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16 Oldest Dog Breeds In The World That Are Intelligent

Oldest Dog Breeds
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Thousands of years ago, so long ago, even before bronze age and iron age, before trigonometry, before the invention of agriculture as a way of life, prehistoric humans formed a social bond with the grey wolf.

From there on, the progress of both the species became inseparable.

The wolves underwent biological changes in their body. Their ears started to grow differently. Their paws, teeth, and skulls shrank in size. They earned a calm temperament, becoming both less fearful and frightening.

These wolves managed to read human faces.  They finally turned into dogs. The most interesting part is that the dogs are believed to be the first domesticated animals and their barks reminded the Anthropocene.

Let’s learn more about the oldest dog breeds and find out which is your favorite dog breed.

Ancient Dog Breeds - What Researchers Say?

In 2013, a team of experts studied the distinct mitochondrial genomes. The sample size consisted of 18 fossils, and something close to 126 modern wolves and dogs.

They found out that dogs were actually domesticated in western Siberia or Europe, between 19,000 and 32,000 years ago. Another study shows that dogs living in southern China appear to be the most genetically different in the world.

Experts agree ancient DNA will offer more definitive data. The oldest dog breeds are independent, active, and intelligent. These dogs display a good aptitude for learning and show remarkable thinking abilities.

They have an excellent instinctual facility and protect their territory. These dogs provide good protection while hunting.

Afghan Hound

  • Country of Origin – Afghanistan
  • Weight – 50-60 lbs
  • Height – 25-27 inches
  • Lifespan – 12 -18 years
  • Group – Hound Group

This cute dog originated in the mountain regions of Afghanistan.  The Afghan Hound dates back several thousands of years ago.

DNA evidence suggests one of the ancient dog breeds. Being a sighthound, the Afghans are an agile runner and extremely fast.

People employed these dogs as hunters of wolves, snow leopards, wild goats, and deer.

These hounds were first brought to England 90 odd years ago, and finally to the United States Of America. The breed got recognition by the AKC in 1926.


  • Country of Origin – Egypt
  • Weight – 40-65 lbs
  • Height – 23-28 inches (male), 20-25 inches(female)
  • Lifespan – 10 -17 years
  • Group – Hound Group

Researchers argue Salukis might be more than 3000-5000 years old.

Like other sighthounds, these dogs were the preferred pets of emperors-Alexander the Great, Egyptian pharaohs, and on right through history.

The present Saluki dogs are similar in temperament and shape to its forefathers. Salukis are not only excellent sprinters but they also make independent, dignified, and gentle pets.


Referred to as the Zande Dog, the Basenjis were created as a watchdog and a pack hunter. It is believed these dogs were first bred in the African continent.

They were used for tracking and hunting prey. These dogs were seen on Egyptian tombs and also in some hieroglyphs.

The Basenji has earned popularity for making peculiar sounds.  This oldest known dog emits a peculiar sound that almost sounds like a yodel or a laugh.  They groom themselves and are not much fond of water.




  • Country of Origin – Central Africa
  • Weight – 22 lbs(female), 24 lbs(male)
  • Height – 16 inches(female), 17 inches(male)
  • Lifespan – 13 -14 years
  • Group – Hound Group

Akita Inu

  • Country of Origin – Japan
  • Weight – 70-100 lbs(female), 100-130 lbs (male)
  • Height – 24-26 inches (female), 26-28 inches(male)
  • Lifespan – 10-13 years
  • Group – Working Group

The Akita Inu is a Japanese strong dog popular for her loyalty, courage, and dignity. These double-coated dogs are venerated as goodness symbols and family protectors.

Akitas are quiet, alert dogs. Mostly intolerant of other pets and they are wary of strangers. They are glad to share their friendly side with family.

They love human companionship.

The independent-thinking, large Akita is bred for safeguarding those they love. They need early socialization and training from birth to mingle with other pets and people.

Lhasa Apso

  • Country of Origin – Tibet
  • Weight – 12-18 lbs
  • Height – 10-11 inches(male), females are slightly smaller
  • Lifespan – 12-15 years
  • Group – Non-Sporting Group

The beautiful coated Lhasa Apso served as sentinels in the higher regions of the Himalayas. These dogs are family companions but aloof with strangers. They are complex, confident, and smart.

Apsos are hardy, small dogs of elite presence. They are popular for their flat-hanging coat and their oval-shaped eyes.

