Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
St. John's Water Dog
Today's Golden Retriever & Labrador descended from the now extinct St. John's Water Dog (

Just like certain species have become extinct over time, there are a number of unique dog breeds that are no longer around today. Many of these dog breeds have left lasting legacies, with their ancestors making up some of today’s most popular and successful dogs. Others, have largely fallen into obscurity, leaving hardly a trace of their existence.

Historians and dog enthusiasts have worked hard to gather precise information on these dog breeds and to try to paint an accurate picture of what they once looked like and what tasks they were bred to perform. Some were short-lived, perhaps only a few decades, while others had graced this earth for many centuries and were abolished by modern day society.

List of Extinct Dog Breeds

How Do Dogs Become Extinct?

Sakhalin Husky
The Sakhalin Husky went extinct in 2012 (武藏 /

There are many contributing factors when it comes to the extinction of a breed. For some, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is particularly true for those unfortunate breeds who were wiped out during the World Wars – a time when the world around them was in crisis and many dogs were used as sources of food. For others, their fate was less dramatic and they simply fell out of fashion or were superseded by similar breeds who were found to be better suited to modern day life.

For some of the working breeds, the advent of modern society rendered them practically useless and for those that failed to adapt or keep up with new demands, they fell largely out of favor. For a final lucky few, while they may not be around anymore, they naturally ‘evolved’ into new breeds and so may be classified as extinct but live on to this day in other forms.

What is the Most Recent Dog to Become Extinct?

The Sakhalin Husky holds the tenuous title of being the most recent dog to become extinct. It is largely agreed that the last breed member died in 2012. The last two remaining individuals were male, meaning it was not a possibility to continue breeding.

Which Dog Breed is Likely to Go Extinct Next?

The Otterhound is a breed that is teetering on the brink of extinction within the UK right now. This precarious situation has arisen due to the ban of otter hunting in the 1970s. Another stumbling block that the breed faces is the fact that many are outbred with other dog breeds.

For the most part, this has become a necessity to prevent genetic disease in future generations, such as Hip Dysplasia. With a mere 24 purebred Otterhounds being registered with the Kennel Club in 2017, this native breed may be the next added to the list of extinct dogs.

Extinct Dog Breeds

Below we have a comprehensive list of the extinct dog breeds from our history. While some may look physically similar to our dog breeds of today, others will appear quite unusual in their appearance. These dogs are a real mix of characters and one can’t help but feel a sense of sadness that they are no longer around today.


Medieval Alaunt
Medieval Alaunt (Gentile da Fabriano /

The original Alaunt existed on both mainland Europe and in Asia and is thought to originally have been bred by the ‘Alani’, a nomadic tribe from Iran. These ancient people would use their dogs as workers and specifically created separate strains of the breed, fit for different purposes. The slender, quicker dogs would hunt while the larger, Molosser type dogs, were used in dog fighting and bull baiting. Indeed, some experts regard the Alaunt as being one of the original predecessors to the modern day Bulldog.

All of the Alaunt dogs were large and short-haired, with some having larger heads than others. Throughout Europe, unique types were bred, meaning the Spanish Alaunts were noticeably different from the French Alaunts. Today, the bloodlines of the Alaunt dogs live on and enthusiasts are developing new breeds, including the British Alaunt and American Alaunt.

Alpine Mastiff

1815 Painting of Alpine Mastiff
1815 Alpine Mastiff Painting (Unknown 19th Century Artist /

The large and visibly impressive Alpine Mastiff is thought to be one of the first ‘giant breeds’ that was ever created by man. This Molosser type dog reached enormous heights and weights and was far bigger than today’s English Mastiff. Indeed, during the 19th century, this dog was put on show in England, purely for the public to marvel at its colossal size. With their enormous head, long limbs and loose skin folds they were certainly a sight to behold.

Some confusion lies in the fact that the term ‘Alpine Mastiff’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘St Bernard’ but these are two distinctly different breeds. The modern St Bernard is thought to have come about by mixing the Alpine Mastiff with both the Great Dane and the Newfoundland. There is currently some work being done to recreate this physically imposing breed.

Alpine Spaniel

Alpine Spaniel Sketch
Alpine Spaniel Sketch (Thomas Brown /

The Alpine Spaniel once performed a noble task in the snowy mountains of Switzerland and Italy, searching for stranded or buried mountaineers and alerting the rescuers to their whereabouts. Unlike modern spaniels, these dogs reached heights of more than 60cm and were substantially stronger. Their coat was tightly curled and close fitting, offering protection from the harsh external elements.

Their extinction is thought to have come about due to the poor conditions in the Alps, meaning that accidents and disease outbreaks were rife. The last dog is thought to have died sometime in the mid 1800s.

Today, there are skulls in the National History Museum of Switzerland that illustrate that there were two variants of the Alpine Spaniel, each with a different head size and shape. The Alpine Spaniel is thought to have contributed genetics to both the St Bernard and the Clumber Spaniel.

Argentine Polar Dog

Simba, the Argentine Polar Dog
Argentine Polar Dog (Tokuretsu /

The Argentine Polar Dog has a unique and quite strange history. This breed did not come about organically and was in fact created by the Argentine army in order to assist them when based in the Antarctic. Mainly used as sled dogs, these large, furry dogs would pull loads across the ice and snow. As well as being healthy and fit, the Argentinians requires a breed that would be low maintenance and easy to train. This breed was created by mixing the Manchurian Spitz, the Alaskan Malamute, the Greenland Dog and the Siberian Husky.

Well-suited to the freezing conditions, these dogs had three layers of fur and a thick layer of fatty tissue to keep them insulated. Despite larger males reaching weights of 60kg, they were nimble on their feet and could travel long distances over snow and ice in relatively short amounts of time.

Sadly, in 1964, it was ordered that all Argentine Polar Dogs be removed from Antarctica as they were not deemed to be native animals. This order was due to a fear that they could transmit diseases to local animals, such as Distemper Virus and parasitic infections to seals. Once relocated to Argentina, most dogs died of illnesses to which they had little immunity and, as no consorted breeding programmed was established, they soon became extinct.

