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Four Extinct Dog Breeds You've Probably Never Heard Of

The Talbot Hound
A 15th Century depiction of a Talbot Hound

Not much is known about this breed. In fact, there is a small possibility that it wasn't even a breed to begin with, but rather a "type" of dog (ex: all large white hounds may have been called Talbots, similarly to how society uses Pit today). However, there is some evidence of the type being so specific that it supports the idea of it being a breed. It even has many historical mentions in stories, poems, and in paintings from the Middle Age. Either way, it seems to have gone extinct around the beginning of the 19th century.

A Talbot Hound depicted in 1445 behind John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury

The Molossus

The Molossus dogs were famous throughout the ancient world for their size and ferocity and were frequently mentioned in ancient literature, including the writings of Aristophanes, Aristotle, Grattius, Horace, Lucan, Lucretius, and Virgil (among many others). The Molossians issued silver coinage with an image of a Molossus as their emblem. This breed was held in high esteem by its Greek owners. From what historians have been able to deduce, it seems that the Molossus was very large (200-250 lbs.) and was an extremely fierce protector of its family. This ferocious nature was later exploited in wars. Eventually, though, the Greek empire fell and the original Molossus dogs disappeared - but not before passing on their genetics to some breeds that still exist today, such as the Mastiff! Despite common claims in the Mastiff world, the modern Mastiff-type breeds are not the Molossus, but some kennel clubs around the world do use the term "Molossoid" to describe several mastiff and guardian breeds, which does certainly add to the confusion.

The Moscow Water Dog

Following World War 2, the number of dogs in the Soviet Union was dramatically low. An often unthought of byproduct of war is the mass killing of dogs belonging to the enemy. Out of a desperation to fill the void left by the slaughter of various types of working breeds use in the region, the Soviet Union began developing breeds. The Moscow Water Dog - also known as the Moscow Diver, Moscow Retriever or Moskovsky Vodolaz - was one of these breeds. They were originally intended to be water rescue dogs to be used by the Soviet Army. They were mostly derived from the Newfoundland, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and East European Shepherd. It is now extinct but was used in the development of the Black Russian Terrier. The Moscow Water Dog was exclusively produced by the Red Star Kennels, the state-operated kennel. The breeding program was discontinued by the state due to the dogs attacking drowning victims rather than saving them. I realize the included photo is quite terrible, but photos of this breed are remarkably rare, and paintings from the time are said to have been destroyed thanks to the failure of the breed development project. For the most part, they are said to look much like a Newfoundland, but with a rough and blotchy blue-grey outer coat atop a thick and apparent black undercoat.

The Hare Indian Dog

The Hare Indian dog is an extinct domestic dog, coydog, or domesticated coyote that was gradually changed appearance over time do to guided breeding. They were found and originally bred in northern Canada by the Hare Indians for coursing. It had the speed and some physical characteristics of the coyote, and the domesticated temperament and other characteristics (such as color varieties and soft coat) of a domestic dog. It gradually lost its usefulness as aboriginal hunting methods declined with the increase in modernization. It became extinct or lost its separate identity through interbreeding with dogs in the 19th century. Though some claim the breed still exists in a slightly modified form, there is no hard evidence to support this.

Becoming an extinct breed isn't as hard as it may seem.

Breeds all over the world are considered "threatened" due to many factors, such as genetic pools being too small to continue producing dogs of optimal health (this results in very carefully planned outcrossing with other breeds to reestablish fresh genetics), war, deplorable economic conditions, lack of interest in the breed, and modernization leading to the job a breed was developed for no longer being available.

If you would like to check out some rare breeds, check out our posts Four of the Rarest Dog Breeds on Earth and Four MORE of the Rarest Dog Breeds on Earth! If you're more into cats, we have you covered as well...check out Four Rare Domestic Cat Breeds!


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