13 Oldest Dog Breeds – Some Existed For Thousands Of Years

oldest dog breeds

Research published by Nature indicates that the earliest dogs might have been domesticated 20,000 – 40,000 years ago. Fossil evidence shows that canines were domesticated approximately 14,000 years ago and are descendants of the gray wolf.

Different researchers have declared a few different old breeds of dogs the oldest. Archeological digs produce new information from time to time.

It’s truly amazing how many years these canines have been by our sides. Their jobs have changed, and they are more domestic these days. Dog and human lives have been interrelated for thousands of years.

What’s the Typical Lifespan of a Dog?

PetMD says the typical lifespan of a canine is 10-13 years. If you’d like to figure out your dog’s age in human years, try our Dog Age Calculator, and you can also discover your furry friend’s journey through time with our Dog Life Expectancy Calculator.

Oldest Dog Breeds

1. Afghan Hounds

oldest dog breed
GROUPHound
HEIGHT25-27 inches tall
WEIGHT50-60 pounds
COAT & COLORLong silky hair in black, black and tan, black and silver, blue, blue and cream, cream, red, silver, and white
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-18 years
AGE 8000 years ago

The elegant Afghan hound has a flowing, silky coat. This hunting dog has a thin build and was used as a sighthound to hunt game. The beautiful Afghan hound coat protected them from the elements.

Afghan hounds are energetic and need grooming. They are comfortable in warm and cold climates and can run 40 miles per hour. They like hunting small game like rats. There are many hound dog breeds.

One of the oldest dog breeds, Afghans, were originally bred as hunting dogs to chase large animals like antelope, leopards, and deer and to guard flocks of sheep. Afghans are independent dogs and closely related to the Saluki.

Some people don’t train Afghan Hound dogs because they want their hunting instincts to remain. Researchers think that Afghans originated in Afghanistan, but some believe they are from Egypt in the Middle East.

2. Akita Inu

ancient dog breeds
GROUPWorking dogs
HEIGHT24-28 inches tall
WEIGHT70-130 pounds
COAT & COLORBlack; fawn; red; white; brown brindle; red, black overlay; silver, black overlay; brown, black overlay; fawn, black overlay; red brindle; silver brindle, black; red undercoat, black; fawn undercoat; black brindle; fawn brindle; black, brown undercoat; black, silver undercoat; white, red shading; brown; silver. Their dense fur coat is a double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-14 years
AGE10000 years ago

Fluffy Akitas, one of the ancient dog breeds, are loyal guard dogs. Their cousin, the Japanese Akita from Northern Japan, has a more foxy face, is smaller, and is good with children. The American Akita inu is courageous.

The American Akita inu is also suspicious of strangers, silly, and affectionate, and makes great family pets. The Akita Inu was originally bred to hunt wild boar, deer, and bear in northern Japan.

Akita Inus are excellent guard dogs and happiest when tracking a scent or hiking and love cold climates. Some people think Akitas are the oldest dog breed, but it’s difficult to tell which is the oldest, and genetic research has found evidence that other breeds are older.

The Akita Inu dogs work as therapy dogs and also do police work. They are highly intelligent and will be your BFF and protector.

Akita Inus is a fearless breed. The Japanese Akita is also called the Great Japanese dog. Scientists debate which is the world’s oldest dog breed. Researchers found what looks like Akita remains in Japan’s Kamikuroiwa Rock Shelter site.

Carbon dating put the date of these two canines between 9,200 and 9,400 years ago, long before the origin of many dog breeds on the list.

3. Alaskan Malamutes

what was the first dog breed
GROUPWorking
HEIGHT23-25 inches tall
WEIGHT75-85 pounds
COAT & COLORGray and white, black and white, red and white, seal and white, silver and white, white, sable and white, blue and white, agouti and white. Double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-14 years
AGE2000-3000 years ago

The Alaskan malamute is a big fluff ball. The Alaskan malamute is loyal, affectionate, very intelligent, energetic, durable, strong, and has endurance. The Alaskan malamute can take down big game. Malamutes were bred as sled dogs.