The overall picture is remarkably classy- grace, style, and well balanced.

For hundreds of years, Apsos have been in touch with the revered soul of Tibetan Buddism, the Dalai Lama.

These dogs entered the United States of America when they were given as gifts by the then Dalai Lama. In Tibetan folklore, the majestic Apsos are earthly representatives.

Apso in the Tibetan language means “longhaired dog.”

Shih Tzu

That cute smile! Those extra-large dark glowing eyes glancing at you with brilliant expression! Shih Tzus are full of mischief and glamour. We mean it.

Pronounced as “sheet-su,” only a few canines can compete with them as far as friendly affection, grace, elegance, and style are concerned.

Being charismatic is brilliant for this lively dog. These lapdogs make excellent pets if you are an apartment dweller.

Their idea of fun includes sitting tight in your lap while you are busy with your work.

When you buy a Shih Tzu, it shows you are part of Chinese history. Aristocratic breeders developed the Shih Tzu from Tibetan dog stock.

The Shih Tzu is considered as the hybrid of Tibetan breeds, the Pekingese and the Lhaso Apso.

For thousands of years or maybe less, Shih Tzu enjoyed the life of royal pets and was adored by Chinese emperors. As per reports, rulers would give prized gifts to different breeders of this dog who bred the most friendly and affectionate dogs.

Celebrity Shih Tzu owners include singer, actress Miley Cyrus and Queen Elizabeth II who have fallen for the charms of this dog.




  • Country of Origin – Tibet
  • Weight – 9-16 lbs
  • Height – 9-10.5 inches
  • Lifespan – 10-18 years
  • Group – Toy Group


  • Country of Origin – China
  • Weight – up to 14 lbs
  • Height – 6-9 inches
  • Lifespan – 12-14 years
  • Group – Toy Group

The Pekingese, a toy companion of a unique rolling gait is a distinct breed developed for the classes of ancient China.

These are classy dogs of subtle substance and undying loyalty. Pekes are confident companions who create a strong relationship with their master.

They make brilliant watchdogs. Pekes will handle small kids but not known to handle rough treatment.

A Chinese expert says the holy man Lord Buddha himself created this noble breed. He shrunk a massive 1-ton lion into a small, compact dog.

Chinese nobles were particularly fond of flat-faced dogs. In those days, stealing a Peke could even result in a death penalty.

As the Britishers plundered the emperor’s palace in Peking at the height of the Opium Wars, a British Captain found the Pekingese dog.

The dogs reached England and the breed quickly became the darling of the masses.

Tibetan Spaniel

  • Country of Origin – Tibet
  • Weight – 9-15 lbs
  • Height – 10 inches
  • Lifespan – 12-15 years
  • Group – Non-Sporting Group

The curious and alert Tibetan Spaniel was developed to carry out the sentinel task. The Tibbie as it is fondly called creates a devoted bond with their masters.

Tibetan Spaniels help you recall the methods that were used to bred Asian breeds such as Lhasas, Pugs, and Pekes.

These dogs stand not more than 10 inches and they move with purpose.

The importance of pets occupies an esteemed place in legend and Eastern belief. The monks in China raised Tibetan Mastiffs along with Tibbies. They were farseeing watchdogs who sat atop and scanned for enemy or friend.

Japanese Chin

  • Country of Origin – Japan
  • Weight – 7-11 lbs
  • Height – 8-11 inches
  • Lifespan – 10-12 years
  • Group – Toy Group

The Chin represents a Japanese toy dog of a good aristocratic bearing with a profuse, silky coat. Often considered supremely “feline” breed, this clever and delightful lapdog is mostly quiet, graceful, and fastidious.

Chin dogs are a class of their own. They are cute “indoors” friends, with a cute Eastern look and bearing.

Some claim it to be a breed from Korea; others say China. The Chin’s entry to Japan could have happened anywhere from 400 to 800 years ago. Chin dog remained unknown in America until 1854 when the country was ready for a new chapter after almost 200 years of secrecy.

Finnish Spitz

  • Country of Origin – Finland
  • Weight – 20-28 lbs (female), 25-33 lbs(male)
  • Height – 15.5-18 inches(female), 17.5-20 inches(male)
  • Lifespan – 13-15 years
  • Group – Non-sporting group

The agile Finnish Spitz, the foxy-faced dog breed arrived in Finland from central Russia some 4,000 years ago.

