Dog breeds can be lost or go extinct. Any breed that is not very popular is at risk because all it takes for a generation to be the last is for the remaining animals to be kept by people who do not have the means, interest, or inclination to find purebred mates for their pet. People sometimes claim to breed a dog who is listed as extinct. This may be because the breed is considered officially extinct by the breed organization, but similar (unregistered) dogs are still being bred. Sometimes people undertake to recreate a breed, working to produce a true-breeding strain of dogs that has the same traits as the original but now lost breed. Sometimes "extinct" simply means that the breed is not recognized but that dedicated fanciers breed representative specimens anyways.
Over the ages, many breeds have undoubtedly disappeared, but there are records- and sometimes photos- of only about a couple of dozen breeds considered extinct.
This Afghani dog was a mastiff type, about 34inches (86.5 cm) and 200lbs (90.5 kg). The coat was dark sable with very little white. It was bred for one specific purpose: to settle tribal disputes without warfare. A dog was chosen to represent each disputing tribe, and the tow dogs were put into a pit to fight to the death. The surviving dog's tribe won the argument. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the near-constant warfare since have probably spelled the end of this breed.
This was a working dog used to pull heavy carts--a poor man's horse. About 30 inches (76 cm) tall, 100lbs (45.5 kg) in weight, and usually fawn or brindle, this muscular breed died out as animal-drawn carts largely disappeared from Belgium's streets. Several breeders are currently recreating the breed, known to be loyal and protective as well as a seemingly tireless worker.
Belgian Shorthaired Pointer
Belgian Shorthaired Pointer
A gundog used in hunting, this 25 inch (63.5 cm), 55 pounds (25 kg) breed was white with large brown patches. In 1960 it was listed as very rare, and in 1984 it was declared extinct, having had no new registrations in many years.
Berger Du Languedoc
Also known as the Cevennes Shepherd, this herding breed was about 18 inches (45.5 cm) tall and 25 pounds (11.5kg). The common colors were fawn, black and white, and black and tan. Energetic, sure-footed, and loving, these dogs had gentle personalities and loved to run. The breed originated and was popular in the Languedoc-Provence region of France.
An ancient French breed, this dog was about 26 inches tall and 55 pounds. Its short, fine coat was white with markings of red-brown, liver or orange. The ears were solid colored. This was a gundog used for hunting in open terrain. The breed's origins are not recorded, but it was similar to some hounds and may have shared ancestry with them. There were several Braque breeds, of which this was the tallest. The breed's name may memorialize the people who originally bred the dog.
This breed was never popular outside of Germany. It was a sheepherding breed, probably related to the Puli, with a long, shaggy coat that formed cords. It appeared in white, roan, and pied coloration and was about 22 inches (56 cm) tall.
This ancient hunting breed was never well known outside its home country of Greece. It was black and tan and about 19 inches tall (48.5 cm) and 40 pounds (18kg). Renowned for its sensitive nose and resonant, far-carrying voice, this dog was seldom considered a pet but was prized as a working dog.
At about 26 inches (66cm) tall and 90 pounds (41kg), this densely coated white dog was a fierce defender of flocks. In fact, Greek Sheepdogs were so ferocious that a heavy log was occasionally attached to the collar to limit their zeal. While there is no official registration of the breed, making if officially extinct, Greek shepherds still used dogs of this type.
Small German Pinschers were bred in merle coloration to produce this 13 inch (33 cm) tall, 24 pound (11 kg) terrier type of dog. The merle blotches were on a background of white, gray, or black. Prized for his loyal and loving temperament, this was an ideal companion dog well suited to indoor life. There have been no registrations since the 1930's.
Hawaiian Poi Dog
This dog small dog was 13-16 inches (33-40.5cm) tall and weighed 25-35 pounds (11.5-16kg), and came in a variety of colors. Descended from the pariah dogs humans brought with them to the island a millennium ago, this breed served both as a pet and as food---sometimes the same animal!! A pup was traditionally given to an infant as protection. If the child died, the dog was killed and buried with the child, but if the child survived the dog, the animal's teeth were made into a necklace for the child, to continue the dog's protection. Fed poi to fatten them for the table, the dogs were lazy and plump. Soon after foreigners began to arrive, their dogs interbred with the Poi Dog's, and the breed was lost. An attempt to revive the breed at the Honolulu Zoo was unsuccessful.
Descended from an orange gundog brought back to Denmark from Germany, this breed is about 24 inches (61cm) tall and 50 pounds (22.5kg). It is orange with small white markings on the extremities and chest and is valued for its field abilities. This Danish breed is unusual in that it is "extinct" because it has no official recognition, despite the fact that it had a founding organization and has been bred for more than a century. Political and psychological opposition, as well as the belief that it is merely a color variant of the English Pointer, stand in the way of its recognition.
At 17-30 inches (43-76cm) tall and 65-70 pounds (29.5-31.5kg), this sighthound originated a couple of centuries ago when Australia was first settled by Europeans and played a significant role in the survival of the colonists. Found in many different colors, this breed is similar to the Greyhound and was developed both to hunt game and to protect flocks. Although not officially recognized, the breed persists in places where it is still used for hunting.
This tricolor French hound stood about 27 inches (68.5 cm) tall and weighed about 60 pounds (27 kg). It had a black blanket and white underside and legs. Tan coloration was usually restricted to the head. It was created in the 1870's by Rogatien Levesque to hunt in packs. Many believe that the last Levesque were used to create the Chien Francais Blanc et Noir in the mid-20th century.
Known also as the Pachon Navarro and Old Spanish Pointer, this unusual Spanish breed originated in the 1100s. It was about 22 inches (56 cm) tall and 60 pounds (27 kg). A pointer, it was bred in liver and white or orange and white. Its most significant feature was its split or "double" nose-- the nostrils were separated by a strip of furred skin, making each a separate entity. This trait is credited with giving the breed its acute sense of smell, but there is no evidence for or against this claim.
Tahltan Bear Dog
This tiny powerhouse was bred by the Tahltan Indians of northern British Columbia and the southern Yukon. Never larger than 15 inches (38 cm) tall and 15 pounds (7 kg), these fearless dogs were used to hunt bears and cougars. They could run across snow that bears had to slog through, and they would keep the animal at bay until their masters arrived for the kill.