The Alaskan malamute, one of the ancient dog breeds, is also friendly and gentle, and they make great family pets. They are also a great working dog.

They came from northwestern Alaska. The Alaskan malamute was living with the Alaskan Inuit Mahlemuts Tribe near the Arctic Circle on the Bering Sea, and that’s where their name came from, and they got their name.

The Inuit tribe lived by the Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska. Researchers think the malamute crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia with their humans.

4. Basenji

world oldest dog breed
GROUPHound
HEIGHT16-17 inches tall
WEIGHT22-24 pounds
COAT & COLORBlack and white; black, tan, and white; brindle and white, red and white, black, brindle, and white; blue, cream, and white; cream and white; mahogany, tan, and white; sable and white. Short coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY13-14 years
AGE5000-6000 years ago

Basenjis, the oldest dog breed, are loyal and affectionate. The Basenji is also smart and energetic. The American Kennel Club (AKC) calls the Basenji’s bark a “hortle and a yodel,” and they are known as “the barkless dog.”

Basenjis have a catlike personality, and Basenjis are excellent guard dogs. The Basenji was bred from the dogs of ancient Egypt.

A Basenji nickname is “jumping up and down dog” because they leap vertically in tall grasses. The Basenji can’t be left off leash because their hunting instincts are irresistible, and they will bolt after prey.

Basenji enjoys hunting small game. Basenji portraits are in prehistoric cave paintings in Libya that date back to 6,000 BC.

5. Chinese Shar-Pei

what was the first dog on earth
GROUPNon-sporting
HEIGHT18-20 inches tall
WEIGHT45-60 pounds
COAT & COLORApricot dilute, black, blue dilute, lilac dilute, cream, cream dilute, brown, chocolate dilute, red, five point red dilute, red fawn, fawn, Isabella dilute, black sable, cream sable, fawn sable, red sable, blue, white, blue sable, brown sable. Short coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY8-12 years
AGE2200+ years ago

The Chinese Shar-pei is affectionate, protective, and smart. The Chinese Shar-pei has a blue-black tongue. The Shar Pei, an ancient breed, were owned by Chinese farmers and performed the duties of herders, guardians of livestock, and hunters.

Shar pei images were found on ceramics and pottery from the 3rd century BC in ancient China. They have wrinkled skin. They are one of the Chinese dog breeds.

Shar-pei (that’s the singular and plural form of the name) are independent. In addition to hunting, they were known as fighting dogs when larger breeds from the West arrived in China. Their loose skin helped protect them during dog fighting.

They were in the area of Tai Li in China in 200 BC. The breed almost went extinct in the 1940s when communists imposed a big tax on all dogs.

6. Chow Chow

what is the oldest dog breed
GROUPNon-sporting
HEIGHT17-20 inches tall
WEIGHT45-70 pounds
COAT & COLORCream, red, cinnamon, black, and blue. Double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY8-12 years
AGE2000 – 3000 years ago

Chow chows, one of the ancient dog breeds, are affectionate and protective. These fluff balls look like bears and have a blue-black tongue. They have been hunters, haulers, guards, and companions of emperors.

They are aloof with strangers, faithful, excellent companions, and calm dogs. They originated during the Han Dynasty.

With training, they can get along with all family members. They are from northern China and were bred as temple guards. They can be a one-person dog. They have a reputation for being aggressive, but with proper training, they are wonderful pets.

There are so many exotic and beautiful Asian dog breeds. These fluffy dog breeds are the most gorgeous of all (in my opinion), except it’s so sad when they are panting in the hot weather.

7. Greenland Sled Dog

first dog breed in the world
GROUPNorthern
HEIGHT22-25 inches tall
WEIGHT66-70 pounds
COAT & COLORBlack, white, gray, spotted white. Double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY13 years
AGE9,500 years ago

The Greenland sled dog breed was bred for sledding, transport, and hunting. Greenland sled dogs like to work vigorously. Greenland sled dogs live with Eskimos and are hiking companions in Norway and Sweden.

