A-z - Animals

The 9 Oldest Dog Breeds (One Could Be 10,000 Years Old!)

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key point:

  • The Chow Chow breed is known for its distinctive blue-black tongue, which is a unique trait among dogs. This characteristic is thought to be the result of genetic differences that set the Chow Chow apart from other breeds.
  • The Chinese Shar Pei breed is known for its wrinkled skin and distinctive appearance. The breed has practical skin wrinkles that protect the dog's head and neck during fights.
  • The Alaskan Malamute is a strong, sturdy dog breed originally bred for pulling sleds and pulling heavy loads in the harsh arctic environment.

How old is the world's oldest dog breed? More specifically – what was the first dog on Earth? The answer is not as clear-cut as we'd like it to be. While some research suggests that the first dogs were domesticated 40,000 years ago, fossil evidence also suggests that dogs became man's best friend around 14,000 years ago.

Regardless, the oldest dog breeds can be traced back to various lengths. A recent study in Nature focused on ancient dog breeds whose DNA suggests they descended from some of today's most popular breeds, such as golden retrievers and labradors.

To figure out what the first dog (or breed) was on Earth, we compiled data from the Canine Genome Project and the journal Nature & Science based on the latest research today to identify the oldest dog breed.

Only nine breeds made it to our list, which is selective and includes only ancient dog breeds that can be agreed upon through scientific research.

So, what is the oldest dog breed in the world today? Read on to discover the 9 oldest dog breeds!

9.) Chow Chow (at least 2,000 years ago)

Most Expensive Dog Breed Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a stoic and independent breed known for its bear-like appearance and blue-black tongue.

© Bokstaz/Shutterstock.com

The Chow Chow originated in China, where they were seen as hunting dogs, pointing dogs, or sled dogs. They can easily adapt to their environment. Described as affectionate, strong, sweet and confident, this dog stays neat and easy to train.

While a great companion, this dog doesn't like a lot of fuss. They pick a favorite and will be very loyal to them, but will show loyalty to their favorite person's family. Chow Chows are very territorial and will defend themselves and issue warnings to strangers.

They should be socialized from an early age and need a lot of exercise, but not runners. You can expect to brush them 2 to 3 times a week to keep their coat well maintained.

8.) Chinese Shar-Pei (at least 2,200 years ago)

Beautiful, young red fawn <a class=
A beautiful, young red fawn Chinese Shar Pei standing on a lawn, distinguished by its deep wrinkles and considered a very rare breed.

© Alexeysun/Shutterstock.com

While there are no records of the origin of the Chinese Shar-Pei, genomic testing has confirmed the breed's lineage goes back thousands of years. This breed of dog is considered one of the oldest. The Shar-Pei is believed to have been first bred in China around 200 BC

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Today, the Shar Pei is loved for its appearance. However, thousands of years ago, they were valued for protecting farms and livestock from predators and hunting. Believe it or not, this ancient breed, which has been around for over 2,000 years, nearly went extinct in the 20th century!

As Shar Pei numbers dwindled dramatically during China's communist revolution, a breeder from Hong Kong launched an appeal to save the breed in Life magazine . The attention generated by the magazine feature led to an upsurge in adoption and breeding of American Shar-Peis.

Incredible fact: Shar Peis are so rare that Guinness World Records named them the rarest dog in the world in the late 1960s!

7.) Alaskan Malamute (2,000 to 3,000 years ago)

Best Dog Breeds - Alaskan Malamutes
Alaskan Malamutes are playful and mischievous

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

The sled dog is known to have originated in Alaska and is said to have entered Alaska from Siberia. Sled dogs were valued by villages and tribes for their stamina and ability as working dogs. Playful and mischievous, this dog makes a great family pet.

Their thick coat gives them the protection they need in the Alaskan climate, but also requires a lot of care. They shed throughout the year, especially in spring. You can look forward to a sea of fur whenever you swipe them.

They need companionship and work. They get bored if left unattended. When boredom strikes, it can be destructive. They need a lot of exercise and are very intelligent. They are known to "talk" to humans by making a "whoop" sound.

6.) Samoyed – (more than 3000 years ago)

The oldest dog breed - Samoyed

©Nikolai Tsvetkov/Shutterstock.com

Another arctic dog, the Samoyed, has ancient bloodlines. Thousands of years ago, these dogs were bred for hunting, pulling sleds over long distances, and herding the livestock of tribes living in the sub-zero conditions of Siberia.

While the Samoyed originated in colder climates like the other ancient dogs on this list, they differ in a few key areas. For example, the breed is less aggressive than the Siberian Husky. Samoyeds are very social animals and will struggle and crave attention when left alone.

5.) Afghan Hound (over 3000 years ago)

The oldest dog breed - the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is an ancient dog breed whose origins are disputed

© Wild Strawberry/Shutterstock.com

There is some debate about the origin of this beautiful dog. As the name suggests, some believe they are from Egypt, while others believe they are from Afghanistan. The long, silky hair, narrow face, and lean build give this breed a distinct elegance.

Known for their speed, this hound was once used to hunt antelope and leopards. Soon, British soldiers brought them back to England as show dogs. Some people feel that they are not intelligent dogs, but in fact, when you try to train them, they can be stubborn and prefer to keep their hunting instincts.

Afghan Hounds will do well in any household, but be prepared for lots of brushing and exercise to keep up with their energy levels. They do well in both warm and cold climates and adapt well to their living environment. Sociable dog that enjoys lots of attention from its owner.

4.) Siberian Husky (4000 years ago)

siberian husky
The Siberian Husky has striking blue eyes and a high IQ.

©Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock.com

The Siberian Husky was first bred on the Chukchi Peninsula, less than 100 miles from Alaska. Despite its proximity, the bed wasn't brought to Nome, Alaska until 1908. Today, sled dog racing has made the Siberian Husky an iconic breed widely associated with Alaska's vast frontier.

