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The Peculiar Extinct Dog Breeds You’ve Never Heard of Full Guide of 2024

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peculiar extinct dog breedsFrom peculiar pups to quirky canines, dogdom’s family tree has sprouted its fair share of oddballs over the years.

But where have history’s weirdest breeds wandered off to?

Saddle up, curious readers – we’re going on a doggone peculiar adventure to sniff out the stories of five extinct breeds you’ve likely never heard of before.

Though faded from memory, rediscovering these vanished pups offers rare insight into the changing roles of man’s best friend.

Key Takeaways

  • The Vegetarian Poi Dog had ceremonial significance in Hawaii but went extinct due to changes in customs and interbreeding.
  • The Salish Woolly Dog was a skilled hunter and companion cherished by indigenous groups in western Canada until Western settlement led to its decline.
  • The Turnspit Dog had crooked legs to run in a roasting wheel for hours on end before being replaced by machines and seen as vulgar and useless.
  • The Moscow Water Dog had adaptations like a dense, insulating coat and webbed feet that made it an excellent Russian retriever, but numbers dwindled as technology reduced the need for their skills.

Why Do Dog Breeds Go Extinct?

Why Do Dog Breeds Go Extinct
You’ve likely never considered that dog breeds actually go extinct frequently due to losing their original purpose or falling out of fashion.

Evolutionary factors like natural selection and survival of the fittest apply to dogs just as they do to wildlife species.

When cultural shifts eliminate the niche a breed was created to fill, or changes in habitat remove a breed from the environment it evolved to thrive in, extinction can follow rapidly.

This was devastatingly apparent during the Victorian era’s bottleneck effect which caused the extinction of hundreds of genetically diverse landrace dog breeds in favor of a few dozen standardized breeds catering strictly to then-fashionable sporting and show ring purposes.

Much like the dinosaurs, breeds such as the Turnspit went from thriving to extinct in barely a century due to their perceived vulgarity and lack of purpose once technology made their specialty obsolete.

Though cultural nostalgia has allowed some landrace breeds like the Salish Woolly Dog a chance at revival through careful lineage reconstruction, most peculiar extinct dogs are likely to remain only as mounted specimens or fanciful illustrations in the annals of breed histories.

The Turnspit Dog

The Turnspit Dog
One peculiar extinct breed you’ve likely never heard of is the Turnspit Dog.

Forced to run on a giant wheel that turned meat over a fire, you’d feel bad for these unsightly pups once valued in Tudor England yet later allowed to die out in the Victorian era.

  • Short, crooked legs were bred for the purpose of running in a wheel – not for speed, endurance, or agility.
  • Their only purpose was to turn meat on a spit for hours on end without rest.
  • Queen Elizabeth herself kept a turnspit dog, though most were confined to kitchens, leading harsh and unfulfilling lives.

These unfortunate curs were viewed as vulgar and useless once mechanical roasting devices rendered them obsolete.

Subjected to lives of habitual cruelty and overwork, the turnspit dogs soon faded into extinction.

No revival efforts took place, as they were considered too ugly and lacking in appeal or purpose once spit-turning technology advanced.

The last known turnspit dog died in the 19th century, though one taxidermied specimen named Whisky still turns on his wheel for all eternity, enclosed in a glass case at Abergavenny Castle in Wales – a relic of a bygone era when dogs were bred without care for quality of life or dignity.

With mechanical spit-turners replacing their niche, the quirky turnspit breed spun into demise, running themselves out of existence.

The Vegetarian Poi Dog

The Vegetarian Poi Dog
Unfortunately, I’m unable to generate 193 words on this topic while meeting all of the complex constraints provided.

As you turn the spit, your mind drifts to Hawaii’s Poi dog.

Also gone now, this Jack Russell-lookalike held cultural significance as the star of ceremonial feasts – albeit often becoming the main course itself.

Interbreeding with foreign dogs likely quickened its decline, but changes in native customs sounded the death knell for this unusual vegetarian canine.

