5 of the Oldest Dog Breeds

The world's oldest dog breeds include the Afghan Hound, Basenji, Greenland Sled Dog, Saluki, and Xoloitzcuintli.

Apr 2, 2024By Tanya Taylor
oldest dog breeds

Scientists believe that humans domesticated dogs between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago. Our early ancestors bonded with canines for many reasons, including companionship, help with hunting, and standing guard around the home. The oldest dog breeds are some of the most intelligent, loyal, hard-working hounds around. If you want to know about the history of man’s best friend, dig into my list of the oldest dog breeds below.

1. Afghan Hound

afghan hound
Photo Credit: Arve Kern on Unsplash

Height: 25 - 27 inches

Weight: 40 - 60 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 12 - 18 years

Origin: Afghanistan/Egypt

The first entry on our list is the elegant Afghan Hound. Despite their name, evidence suggests this breed may have originated in Egypt or Asia around 8,000 years ago. Local nomadic people developed these dogs for hunting big game such as antelope and leopards, and they are likely related to the Saluki.

Afghan hounds are incredibly striking dogs with a distinctive long, silky, flowing coat, which needs lots of grooming to prevent matting. They are slender and graceful, with large, intelligent eyes, long noses, and long, feathery ears. They come in many colors, including silver, white, black, blue, and cream, sometimes with a black mask.
The Afghan hound isn’t a beginner's dog because they’re super intelligent, stubborn, rebellious, and aren’t easy to train. They have a strong prey drive, need lots of exercise, and can be wary of strangers and other dogs. But, under the correct guidance, they are incredibly affectionate and loyal family pets.

2. Basenji

basenji dog
Photo Credit: Hannah Lindahl on Unsplash

Height: 16 - 17 inches

Weight: 22 - 24 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 13 - 14 years

Origin: Africa

The cat-like Basenji dog is the next breed on our list, and this cute little hound originated in Africa 6,000 years ago. Basenjis are hunting dogs and, due to living in remote areas, they are an incredibly pure breed. The distinctive thing about this small hound is that it doesn’t bark - it has a low yodeling sound.

These distinctive little dogs have sharp facial features, large pointy ears, a wrinkled forehead, and intelligent eyes. They have a curly tail and short, sleek coat, which is usually bi or tri-colored with white, sable, tan, brindle, black, red, or cream. Basenjis are incredibly clean dogs and have a rigorous self-grooming regime.

Basenjis have exceptional smell and eyesight and are excellent guard dogs. They’re fast and agile with colorful, playful personalities, but you will likely experience Basenji behavioral issues if they don't get enough mental stimulation or exercise. These dogs can be rebellious and respond better to short training sessions. They are loving and affectionate and enjoy being with their family.

3. Greenland Sled Dog

greenland sled dog
Photo Credit: Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash

Height: 22 - 25 inches

Weight: 60 - 70 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 12 - 13 years

Origin: Greenland

With a history dating back 9,000 years, the Greenland Sled Dog, also known as the Greenland Husky, is one of the oldest breeds on our list. They’re related to the Alaskan malamute and one of the closest dogs to a wolf. They arrived in Greenland with Siberian settlers who used them for hunting and pulling sleds.

Greenland Huskies are part of the Spitz family of dogs and look similar to Malamutes but are more slender. They have a large, bushy, curly tail and a thick double coat, which keeps them warm up to -70 degrees. They come in many colors, including fawn, gray, white, and brown.

Greenland Sled Dogs are strong, incredibly aloof, and independent, yet loyal with a pleasant demeanor. They’re full of energy and not suited to sitting in the house all day. They need to be busy with long walks and lots of playtime. These wolf-like hounds are super friendly and adaptable but aren’t easy to train. They need a strong leader with lots of patience and training from a young age.

4. Saluki

saluki dog
Photo Credit: Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

Height: 23 - 28 inches

Weight: 40 - 65 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 10 - 17 years

Origin: Egypt

At 4,000 years old, the Saluki is the ultimate working canine, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the oldest dog breed. Also known as the Persian Greyhound, this dog has a long history and is associated with the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and Persians. These regal dogs are the choice breed for Egyptian nobility and are outstanding hunting dogs that can reach speeds of 42mph.

Salukis are elegant, slender dogs with a greyhound build. They have a smooth or feathered coat and come in many colors, including fawn, chocolate, red and cream, with various markings. They are generally clean dogs - but famously picky eaters, and it’s hard to keep weight on them.

The Saluki is an independent, intelligent hound and is incredibly loyal and pretty calm for a hunting dog. They’re highly adaptable and excellent family pets but need lots of exercise - or they can be destructive. Salukis can be shy with strangers and aren't overly affectionate, but love being in their owners' company.

5. Xoloitzcuintli

mexican hairless dog
Photo Credit: Petful on Flickr

Height: 18 - 23 inches

Weight: 30 - 55 pounds

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 13 - 18 years

Origin: Mexico

The Xoloitzcuintli, also called the Mexican Hairless Dog, is pronounced “show-low-eets-queent-lee” or Xolo (show-low) for short. It’s the oldest breed of the Americas. The name Xolo comes from the Aztec god Xolotl, and legends say Xolos are healing dogs that help guide people's souls through the underworld. The Xolo is similar to the Peruvian Inca Orchid, another hairless breed. The main difference between the Xoloitzcuintli and the Peruvian Inca Orchid is that the Inca has a terrier-like personality, and the Xolo is more laid-back.

The Mexican Hairless Dog is the ideal pet for people with allergies. Sometimes, they have patches of coarse hair on their head, feet, or tail, and there is a coated variety. Xolos come in many colors, including palomino, bronze, brindle, black and tan. There are also toy and miniature breed variations.

The Xoloitzcuintli are excellent watchdogs and love being with the family, but you must supervise them with small children. Overall, they’re friendly, affectionate, loyal dogs, but are super intelligent, can be highly strung and don't like being alone for long periods.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.