Throughout the years, changes to old human traditions and violent wars are the main culprits in putting dog breeds at the brink of extinction. In fact, I can’t even count the number of times the Dandie Dinmont Terrier came close to kicking the bucket.
But there are some dog breeds that simply “went the way of the dodo” due to the strangest and most bizarre reasons that you would have never guessed. That said, here are the REAL, yet strange, reasons why these 10 dog breeds went extinct.
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1. Turnspit dog
Imagine this. An over-sized hamster wheel, a fire, and a dog tirelessly running to ensure that your boar, deer or bird, was evenly roasted to perfection. Meet the Turnspit, the unsung heroes of British kitchens during the late 16th to 19th centuries.
These dogs were called the “vernepator cur” in Latin, which can literally be translated to “dog that turns the wheel.” Considering their jobs, I can’t think of a better name.
But life wasn’t all wagging tails and tasty roasts for these canine chefs. When the Turnspit needed a little bit of motivation, kitchen staff would resort to throwing hot coals at their feet to keep them running on the wheel.
And their days off? Only on Sundays, when many Turnspits accompanied their families to church to be used as foot warmers. In fact, the Turnspit was so poorly treated that the RSPCA was formed to fight against animal cruelty.
When the clock jack, also known as the “roasting jack,” was invented in the 18th century, it rendered the breed useless. With time, the Turnspits became the “stigma of the poor,” that is, a living symbol that your restaurant couldn’t afford a fancy new machine.
Unsurprisingly, the Turnspit eventually went extinct due to these technological advances. Now if you thought the Turnspit’s job was bizarre, it’s still not as ridiculous as this next one.
2. Dogo Cubano
Dogs were bred to retrieve game, herd livestock, guard property and even provide companionship. But the Dogo Cubano? They were literally bred to hunt down slaves.
That’s right – back when slavery was still legal in the 16th century, these dogs were imported into Cuba for the elitists to keep their people in check. Whenever a slave would escape, owners would unleash these fierce and aggressive tracking dogs to bring them back.
And given the fact that these dogs were as strong as a Mastiff but had noses as sharp as a Bloodhound, it never ended well for the runaway slaves.
Fortunately, Cuba abolished slavery in the late 1800s. But unfortunately for the Dogo Cubano, it no longer made economic sense for these owners to maintain the breed. So of course, the breed was completely wiped out in a relatively short time.
Like the Cubano, this next dog breed was also purposely bred to be aggressive. But their fate ended because of the dumbest reason possible.
Named after the Argentinian province from where it was first developed, the Córdoba is a hybrid of the Mastiff, English Bulldog, and Bull Terrier – among others. And as you would have guessed, the Córdoba was a ridiculously aggressive and ferocious dog.
They also had strong, muscular bodies, with males weighing up to 90 lbs. So what was their purpose? To be the best fighting dogs ever.
You see – back when dog fighting was legal, the Argentinians were obsessed with developing the fiercest and strongest dogs to sell to the UK for fights. And they did just that.
But there was one problem. The Córdoba was so vicious that breeding them became a huge problem for the breeders. Instead of mating with each other, these dogs would often attack each other and fight to the death…as they were intended for.
So I guess you can say, the over-breeding of aggression in the Córdoba came back biting the breeders in the ass, while also leading to the breed biting the dust. However, this next breed had a similar trajectory, though the solution was even more pointless than with the Córdoba.
4. Moscow Water Dog
So after World War II, Russia’s military, the cool folks at Red Star Kennels, were like, “Let’s create some new dog breeds.” Arguably their brainchild was the Moscow Water dog – a massive 100 pound dog that was specifically developed for some epic water rescues.
Imagine a dog like this: agile, athletic swimmers, who could handle freezing waters like it’s a summer pool party. But here comes the twist. The Moscow Water dog, being a mix of the Newfoundland and Caucasian Shepherds, had a rebellious streak, along with major aggression issues.
In fact, many of them would even attack the sailors on the ship! So the Russian military tried to chill them out by bringing in more Newfoundland genes into the breed, thinking it would mellow them out.
But guess what? It didn’t work. Turns out, genetics can be a little tricky and you can’t always breed out the feisty nature. So by the early 1980s, the Moscow Water dog program sank like the Titanic and the aggressive breed eventually went extinct.
While attempting to breed a specific trait OUT of the Moscow Water dog led to their eventual extinction, this next breed met their demise because breeders were breeding FOR a specific trait.
5. English White Terrier
Unlike other dog breeds at the time, the English White Terrier was almost exclusively bred for dog shows. That means, they needed that perfect all-white coat, pointed ears and calm disposition. But breeding for these traits, especially the white coat, lead to some serious health issues.
When you attempt to breed for a solid white coat when it’s not natural in the breed, it can lead to a significantly higher chance of deafness in the dog. And that’s what happened with the white terrier.
