29 Extinct Dog Breeds You Never Knew Existed

extinct dog breeds

What Are Extinct Dogs?

There are over 350 dog breeds and 900 million dogs in the world. The extensive dog statistics reveal patterns and facts about dogs.

Due to inbred purebred dogs having little genetic diversity, they are prone to health issues and chromosomal problems. Tragically, bad health or even premature death can result from interbreeding.

Read on to learn about 29 extinct dog breeds that people stopped breeding or that interbred until their breed ceased to exist. It’s a wake-up call on endangered species.

Although it’s very sad that these dogs are gone, many live on through the canines they were bred to create.

Extinct Dog Breeds

An analysis of what causes extinction finds that some of the culprits include genetics, overharvesting, deforestation, invasive species, habitat loss, pollution, climate change, hunting, and humans. Interbreeding and declining human interest are also factors in canine extinction.

1. Alpine Mastiff

extinct dog breeds
Unknown 19th Century Artist, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Alpine Mastiff may have been the largest dog breed in the UK during the early 19th century. They were bred from the Molosser dog breed, and their job was to protect livestock. The last one died in 1815 because they were crossbred with large European mountain dogs.

The Alpine Mastiff was essential to creating the Saint Bernard and the Mastiff. Some people call the Alpine Mastiff a Saint Bernard.

2. Argentine Polar Dog

extinct dogs
Image credit: Simba02, Tokuretsu, Wikimedia, CC0 1.0

The Argentine Polar Dog, or Perro Polar Argentino, was an Argentinian dog that went extinct in 1994. They were created by the Argentine Army to use as sled dogs on their Antarctica military base. They were crossbred from a Siberian Husky, a Greenland Dog, an Alaskan Malamute, and a Manchurian Spitz.

In 1994, the Argentine Polar Dog was moved out of Antarctica because of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT). They went extinct due to being relocated to Argentina and dying of illnesses that they had little immunity from, and no one was breeding them.

3. Belgian Mastiff

Belgian Mastif
not specified (except those with signature on image), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The original Belgian Chien de Trait of the Middle Ages was muscular, large, and a popular rural Molosser that descended from European herders and hounds as well as mastiffs. They were used to pull carts and protect farms. This guard dog breed was affectionate with children but aggressive with dogs and strangers.

During World War I, they pulled pull carts full of arms and ammo and transported wounded soldiers. Most of them died in the war. Some breeders tried to revive the breed, but World War II ended the effort, rendering them an extinct dog breed.

4. Black and Tan Terrier

extinct rare dogs

Black and Tan Terriers were from Great Britain and were used to breed most of the terriers around the world. It’s really more of a coat type than an actual breed because their rough coat protected them from the elements. They were originally bred in the United Kingdom, where they were considered a Fell Terrier and hunted foxes.

In the early 1900s, the Black and Tan Terrier became extinct, but on a more cheerful note, they were used to create several modern breeds, including the Welsh Terrier (allegedly).

5. Bullenbeisser

Image credit: Bullenbeiser, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Bullenbeisser was a German bulldog that looked like a large mastiff and was used for boar hunting and bull-baiting. They were called Bärenbeisser when used to hold down bears for hunters. Some consider Bullenbeissers and Berenbeisers separate breeds.

They likely descended from ancient mastiffs during the Holy Roman Empire and lived all over Europe — and in Germany since the 16th century.

German breeders used the Bullenbeisser to breed a boxer by crossing Bratbanter Bullenbeissers with Old English Bulldogs. Between the war, a decrease of large game, and new breeds, the powerful dog Bullenbeisser population dropped, making them very rare. When WWII ended, Boxers had completely taken the place of Bullenbeissers.

6. Chien-gris

extinct dog
Image credit: Gris_De_Saint-Louis_from_1915, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The name Chien-gris translates to Gray Dog, and they lived in France during Medieval times. They hunted with nobility from 1200–1470. Their wiry coats protected them against swamps and animal attacks. King Louis made Chien-gris very popular, and French monks bred them with bloodhounds in 750-900 A.D.

Horrifyingly, the poor slaughtered them because they were owned by the wealthy, and poor people needed the food the dogs ate. After the French Revolution, no one bred Chien-gris, and they were extinct by the mid-1800s. Many other breeds were created with Chien-gris lineage, including Otterhounds, Weimeraners, and more.

7. Cumberland Sheepdog

Cumberland-sheepdog
Sheepdog, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Although it’s difficult to tell if the modern Border Collie is exactly the same as the Cumberland, they seem to be very similar. The Cumberland was from Northern England in the Peak District, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire and also located along the border between England and Scotland in the Cheviot Hills.