Black & Tan Terrier

Black & Tan Terrier
Black & Tan Terrier (Benjamin Marshall /

The Black & Tan Terrier, sometimes referred to as the Old English Broken-Haired Black & Tan, is an ancestor of many of today’s modern dogs, including the Airedale Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier. They were extremely popular in England in the 1800s and were generally used to hunt foxes.

Classified as ‘Fell Terriers’ they would have originated in the north of England and would have been small with narrow chests, in order to be people to track prey down small tunnels and burrows. They had long legs and a short coat, which was black and tan. During its existence, the black and tan terrier was seen as more of a ‘type’ of dog than a breed and there would have been a good deal of variation from one individual to another when it came to appearances.

Blue Paul Terrier

Blue Paul Terrier
Blue Paul Terrier (Unknown Source)

A breed that originated in Scotland and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Poll Terrier’, the Blue Paul Terrier was a medium-sized dog with a large head, muscular body and short coat with fur that tended to be blue. The primary purpose of the breed was to fight other dogs competitively and it did so with courage and stamina.

The origins of this breed are unknown and while there are many stories and suggestions, any real evidence is lacking. The most likely theory is that they were introduced to Scotland by sailors and then bred with local dogs in order to create successful fighters. Indeed, many postulate that the blue coat color of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was a contribution of the Blue Paul Terrier.

This breed likely became extinct in the late 1800s, both through a combination of injuries during fights and because it was becoming fashionable to use them in the creation of new breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Braque du Puy

Braque du Puy
Braque du Puy (P. Mahler /

A Braque is a French Pointing dog, and there are many variants that continue to live on today. The Braque du Puy was not one of the lucky ones and the last known individual died out some time in the 1970s. This was certainly one of the breeds that was negatively impacted by the World Wars, and whose breed numbers took a real nose dive in both the 1920s and 1940s. While records are lacking, most agree that the Braque du Puy was a result of crossing the Braque Français with a Sighthound, such as a Sloughi.

The Braque du Puy was primarily a hunting dog who would seek out small quarry, such as birds, and then freeze and point in order for the hunters to know where to go. As with the other Braque breeds, these were an elegant dog with long, slim limbs, thin hanging ears and a slender tail. Lightly built and with delicate bones, they would have weighed no more than 30kg.

Bull and Terrier

Bull and Terrier
The dog standing is likely a Bull and Terrier (Edwin Henry Landseer /

The Bull and Terrier is one of the more famous extinct dogs and is still spoken of often today thanks to the legacy it has left behind. It was a cross between a Terrier and the Old English Bulldog (who is also extinct). This hybrid dog was well respected among the people and used in hunting, bull-baiting and canine fights. To be successful, this dog not only had to have a thick and well-muscled body but also an abundance of grit and courage. As is still done today in some parts of the world, the tails of the Bull and Terrier were often docked. As well as this, their ears would be cropped in order for them to look more imposing.

Over time, and with breeders favoring certain traits and colors of the Bull and Terrier, they were outbred and evolved into distinctive breeds. In modern times, these are known as the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. For a breed that is now extinct, they have made a large contribution to the modern dog breeds and, in many ways, live on still to this day.


The Two Types of Bullenbeisser: Danzig & Brabant
The Two Types of Bullenbeisser (Ludwig Beckmann /

The Bullenbeisser or Bärenbeisser is known as the German Bulldog and is the ancestor of the Boxer, thanks to conscious efforts to breed it with the Old English Bulldog in the late 19th century. The success of this mating ultimately led to the Bullenbeisser’s demise, as the Boxer, quickly became the favourite of the two.

A fierce-looking dog with a muscular and athletic body, the Bullenbeisser was used in both bull-baiting and boar hunting in its time. Indeed, the literal translation of Bullenbeisser from German to English means Bull Biter. Most agree that it originates from Mastiff type dogs who were bred to be smaller and nimbler. As well as their sporting roles, they were prized amongst Germans for their ability to guard property and people. There were various types of this breed that lived in countries across Europe, ranging in sizes from 40cm to 75cm tall.

Celtic Hound

Celtic Hound
Cúchulainn, the Celtic Hound (From the Book: Myths and Legends; the Celtic race)

The Celtic Hounds are the famed dogs of legends that every Irish child has grown up listening to. These dogs were likely ancestors of the modern day Irish Wolfhound and Scottish Deerhound amongst other breeds, and probably looked physically similar – tall and with a rough, wiry coat. As well as tales of these dogs being passed from generation to generation, they were carved into jewellery and featured in many paintings of the 17th century.

One of the most famous legends is that of Cúchulainn, a ferocious Celtic Hound belonging to a blacksmith named Cullan who once attempted to attack the Irish mythological hero, Setanta. Setanta used his hurley (similar to a hockey stick) to send a sliotar (traditional ball) flying towards the dog, instantly killing it. Setanta went on to singlehandedly defend Ulster (one of the four Irish provinces) as a young man.

When not being written into folklore, the Celtic Hounds were used to hunt game, such as rabbits and deer, as well as to fight bravely in battles alongside their masters.

Chien Gris

Chien Gris
Chien Gris (W.E. Mason /

The Chien Gris was also known as the Grey Saint Louis Hound and lived throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages. A Scent Hound with royal blood, this dog formed part of the hunting packs of the French monarchy. Over the centuries, these dogs were likely bred with local French hounds and their appearance may have changed over time. They are best remembered as being a large hound with a rough grey coat, which turned to red on the limbs and was darker on their face.

Like many French breeds, they were a victim of the French Revolution, a time when hunting was considered a self-indulgent rich man’s pursuit. At the same time, surviving breed members were being crossbred to improve their sporting ability. Both of these factors eventually led to the extinction of the Chien Gris.