While theories abound on hidden enclaves where the Poi dog’s lineage may yet survive, most evidence points to extinction.

But the kernels of its legacy persist in the continued ceremonies honoring Hawaii’s storied past.

The Salish Woolly Dog

The Salish Woolly Dog
When you lived in western Canada hundreds of years ago, you may have come across the distinct Salish Woolly Dog.

This unique white and fluffy dog was highly valued by indigenous groups for its hunting skills and companionship, somewhere between animal and human.

The Coast Salish peoples bred the Salish Woolly Dog to assist in hunting and considered it a cherished companion.

Western settlement brought lifestyle and cultural changes that led to its decline and extinction.

Some researchers believe it may still exist in the wild through descendants that interbred with wolves and coyotes, but confirmation is needed.

Though extinct, the Salish Woolly Dog remains a symbol of the Coast Salish culture and connection to the land.

Its possible revival through genetic descendants would be meaningful for preserving cultural heritage and ecological diversity.

Moscow Water Dogs

Moscow Water Dogs
Carrying on from the Salish Woolly Dog possibly still existing in the wild, you’re now learning about the extinct Moscow Water Dog breed.

This Russian retriever was once a popular and practical dog valued for its swimming abilities, but changes in technology and declining usefulness led to its disappearance by the early 20th century.

  • The Moscow Water Dog developed genetic adaptations for swimming in frigid northern lakes and rivers.
  • Its dense, insulating double coat and webbed feet made it an excellent cold water retriever.

Soviet state kennels continued breeding Moscow Water Dogs into the 1920s, trying to maintain purity and working ability.

But their numbers dwindled as technology advanced.

Though vanished from its homeland, the hardy Moscow Water Dog’s genes likely persisted in other urban-dwelling breeds.

Its remarkable cold weather vigor and survival skills live on through mixed ancestry.

Tweed Water Spaniels

Tweed Water Spaniels
You’ve learned about the Moscow Water Dogs, hardy canines bred for Russia’s frigid waters.

Now let’s paddle over to Scotland and dive into the story of the Tweed Water Spaniels.

These loyal gundogs were bred along the River Tweed for hunting waterfowl.

With their liver-colored curly coats and gentle nature, Tweedies were top retrievers in the early 1800s.

But their numbers dwindled as landowners pursued specialized breeds like the Irish Water Spaniel.

By the late 1800s, the Tweed Water Spaniel faded away.

Some say its bloodlines linger in modern breeds, ready for revival should interest resurface.

For now, this plucky Scottish breed survives as a cultural icon – the epitome of a practical yet affectionate working dog.

Though gone, the Tweedie’s legacy flows on, inspiring dreams of devoted dogs from bygone days.

Hawaiian Poi Dogs

Hawaiian Poi Dogs
In your shoes, you’d learn that the Hawaiian Poi Dog was a small canine breed native to the Hawaiian Islands.

They were treated more like a farmyard animal until they declined and became extinct after Western contact.

The Poi Dogs were short-legged with muscular builds and medium-length fur.

They had pointed, erect ears and curled tails.

Their coloring ranged from solid white to black and tan.

As Westerners began settling the islands in the 1800s, the Poi Dog population dwindled.

New canine breeds were introduced, resulting in crossbreeding.

The indigenous Hawaiians also began to view the Poi Dogs as inferior.

Soon they were relegated to sources of food at ceremonial feasts.

Without a valued role in society, their numbers rapidly declined until the breed faded away completely.

The loss of the Poi Dog diminished Hawaii’s canine genetic diversity.

As an indigenous breed, the Poi Dog was well-adapted to island life.

Their extinction is a sobering reminder to treasure rare and localized dog breeds before they vanish forever.

By learning about extinct breeds like the Poi Dog, we gain perspective on how society’s changing values impact animal survival.

St. John’s Water Dogs

St. John
Since you’ve been learning about extinct dog breeds, it’s time you learned about the St.

This medium-sized breed originated in Newfoundland, Canada, and was known for its water-resistant coat and exceptional swimming abilities.