The Border could have gotten its name from living on the border of England and Scotland. Documents about the Cumberland describe them as strong-willed, intelligent, loyal, excellent herders, and energetic — just like the Border collie. They went extinct during the 19th century.

8. Dogo Cubano 

dog breed meaning
Image credit: DogoCubano2, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Dogo Cubano weighed around 300 pounds and was used for hunting and dogfighting. Even worse, they were used to capture escaping slaves. They are believed to have descended from the Molossus, an ancient Greek and Roman war dog. Dogo Cubanos were popular in Spain and the UK for dog fighting, guarding, and war.

Dogo Cubanos were born when Spaniards arrived in Cuba with their Mastiffs and Alano dogs — which they let loose to attack native people — bred while the Spaniards explored the island. These dogs were bred with a scent hound in order to give them a better olfactory sense so they could track down slaves in Cuba while Spain was still in power.

Dogo Cubanos would fight to their deaths during dog fights, which led to their population decreasing dramatically. When slavery ended in the 1880s and dog fighting and bull-fighting decreased in popularity (thank goodness for all those things!), the Dogo Cubanos went extinct by the 20th century because they weren’t really companion canines. What a sad story for many reasons.

9. English Water Spaniel

how many species of dogs are there
Image credit: English Water Spaniel, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

English water spaniels were medium to large dogs used for hunting ducks and waterfowl. They were supposed to be able to dive like a duck. Their extinction occurred when newer water dogs, like the curly-coated retriever and Labrador retriever, appeared in the area. Also, Saint John’s Water Dogs from Newfoundland were brought to the UK and used for hunting.

The English Water Spaniel’s appearance was spaniel- and retriever-like. They are the ancestors of English Cocker Spaniel and other Spaniels. They were outbred during crossbreeding. Some sources say they went extinct in the 1930s, but others said they were alive after that. Shakespeare mentioned them in Macbeth and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

10. English White Terrier

natural dog breeds
Image credit: Olde White English Terrier, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The English white terrier was a new breed popular in the early 1860s when some breeders wanted to create a prick ears version of little white working terriers that later became Boston, rat, Jack Russell, and fox terriers. The English white terrier suffered from genetic problems that led to its extinction 30 years after they were created.

The English white was bred with the English Bulldog, making the Boston terrier and Bull terrier, which is a big legacy. The English white may have existed in the 1400s, as it was mentioned in the Oxford dictionary then.

11. Hawaiian Poi Dog

Hawaiian Poi Dog

The Polynesians brought poi dogs with them when they migrated to Hawaii a thousand years ago. They roamed free. Sadly, Poi dogs were bred for consumption. They may have had the potential to be hunting dogs, but there’s no big game there, so the poi dog was dinner if no pigs, chicken, or fish were available. They became extinct in the 19th century.

East Asian and European immigrants brought stronger, larger, active, and trainable dogs when they arrived. Poi dogs interbred with them and went extinct. They were also victims of rabies, distemper, and parvovirus that European and Asian dog breeds brought to Hawaii. Asian and European immigrants poisoned the Hawaiian poi dog because they were strays. Modern Hawaiian poi dogs aren’t related.

12. Kurī

extinct dogs

The Kuri dog was brought to New Zealand on canoes by the ancestors of Māori, who traveled from Polynesia in the 13th century. The kuri dog was a good hunter and also bred as food. Their skin was used for coats, and their bones were used to make fish hooks and necklaces.

They were also sacrificed to the gods. They became extinct in the 1800s when crossed with European settlers’ dog breeds. They couldn’t survive interbreeding in New Zealand. So horrible that they were eating and sacrificing dogs!

13. Lapponian Shepherd

Lapponian Shepherd
Berzerk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lapponian shepherd was a spitz-type dog from Finland, but their name comes from Lapland, where their ancestors lived. Finnish Lapphunds, reindeer-herding dogs, were crossed with Karelian bear dogs in the 1930s to create Cockhill Finnish Lapphounds.

All three breeds crossed with each other, and the Lapponian shepherd disappeared in the 1980s because everyone wanted a Finnish Lapphund.

14. Molossus

dog statue
Image credit: Statue of a Molossian hound. Ca. 320 B.C., George E. Koronaios, Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Molossus hounds were a large breed of dog born in ancient Greece that made their owners, the Molossi tribe, the most powerful people in the area. The Molossus war dog from ancient Greece was ferocious and loyal to their guardian.