Chiribaya Dog

Chiribaya Dog
The Chiribaya Dog looked similar to this Peruvian dog (Yaymmie /

The Chiribaya Dog is a truly ancient breed that existed in pre-Colombian civilisations within Peru. The only reason we are even aware of the Chiribaya Dog today is thanks to Sonia Oneglio, an anthropologist who discovered over 40 mummies in the southwest of Peru on an excavation. Historians have deducted that not only did these dogs perform a valuable function (llama herding), they were also revered by their masters and buried next to humans with blankets and food.

While it is hard to determine with any certainty what these dogs would have looked like, experts agree that they were likely short with long beige fur and may have had adapted rabbit-like feet to help them to walk in the sand.

With regards their legacy, so far, genetic studies performed on their remains cannot find any link between the Chiribaya Dog and the modern dogs that live in the same area today. It may well be that they are truly extinct with no remaining ancestors.

Cordoba Fighting Dog

Cordoba Fighting Dog
Cordoba Fighting Dog (Unknown /

Córdoba is a central Argentinian city where it is though the Cordoba Fighting Dog was established. A multi-purpose animal, this resilient dog was not only used in dog fights, but also as an imposing guard dog and a brave hunter of wild boar and other large prey. While it is thought that the last breed member died in the 1950s, the bloodline of the Cordoba Fighting Dog lives on in their close ancestor, the Dogo Argentino.

Initially developed from Mastiffs and Bull-type breeds, the Argentinians created the Cordoba Fighting Dog with the aim of having a local breed that was both courageous and a great warrior. While a number of coat colors were genetically possible, breed fanciers preferred those with a white coat, hence they quickly became the most popular.

Historians are unsure as to why exactly the Cordoba Fighting Dog became extinct, but it was likely secondary to them becoming too aggressive to breed safely and so aggressive when fighting that many breed members would die during the fights. Moreover, they were being largely replaced by their close relatives, the Dogo Argentino.

Cumberland Sheepdog

Cumberland Sheepdog
Cumberland Sheepdog (Unknown Source)

A close relative of both the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd, the Cumberland Sheepdog is a bit of an anomaly. Records of its existence are lacking and often blurred with those of the Border Collie. In fact, many question if perhaps they are one and the same dog, with few differences other than their name.

We know that the dog referred to as the Cumberland Sheepdog was medium in size with a black and white coat and was a smart and avid sheep herder. They were described in a book on British dogs by Clifford L.B. Hubbard, but other than this reference, it is difficult to find any trace of this dog, which is thought to have become extinct in the early 1900s.

Dalbo Dog

Dalbo Dog
Dalbo Dog (Hanna Ferlin /

This Swedish native was employed by the Swedes to hunt down bears and wolves and to protect the farmers’ livestock. A molosser-type dog, it was large and sturdily built. As well as being robust of body, they were known to be strong of mind and would not back down from a challenge. As well as this, they were able herders and thus truly earned their keep on the farm. They had thick fur coats, enabling them to survive outdoors during the long Scandinavian winters.

The breed never experienced much popularity, and became extinct sometime in the late 1800s. The Swedish Famine may well have been a contributing factor. Though the Dalbo Dog has been lost to the ages, some Swedish dog enthusiasts are trying hard to recreate the breed locally with some success.

Dogo Cubano

Dogo Cubano
Dogo Cubano (John Henry Walsh /

Sometimes referred to as the Cuban Mastiff, the Dogo Cubano was a large and hardy Molosser-type dog that was used to not only participate in competitive dog fighting, but also to run down and capture any runaway slaves. As well as this, they would act as devoted property guardians, fighting off any intruder with courage.

This dog is said to have looked like a cross between a Bulldog and an English Mastiff with a shortened muzzle and small, pendulous ears. Their fur was a dark rust color and they often had a black facial mask.

Their extinction roughly coincides with the abolition of slavery and it may be that these ferocious dogs no longer served much of a purpose at this time, with similar breeds, such as the Dogo Argentino being preferred in the competitive world of canine fighting.

English Water Spaniel

English Water Spaniel
English Water Spaniel (Henry Bernard Chalon /

While many of our modern dog breeds may resemble the English Water Spaniel, the last of the true breed members became extinct in the early 20th century. The English Water Spaniel is thought to be one of the oldest of the Spaniels, originating in the 16th century.

Most sources tell us that this breed had a liver and white coat that was curly and waterproof. As well as being able to ‘dive like a duck’, the English Water Spaniel would hunt ducks and other waterfowl.

During its heyday, it was an incredibly common dog within Britain and used by a great number of hunters. A prolific breed, it has likely contributed to the history of a great deal of today’s Spaniels, including the English Cocker Spaniel as just one of the many examples. Its contribution to the other Spaniel breeds likely played a pivotal role in to its downfall, as over time it was outbred so much that purebred numbers dwindled into nothingness.

English White Terrier

English White Terrier
English White Terrier (IvoB /

The English White Terrier may be called the White English Terrier by some and has a rather unique and unusual history. Unlike other dogs at the time, the English White Terrier was exclusively bred for the show ring and in order to look a certain way. They were actually one of the very first pedigree dog breeds recognised by the Kennel Club. Sadly, the inbreeding led to a myriad of genetic health issues and results in a poorly dog, prone to a number of serious health and behavioural conditions, including congenital deafness and anxiety. While some were put to work as hunters or rat catchers, they were not well-suited to their roles and could not perform to a satisfactory standard.

A dog that was developed in the early 1800s, it only lived for around 100 years. Despite being around for such a short time, this breed made major contributions to both the Boston Terrier and the Bull Terrier.

Fuegian Dog

Fuegian Dog
Fuegian Dog (Glover M. Allen /

The strange looking Fuegian Dog is also called the Yaghan Dog and was a domesticated type of the South American or ‘Andean Fox’, of the species Lycalopex culpaeus. Other domestic dogs derive from wolves, making the Fuegian Dog a very peculiar animal indeed. It is thought that these creatures were big and ugly with muzzles that looked like snouts and a wiry, white or red fur. A handful of specimens are preserved in museums for viewing.