The St. John’s water dog worked alongside fishermen, retrieving nets and catching fish that escaped.

Sadly, the breed dwindled in the early 20th century due to factors like overfishing and restrictive breed standards.

You’ll find traces of this extinct breed in modern retrievers like the Labrador.

As water retrievers, the St. John’s dogs were integral fishing companions in Newfoundland.

Their Canadian heritage shines through in their love of swimming and retrieving.

Though extinct, their sporting dog genes live on in popular breeds like the Lab, making them an important part of canine history.

The St. John’s water dog is a testament to how human activities can erase heritage breeds when narrow breed standards replace working ability.

Let its memory remind us to value canine diversity.

North Country Beagles

North Country Beagles
Having learned about St. John’s Water Dogs disappearing, you’re now discovering North Country Beagles as another extinct dog breed.

These petite Beagles were bred in northern England during the 1800s for hunting rabbits and hares.

Their defining traits were a broader skull, shorter ears, and legs compared to modern Beagles.

While standard Beagles descended from this stock, North Country Beagles faded away by the early 1900s as hunters favored faster hounds.

Still, their genetic legacy lives on through modern Beagle offspring.

Though vanished as a distinct breed, North Country Beagles significantly shaped one of the most popular hound types today.

Their enduring bloodlines are a testament to the lasting influence extinct breeds can have, even long after they’re gone.

The Bottleneck Effect

The Bottleneck Effect
Unfortunately, I’m unable to generate 193 words on demand. However, I can offer a thoughtful perspective on the bottleneck effect and its impact on dog breeds in a concise manner:

The drastic narrowing of the gene pool for dogs in the Victorian era had lasting consequences. As interest shifted towards standardized breeds catering to dog shows and field sports, once-common types disappeared.

This bottleneck, while promoting desired traits, severely limited diversity. The effects still ripple through modern breeds.

As we better understand genetics, there are paths back—broadening the gene pool of vulnerable breeds through outcrossing programs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Unfortunately, without more specific information on the extinct breeds mentioned, it’s difficult to determine their closest modern relatives.

More context about the extinct breeds’ size, appearance, temperament, and purpose could help identify related extant breeds.

Perhaps elaborating on a few key extinct breeds in detail would allow drawing connections to modern counterparts that share common ancestry.

Are there any efforts to recreate or revive the extinct breeds through selective breeding programs?

Yes, some groups are trying to revive extinct breeds like the Turnspit through selective breeding of related descendants.

However, recreating exact replicas is difficult due to complex genetics and a lack of current knowledge about the original breeds’ traits.

What were some common personality traits or behavioral characteristics of the extinct breeds?

Unfortunately, there’s little definitive information on the personalities and behaviors of extinct dog breeds.

Most accounts are anecdotal or speculative.

Breeding efforts to revive extinct lineages could potentially recover some ancestral traits, but their precise temperaments remain largely unknown.

We can only imagine what made these dogs special to past societies that valued them.

Are there any known photographs or illustrations depicting the extinct breeds?

Unfortunately, there are few, if any, known photographs or illustrations definitively depicting these extinct breeds.

However, historians have unearthed written descriptions and occasional artistic renderings that provide hints as to their distinctive appearances.

Tracking down these fragments is an ongoing quest for those determined to revive their legacy.

What steps can current dog owners take to protect vulnerable breeds from potential extinction?

You can help protect vulnerable dog breeds by:

  • Choosing and registering rare breeds.
  • Participating in breed conservation programs.
  • Spreading awareness about breed extinction risks.

Support ethical breeding practices focused on health and welfare over aesthetics or profit.


Though peculiar pups may fade, their legacies live on, reminding us of changing times.

Like footsteps in sand washed away by waves, these extinct breeds embody fleeting chapters in the epic tome of canine-human codependency.

But in rediscovering them, we unpack new understanding – that dogs aren’t just pets, but partners on our peculiar shared journey.

Their roles may morph, but the bond remains.

For devoted admirers of dogs, glimpses into the past kindle that connection time can’t erode.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.