This small and fearless dog has a different style of hunting which has got him a new nickname “Barking Bird Dog.”

In Finland, people call this dog as Suomenpystykorva.

Fins have a different bird-dogging style. They also flush birds to the trees.

Shar Pei

  • Country of Origin – China
  • Weight – 45-60 lbs
  • Height – 18-20 inches
  • Lifespan – 8-12 years
  • Group – Non-sporting group

The Shar-Pei has different qualities that present him as one of the best guardian and companion dog.

This dog dates back a least 3,000 years and it was bred as a peasant’s dog. The Shar-Pei dog is a versatile dog. In those days, Chinese farmers used these smart dogs as guardians, herders, and hunters of livestock against rustlers and predators.

The breed’s U.S. journey started without much fanfare in the 60s. It became famous in 1992 when the AKC recognized this breed.

Alaskan Malamute

  • Country of Origin – Alaska
  • Weight – 85 lbs (male), 75 lbs (female)
  • Height – 25 inches (male), 23 inches (female)
  • Lifespan – 10-14 years
  • Group – Non-sporting group

An extremely powerful, the Alaskan Malamute appears like a playful, friendly but dignified dog. They are recognized by their substantial bone, erect ears, and the plumed tail.

The Alaskan Malamutes are one of the oldest dog breeds. The breed got its name from the Mahlemiut tribe that once occupied the Kotzebue Sound a very long time ago.

The Mahlemuit people created a sled dog that works in packs and at the same time haul heavy loads over long distances.

Malamutes are freighters and Huskies are actually racers.

Shiba Inu

  • Country of Origin – Japan
  • Weight – 23 lbs (male), 17 lbs (female)
  • Height – 13.5-15.5 inches(female), 14.5- 16.5 inches(male)
  • Lifespan – 13-16 years
  • Group – Non-sporting group

A native dog from Japan, the Shiba Inu represent a strong and powerful dog. The adaptable Shiba dog appears comfortable in both urban and rural setting.

Brought to the United States of America, Shibas are getting more and more famous in the West. Their cute white markings along with their coloring make them appear foxlike.

They are confident, bold personality to match.


  • Country of Origin – Siberia
  • Weight – 35-50 lbs(female), 45-65 lbs(male)
  • Height – 19-21 inches(female), 21-23.5 inches(male)
  • Lifespan – 12-14 years
  • Group – Working group

The Samoyed is full of grace with all-white coat withstanding cold conditions. They are highly attractive but functional.

Their mouths have been created in such a way to prevent drooling and mischievous dogs like them need attention and demand. Sammies require a soft hand in training.

As pack animals, Sammies should be taught who the leader of the pack is and the leader must be you.

The Samoyede tribe depended mostly on reindeer for leather, fur, and food. They moved from reindeer hunting to herding reindeers. The Samoyeds were tasked with the new role of protecting and moving the herds.


  • Country of Origin – Germany
  • Weight – 40-70 lbs
  • Height – 19-24 inches
  • Lifespan – 12-16 years
  • Group – Foundation Stock Service

This medium-sized dog has a thick, medium coat. Well-balanced, calm, and confident, Eurasiers are loyal but reserved towards unknown persons.

He loves to live in close quarters, and not ideal to be tied up outside or placed in kennels.

Julius Wipfel, a German national, wanted to create a suitable successor. He decided to go for a canine that would display the social behavior and adaptability of the dog’s ancestor, a dog, and that wolf.

Strict breeding programs produced the “Wolf-Chow” puppies.  This puppy was a hybrid between a Wolfpsitz and a Chow Chow.  Later, a Samoyed was introduced in 1972 and this litter was named “Eurasier.”

The GKC (German Kennel Club) recognized the breed in 1973.

Chow Chow

  • Country of Origin – China
  • Weight – 45-70 lbs
  • Height – 17-20 inches
  • Lifespan – 8-12 years
  • Group – Non-Sporting Group

The Chow Chow represents a deep-chested dog with a serious-minded and a dignified personality.

Chows are one of the cleanest dogs and they have little doggy odor. They adapt easily to apartment life and are aloof and loyal to strangers.

They housebreak easily and requires no special exercise regimen.

The world’s oldest dog breed, Chows are seen in many artifacts belonging to the Han Dynasty. The Han Dynasty was ruling China in c.206 b.c.

Experts suggest these dogs go back still further and are forefathers of spitz-type dogs.

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