These dogs fell out of favour because of their lack of usefulness and propensity to attack and kill livestock. It is also thought that, despite their domestication, they may have shown aggression to humans. They were described as poor guard dogs and did not show loyalty to their master. Some sources do state, however, that they were good otter hunters and that their fur was used by people as a source of warmth (so they weren’t all bad!).

Grand Fauve de Bretagne

Basset Fauve
The Basset Fauve as pictured descended from the Grand Fauve (Muu-karhu /

The Grand Fauve de Bretagne (Big Fawn Hound of Brittany) was a predecessor of the modern day Basset Fauve de Bretagne, as well as other Basset and Griffon breeds. A French Scent Hound that was used to hunt in packs in the middle ages, the Grand Fauve de Bretagne likely resembled today’s Basset Fauve de Bretagne but stood taller, reaching heights of an impressive 75cm at the withers – around twice their height!

It is widely believed that King François I owned a pack of these dogs that he enjoyed hunting with, so they have a truly royal heritage. The aristocracy on horseback required a long-limbed canine hunter to accompany them. However, when the poorer people began to take up hunting around the time of the French Revolution, smaller dogs that could accompany them on foot were favored. This change in breeding trends ultimately led to the extinction of the Grand Fauve de Bretagne.

Hare Indian Dog

Hare Indian Dog
Hare Indian Dog (W. Ogilby /

Another curious extinct dog is the Hare Indian Dog who may have been a type of domesticated dog, or perhaps some sort of cross with a coyote. The Hare Indians are also known as the Sahtu, a North American Indian tribe who lived in Canada. This dog was a short, long-haired breed with a long and pointed muzzle that was employed mainly as a coursing dog. While they were described as ‘playful’ it was also noted that they ‘dislike confinement’ and had a ‘howl like a wolf’.

Sadly for the Hare Indian Dog, with the advent of improved hunting techniques and the invention of the gun, it fell out of both use and favour. It is believed, however, that some of its genetics live on as it was widely crossed with other local domesticated dogs, such as the Canadian Eskimo Dog throughout its lifetime.

Hawaiian Poi Dog

Hawaiian Poi Dog
Hawaiian Poi Dog (The Honolulu Advertiser /

Once a Pariah Dog that roamed the tropical island of Hawaii, the Hawaiian Poi Dog existed before the American colonisation of Hawaii. Descended from similar-looking Polynesian breeds, this dog was short with white fur and a flat skull. Their name derives from the food they were fed on – poi – a staple food in native Hawaiian cuisine made from the stem of the Caro plant. This diet likely resulted in malnutrition and health issues.

The Hawaiian Poi Dog was not used as a hunter or a herder and instead was seen as a source of food and also a good luck charm. Once Hawaii was colonised, the European and American dogs began to breed with the Hawaiian Poi Dog, creating a variety of crossbreeds and ensuring the purebred Hawaiian Poi Dog was lost to the history books forever. To this day, Hawaiians use the term ‘Poi Dog’ to refer to a mixed breed dog, though whether any with true Poi Dog genetics remain is unknown.

Hunting Dog (Felids)

Hunting Dog Mosaic
Mosaic of a Hunting Dog fighting a lion (Mosesofmaso /

In ancient times, when man and dog roamed the Earth alongside ferocious predators, such as lions and cougars, there existed a group of extraordinary hunting dogs who had the strength, courage and skill to hunt large, wild felids (wild cats). While some would simply track the beasts and corner them, awaiting man’s weapon, others would bravely attack the large cats before their master arrived.

These dogs are presumed to have been typical Molosser type dogs of colossal sizes. They would have had heavy bones and thick layers of muscle with sizeable heads and powerful jaws. It is even said that these warrior dogs were pitted against lions in Roman amphitheaters for sport. These dogs were so valued during their time that they have been depicted in many murals, mosaics and statues from their era.


Kuri dog specimen at the Dominion Museum
Kurī specimen (Dominion Museum /

Similar to the Hawaiian Poi Dog, the Kurī is an ancient Polynesian breed. It is thought that the Maori people who emigrated from Polynesia to New Zealand brought the dogs with them, but they became extinct not long after the European colonisation in the 19th century.

These dogs would have played an important part in the lives of the indigenous people, providing them with a source of both food and fur. It is likely that they also participated in hunting. A preserved body is on show in New Zealand’s National Museum that shows us that the breed was small with short legs, prick ears that flopped forward and a snout-like nose.

Scientists are a little baffled as to why this dog died out, with no evidence of any major disease outbreaks. They hypothesise that they slowly became extinct thanks to the rampant inbreeding with imported European dogs, though no one is really sure.

Lapponian Shepherd

The Lapponian Herder descended from the Lapponian Shepherd
The Lapponian Herder (as pictured) descended from the Lapponian Shepherd (Berzerk /

The Lapponian Shepherd was a Spitz type dog with a wedge-shaped face, prick ears a curled over tail and a luxurious, plush coat. These dogs were originally kept by the Sami people of Lapland, in northern Finland. They used their dogs to herd reindeer on their farms and as a source of companionship. A good worker, these dogs were known to be docile and cooperative.

The Lapponian Shepherd Dog was only recognised as a breed in its own right in 1945. The breed consisted of individuals with both long and medium length coats. Over the next few decades, this dog split into two branches: The longer-haired Finnish Lapphund and the shorter-haired Lapponian Herder. Due to this natural evolution, original Lapponian Shepherd dogs were bred less and less until they were eventually declared extinct.


Two Schipperkes owned by W.J. Comstock, 1897
Two Schipperkes owned by W.J. Comstock, 1897 (Public Domain)

It is believed that the Leauvenaar originated in Leuven, Belgium, a city east of Brussels. It was a medium-sized dog with a dense coat and pricked, triangular ears. Its forehead was noticeably flat and wide and it had small, dark eyes. The Leauvenaar was relatively similar in appearance to today’s Belgian Shepherd but would have been shorter and stockier.