Then, there were the breeding challenges. With a limited gene pool, every attempt to bring these terriers into the world seemed like a roll of the dice. And let’s just say, the odds weren’t in their favor. More health issues? Yup, it was a vicious cycle.
As if that wasn’t enough, doggy fashion trends change faster than you can say “fetch.” Their appearance and coat color just weren’t the “in” thing anymore, and popularity took a nosedive. In the end, these pups couldn’t catch a break and they eventually vanished from society.
6. Tahltan Bear Dog
Back in 1824, fur trader Samuel Black stumbled upon these furry wonders while traversing the rugged landscapes of northern British Columbia. But as later evidence would suggest, the Tahltan Bear dogs were the companions of the indigenous Tahltan people for centuries before this.
But here’s where it gets wild. Imagine a hunter spotting a bear, while carrying this fearless furball in a sack on their back. When the bear’s in sight, they release the dog, and boom!
The little bear dog goes full-on distraction mode, yapping and confusing the bear while the hunter lines up the perfect shot with his bow-and-arrow.
But like with so many extinct dogs, technological advances strike again. With the invention of firearms, these hunters didn’t really need the extra time provided by these dogs to set up their slower bow-and-arrows.
Numbers of the Tahltan Bear dog quickly began to fade, and the last known dog died in 1979. And although the demise of the Tahltan Bear dog was due to technology, the unexpected reason for the downfall of this next breed will certainly surprise you.
7. Norfolk Spaniel
At one point during the mid 19th century, the Norfolk Spaniel was the most popular dog breed in the UK. So how did the breed’s popularity take such a huge 180? Well, it was exactly that. They were simply just too popular.
A 1861 book titled “House Dogs and Sporting Dogs,” called Norfolk Spaniels, “perhaps the commonest breed in England.” And although that may sound like a great title to have, historians believed it was this statement that actually led to the Norfolk’s eventual demise.
Turns out, the liver-and-white Norfolk Spaniels became SO widespread that the public perceived them as a common dog and not a distinct breed. By the turn of the 20th century, the Kennel Club merged their description with other Spaniels, thus forming the English Springer Spaniel.
But unfortunately, the consolidation led to the decline and extinction of the Norfolk Spaniel. Being so popular that you become unpopular makes no sense at all, but it still doesn’t compare to how absurd this next breed’s downfall is.
8. Hawaiian Poi Dog
In the tropical paradise of ancient Hawaii, Polynesian settlers brought over the Poi dog over a thousand years ago. They were small pariah dogs cherished for protecting children, as they were often gifted to families with newborns.
In fact, if the child would die early, the dog would be sacrificed and buried with the child. However, life wasn’t all sunshine and coconuts for the breed. Wanna know why they’re called the Poi dog? Well, it’s because they ate Hawaiian poi almost exclusively, as meat was just too expensive.
This actually caused two problems, which compounded into the breed’s extinction. Because Poi was made primarily of taro, it really wasn’t healthy for them. Dogs need to eat mainly protein. This, of course, led to all sorts of health issues in the breed.
However, this limited diet also caused major weight gain, making them more plump and desirable to eat. Needless to say, the Poi dog had too much going against it, and the breed eventually vanished by the late 19th century.
9. Old English Bulldog
Does this resemble the modern bully type dogs? Well yeah, that’s the idea. The Old English Bulldogs were the predecessors to our modern Bulldogs and Pit Bulls, but with a different twist.
Originally, they were larger and more athletic, bred for sports like blood sports, such as bull baiting and dog fighting. In retrospect, it was a pretty cruel pastime.
However, the tides turned in 1835 when England introduced its first animal cruelty law, putting an end to these brutal sports, and eventually, the Old English Bulldog.
Enter breeder Bill George, who crossed them with the adorable Pugs, creating a smaller, friendlier, and a flatter-faced dog, setting the stage for the Bulldogs we know today.
10. Braque Dupuy
The Braque Dupuy was one notable French gundog that really could have used the help of Tim Cook and Apple. Despite their elite abilities as pointer dogs, their eventual decline and extinction was due to, what we would call today, “poor branding.”
For much of the 1800s, the Braque Dupuy was a popular hunting dog. However, supporters could not seem to agree on what the breed should be. Some called for a slow, close working-trotter. And others thought they should be a fast, wide-ranging dog.
Meanwhile, other gundogs were growing because of their clever and easy-to-remember slogans. For example, the Griffons were labeled the “all-game, all-terrain dogs.” Or the Brittany Spaniel, touted as, “maximum qualities in a minimum size.”
Eventually, people just forgot about the Braque Dupuy, which just shows how important branding and identity is in the world of dogs.
So which of these extinct dog breeds demise did you find the most interesting? And did we miss any good ones? Let us know in the comments below!
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