The reason being is that dogs have been cross-bred so many times over the centuries. It's not accurate to label any modern breeds of dogs as ancient. Some may resemble ancient drawings or hieroglyphics, but truth be told they are probably much different today than their ancestors.
Regardless, I still find it interesting to look back on our dog's ancestry and see which ones have been around for a long time. Did you know that dogs have been domesticated for 15,000 years? Amazing! But we've only been keeping them as pets for about 2,000 years. Prior to that dogs were primarily used to perform certain jobs or duties.
I found a study here that identifies 14 ancient dog breeds. The dogs on the list were found to have the most similar genetic structures to those of wolves. All the breed information provided here can be found at the AKC's website.
I've written a little bit about the Saluki in the past and here they are again. The Saluki is considered "the royal dog of Egypt". In ancient Egypt, their bodies were even sometimes mummified. That's just how highly the Egyptians thought of them. The Saluki is a sight hound and is very fast. They were strong hunters capable of taking down prey like gazelles.
|The Saluki is the royal dog of Egypt.|
Photo via Thomas Mueller
The Chinese Shar-Pei is known for his super wrinkly skin. The Shar-Pei was used on Chinese farms and performed a multitude of tasks. Guarding, catching rodents, herding, and tracking were all some of the skills that these dogs used back in ancient times. Apparently, the Chinese believed that these dogs would protect them from evil spirits. Today, they are characterized by being intelligent but often stubborn.
|The Chinese Shar-Pei was believed to protect from evil spirits.|
Photo via gomagoti
I've met a few Akitas in the past and I just have to say that they are huge! The breed originated from Japan which I didn't know until I started to research them. These dogs would track down animals like wild boar, deer, and even bears! They were also used as guard dogs in ancient times.
|The Akita was used to hunt bears. |
Photo via Alden Chadwick
The Afghan Hound originated in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. They are sight hounds and keen hunters. They typically hunted rabbits and gazelles during ancient times. Afghan Hounds are now known for their long silky coats.
|Afghan hounds hunt by sight.|
Photo via Rafa Mora Arevalo
Alaskan Malamutes were bred for endurance. They were designed to be able to carry large and heavy things for long distances. They have lots of stamina. They are the largest and oldest of the Arcitic sled dogs. They are named after a native Innuit tribe - Mahlemuts. You'll notice that some of their cousins are also included on this list of ancient dog breeds.
|Alaskan Malamutes are larger than their cousins - the Siberian Husky.|
Photo via Randi Hausken
The Chow Chow is a breed of dog that comes from China. In ancient times, Chow Chows were used for a number of tasks including hunting, herding, pulling, and protection. They made excellent guard dogs during ancient times.
|Chow Chows are known for their black pigmented tongues.|
Photo via Kevin Richardson
I wonder is this breed was one of the first dogs considered by people as a "pet". The Lhasa Apso comes from the Himalayan Mountains where it's very cold. I guess that's why they have such nice long coats. They were used as guard dogs for Buddhist monasteries and in the homes of important Tibetan nobles.
|The Lhasa Apso guarded Tibetan nobles.|
Photo via tanakawho
These dogs may also have been considered more as pets than workers it seems. The Pekingese have a pretty interesting story behind them. Apparently, Pekingese was only allowed to be owned by royalty. If anyone tried to steal one of these royal dogs, the penalty was death!
|Only royalty were allowed to own Pekingese dogs. |
Photo via SD Dirk
The Samoyed was used for lots of different jobs during ancient times. The breed comes from Siberia where it was very cold. Hence the thick coat. The Samoyed breed was used as a reindeer herder, a hunter, sled puller, and a guard dog. They were highly valued dogs.
|The Samoyed was a versatile breed. |
Photo via The Kennel Club
The word Shih-Tzu means lion in Chinese. This breed was another treasured companion by the Chinese. They didn't really have any working duties. Today, they are considered one of the most popular pets in America!
|The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular breeds of dog in America.|
Photo via audrey_sel
The Siberian Husky is thought to have originated on the Siberian peninsula where it's very cold. They have very thick double coats. In ancient times, they were used as sled dogs.
|Siberian Huskies were used as sled dogs.|
Photo via Ritmo
These dogs are characterized by having fur that falls over their eyes. Well, there's actually a good reason for that! The hair that covers their eyes is a means of protection from the cold climate and elements of Tibet - the country that they originated in. Tibetan Terriers are not considered true terriers. They were considered the "Holy Dogs of Tibet" because they were raised by lamas in monasteries. They were mostly used for companionship and thought of as good luck charms by the lamas, but they also did some herding and retrieving.
|The Tibetan Terrier has locks of hair over its eyes to protect them from the elements.|
Photo via Llima Orosa
I know the Basenji as the breed that doesn't bark. Prior to my research, I didn't know much else about them. Turns out that the Basenji breed is a dog that comes from Africa. In Africa, they were used as pointers, retrievers, and they aided hunters by directing their game into nets. They were brought to Pharoahs of ancient Egypt as presents.
|The Basenji is originally from Central Africa. |
Photo via fugzu
The Shiba Inu personally reminds me of little cute foxes. This breed comes from Japan where it was used commonly as a hunting dog. They were bred to hunt in the heavy brush of the mountains. Their game included small animals, boar, and bear. I'm so surprised to see bear on the list - amazing! These dogs are pretty small, so it's hard to imagine them hunting bears.
|The Shiba Inu was used to hunt in ancient Japan.|
Photo via Maja Dumat