The Greenland sled dog, one of the oldest dog breeds, helps hunt seals and bears. Greenland sled dogs are friendly but need training because they still have their wolf instincts.

They are related to Alaskan malamutes. One source said the Greenland sled dog is the world’s oldest dog breed (9,500 years), according to a genome of a dog sequenced from an archeological site on Russia’s Zhokhov Island.

8. Greyhounds 

most ancient dog breed
GROUPHound
HEIGHT27-30 inches tall
WEIGHT60-70 pounds
COAT & COLORBlack; black brindle; blue brindle; red; red brindle; white; white and black; white and blue brindle; white and red; blue; blue fawn; white and black brindle; white and blue; white and blue fawn; white and red brindle; black and white; blue brindle and white; red and white, black brindle and white; blue and white; blue fawn and white; fawn; fawn and white; liver; liver and white; liver brindle; red brindle and white; white and fawn; white and liver; white and liver brindle. Short coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-13 years
AGE8000 years

Greyhounds, one of the oldest dogs, are affectionate and good with other dogs. The Greyhound is also energetic and smart. The Greyhound has also been the muse of poets, artists, and kings. The Greyhound is sweet and gentle and makes a good guard dog and dates back to ancient Egyptian nobility.

The greyhound is actually mentioned in the Bible. In Proverbs 30:29-31 in the King James Version, three animals are credited for being impressive in their movement: a lion, a greyhound, and a male goat. You know they are ancient if they are spoken of in the bible.

9. Poodle 

the first dog breed
GROUPNon-sporting
HEIGHT15 inches tall (standard)
WEIGHT40-70 pounds
COAT & COLORApricot, black, blue, brown, cream, red, silver, silver beige, white, cafe au lait, gray, black and cream, black and gray, black and silver, black and white, blue and white, brown and apricot, brown and white, black and apricot, cream and white, black and brown, gray and white, red and apricot, red and white, white and apricot, white and silver, black and tan. Curly and dense coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-18 years
AGE2000 years ago

Poodles are affectionate and good with kids. The Poodle is also friendly, playful, protective, smart, and needs mental stimulation. The Poodles are the national dog of France, although they originated as a duck hunter in Germany in the 15th century.

The first Poodles looked like lions. They are one of the most popular dog breeds. They are water dogs, making them helpful during a hunt and able to retrieve from water.

Poodles are intelligent, stubborn, gentle, and energetic. They are very athletic, although people see them at dog competitions and think they are just fancy, not talented and skilled.

A Poodle can do tricks, hunt truffles, or hunt. They are multi-talented and come in three sizes: Toy Poodle, Miniature, and Standard.

10. Saluki

first breed of dog
GROUPHound
HEIGHT23-28 inches (male); females are smaller
WEIGHT40-65 pounds
COAT & COLORBlack and tan; black, tan and white; cream, fawn, golden, red, silve, white, chocolate, chocolate and tan, black, black and silver short. Soft, silky, feathered or smooth.
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-17 years
AGE4000-5000 years

The Saluki is affectionate and energetic. They need mental and physical stimulation. The Saluki, one of the ancient dog breeds, is a strong hunter. They are one of the oldest dog breeds and a sighthound that was favored by Egyptian pharaohs, kings, Egyptian pharaohs, and Alexander the Great.

The Guinness Book of World Records calls the Saluki the oldest dog breed. They like hunting gazelle.

The Saluki is a medium-sized dog from Sumeria. They are great jumpers and like to run around off-leash. Their remains have been traced to ancient civilizations such as the Persians, Sumerians, and Egyptians in the Middle East.

Arab tribesmen also revered them and believed they were a gift from God (called “el hor,” meaning “the noble”). Arab tribesmen adored their Saluki as much as their Arabian horses.