The Schipperke and Belgian Shepherd are thought to be direct descendants of this black-furred working dog. A multi-purpose breed that would herd livestock, as well as guard them, the Leauvenaar was a welcome addition to any farm. On top of their ‘day job’, they would follow behind wagons on the local streets. This breed is believed to have become extinct during the 1800s though no-one is quite sure exactly why.

Marquesan Dog

Marquesan Dog carved in stone
Marquesan Dog carved into stone (Moth Clark /

Originating from the Marquesas islands (a group of islands owned by French Polynesia) these truly ancient Polynesian dogs are thought to have become extinct long before the European colonisation, with scant evidence existing today indicating their presence. We know of them now because of archaeological finds from the 1950s (bones) and from carvings on walls. With this in mind, it is no surprise that we truly understand little about these dogs.

Historians assume they were used as a source of food and also think they may have been significant religious symbols to the people, as many carvings are found in places of importance and worship. While dogs are represented as having had long necks and backs in the carvings, it is presumed that this was an exaggeration of the truth. They were likely small with stubby legs and a snout-like nose, similar to the Kurī dog.


Molossus statue in Florence, Italy
Molossus statue in Florence, Italy (Sailko /

An incredibly important breed in the history of many of today’s modern canines, the Molossus is one of the original dog breeds. The Molossians were an ancient Greek tribe that originally used this breed to guard their livestock and their property. Valiant, they would not think twice when defending against ferocious wolves and bears. It is also probable that they hunted and helped provide their owners with a source of food. These dogs, however, are famed for their contribution to battles during Roman times. Some would even wear spikes and armor, fighting heroically for their masters.

Certainly an ancestor of today’s Mastiff breeds, it is likely that the Molossus looked similar, with a large and muscular body, thick dewlap of skin under the neck and powerful jaw. It is believed that these large dogs could reach heights of 80cm and weights of up to 80kg.

Today, a breed called the Molossus of Epirus is recognised by the Greek Kennel Club and is thought to be one of the best examples of a Molossus descendant.

Moscow Water Dog

Moscow Water Dog
Moscow Water Dog (Unknown Source)

The Moscow Water Dog was created for a specific purpose and did not live a particularly long life. Created by the Red Star Kennel for the Soviet Union, they were a hybrid of several Eastern European Sheepdogs (including the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and the Newfoundland. They were never bred in great numbers, so were always incredibly rare. This dog was meant to have served as a rescue dog that could work in water but reports stated that they were not good at their job and were too aggressive towards humans to succeed. The last record of any live Moscow Water Dog is from the 1980s.

They were a large breed, weighing over 45kg, with a thick double-coat that was dark brown or black. While the Moscow Water Dog did not last long, they did contribute to the formation of the popular Russian Black Terrier.

Norfolk Spaniel

Norfolk Spaniel
Norfolk Spaniel (James Watson /

Sometimes called the Shropshire Spaniel, the Norfolk Spaniel looked like a larger version of the modern day Cocker Spaniel. They had pendulous ears, soulful eyes and a medium-length coat that was either black and white or liver and white. As they were bred for their working ability and trainability rather than a uniform appearance, there would have been a good deal of variation within the breed. They were widely used as gun dogs, mainly for hunting birds and were classified as ‘land spaniels’ rather than ‘water spaniels’ or ‘toy spaniels’. These dogs were incredibly common all over England and were owned by all classes of people.

Interestingly, there is a theory that the breed that was once the Norfolk Spaniel was never truly lost and simply became today’s English Springer Spaniel, as in the early 1900s the Kennel Club declared that any spaniel of a certain size and appearance that was not a Clumber Spaniel, or a Sussex Spaniel, should be simply called a Spring Spaniel.

North Country Beagle

Northern Hound, or the North Country Beagle
North Country Beagle (Pearson Scott Foresman /

The North Country Beagle was a British hunting dog that was also known as the Northern Hound. A Scent Hound that once featured prominently in packs around the country, sometime in the 18th century this dog fell out of favour and breed numbers dwindled into eventual extinction. While their scenting abilities were good, these dogs were not particularly quick – a factor which must have certainly contributed to their demise. Another issue was that they were not particularly well suited to fox hunting – a pursuit that was gaining momentum all over Britain. The North Country Beagle also had to compete with the likes of the Southern Hound, a similar dog that was generally preferred, though also became extinct not long after the Northern Hound.

It is largely agreed that the North Country Beagle is a direct descendant of the Talbot (a breed which is now also extinct), though some believe they were around for centuries before, having come from Norman dogs brought to Britain with around the time of the 11th century.

Old English Bulldog

Old English Bulldog
Old English Bulldog (L. CREMIÈRE /

A stocky dog with a deep chest and well-developed muscles, the Old English Bulldog was a brave fighter that was said to lack intellect. Initially used in bull-baiting, over time the dog was bred to participate in competitive dog fights. A monumental event in the history of the Old English Bulldog was the passing of the ‘Cruelty to Animals Act’ in 1835, outlawing both bull-baiting and dog fighting and rendering the breed rather redundant. Of course, it would be naïve to think that all dog fighting ceased in 1835 and covert fights would certainly have continued to be carried out.

Regardless, it was becoming common practice for the Old English Bulldog to be outbred with other dog types, such as the terrier, resulting in the creation of the Bull and Terrier. With these new hybrid dogs being better suited to dog fighting, the Old English Bulldog was soon lost to history. It is important to note that there is a current trend within Britain to ‘recreate’ the Olde English Bulldogge, with many breeders insisting they are able to sell you one. While the original has certainly died out, these ‘reincarnations’ aim to closely resemble the original breed – though are typically more sociable and less aggressive.

Old Spanish Pointer

Painting of an Old Spanish Pointer by John Buckler
Old Spanish Pointer (John Buckler /

Heralded as being the ‘Grandfather’ of all Pointers, the Old Spanish Pointer (or Perro de Punta Español) certainly made a major contribution to the history of Pointing dogs. These original dogs likely existed for several thousand years and were used to locate birds and other small quarry for hunters to pursue. As is the role of the modern Pointer, they would freeze completely still and lift a leg in the direction of the prey when they sensed it. They were robustly built and had both wide heads and wide bodies. Their features were less refined than modern pointers, though they did have the floppy ears and slim, long tail.

