As everything else that is truly American, the American dog breeds are the result of the same melting pot that is a proud part of the American history. The fact that most of these dogs came to be by carefully adapting the Old World breeds to the New World problems and environment doesn’t make them any less American. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular true American dog breeds.
The history of dogs settling down with people in North America that eventually led to development and breeding of true American dog breeds is a mixture between canines brought to the land from Europe a few hundred years ago and ancient dogs (some of which are now extinct dog breeds) that assisted their humans in their travels to North America somewhere between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.
For thousands of years, dogs were assisting Native Americans in hunting and home protection, but by 19th and 20th centuries, big changes have started to take place where dogs in now the United States of America were being viewed more as pets, as well as receiving new jobs and bred for those specific tasks. Thus, resulting in the next and biggest birth of true American dog breeds.
Dogs were trained and bred all over the country for retrieving, chasing, hunting, herding, protecting and more. Breeders were giving these dog breeds new names and many of these American dogs are still known and popular today. Below are the list of most American dog breeds where people of the U.S. are directly responsible for the creation of this breed.
20 Most American Dog Breeds
Native to Alaska, this particular breed is close cousin with the Russian Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Labrador and the Eskimo dogs from Greenland. The Alaskan Malamute is named after one native Inuit tribe of Mahlemuts. Their ancestors were powerful but domesticated wolf-dogs that migrated to North America some 4,000 years ago. This dog is one of the oldest sled dogs of the Arctic.
American Eskimo Dog
While you might guess differently due to the Eskimo part of the name, this breed actually has German ancestors. In fact, there is no evidence to support any connection to Eskimo culture at all. These dogs most likely descend from European spritzers, like the White German Spitz, White Pomeranian, White Keeshound and Volpino Italiano, otherwise known as the White Italian Spitz. Thanks to the intelligence and beauty, this breed was very popular in circuses and other forms of showbiz, just like the famous Pierre, the first dog to walk a tightrope.
American Hairless Terrier
This is the first hairless dog breed to originate in the US. These dogs have the same ancestors as the rat terriers. However, in 1972, they became a separate breed due to a rare mutation that led to a completely hairless rat terrier puppy being born. This breed is loved across the United States because it has a loving and playful personality. The lack of hair also makes them ideal companions for people allergic to dogs.
As the name says, this breed originated in Boston. It is one of the most popular American dog breeds and is a result of a cross between a White English Terrier and an English Bulldog. In fact, it was first known as the “American Bull Terrier”. However, the name was changed in 1891 after fierce protests from terrier and bulldog owners, but also to honor the breed’s city of origin since this sweet dog is the point of the town’s pride to this day.
Black and Tan Coonhound
This dog breed is one of the rare easygoing hunting dogs. The ancestors of Black and Tan Coonhounds are Talbot Hound and St. Hubert Hound, which means that this particular breed has a long history. While this dog was labeled coonhound, it is also very proficient in hunting big game, like deer bear or mountain lion. However, this breed is not only great for hunting; they are very entertaining and fun companions as well.
American Leopard Hound
According to the American Kennel Club, American Leopards are one of the oldest tree dog breeds in the U.S. Although the breed’s exact origin is unknown, the dogs that came to the New World along with Spanish conquistadors are the most probable ancestors of the American Leopards. Whatever the case is, this breed was very popular in the 18th century, but faced a decline afterwards. Thanks to the preservation of the American Leopard Cur Breeders Association (ALCBA), this breed is still very much active today.
Toy Fox Terrier
Toy Fox Terrier was first bred in the early 20th century when American fanciers crossed Smooth Fox Terriers with different toy dogs, like Italian Greyhounds, Manchester Terriers and Chihuahuas. That is why this true American dog breed has the strong and passionate personality of a terrier, but also charm and grace of a toy breed, which propelled them into show business since they often served as circus trick dogs.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
As the name itself says, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers originated on both shores of the Chesapeake Bay in the 19th century thanks to the rich owners of duck clubs who needed help with their hunting. The breed comes from two Newfoundland puppies saved from a shipwreck. These dogs were later bred with different dog breeds from the area to create one of the most popular American dog breeds.
