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20 Extinct Dogs: Breeds That No Longer Exist (with Illustrations)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

ancient dog in a Byzantine mosaic floor

Dog breeds are constantly changing. Every so often, you’ll see a new one like the Labradoodle come into existence, while others fade away.

This is a guide to the dog breeds that faded away.

You may not be familiar with all the extinct dogs on this list, as many have been extinct for quite some time. Don’t be too concerned, however — many just evolved into different breeds rather than disappearing entirely.

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Top 20 Extinct Dog Breeds:

1. Bullenbeisser

Bullenbeiser extinct dog breed illustration
Image credit: Bullenbeiser, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Also known as the German Bulldog, the Bullenbeisser was bred for use in sports like bear- and bull-baiting (which fortunately, have also gone extinct). They were compact and powerful, although quite a bit larger than their English Bulldog cousins.

Bullenbeissers were crossbred out of existence, although these extinct dogs have one notable modern descendant: the Boxer.

2. Molossus

statue of Molossian Hound dog extinct
Image credit: Statue of a Molossian hound. Ca. 320 B.C., George E. Koronaios, Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Molossuses were found in the kingdom of Molossians, which was a group of ancient Greek tribes that lived in between modern-day Greece and Albania. Molossuses were bred for hunting and to herd sheep, and they were feared and respected for their ferocity.

While you won’t find any Molossuses around today, their legacy lives on in Mastiffs, which are believed to be direct descendants of those ancient pups.

3. Old English Bulldog

Crib and Rosa painting by Samuel Raven of extinct Old English Bulldog breed
Image credit: CribandRosa1811, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Is the Old English Bulldog extinct? This one gets a little confusing. The Old English Bulldog is extinct, but the English Bulldog and the Olde English Bulldogge live on.

The Old English Bulldogs were larger and less compact than their modern counterparts, and they were eventually bred out of existence — to be replaced by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, English Bull Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier.

4. Turnspit Dog

Turnspit extinct dog breed illustration
Image credit: Turnspitdog-1862, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Turnspit Dog was a precursor to small dogs like the Welsh Corgi or Glen of Imaal Terrier. They had a long body and stumpy little legs and were bred to run on a wheel in order to turn meat on a spit.

These dogs aren’t around anymore, and nobody knows what happened to them. They were likely crossbred into other breeds.

5. Fuegian Dog

Fuegian Dog extinct breed
Image credit: Fuegian Dog (1863), Glover M. Allen, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Fuegian Dog was actually a domesticated fox and was kept by people in South America for hundreds of years. They weren’t loyal to individual owners and were often aggressive to both people and livestock — a fact that eventually led to them being driven out of existence.

While they were here, they were largely used to hunt otters and keep their humans warm.

6. Dogo Cubano

extinct dog breed Cuban Mastiff
Image credit: DogoCubano2, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Dogo Cubano — also known as the Cuban Mastiff — was stocky and powerful and functioned as a cross between the Mastiff and a Bloodhound. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a noble purpose, as they were bred to help hunt down escaped slaves.

After slavery was abolished, these dogs waned in popularity until they faded out of existence. It is believed that several modern breeds, such as the Dogo Argentino and American Pit Bull Terrier, are descended from Dogo Cubanos, however.

7. Argentine Polar Dog

Argentine Polar Dog
Image credit: Simba02, Tokuretsu, Wikimedia, CC0 1.0

The massive, 130-pound Argentine Polar Dog was bred to help the Argentinian army cross Antarctica quickly and safely. They were a mix of cold-weather breeds like Huskies, Malamutes, Manchurian Spitzes, and Greenland Dogs.

They only went extinct recently — in 1994, to be exact. Years of living in Antarctica without contact with other dogs left them susceptible to common canine diseases, which eradicated them once they returned to South America.

8. Braque Dupuy

Dupuy Pointer extinct dog breed illustration
Image credit: Dupuy Pointer from 1915, W.E. Mason, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Braque Dupuy was similar to the English Pointer, with a little Greyhound thrown in, so they could find the bird you shot in record time.

These dogs were never that popular, so it didn’t take much for them to fade into obscurity. Some people argue that they’re not extinct, although there aren’t any credible claims to the contrary.

9. Hare Indian Dog

Hare indian dog extinct breed
Image credit: Hareindiandog, John James Audubon, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Used by the Hare Indians to hunt game, the Hare Indian Dog may have actually been a domesticated coyote. They were slender and fast yet friendly toward humans. They didn’t take too well to being penned up, however, and loved to howl.

Once the Hare Indians were introduced to guns, they had little use for these dogs. They are believed to have intermingled with Newfoundlands and Eskimo Dogs.

10. Moscow Water Dog

moscow water dog extinct breed
Image credit: Moscow Water dog, Wikimedia, Public Domain

World War II was devastating on the Soviet Union, and most working dogs didn’t survive. As a result, the U.S.S.R. needed to create new breeds to perform specific tasks, and they combined Newfoundlands, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs, and East European Shepherds to create the Moscow Water Dog.