They were trained to fight to their death. Their other jobs were hunting and guarding livestock. They were outside canines because they were created to work outdoors.

As the Roman Empire started to collapse in the 2nd century, Molossus became less and less popular. They were crossed with other dogs and disappeared. They are the ancestors of the Bernese mountain dog, Great Dane, Rottie, and St. Bernard.

15. Moscow Water Dog

water dog
Image credit: Moscow Water dog, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the Moscow water dog because they were developed by the Russian navy by Red Star Kennels using the Newfie, the East European shepherd, and the Caucasian shepherd dog.

They were supposed to perform water rescues but were aggressive dogs and bit sailors who were drowning. They became extinct in the 1980s when Red Star stopped breeding them in Russia.

A rescue dog is supposed to save drowning people without gnawing on them. The last record of any live Moscow Water Dogs was in the 20th century (1980).

16. Norfolk Spaniel

Image credit: Dash II Norfolk Spaniel, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Norfolk Spaniel, also known as the Shropshire Spaniel, was the most common breed in the UK in the 1860s. They were great swimmers and used for hunting and chasing birds out of bushes. They looked like Springer Spaniels. In 1905, the Kennel Club combined Norfolk and English Springer Spaniels in one category because their colors were their only difference.

Some people say that the Norfolk Spaniel went extinct before WWI, but some feel that they aren’t extinct because they are Springer Spaniels. Their cousins, the Norfolk Terrier, look less like them than Springer spaniels.

17. Old English Bulldog

Old_English_Bulldog
Image credit: Old English Bulldog with cropped ears, 1863, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Old English bulldog existed in England in the 1600s or 1700s. They had a muscular and athletic body with a large lower jaw, so they worked as bull baiters until it was (thankfully!) banned in 1835 by the Cruelty to Animals Act.

Toy bulldog breeds went extinct when breeders crossed them with an Old English Terrier to make a faster version of them, which was called the “Bull and Terrier.”

A miniature version of the bulldog was more popular once bull baiting was outlawed. In the 1970s, a breeder in Pennsylvania began breeding Olde English Bulldogges that have longer noses and are able to breathe better.

18. Old Spanish Pointer

Spanish Pointer from 1915
Image credit: Spanish Pointer from 1915, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Old Spanish Pointer is the ancestor of almost every pointing breed. They were large and used for hunting birds with nets. They were written about by Romans in the first century (that’s pretty old!).

They met their demise during the Spanish Civil War in the 20th century. Many canines perished during the three years of war. Breeders stopped breeding and preserving them.

19. Paisley Terrier

extinct ancient dog breeds
Image credit: PaisleyandBT1894, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Paisley Terriers were from Scotland and were like a show dog version of the Skye Terrier. They won many prizes at dog shows. In the 1900s, there was a decrease in dog shows, and fewer people purchased Paisley terriers, who looked like Scotland’s Yorkshire terrier.

They became extinct because of interbreeding and people not buying them.

20. Rastreador Brasileiro

ancient dog breeds

The Rastreador Brasileiro was a dog in Brazil created in the 1950s that hunted wild pigs. Unlike the other reasons that drove many breeds to disappear, they became extinct due to disease outbreaks and an overdose of pesticides. Breeders are trying to recreate them right now. Rastreador Brasileiro means “Brazilian Tracker.”

The breed was created by breeding Bluetick Coonhounds, American Foxhounds, American Coonhounds, and Black and Tan Coonhounds. Brazilian Trackers were an ancestor of Dogo Argentino.

21. Russian Tracker 

Russian Tracker 

Not much is known about the Russia Tracker. They were also called the Russian Retriever and weighed around 100 pounds. No one is sure why they went extinct, but it happened in the 19th century.

22. St John’s Water Dog

St Johns water dog

The St. John’s Waterdog, created from Irish, English, and Portuguese working dogs, was the main ancestor of Labrador Retrievers and contributed toward developing Golden Retrievers and the Flat-Coated Retriever. They were water dogs brought over by Portuguese fishermen. British hunters imported hounds to improve their water dogs, and St. John’s had a water-resistant coat.

The St. John’s Waterdog was affectionate, smart, and athletic and worked with fishermen in Newfoundland, Canada. The last St. John’s water dog died in the 1980s.

High taxes and restrictions on dog ownership designed to encourage sheep raising, as well as the UK quarantining imported animals to prevent the spread of rabies, caused the decline of the Canadian breed that created the Newfoundland.

