Oldest Dog Breeds: Top 5 Ancient Pups, According To Experts

Man’s best friend. The saying has been around as long as most people can remember. But though the phrase could be considered something ancient, the breeds on this list surely outlast the old saying. Being tamed from the earliest versions of wolves, humans domesticated these animals to become herders, workers, hounds, terriers, and, above all else, loyal friends. These breeds have been carefully bred and refined over centuries to possess specific traits and abilities. From the noble and intelligent German Shepherd to the playful and affectionate Labrador Retriever, these dogs have proven to be more than just pets. They have become integral members of our families, providing companionship, protection, and unwavering loyalty. So, while the saying may be old, the bond between humans and these remarkable breeds grows stronger with each generation. But what are some of the oldest dog breeds to ever be bred? That’s a great question and one that we have decided to dig a little deeper into today. 

The oldest dog breeds can trace their lineage back thousands of years, reflecting the enduring bond between humans and canines. Among these ancient breeds is the Saluki, often regarded as one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds with a history dating back over 5,000 years. Salukis were revered in ancient Egypt for their hunting prowess and grace. The Basenji, known as the “barkless dog,” is another ancient breed that originated in Africa and is believed to have been bred by the Egyptians. The Chinese Shar-Pei, with its distinctive wrinkled skin, is thought to have been around for over 2,000 years, initially bred for hunting and guarding in China.

The Afghan Hound is a graceful and elegant breed that has roots in the mountains of Afghanistan, where they were used for hunting large game. Similarly, the Shiba Inu, a small Japanese breed, boasts a lineage dating back thousands of years and was originally bred for hunting in the mountains and dense forests of Japan. Finally, the Akita Inu is an ancient Japanese breed with a history tied to nobility and samurai, renowned for their loyalty and strength. These ancient dog breeds have not only stood the test of time but also played significant roles in various cultures and regions, highlighting the diverse nature of the human-canine partnership throughout history.

We just can’t get enough of our furry friends here at StudyFinds! So much so that we have taken the time to research across multiple expert sources to bring you today’s list of the oldest dog breeds in history. These ancient breeds have a mighty history in the dog world, and we can’t wait to share them with you today! If you don’t agree with our list, no worries! We would love to hear from you in the comments down below. 

The List: Oldest Dog Breeds, According to Experts

1. Basenji

The first spot on our list goes to the Basenji. Originating in Africa, “The Basenji can be found on cave paintings from 6000 BC, with relics dating back to at least 3000 BC. This breed hunted, giving it an independence that allowed it to collect food for its owners. As natural hunters, Basenjis are unique and intelligent. While often intelligent, they’re not as eager to please as some other dogs, so they’ll require lots of training,” writes Dutch.

adult tan and white basenji sitting on black textile
Basenji (Photo by Edvinas Bruzas on Unsplash)

“They need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. They are intelligent but can be stubborn. And don’t trust them off-leash; they will bolt out an open door and climb over fences when their hunting instincts kick in,” explains Canine Campus.

“The Basenji is an ancestor to dogs and the Egyptians, but some claim they are native to Africa. Keeping traits of its ancestors, this breed has a more catlike personality, including its need to remain clean. Basenjis don’t bark but make a sound similar to yodeling. They are nicknamed the ‘jumping up and down dog’ because of their ability to leap vertically in tall grasses,” says A-Z Animals.

2. Akita Inu

The second spot belongs to the Akita Inu—a fluffy, faithful, and intelligent breed. “The precise time in which the Akita Inu originated is uncertain; however, archaeological finds indicate that a dog named the Matagi-Inu, which is thought to be the Akita’s ancestor, lived between 8,000 B.C. And 200 B.C.,” notes Animal Hearted.

brown and white short coated dog
Akita Inu (Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash)

“The Akita Inu breed is part of the Husky family. They are a fearless breed that is calm and dignified. The dog is very loyal to their family, making it an excellent match for therapy dogs, police dogs, and family pets. A native of Northern Japan, these dogs are sometimes called Japanese Akita or the Great Japanese dog. Originally, they were bred to hunt wild boar, deer, and bear in the winters in Northern Japan,” comments A-Z Animals.