The breed was intended to aid in water rescues, but that idea was quickly scrapped — turns out they were more interested in biting people than saving them.

11. Salish Wool Dog

salish wooly dog extinct breed photograph
Image credit: Salish dog 01 girls with dog, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Coast Salish people had a problem: They needed wool, but they didn’t have access to sheep or goats. Their ingenious solution was to breed the Salish Wool Dog, a pooch that had long, white, fluffy fur.

These dogs were sheared every year, and their fur was used to create blankets and other essential items.

12. Tahltan Bear Dog

tahltan bear dog extinct breed
Image credit: Thaltan bear dog, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Tahltan Bear Dog was a Canadian breed designed to hunt bears, so we don’t want to meet whatever drove them to extinction. Despite their ferocious job description, they were actually fairly small, standing only about 17 inches high at the shoulder.

In fact, their lightweight build worked to their advantage, as they could prance on top of a deep snowdrift while bears became stuck in it. From there, it was simply a matter of waiting for their humans to show up to finish the job.

13. Norfolk Spaniel

Dash II Norfolk Spaniel old photograph
Image credit: Dash-II-Norfolk-Spaniel, Wikimedia, Public Domain

A larger version of the Cocker Spaniel, the Norfolk Spaniel was a high-maintenance dog known for pitching fits every time they were separated from its owner. They were also extremely stubborn and ill-tempered, which may explain why they went extinct.

Still, these dogs were excellent hunting companions and were equally at home on land or in the water.

14. Dalbo Dog

Dalbo dog breed with man
Image credit: Dalbo_dog_01, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Dalbo Dog is another extinct giant, a close relative of the Molossus. They hailed from Sweden, where they were used to protect livestock from animals like wolves and bears, so you can imagine how ferocious they could be.

They went the way of the Dodo around the middle of the 19th century. No one knows for sure what wiped them out, but many suspect a widespread rabies outbreak that occurred around that same time.

15. Halls Heeler

Halls Heeler extinct dog in old photograph of Tracksons
Image credit: Front drive up to Trackson’s property, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Halls Heeler was a dog breed created to serve a single purpose for a single person. Thomas Simpson Hall, a Welshman who owned large tracts of land, wanted a dog capable of herding cattle, so he crossed Northumberland Drover’s Dogs with dingoes.

After Hall’s death in 1870, the Halls Heeler stopped being bred exclusively for use on the property. They were eventually sold around the world, especially in Australia, and the breed formed the basis of what would become the Australian Cattle Dog.

16. Chien-Gris

Popular in Medieval times, the Chien-Gris was a scent hound whose use was reserved exclusively for royal hunting parties. This is a bit strange, as these dogs didn’t have a good sense of smell and often overcharged their quarry.

They were relentless in pursuit of prey, however. When hunting in France started to decline after the French Revolution, the breed stopped being useful and were eventually interbred out of existence.

17. Kurī

Fans of “Moana” will appreciate the Kurī, as it was believed that the Māorian demigod Māui created the breed by turning his brother-in-law into one. We can’t speak to that, but we do know that these New Zealand-based dogs were used to hunt birds.

When European settlers arrived in New Zealand, they brought their own dogs with them, and the resulting interbreeding forced the Kurī into extinction.

18. Paisley Terrier

Paisley Terrier dog breed
Image credit: PaisleyandBT1894, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Originally from Scotland, the Paisley Terrier was bred primarily for use as a pet, although they also had quite the knack for killing rats. They became popular as show dogs but soon fell out of favor with many breeders, leading to their demise.

The breed’s lineage lives on today, however, as they’re believed to be the forebears of the Yorkshire Terrier.

19. St. John’s Water Dog

St Johns water dog
Image credit: St Johns dog, Wikimedia, Public Domain

Known for their water-resistant coat and tireless work ethic, the St. John’s Water Dog was a favorite companion for many fishermen in Newfoundland. The breed went extinct because dog ownership was heavily taxed in Newfoundland, as the government wanted to promote the raising of sheep.

However, it has quite a few notable modern descendants, including the Flat-Coated Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever.

20. Toy Bulldog

Toy Bulldog illustration
Image credit: Toy Bulldog, Wikimedia, Public Domain

The Old English Bulldog fell out of favor once bear- and bull-baiting was outlawed, and some breeders tried to make a miniature version that would make suitable pets. The result was the 20-pound Toy Bulldog, and the breed was riddled with problems from the very beginning.

These dogs had myriad health problems and were notoriously difficult to breed. Training was also an issue, as they were incredibly stubborn. Eventually, breeders gave up trying, and the breed was extinct by the 20th century.

Divider 2Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

While it’s never ideal to see any breed go extinct, the fact is that breeds are always in flux. In fact, other modern purebred dogs are on the verge of extinction, such as the Curly-Coated Retriever, Bloodhound, and Glen of Imaal Terrier.

We hope that these dogs all experience a resurgence in the coming times, but we’re also excited to see what new breeds are coming down the pike. We hope you enjoyed this guide to the world’s extinct dog breeds!

Featured Image Credit: Dan Shachar, Shutterstock

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