While a native Spanish breed, many of these dogs were exported, probably most famously to Britain. Within Britain, they were extensively cross-bred with the English Foxhound and the Greyhound, amongst other breeds. These crossings provided the Pointer with important hunting traits, such as speed and stamina. While the Old Spanish Pointer may have died out, many would argue that their descendants are a fitting testament to them (and actually an improvement)!

Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog

Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog
Welsh Grey (Barbara Carpenter /

A shaggy-coated dog with grey fur, the Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog herded livestock in rural Wales, working long hours in poor weather conditions with a distinctive yappy bark. Its coat was thick and unkempt and one account describes it as an ‘unbeautiful dog’. As with many herding dogs, the incredible success of the Border Collie led to their downfall, with farmers opting for the intelligence and speed of the Border Collie that was largely unmatched in the canine world.

The Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog was described as a ‘loose-eyed’ dog when working, basically meaning that they did not work with the same intense stare and concentration of the Border Collie. There are reports of the Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog from as recently as 1980 but none since, leading to the conclusion that they are now officially extinct.

Paisley Terrier

Paisley Terrier
Two Paisley Terriers with an English Toy Terrier in 1894 (Rawdon B. Lee /

Similar in appearance to the Skye Terrier though smaller, this dog was a long-haired terrier with erect ears flowing with silky fur and weighing no more than 7kg when mature. In fact, so similar in both appearance and traits to the Skye Terrier, some historians even claim that they were a variant of the breed rather than their own dog. The name ‘Paisley’ comes from their place of origin – the town of Paisley in the lowlands of Scotland.

As their coat was blue and tan, it will be no surprise to learn that they are considered the predecessors of today’s Yorkshire Terrier. The Paisley Terrier was mainly used as a dog show participant and companion animal, though did have the ability to work as a ratter. Unfortunately for them, their long coat, which served them so well in the show-ring, made them unfit for work and also meant that they were a high maintenance pet.

Panther Dog

The Panther Dog's Creator, Aaron Hall
The Panther Dog's Creator, Aaron Hall (Unknown /

Be careful not to confuse the extinct Panther dog with a modern mixed-breed nicknamed the Canis Panther, as they are completely unrelated. The original Panther Dog was named for its ability, that is, its aptitude for hunting panthers (cougars). An American man named Aaron Hall, who was both an avid hunter and breeder is said to have created the Panther Dog for the sole purpose of hunting local cougars who were seen as threats to the people of Pennsylvania.

These dogs existed in the mid 1800s and it is thought that they were bred from the Bulldog, the Bloodhound, the Mastiff and the Newfoundland. Unsurprisingly, this mix of breeds resulted in an impressively large hound. These dogs died out with their breeder and were an America hunting dog that never really took off.

Polynesian Dog

The Polynesian Triangle
The Polynesian Triangle (Hobe /

A ‘Polynesian Dog’ is a general term for the four extinct dogs of Polynesia, including the Kurī, the Hawaiian Poi dog, the Tahitian Dog and the Marquesan Dog. Of course, other Polynesian breeds did exist, but these are the four most well-known and documented. All of these dogs were landrace Pariah dogs and lived alongside the people, contributing to their tribes by providing a source of both meat and fur, as well as companionship. They were domesticated and while they roamed the islands freely, could not be classed as feral. Some of these breeds also played important cultural roles, acting as ‘lucky charms’ and featuring in many Polynesian legends.

Some sources claim that these Polynesian dogs share ancestry with the Dingo, although this is not a universally accepted theory. The colonisation of the Polynesian islands by the Europeans led to the extinction of all of these Polynesian breeds, as they were crossed so widely and indiscriminately with the imported dogs that they lost their identity over time.

Rastreador Brasileiro

Rastreador Brasileiro
Rastreador Brasileiro (Gilson MACEDO /

The Portuguese word ‘rastreador’ can be translated into English as ‘tracker’, so the Rastreador Brasileiro was indeed a Scent Hound that would track and hunt large prey. As well as hunting wild boar, this dog would even pursue the powerful jaguar. This breed was originally created in the 1950s by a canine enthusiast named Oswaldo Aranha Filho. He used several native Brazilian dogs, as well as both European and American hunting dogs in the breed’s creation. This breed was most famous for being the very first Brazilian breed to garner international recognition. They had a characteristic bay that they would emit when working and were prized for their ability to work well even in hot, humid conditions.

Sadly, this breed was very short-lived and was declared extinct not long after its creation in 1973. A combination of pesticide poisoning and disease outbreaks (most likely Babesiosis, secondary to tick parasitism) led to the premature end of this athletic breed. There have been large efforts to recreate this breed and there is hope that it can one day be restored.

Russian Tracker

Russian Tracker
Russian Tracker (W.E. Mason /

Bred by farmers to guard livestock in remote areas of the Caucasus mountains, these large and heavily-furred dogs are not physically dissimilar to today’s Golden Retriever. Reaching weights of 50kg and heights of almost 80cm, this large dog was more than able to fight off the wild bears and wolves that plagued the local farmers. Historians describe this dog as not just brawny, but also brainy. They were said to be able to survive with their flock for months on end, without the need for any human input or support. They were resourceful and well able to herd their flock and keep them free from any danger.

As to when the Russian Tracker ceased to exist, reports are hazy. Most likely, they became less popular with the advent of modern agriculture and became extinct sometime in the early 20th century when their job became defunct.

Sakhalin Husky

Sakhalin Husky
Jiro the Sakhalin Husky (武藏 /

Probably the most recent breed of dog to become extinct, the last known surviving Sakhalin Husky died less than a decade ago in 2012. This dog is also known as Karafuto-Ken and is said to have originated on the island of Sakhalin, which is found close to both Japan and Russia.