11. Samoyed

what did the first dog look like
GROUPWorking
HEIGHT19-21 inches (female)
WEIGHT35-65 pounds
COAT & COLORWhite, biscuit, cream, white and biscuit. Profuse double coat
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-14 years
AGE3000+ years ago

The Samoyed dog breed is affectionate and friendly. The Samoyed, ancient dogs, are also good with kids, playful, and protective. They guarded reindeer (which their people used for food, leather, and fur) and hunted.

They are known as the “Smiling Samoyed” because the corners of their mouths turn up so they won’t drool icicles.

They were selectively bred to be skilled hunters, sled haulers, and livestock managers in frigid Siberia. The Samoyedic people of Siberia bred them to help with the workload.

They are one of 14 breeds with direct ties to ancient wolves. They are members of the Nordic spitz canine group from Asia.

12. Siberian Husky

world's oldest dog breed
GROUPWorking
HEIGHT20-23.5 inches tall
WEIGHT35-60 pounds
COAT & COLORAgouti and white; black and white; gray and white; red and white; sable and white; white, brown and white; black, tan and white; black. Double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-14 years
AGE4000+ years

Siberian Huskies are affectionate and good with kids and other dogs. Siberian Huskies are also friendly, playful, and energetic. The Siberian husky, one of the world’s most ancient dog breeds, needs to keep their mind stimulated.

They are among the popular breeds and enjoy family life because they are pack animals. They have striking blue eyes and are a moderate size.

The Siberian husky, which is known for sled dog racing in Alaska’s vast frontiers and is an iconic breed, is closely related to the Alaskan malamute but is much smaller than malamutes.

They were first bred in Chuckchi Peninsula.They are highly intelligent. Siberian Huskies are considered dangerous dogs in the world. Did you know that the Siberian Husky is a cousin of the famous American Husky?

They used to pull sleds with supplies. In 1925, Balto, the most famous Siberian husky, led a sled team to deliver a serum to Nome, Alaska, to cure an epidemic of diphtheria. They traveled 658 miles in five and a half days with musher Leonhard Seppala.

13. Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terrier
GROUPNon-sporting
HEIGHT14-17 inches tall
WEIGHT18-30 pounds for male, slightly smaller for females
COAT & COLORBlack; black and white; black white and gold; white and gold; gold and white; golden brindle; white; white and black; sable; brindle; gold; black and gold; brown and white; silver; silver and black; silver and white; brindle and white; brown; fawn: fawn and white; gray; red; black and brown; black and white brindle; black brown and white; sable and white, gray and white; red and white; red; brindle; black and brindle. Double coat.
LIFE EXPECTANCY15-16 years
AGE2,000 years

The Tibetan terrier is affectionate and energetic. Tibetan terriers, an ancient dog breed, are also protective. They were bred by Tibetan monks, and their feet adapted to be flat so they could climb mountains in the snow.

The Tibetan terrier has been companions, watchdogs, herders, and livestock guardians. They are known as the Holy Dog of Tibet.

Tibetan terriers are not true terriers. They originated in the “Lost Valley” region of Tibet. These shaggy dogs were believed to bring good fortune and were never sold or bred with other breeds. No one could buy one in ancient Tibet, and they were only given out as gifts.

FAQs

When Were Dogs Initially Domesticated?

Dogs were domesticated 23,000 years ago in Siberia

Which Dog Breed Has the Longest Lifespan?

Several sources cite Chihuahuas as the longest-living dog breed with a long lifespan, with some living to 17.

Do All Dogs Come From Wolves?

Genetic evidence shows that ancient breeds could be traced to a small population of the gray wolf in Asia 15,000 years ago. Researchers think that three female wolves could be the ancestors of all domestic dogs.

Wrap-up  

Ancient breed dogs are more challenging to train because they have wolf DNA and some primitive dog characteristics, making them a bit high maintenance. As a former Akita Inu’s guardian and a Chow mix’s mom, I can tell you it’s worth it.

We’re fortunate these ancient dog breeds are still here because there are quite a few extinct dog breeds.

These canines have been by our side for thousands of years, and we love them as much as our ancestors did. In a way, these dog breeds tie us to our ancestors. These ancient breed canines are classics!

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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