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Medieval Dog Breeds

6 Medieval Dog Breeds That Still Exist! Check Out The List!

Dogs were commonly kept throughout the Middle Ages due to their usefulness in many occupations. However, they weren’t always treated as companion animals. Dogs were used to guard sheep and other livestock. Not only that, but they ran in a cage while the meat was being roasted over an open flame.

In addition to these functions, they fought alongside and hunted for their masters. That’s right—most dogs in the Middle Ages were working dogs. This article explores not only the living ancestors of medieval dog breeds but also the many roles that dogs played in medieval civilization.

Origins of Medieval Dog Breeds

Dogs in the Middle Ages came in many different varieties, much like now. The scientific community is in agreement that these dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves may have been drawn to the areas where humans have thrown food or leftover carcasses from hunting.

The domestication of these wolves may have begun because humans recognized their military utility. Over time, dogs from the Middle Ages and later developed many of the features we associate with wolves. Selective breeding may have altered their look. As time went on, these wolves began to take on more canine characteristics.

It’s possible that this led to differences in height, weight, and hair color as well as length and texture. Moreover, dogs may have been developed to improve specific characteristics, such as their sensitivity to sound and smell, their obedience, their ability to guard, or even their willingness to attack when provoked.

Dogs, like humans, can be bred to have a specific appearance. It was advisable to go into battle with a large, powerful dog. Smaller dogs were more effective than larger ones at luring rabbits out of their burrows.

7 Medieval Dog Breeds That Still Exist

There aren’t many medieval dog breeds left today. However, due to the interbreeding of dogs for particular roles and psychological qualities, many modern dog breeds still possess their genes.

Here, we’ll examine a few of these breeds.

The Mastiff

Mastiffs are often referred to collectively as the Molossian breed due to their shared ancestor. As far back as 3,000 B.C., mastiffs have been mentioned. English mastiffs went head-to-head with bears, lions, bulls, and other canines in Roman arenas. All mastiffs belong to the group known as Molossians. The mastiff, developed for its fighting prowess, was first used in battle around 600 B.C. in what is now modern-day Turkey.

The Hovawart

The Hovawart is a dog breed with roots in medieval Germany. It didn’t take long for the breed to gain popularity among medieval nobility. They were first developed to serve as watchdogs for human and animal populations.

The German name for this animal roughly translates to “yard watchman.” In the 1400s, the breed was considered a “noble breed” due to its widespread popularity.

Irish Wolfhound

Medieval Dog Breeds

The ancestry of the Irish Wolfhound goes back over two thousand years. Only Irish kings and nobles could afford to purchase this kind of horse because of its extreme value. These dogs were popular diplomatic presents in the Middle Ages, given to both allies and foreign dignitaries.

They were used as companions, guards, and fighters. As dogs, they pursued a variety of game, including deer and bears.

Scottish Deerhound

No one knows where this breed came from. However, a carving of a dog that seems identical to this one was recently found in Scotland; it dates back 1,200 years. These hounds, which are even larger than the Irish Wolfhound, were commonly used to hunt red deer in Scotland up until the early 1800s.

English Toy Spaniel

Once considered the same breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the English Toy Spaniel have since diverged. Over time, King Charles Spaniel became more well-liked than its smaller relative, the English Toy Spaniel. Another popular dog developed through breeding techniques is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The Corgi

Medieval Dog Breeds

More than three thousand years of history have passed since the first corgi was bred in Britain. However, there are two distinct types of corgis. The two types of corgis may look similar, but their histories and personalities are very different.

Final Thoughts

Many dog breeds that originated in the Middle Ages are already extinct, but some have been kept alive by careful breeding. Today’s diverse canine species are mostly the product of centuries of cross-breeding. Quite a few factors might have contributed to this outcome.

Dogs could be bred for specific traits, abilities, or looks for these reasons. Regardless matter the motivation, dogs have been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. As a companion animal, worker, guardian, or hunting buddy. It’s possible the status quo will be maintained for the next several thousand years.

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