This breed was generally used as a sled dog and resembles a mixture of an Akita Inu and a Siberian Husky. They became famous when included in the Japanese exploration of Antarctica in the 1950s. The mission was cancelled and the dogs abandoned, in hopes of a subsequent rescue. Catastrophically, the weather worsened and the rescue mission was aborted. Miraculously, one year later, two dogs were found alive! Known as Taro and Jiro, these survivors became immediate heroes. One of these dogs was stuffed after its death and can still be viewed in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo today.

Interestingly, a film entitled Eight Below made by Disney is based on the story of Taro and Jiro.

Salish Wool Dog

Salish Wool Dog
Salish Wool Dog (Paul Kane /

The Salish Wool Dog, also known as the Comox Dog has a pretty remarkable claim to fame. Many believe that this was the first North American dog that was developed and ‘farmed’ by man. Kept by the Native Americans of Washington State and British Colombia, these small, densely-furred dogs were a Spitz-type dog prized for their white ‘wool’. In fact, their coat was so thick that it was said to be ‘sheared’ annually in the summer. The natives understood the importance of keeping the lines pure, ensuring they were housed separately to other local dogs.

Several circumstances led to the eventual extinction of the Salish Wool Dog, including colonialisation, crossbreeding with local dogs and easier access to sheep wool. Despite their ancient beginnings, it was only in the early 20th century that this wooly dog breed eventually met its end.

Seskar Seal Dog

Modern day version of the Seskar Seal Dog
Modern day version of the Seskar Seal Dog (Seiskari /

A breed native to Finland, the Seskar Seal Dog was a Spitz-type dog that would hunt seals from the time of the Stone Age. As with modern Spitzes, these dogs had a wedge-shaped head, triangular prick ears and a dense, double coat. They were medium in size with a water-proof fur that was either white, brown or black.

While the original breed is said to have become extinct sometime in the 1950s, there is currently a new recreation of Seskar Seal Dogs being bred, simply referred to as the ‘Seskar Dog’. Though this new ‘line’ is not directly descended from the Seskar Seal Dog, nor does it actively hunt seals, it bears a very close physical resemblance to the original dog and likely also shares many personality traits. This new breed exists only in small numbers within Finland and is not internationally recognised.


Smithfield (Matthew Larner /

The Smithfield Dog is a large breed of Collie that was used to herd livestock, especially cattle. They had flopped-down ears and shaggy fur which gave them an unkempt appearance. Their coat was black, grey or red and white markings were commonly seen. While most had a short ‘bob’ tail, others had a well-plumed tail of medium length.

The name ‘Smithfield’ is said to come from the famous Smithfield Market in London, where breed members would patrol the area and work alongside the sheep and cattle to be sold. It is known that this breed was exported to Australia to work, though did not do well in the heat. However, on the island of Tasmania, there are actually dog shows in modern time that feature a type called the ‘Smithfield’. Though these dogs are not accepted as pure-breeds, one wonders if they are perhaps ancestors of the original English Smithfield.

Southern Hound

Southern Hound
Southern Hound (Gilbert Gihon /

Much like the aforementioned Northern Hound, the Southern Hound was a British Scent Hound whose popularity declined with the advent of horseback hunting and the importation of longer-legged, faster dogs. It is probable that many Southern Hounds were bred into other hunting dogs, in the pursuit of an all-round athlete, meaning the Southern Hound probably lives on in other breeds today, including the Beagle.

As is true of the Northern Hound, experts think that the Southern Hound was either a direct descendant of the Talbot, or was a dog brought over to Britain by the French in the 11th century. These dogs did not look unlike today’s Foxhounds, with pendulous ears head close to the head, well-proportioned bodies and long, slim tails. The main feature of the Southern Hound was said to be its superior scenting skills.

St. John's Water Dog

St. John's Water Dog
St. John's Water Dog (Unknown /

One of the better known extinct dogs is the St. John’s Water Dog, who originated in Newfoundland. They would work alongside local fishermen and were much appreciated for their ability to remain calm and still on boats, as well as for their docile temperament. Their job was to retrieve fishermen's catches, whether in nets or on lines. As well as having a waterproof coat, these dogs had a passion for swimming and being near the water.

The St. John’s Water Dog was a major contributor of many of today’s best-loved dogs, including the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever after their exportation to Britain in the 1800s. These dogs looked very much like a Labrador, though were all black with white markings.

The last remaining St. John’s Water Dog is thought to have died in the 1980s. With the invention of newer fishing methods, it is assumed that this once extremely popular dog had become extinct because it simply no longer served a purpose.

Tahitian Dog

Tahitian Dog
Tahitian Dog (A. Buchan /

One of the extinct Polynesian dogs, the Tahitian Dog was native to the island of Tahiti and suffered a similar fate to its counterparts. While these landrace dogs once thrived, serving the local people as sources of food, fur and even tools, they were no match for the European settlers, whose dogs quickly bred with them, creating crossbreeds that no longer resembled the original native dog.

As they were fed on a meat-free diet (due to the paucity of available meat), they were short and had crooked legs and flat skulls – likely a result of malnutrition. This depiction is much like that of the Hawaiian Poi Dog, another breed fed on an inappropriate diet.

As these dogs did not survive for long after the European settlement, our knowledge of them is quite limited. Examples of their bones and teeth were discovered during archaeological digs in the 1960s and 70s. We also have a few paintings from European artists who visited the islands, though it can be hard to know if they were actually painting the foreign dogs that had recently arrived or the local Tahitian Dog.

Tahltan Bear Dog

Tahltan Bear Dog
Tahltan Bear Dog (Pharaoh Hound /

The Tahltan Indians are native to British Columbia and they bred the Tahltan Bear Dog for the specific purpose of hunting bears, despite their small size. Rarely weighing more than 10kg, these diminutive hunting dogs were nonetheless courageous and strong. With their rusty brown dense coat, they could be mistaken for a fox if seen from a distance. As they lived alongside their masters, they were sociable dogs and not aggressive towards humans.

