News from the Natural World: 5 Extinct Dog Breeds You Didn’t Know About.
For most of us, the first question we ask a dog owner is “what breed is he/she?”
Most of the breeds we see today all have a common ancestor – the grey wolf. How is it, then, that all these dog breeds look so strikingly different?
The answer to that lies in domestication and breeding. Humans have been involved in the genetic selection of dog traits for 40,000 years.
Dogs’ ancestors proved to be great companions to the nomadic man. They provided an element of security and helped him hunt, all in exchange for some scraps of food. Soon, humans began to encourage the breeding of wolves that were friendlier and less wary of humans. Finally, they eventually became their own species – the dog.
Sadly, some seem to have dwindled away – gone extinct mostly as a result of human actions.
5 Extinct Dog Breeds
Why Did Some Dog Breeds Go Extinct?
It’s a little sad to consider that many of our favourite dog breeds had ancestors that once walked the Earth. Only to be remembered in natural history books today.
The thing is, humans can be selfish. We like to tailor-make everything to our preferences, needs, and wants. Even the species we consider our ‘best friends’ are no exception.
Take German Shepherds for example. You’ll notice these dogs next to armed police officers, always on guard, always ready to put up a fight. As the name suggests, they were first bred in Germany. Their main purpose was to guard and protect livestock from predators. When WW1 rolled in, they gained widespread popularity. Many were used as military attack dogs in conflicts that had nothing to do with them.
The cute pugs we see today? Those were bred to be companions to the ancient Chinese aristocracy. Unfortunately for these little dogs, human interference caused a host of health problems. The pug now suffers from a wide range of health conditions like respiratory issues, seizures, and skin problems – all so humans could have a ‘cute’ pet.
While pugs have retained their popularity for centuries, that isn’t the case with many other dogs, whose populations shrunk as they began to be considered ‘unfashionable’.
As soon as the purpose they were bred for ceased to exist, so did their demand – within a few generations, there simply weren’t enough to continue their lineage. Breeders would generally move on to other, more popular options, and eventually, the final dogs of these old breeds would breathe their last.
Extinct Dog Breeds You Haven’t Heard Of
It’s time we diverge our attention from popular dog breeds like Labradors, Huskies, and Daschunds to the ones that made history their resting place. Here’s a list of unique dog breeds that have been extinct for years:
Hailing from Scotland, Paisley Terriers were truly a sight for sore eyes, with their silky, luscious fur coats. This breed ranked among the most famous dog breeds in the world at the time for being beautiful and boy, did it do a great job at that!
While they were bred for cuteness, the Paisley Terrier had a knack for killing rats, rabbits, and other mammals that caused serious harm to crops and livestock. They were a farmer’s best friend, helping them increase profits, preventing rodent-related problems and diseases, and staving off starvation.
Despite how useful they were as pets and show dogs, they fell out of favour with breeders. The Yorkshire Terrier we know now carries the lineage forward. There’s some part of the Paisley Terrier in the world alive today, after all.
However, some claim that the birth of the Yorkshire Terrier is the reason why their ancestors went extinct. After all, they had the same silky coat as the Paisley Terrier at a smaller size, giving breeders more legroom for breeding the tiny munchkins we all love and adore.
Some dogs are pretty, some are smart. The Norfolk Spaniel, also called Shropshire Spaniels, is a bit of both and is closely related to today’s Cocker Spaniel.
Norfolk Spaniels were medium-sized dogs. It was noted that the Norfolk Spaniel had a beautiful coat, filled with spots of red, black, or brown. Their coats required frequent brushing with a bristle brush to avoid getting their fur matted.
When properly trained and exercised, no terrain was too difficult for the Norfolk Spaniel to explore, proving their mettle by serving as excellent hunting companions. They were also adaptable and coped well in both the countryside and the city.
While this breed was well-respected for its bird-hunting skills, they were also notorious for being difficult and temperamental. Owners complained that their dogs were ill-tempered, stubborn, and whiny when they separated from them for any length of time. This difficult-to-raise attitude perhaps contributed to their decline in popularity over time.