Your Beagle, Greyhound, Yorkshire Terrier and any other breed you may have didn’t just magically form like so, their ancestors after many years evolved to make them how they are today. Of course, along with all living species many forms are lost when their expertise are no longer needed, specifically in the canine world dogs used for hunting.
Ancestor to the Mastiff and many others, they were loved by the Romans and Greeks, used to herd, fight and hunt. Aristotle also had a soft spot for them writing ‘this breed are superior to the others in size’.
2. Alpine Mastiff
The Alpine Mastiff is the ancestor of the St Bernard and comes from the Molossus, as seen above. They were mountain dogs and by the looks of it weighed a tonne!
Originally a German Bulldog, it was bred over many years to finally create the Boxer dog. Their name means ‘bull biter’, they were known for their agility and share many of the same characteristics as today’s Spanish bulldog and Dogo Argentino.
4. Cordoba Fighting Dog
The Cordoba fighting dog did what it says on the tin, it fought. They would happily fight to the death and had a high pain thresh-hold. Due to their high aggression towards other dogs they were used as fighting dogs and quickly became extinct in the fighting pits, it was in fact so aggressive females and males would rather fight than mate.
5. ST. JOHN’S water dog
These guys originated from Newfoundland, their main export was to England where they were used to herd sheep. This breed declined due to heavy restrictions placed on imported animals coming into England after the Rabies epidemic. The last known 2 to exist were found in a remote area, unfortunately for them they were both males :/
6. English Water Spaniel
Last seen in the 1930s, they were described as a cross between a Poodle and a Collie and known to be exceptionally good divers. Shakespeare mentions the breed in two different plays, in Macbeth referring to them as a ‘water rug’ and in The Two Gentlemen of Verona; “She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel”.
7. Hare Indian Dog
Like a kind of domesticated Coyote used by the Hare Indians for catching dinner, over time aboriginal hunting methods were not needed and in turn neither was the breed. Believed to derive from another extinct breed, the Tahltan Bear Dog.
8. Braque Du Puy
A hunting dog from France, the breed was flexible and fast. Their origin is not known but there are many great stories claiming their origin. One tells of how 2 brothers with the surname Du Puy crossed a Braque Francais called ‘Miss’ with a Sloughi called ‘Zidar’.
Another story tells of a French gamekeeper for the King battling to save his dogs during the French revolution by breeding them with Braques. He ends up creating the Braque du puy and rewarded for his valiant effort they give the new breed his name.
Tesem literally translates as ‘hunting dog’ and resembled most similar to that of today’s Greyhound. One of the earliest known recordings of the Tesem is the “Khufu dog” from the tomb of King Khufu. This dog was named Akbaru, and was depicted wearing a collar. Although their nearest living descendant is the Greyhound, their skeleton is closer to the Terrier.
10. Talbot Hound
Ever wondered where the Beagle gets its big floppy ears? The Talbot hound is the great-great-great etc Grandad of the beloved Beagle! It is believed William the Conqueror brought the breed to England in 1066, although slow they were often used as law enforcement at war, searching out escaping soldiers.
So not quite as adorable as their grandchildren have turned out to be, they do however feature on many pub crests in the UK, what an honour!
11. Hawaiian Poi dog
Hawaiians used this dog as a spiritual protector for their children and also charmingly as an ingrediant at dinner time. Named after the common Hawaiian food ‘Poi’, meat was expensive so this root was used to fatten them up. They were noted to be lazy, sluggish and have flat heads, after not needing to chew the muscles in their heads had weakened. Too lazy for hunting and not a desirable meal choice anymore they had no purpose and eventually became extinct.
12. Paisley terrier
So far we have seen mostly hunting dogs become extinct due to man’s evolution and discovery of the supermarket. However, this little dog was bred to be a show dog or in 1894 a book about the breed claimed they are ‘something for a lady’.
However their coat was hard to maintain and ended up being their downfall as competition in shows would argue they were mixed breeds. The demand started to decline, however not without leaving their lasting mark as the ancestors of the Yorkshire terrier.
The Chien-gris were used in the French royal pack as scent hounds but by all accounts weren’t too good at smelling, however the Kings preferred them over St Huberts as they were larger in size. By the nineteenth century they had become virtually impossible to find, because of mixed breeding and the effect of the Revolution on French hunting.