The Tahltan Bear Dog was a prized breed and was widely traded. Indeed, it may have been its popularity that led to its extinction, with so many dogs being traded that there were few left to actually breed with each other and maintain the population.

This primitive breed is largely considered extinct, though some debate this and there are accounts of people who claim to still have Tahltan dogs, originating from those sourced from the natives in trades.


Talbot (From the book, Poems and Romances /

A hunting dog that was known to be held in high-esteem, this white-furred Scent Hound is thought to be the predecessor of many of today’s most successful hunting dogs, including the Beagle and the Coonhound.

Some historians consider the Talbot to have been a French dog brought over to England by William the Conqueror from Normandy. While the word ‘Talbot’ was once used to refer to any working hound, it was in around the 17th century that the Talbot dog became its own distinct breed. Not staying around for too long, it was only 100 years later that the breed was declared extinct. While reasons for this are unknown, it is likely that they were simply replaced by more efficient hunting breeds.

These dogs were clearly important in their day, featuring in many paintings and even contributing their name to local pubs!


Tesem (ToB /

When you picture Egyptian Hieroglyphics portraying a dog, you may be picturing a Tesem. A Tesem was an Egyptian term for a hunting dog that was lean, with a curly tail, prick ears and that often had tan fur. As well as featuring on their cave walls, the Tesem dogs would be mummified and buried with their owners – indicating how highly they were regarded.

Appearing in carvings that are thought to be 3,000 years old, these are truly ancient dogs. Similarly, paintings of these dogs have been uncovered from around this time, most notably one featuring a dog named ‘Akbaru’ who wore a collar.

Most agree that the Basenji and the Sloughi are two modern descendants of the Tesem. As well as this legacy, some experts suggest that African Pariah dogs of today may be living descendants of these wondrous Egyptian canines.

Toy Bulldog

Toy Bulldog
Toy Bulldog (W.D. Drury /

A miniature version of the Bulldog, the Toy Bulldog existed within Britain in the early 1800s. Developed from the Old English Bulldog, an incredibly popular breed in its time, the purpose of the toy Bulldog was to serve exclusively as a companion animal (and sometimes a show dog) and not as a working dog. As well as being much smaller than its predecessor, the Toy Bulldog would also commonly have prick ears, which were seen as a desirable trait. The French took a real fancy to this new breed and imported them in large numbers. Of course, this ultimately led to the creation of the modern French Bulldog. It is thought that a large number of the original Toy Bulldogs were sold and exported and, within their native land, their popularity dwindled. The combinations of these two factors led to their extinction in around 1920.

Nowadays, some breeders will claim to be selling Toy Bulldogs, but these are not the same breed from several centuries ago. Instead, these tend to be Bulldog hybrids, such as those crossed with the Pug.

Toy Trawler Spaniel

Toy Trawler Spaniel
Toy Trawler Spaniel (Sarah Hartwell /

The Toy Trawler Spaniel resulted from mixing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with an old variant of the Sussex Spaniel. Though it is assumed this breed was meant to be a sporting dog initially, it was really only used as a companion and show dog and was only kept within the UK.

While similar in appearance to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today, their skull was less domed, their ears longer and their fur curlier and more profuse. Their gait was said to be ‘smart and prancing’ and they were known to be bold and sweet-tempered.

The breed is thought to have died out in around 1920 and, at this time, one of the last remaining dogs was donated to the Natural History Museum at Tring after its death to be put on display.

Turnspit Dog

Turnspit Dog
Turnspit Dog (H Weir /

When learning about the Turnspit Dog, one does tend to marvel at how far we have come! Before the days of electricity, it was the job of the Turnspit Dog to run tirelessly in a wheel, cooking meat on a spit, preventing it from staying turned in one direction for too long and burning. As well as being small and short-legged enough to fit inside the wheel, these dogs had to have immense stamina and be of a hardy constitution. These dogs were said to ‘work in shifts’, so when one tired, they were replaced with another. The wheel that they ran in was kept at some distance from the open fire, in an effort to prevent over-heating. As well as their work in the kitchen, these dogs are also thought to have served as ‘foot and hand warmers’ for their masters.

Little was thought of this breed while alive and few records kept. It is thought to have existed in around the 16th century. There is great debate as to the lineage of the Turnspit Dog, with some believing it was a Spaniel and others claiming it was a type of Terrier.

Tweed Water Spaniel

Tweed Water Spaniel
Tweed Water Spaniel (John Carlton /

Taking their name from the River Tweed, the Tweed Water Spaniel lived and worked along the Scottish border. These Spaniels had a curly brown coat, long slim tails and thick, pendulous ears. They were classed as water dogs because they loved to swim and would happily work both in and out of the water. The main use of this breed was to assist fishermen in bringing large nets back to shore. It is postulated that the St. John’s Water Dog may have been one of the breeds used in the creation of this Spaniel.

The Tweed Water Spaniel is perhaps best known for being one of the ‘parents’ of the Golden Retriever. The Spaniel used in one of the original matings was a bitch named Belle, who was bred to a Wavy Coated Retriever by Lord Tweedmouth. Sadly, for the Tweed Water Spaniel themselves, they died out towards the end of the 19th century.

Welsh Hillman

Welsh Hillman
Welsh Hillman (Barbara Carpenter /

Some believe that the Welsh Hillman is the oldest of all the Welsh herding dogs. They were used on the hills of Wales to herd the local livestock. A handsome dog, they were quite large and had long limbs, reaching heights of 60cm. In some ways, they resembled a German Shepherd, with relatively large erect ears, a long muzzle and a good abdominal tuck-up. Their rough coat was red or light brown with black and white markings. They usually had a black saddle marking, white feet and a white tip to their tail. Graceful, fast and light on their feet, they were said to be efficient at their work.

The breed slowly petered out during the 1900s and the last-surviving breed member is said to have been a female called Jess that passed away in 1990. Many believe, however, that the breed lives on in the many crossbreed sheepdogs that continue to work on the Welsh hills.