“Although these dogs were smaller than the modern-day Akita Inu, or Japanese Akita, there’s no denying the breed’s rich history and lineage. The Akita Inu has a more fox-like appearance, as opposed to the bear-shaped head of the more muscular American breed. Known for their ‘dignity, courage, and loyalty,’ the Akita is a national monument of Japan where they are ‘venerated as family protectors and symbols of good health, happiness, and long life,'” adds SpiritDog.

3. Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound covets the third spot on our list. Probably known best for its luxurious locks, “The Afghan is one of the oldest breeds, getting his start thousands of years ago in a remote region of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Originally used as a hunting dog and status symbol, the breed earned its keep with ease and is still prized today for its speed and agility,” explains K9 of Mine.

adult long-coated yellow dog
Afghan Hound (Photo by Arve Kern on Unsplash)

“The Afghan Hound is another breed that many think originated thousands of years ago. Christian legend has it that Noah chose to take the Afghan Hound onto his flood-surviving arc – showing how long the breed has been around,” notes The Scotsman.

“This hound is known for speed and was used for hunting antelopes and leopards. Before long, British soldiers took them and brought them back to the U.K. as show dogs. Afghan Hounds will do well in any family, but be prepared to do many brushing and exercising to keep up with their energy level. They do well in warm and cold climates and adapt very well to their living circumstances. A sociable dog who likes plenty of attention from its owners,” states A-Z Animals.

4. Saluki

The next dog up is the Saluki! A beauty similar to the Afghan Hound, “The Saluki’s origins are primarily unknown. However, we do know that it came from the Middle East at least 5,000 years ago. Images of Salukis have been found on paintings and household objects at archaeological sites, so researchers are led to believe that they were valued companions of nobility,” says Dutch.

short-coated brown dog
Saluki (Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash)

“The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Salukis as their oldest dog breed and notes the breed dates back to at least 329 B.C. Yet, Guinness also notes that cave paintings of dogs that look like Salukis date back 9,000 years, which shows just how difficult deciphering the exact age of specific dog breeds can be. No matter when Salukis first emerged, the bottom line is that they’re one of the world’s most ancient dog breeds,” explains A-Z Animals.

“Originally, these dogs were said to have been the companions of pharaohs and kings. They’re renowned for their speed and hunting abilities, which is one reason. They were so popular among royalty in the ancient world. Salukis are energetic dogs that chase just about everything. They can make good family dogs, but they do best with more active families,” writes Pet Keen

5. Tibetan Mastiff

The last but certainly not least spot goes to the Tibetan Mastiff. These protective gentle giants are “a large breed of dog that is thought to be around 5000 years old. The breed was used for hunting in ancient times, and they were also used as guard dogs by the royal families of Tibet,” describes Animal Corner.

black labrador retriever in close up photography
Tibetan Mastiff (Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash)

“The Tibetan Mastiff is thought to be the ancestor of all modern Mastiff breeds. They were used by tribes in Tibet to protect livestock from local predators such as wolves and bears. A recent study concluded that it could be the first breed to be domesticated, around 58,000 years ago,” adds The Scotsman.

“The Tibetan Mastiff is a large dog breed that originated in China. They are often described to be as magnificent and alert as a lion. They are very protective and loyal dogs whose appearance can be intimidating. Despite being very intelligent dogs, they can be stubborn and sometimes difficult to train. Many would suggest training at a young age will yield the best results,” concludes Petland.

You might be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

Follow on Google News

About the Author

Jilly Hite

New York raised and Florida-based Jilly Hite studied screenwriting and theatre at The Lee Strasberg Institute before becoming a full time content creator and podcaster. She loves old movies, musical theatre, and her pup Ted.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. I don’t see much on the Karelian Bear dogs that are from the Finn ish Komi the viking primitive dog.

  2. You left off the most recently “discovered” Carolina Dog. One of America’s oldest native dog.

  3. Don’t forget the Pekingese! They may be adorable little dust mops but they too are ancient, just smaller than their ancestors

Comments are closed.