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While the Alaskan Malamute also makes this list, recent genetic evidence suggests the breed is closely related to the Siberian Husky. Today, the Siberian Husky is popular for its medium size. The breed rarely weighs more than 60 pounds, much smaller than the closely related Alaskan Malamute.

3.) Saluki (more than 4000 years ago)

Oldest Dog Breed - Saluki
Salukis date back 9,000 years

©Purino/Shutterstock.com

Guinness World Records recognizes the Saluki as their oldest dog breed, noting that the breed dates back to at least 329 BC. However, Guinness World Records also notes that cave paintings of dogs that look like Salukis date back 9,000 years, showing how difficult it is to decipher the exact age of a particular dog breed. No matter when the Saluki first appeared, the bottom line is that they are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

Both Arab tribes and Egyptian nobility valued Salukis. Their speed, stamina, and hunting skills make this breed a valuable asset. Saluki run at 42 miles per hour and are used to hunt gazelle and deer.

If you want a lifelong companion, this dog might be for you. They are loyal lifelong companions who need lots of exercise and a tall fence. They are high jumpers and don't think twice about running away to hunt. Prey includes goats, foxes, otters, raccoons, snakes, squirrels, and deer.

Salukis love long runs. They need to stretch their legs at full speed, so be prepared to give them 300-400 yards to run. They have very little body fat and will sleep on your bed or sofa for comfort when lounging indoors. They can become very attached to their humans and don't like being left alone.

2.)- Akita Inu (unknown, probably over 5,000 years ago)

Cute akita dog isolated on white
Akita dog is a member of the husky family

© New Africa/Shutterstock.com

There is significant debate about the origin of the Akita Inu. In 1962, Japanese archaeologists unearthed the skeletons of two canids at the site of the upper black rock shelter. Carbon dating places the two dogs at 9,200 to 9,400 years ago, well before the origin of many of the dog breeds on this list.

Many believe that the Akita is by far the oldest dog breed, but since this list is based on genetic evidence, we don't think the Akita will be listed as the oldest.

The Akita breed is part of the Husky family. They are a fearless breed, calm and dignified. The dogs are fiercely loyal to their families, making them an excellent match for therapy dogs, police dogs, and family pets.

Native to northern Japan, these dogs are sometimes called the Japanese Akita or the Great Japanese Inu. Originally, they were bred for hunting wild boar, deer and bears in the winter in northern Japan. In 1931, an Akita dog named Hachiko was declared a National Monument of Japan.

It was introduced to America when Helen Keller gave two Akitas after she visited Japan and fell in love with them. They have a dense coat and can be almost any color, but are usually seen as red, fawn, white, brindle, or sesame.

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1.) – Basenji (over 6000 years ago)

Oldest Dog Breed - Basenji
basenji don't call, they yodel!

©Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com

While some sources may list a different dog breed as the oldest, genetic research suggests that the Basenji is the oldest dog breed in the world.

The Basenji is the ancestor of dogs and the Egyptians, but some claim they are native to Africa. Retaining the characteristics of its ancestors, the breed has a more feline personality, including a need to keep clean. Basenjis don't bark, but make noises similar to yordles.

They are nicknamed "jump dogs" because of their ability to leap vertically through tall grass. They require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. As a household pet, the dog was primarily used for hunting small game and controlling rodents in villages.

Basenjis don't bark. They yordle. Basenjis are very intelligent, but can be a bit stubborn. They can learn all the commands you teach them, but getting them to do what you ask them to do is another story. Don't trust them casually; when their hunting instinct kicks in, they'll rush out of open doors and over fences.

Bonus: A New Oldest Dog Breed? Greenlandic Husky (9,500 years)

Oldest Dog Breed - Greenlandic Husky
Greenland sled dogs may be over 9000 years old!

© iStock.com/Leamus

The scientific debate over the oldest dog breed continues. We may never know what the first dog on Earth was. However, recent evidence suggests that the Greenlandic Husky holds the title of longest-lived dog in the world.

Scientists recently sequenced the genome of a dog from the archaeological site on Zhokhov Island in Russia. What they found was shocking, the remains of a sled dog very similar to today's Greenland sled dogs, suggesting that sled dogs have not interbred with wolves in the past 9,500 years.

This study opens the door that today's ranking of the oldest dog breeds may continue to change with new archaeological discoveries and advances in genetic testing!

What is the average lifespan of a dog?

Dogs are widely considered to be man's best friend, and for good reason. These beloved companions bring joy and love into our lives and are a constant source of comfort and support. But how long do dogs live?

The average lifespan of a dog depends on the breed, size and overall health of the animal. On average, small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs, with some breeds living an average of 12 to 15 years or more. Large breeds, on the other hand, typically live 8 to 10 years or less.

Factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health can also affect a dog's lifespan. Dogs who receive regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and get daily exercise tend to live longer and have a better quality of life.

Generally speaking, the lifespan of a dog is 6 to 16 years, and the average lifespan is about 10 to 13 years. However, with proper care and care, many dogs live long, happy lives into old age.

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Oldest Dog Breed - Greenlandic Husky

© iStock.com/Leamus


about the author


Hey! Nice to meet you. In my working time, I work as a creative writer and sometimes technical writer, digital marketer and website developer. My husband and I have 7 kids and 5 furry helpers – 3 dogs and 2 cats. In my "free" time, I enjoy nature walks, kayaking, hula hooping, and volunteer work in the community. I cherish the time away from all technology and instead play board games and cards with my family. I enjoy reading and researching new topics. thanks for reading!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long ago were dogs first domesticated?

Researchers believe dogs were first domesticated sometime between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago.

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