American Staffordshire Terrier
One of many dog breeds that were meant to be great at blood sports, American Staffordshire Terrier is the one that is among most truly American dog breeds. While their unfortunate purpose has since become illegal, they remain a very popular breed, often referred to as “pit bulls” like other fighting breeds that have a common ancestor in Bulldogs. The closest relative of the AmStaff is the English version of the breed, the Staffordshire Terrier. However, the AmStaffs are sturdier, heavier and also more mellow than their first cousins.
The Chinook is a breed with a fascinating history. It was founded by Arthur Walden who was an adventurer that took part in the Gold Rush when he went to Alaska. That lead to his determination to create his own line of sled dogs and thus the Chinook was born out of Mastiff-type dog and a Greenland Husky. The Chinook (“warm wind”) immediately became widely popular as a sled dog and Walden and his team of his Chinooks even accompanied Admiral Richard Byrd on his expedition to Antarctica in 1928.
This breed was created by American farmers in the 19th century to provide the best possible pest control and is still known as a great farm dog breed. Rat Terriers have many ancestors since they were bred using at least seven terrier breeds, including Fox Terriers, the Manchester Terrier, the Bull Terrier, etc. There is a bit of Italian Greyhounds and Beagles as well in that mix we today know as Rat Terriers.
Born in the US, this breed is one of six true American hounds that were developed by settlers for purposes of raccoon hunting. Redbone Coonhounds originated in the 18th century and direct ancestors are Red Irish Foxhounds. This breed is pretty tenacious and tireless and one of the best coonhounds in America.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
This breed’s history dates all the way back to 16th century and the only domesticated dog breed that existed at that time – the Native American dog. That dog is the earliest ancestor of Catahoula Leopard Dog and it was crossed with Greyhounds, Bloodhounds and Mastiffs brought by the Spanish explorers. The resulting breeds were once again crossed with other breeds brought by the French to North Louisiana to finally create the Catahoula Leopard Dog.
Don’t be confused by this dog’s name since the Australian Shepherd is actually among the most truly American dog breeds. Their journey began in Spain, in the Basque region. From there, some of the Basque sheepherders emigrated to Australia, where they crossed their native shepherd dogs with other breeds, most notably Collies and Border Collies. The new breed came to California with some of the shepherds, where it was mistakenly named Australian Shepherd. Later, the breed was further refined in the USA and used all across America on ranches and farms.
The Plott Hound, or simply Plott, is a unique Coonhound breed because it doesn’t have the same ancestors as the rest of the American Coonhounds. This breed descends from Hanover Hounds and got the name after the man who created the breed, Johannes Plott, a German immigrant who settled in North Carolina. They are one of the best big-game hunters even to this day.
This breed’s ancestors might have come to America on the Mayflower, all the way back in 1620 since there were two dogs on that boat – one was a Mastiff, and the other was a Spaniel. Cocker Spaniel is the smallest one of all Spaniel breeds but it has many great abilities. In fact, a Cocker Spaniel was the first dog to detect cancer. This breed is also often represented in pop culture and is one of the most recognizable dog breeds in the world.
Carolina Dogs have ancestors in very primitive dogs that came to North America with primitive humans that migrated from Asia. These dogs were domesticated thousands of years earlier from Asian wolves. Carolina Dog looks a bit like the Australian Dingo and even today they can be found free-ranging in the wild.
American Water Spaniel
This breed was the first among American dog breeds that was developed as an all-around hunting dog, becoming one of the best gun dogs today, although the exact origin of the breed remains somewhat of a mystery. However, the breed’s ancestors likely include the Field Spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel and the Old English Water Spaniel. American Water Spaniel originated in the area around the Great Lakes.
Miniature American Shepherd
If you are a fan of newer breeds, then Miniature American Shepherd can be your choice. This breed originated in California in the 1960s, probably from Australian Shepherds. While they were initially bred to be shepherds, their size, loyalty and intelligence make them a great travel companion as well, which propelled their popularity across the US.
This breed descends from a long line of dogs that came to North America from England back in 1650. However, American Foxhound is not the only breed that descends from these black and tan foxhounds that were transported to America by Robert Brooke. American Foxhounds are very popular in the US and even George Washington owned some of them, and it's one of the most truly American dog breeds.
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