Top 10 Oldest Dog Breeds in the World

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While the debate goes on about the origins of domesticated dogs, it's agreed that there are some breeds that have been around since the Pharaohs and before. It seems that every part of the world has an ancient breed to name as one of the oldest. Not surprisingly, some of them also figure large on Most Intelligent, Most Independent and Hardest-Working Dogs. Dogs have adapted well to their humans and tend to become what is needed to get fed, sheltered and to survive! So what are the oldest dog breeds still around today? Here are the top 10 oldest pups to add to your family.

Afghan Hound

As their name would suggest, Afghans arose in Afghanistan, where they were originally called Tazi. Bred to hunt large animals like deer, and to guard flocks of sheep, they are beautiful, elegant and independent dogs. Pre-dating Christianity, their long, silky coats and mellow personalities have made them favorites in the modern world, too!


Another ancient breed comes from Japan: the Akita. These double-coated pups were trained as working dogs and are happiest when they're tracking something or hiking in cool climates. Extremely loyal to their pack, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or if their family is threatened, so they make great guard dogs. 


Basenjis may have been the models for many of the sculptures and carvings found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. With their distinctive pointed ears, long legs and tightly wound tail, they are known as quiet dogs who seldom bark. African tribes used them for hunting and as pack animals. They're rarely found in the US and Europe.
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The Mastiff's ancestor, the molosser, was used as a dog of war over 5,000 years ago. This ancient breed is extinct in its pure form, but their descendents, mastiffs, live on as great family dogs who are gentle and mellow. They are very territorial, however, and are pawrfect guard dogs, although they need to be socialized and trained before they get too big to handle.

Alaskan Malamute

Malamutes originated with the Alaskan Inuit Mahlemuts Tribe near the Arctic Circle on the Bering Sea. They are believed to have crossed with their human pack over the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia. Extremely strong and durable, they are also furbulous family pets, although they prefer to be an "only dog." 


Carvings from Sumeria dated to 5,000 to 6,000 BCE depict the Saluki breed. They were also found in ancient Egypt, and were also once known as "Persian Greyhounds." Faring best where they can be outdoors and exercised often, these pups will benefit from a tall fence to curb their enthusiasm for chasing down anything that moves.

Chow Chow

Another Asian export, this teddy bearish breed looks fluffy and cuddly, but is actually aloof and independent, and may be related to several other ancient breeds that survive today, such as the Samoyed, Elkhound and Pomeranian. Dog fossils from several million years ago resemble today's Chow Chow, and they appear in carvings as far back as 206 BC.

Lhasa Apso

This breed, named after the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet, was once exclusively owned by Tibetan royalty and monks, and was considered sacred. This pup was thought to absorb the soul of its owner at the time of death. The first pair of this breed to enter America was a gift from the 13th Dalai Lama.


These sometimes diminutive pups with a very long name are also known as Mexican Hairless dogs. Originating in Mexico and Central America, they are very rare and a bit high-strung, so a word of caution if you have children. A unique trait is that they often are missing front teeth, making them goofy-looking when they smile, but their fierceness makes them ideal guard dogs.


This wrinkled, muscled Chinese breed are believed to have arisen during the Han Dynasty. These pups are good for sedate human families that don't expect them to hike miles on the weekends or play frisbee in the backyard. A bit standoffish and solitary, they make great companion dogs for older folks and couch potatoes.