Early Egyptian paintings and relics dating back to as early as 6000 BC show dogs with curled tails and pricked ears and wearing hunting bells. Scientists now believe that man may have started domesticating dogs nearly 16,000 years ago. Some breeds have existed for thousands of years and breeders continue to experiment with developing new ones almost every day. Let us take a closer look at some Egyptian and other ancient dog breeds that are still popular today.
Egyptian Dog Breeds
We cannot speak about Egyptian dog breeds without mentioning the Basenji first. According to many historians though, the Basenji originated somewhere in Africa (Zaire) and may be considered as one of the earliest dog breeds on earth. Basenjis may have even lived closely with pygmy tribes for thousands of years. In fact the name, Basenji, means small wild thing from the bush, in Pygmy language. For many years, it was widely held that Basenjis first originated in Egypt. This ‘barkless dog’ was even found in tombs of pharaohs dating back to 3600 BC. According to Simon Cleveland’s Basenji Revelation, this dog with its expressive eyes and unique vocalization was actually able to communicate with our ancestors!
Kelb Tal Fenek aka Pharaoh Hound
The Kelb Tal Fenek or the Pharaoh hound was the hound of Egyptian nobles. It is believed to have originated before Christ in the city of Malta. This elegant sight hound is a favorite in United States thanks to its rich tan coloring, hunting capabilities and also loyalty and intelligence. This sensitive dog breed is one of the rarest of all dog breeds and had unique personality and characteristics. Pharaoh hounds make trusted watchdog and great companion or family dogs for families with kids and other pets. Not only are well trained Kelb Tal Feneks wonderful at entertaining kids; they are awesome in shows and coursing events.
Saluki The Desert Hound
This graceful dog can be considered the ancient dog breeds representative species. Some experts believe this breed to have originated in the Middle East. Also known as Persian hound and physically similar to the Afghan Hound, the Saluki is said to have descended from an ancient breed in the 6th century BCE somewhere around Mesopotamia. It was mainly bred for hunting gazelle and hares. Saluki continues to be used for hunting in the Middle East but is primarily used as companion breed in the United States.
Other ancient dog breeds
Other names of this South African dog breed include Bantu dog, Kafir dog, Zulu dog etc. This ancient breed of dogs is now extinct. It is believed to have descended from sight and pariah dogs introduced in the Nile Valley. The Swahili name for Africanis is umbwa wa ki shenzi or traditional dog. This is a short coated medium dog breed with an agile, well muscled body.
This ancient sight hound originated in Afghanistan. The breed was kept very pure until 19th century. It is a large, powerfully built dog with excellent hunting skills. The Afghan Hound was brought to the USA around the 1920s and is considered one of the rarest dog breeds today.
This tallest of all Japanese dog breeds, the Akita, is believed to be nearly 300 years old. Japan has even designated it as a national monument.
As the name Alaskan Malamute suggests, this ancient dog breed was bred by the Inuit tribe in Alaska mainly as sled dogs. This powerfully built, heavy boned dog is capable of great endurance but also makes a gentle, stoic and playful pet.
The Chow Chow’s ancestors can be traced back to the Han Dynasty in China. This ancient breed is a result of cross between Tibetan mastiff and Samoyed. Chow Chows were first seen in the United States in 1890s. This elegant, medium sized and sturdy dog is aloof, loyal, intelligent and detached. With socialization and training, he can be good with kids but might not accept other animals or pets.
The Lhasa is an ancient breed from Tibet. They are hardy, independent and friendly but naturally wary of strangers. They need high levels of grooming but are fairly easy to train.
The Pekingese is a living artifact, an unbroken genetic link with the ancient imperial world of the Orient. DNA research suggests that the Pekingese is among the oldest of all current breeds of dogs. Its ancestors were royalty in every sense, and your Pekingese will likely not let you forget it.
This ancient dog breed has a characteristic wrinkly, sand-paper like skin with loose, rough sandy coat. The Shar Pei originated in ancient China and came to the United States only in the 19th century.
The Siberian Husky is one of the ancient dog breeds representative species believed to have developed by the Chuckchi Indians nearly 3000 years ago. Long used as a sled dog by the indigenous people of Siberia, the Husky is known for great endurance and an appetite for work.
The Tibetan terrier is an ancient breed that can be traced back to nearly 2000 years. It was used to guard Tibetan monasteries and also for herding and companionship. The breed is likely the forefather of another ancient dog breed, the Lhasa Apso.
This ancient, smiling faced dog breed originated in Siberia and first came to England in the 1800s. The Samoyed was bred for reindeer hunting and pulling sleds. This tough outdoor worker has, today, become a beloved companion dog in the United States.
Bold and lively, this ancient dog breed makes a wonderful and happy addition as a family pet. The Shiba Inu is an alert, curious and fun loving dog that does well in an active household in city, rural or suburban setting.
The Shih Tzu, also known as Fo Dog, is an ancient dog breed with an unclear history. Some experts believe that it may have arrived during the Tang Dynasty in the 10th century. The Shih Tzu has been well documented in ancient artwork, carvings and embroidery. The Fo dog was considered sacred to the monks and kept only by royalty.