questions section should have all the answers you’re looking for!
As well as those described in this article, extinct dog breeds include: Alpine Spaniels, Bandogs, Bullenbeisser, Dalbo Dogs, Fuegian Dogs, Hawaiian Poi Dogs, Halls Heelers, Marquesan Dog, Paisley Terriers and Turnspit Dogs amongst many others. These breeds have gone extinct all across the world, though in some cases, fanciers suggest that some breeds persist in remote locations, like the Braque du Puy.
St. John’s Water Dog was made extinct by a combination of two factors. First, taxes and restrictions were placed on dog ownership in Newfoundland in the 19th century. The main overseas destination of the breed was the UK, which had imposed a rigorous long-term quarantine on all imported dogs.
The last two St. John’s Water Dogs were photographed in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, both of these dogs were male and could not breed. Therefore, the breed quickly fell into extinction.
Hairless dogs as a whole are not extinct. In fact, at least 5 hairless dog breeds persist today, including the Chinese Crested Dog, Xoloitzcuintle, Peruvian Inca Orchid, American Hairless Terrier, and the Ecuadorian Hairless Dog. However, one hairless breed is claimed by some sources to be extinct today. This is the Abyssinian Sand Terrier.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but over the years, humans have been a fair-weather friend to dogs. Dog breeds go extinct for a lot of reasons, but most of them come down to how society has changed, for better or for worse. Some breeds have been completely wiped out because their civilizations were destroyed and peoples persecuted. In addition, others simply fell out of fashion or no longer had a use in society.
The Catalburun (also called Turkish Pointer) is a rare hunting breed with less than 200 individuals as of 2012. Currently, there is thought to be less than 300 Porcelaine Hounds in the US and Canada. Less than 800 Otterhounds are left with only 4 to 7 litters born each year in North America.
Because rare dogs are so uncommon it can be tough to pinpoint just how many there really are. However, thanks to kennel clubs across the world, we do have figures on some rare breeds.
Extinct dog breeds provide insight into the background of our modern-day dog breeds. They also carry a rich history that should not be lost to time.