23. Salish Wool Dog

Salish Wool Dog

Salish people are indigenous residents of the American and British Columbia (now Washington state and British Columbia) coast, and the Salish woolly dog — AKA Comox dog — is an extinct long-haired breed. The Salish people made wool from goat hair and sometimes supplemented it with sheered Salish white woolly dogs’ fur. The remains of 6,000-year-old Salish woolly dogs have been found in the region.

Domestic dogs were separated from the Salish woolly dogs to avoid crossbreeding and preserve the quality of the woolly dogs’ fur. The Salish wool dog was no longer needed when the Hudson Bay Company began selling sheep wool blankets in 1827.

Because the Salish wool dog was no longer separated from other domestic dogs, they interbred and became extinct in Washington State and BC in the 20th century.

24. Sakhalin Husky

Sakhalin Husky
Image credit: Sakhalin Husky Jiro

The Sakhalin Husky, or Karafuto Ken in Japan, was hardy and able to withstand arctic weather. They were used as sled and work dogs in Russia and northern Japan during the first half of the early 20th century.

They went extinct in 2015 because they were expensive to feed. They were related to the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Greenland Dog, the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian husky, and the Samoyed.

25. Tahitian Dog

Tahitian Dog
A. Buchan, S. Parkinson or J. F. Miller, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tahitian Dog was from Tahiti and the Society Islands and, like other domesticated Polynesian dogs, found their way to the islands when ancestors of the Tahitian (Mā’ohi) people migrated from East Polynesia during the 13th century.

Tahitians ate their meat and used other parts of them for ornamental clothing and tools. As imported European dogs arrived on the island, the Tahitian dog disappeared due to crossbreeding with European dog breeds.

26. Talbot Hound

TalbotHound
Image credit: TalbotHound Talbot Shrewsbury Book 1445, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The Talbot hound was a slow — because of their short legs — scent hunting hound in 17th century England. By 1800, they were replaced by foxhounds and beagles because people preferred shorter and faster hunts.

This British hunting dog had a curly tail. Talbots were the ancestors of the modern Beagle and also lived in Belgium and France.

27. Toy Trawler Spaniel

Toy Trawler Spaniel
Image credit: Toytrawlerspaniel, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The Toy Trawler Spaniel was in the UK in the early 1900s and probably resulted from crossbreeding an English Toy Spaniel and an older generation Sussex Spaniel. They were intended to be sporting dogs but became show dogs and toy dogs.

Toy Trawlers were rare, and their owners didn’t seem to know how to find other Toy Trawlers with whom to breed them, so they became extinct dogs by the early 1920s.

Toy Trawlers’ descendants include King Charles Spaniel and Sussex Spaniel.

28. Turnspit

The Turnspit Dog

This is very disturbing. The turnspit was bred to run on a wheel that turned meat to ensure it cooked evenly. Sounds like a really dark version of Cinderella. These small dogs lived in the 16th century when people cooked meat over an open fire.

Turnspits were even used in Manhattan in large hotels in the 1850s. This and the bad treatment of other animals led to the founding of the SPCA.

They had a short tail that was often cropped and went extinct by 1900 when inexpensive spit-turning machines, called clock jacks, were invented. This is a very horrible story of extinct dogs.

29. Tweed Water Spaniel

Image credit: Tweed Water Spaniel, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The Tweed Water Spaniel lived in Northumberland and may have been bred from a St. John’s water dog with local water dogs. The tweed water spaniel was smart, brave, and sporty. They were replaced by the Golden Retriever by the end of the 19th century. Tweeds were bred with Wavy-coated retrievers to make Goldens.

FAQs

What Is the Biggest Extinct Dog?

The largest wild dog of all time is believed to be Hayden’s bone-crushing dog (Epicyon Haydeni). They weighed around 375 pounds and existed for 15.3 million years during the mid-late Miocene epoch in North America. That’s too big.

What Is the Rarest Breed of a Dog?

According to AKC, Otterhound, Bergamasco Sheepdog, and Polish Lowland Sheepdog are some of the rarest dog breeds.

Are Molossus Dogs Extinct?

Yes, Molossus dogs became extinct when the demand for them dwindled during the fall of the Roman empire, but they live on in Bernese mountain dogs, Great Danes, Rotties, and St. Bernards.

Final Verdict

There are many other dog breeds that became extinct but couldn’t make it to our lists like the Tahltan bear dog, Dalbo dog, Cordoba fighting dog, North country beagle, blue Paul terrier, Alpine spaniel, Polynesian dog, Pariah dog and many more like them.

It’s sad that all those canines are gone forever, but many of them contributed to the gene pools of the most popular dog breeds that we love now. It’s all about evolution.

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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