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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dog Breeds That Were Almost Extinct, But Did A Complete 180

OK, we looked at breeds that are rare, breeds that are extinct, and today, we will look at breeds that were once rare, but for whatever reason, did a complete turn-around and today are very popular. Though dogs unfortunately in general are dying out as the internet glorifies cats more, and people are getting lazier, these are breeds that were once on the verge of extinction. People often start breeding programs to revive nearly extinct breeds, and sometimes they are successful. Here are some examples of those success stories.

1. Portuguese Water Dog
This breed, from Portugal, originally was uncommon, or unheard of, outside it's native country. By the 1930s, the breed was almost wiped out. Even with AKC recognizing the breed in the 1990s, it was still uncommon. That is until US President Obama decided this was the breed he wanted to give his children in 2009. Because his daughter had an allergy to dog hair, and this is a truly hypo-allergenic breed, they were brought together. Before you knew it, everybody wanted one of these dogs, and for a while, they were becoming quite popular in the USA.

2. Rottweiler
Most people do not know it, but in the early years of the 20th century, the rottweiler was almost wiped out. They were originally bred as cattle-drovers, but when steam engines replaced that task, the breed was nearly wiped out, and the breed virtually disappeared. In 1882, at a dog show, the last known specimen of this breed was shown, and was a very poor representative. But today, every rottweiler in existence is descended from that one poorly bred specimen. They might be extinct today if it had not been discovered to be a great police dog. During WW1 and WW2, these dogs became extremely popular.

3. Shar-Pei
Though this breed was created 4000 years ago in China, by 1978, it was considered the world's rarest breed. Only 11 specimens were known to exist then. It wasn't until the late 1980s that this breed began to gain a stronghold, and 200 specimens of this breed were smuggled to the USA to begin breeding practices. I saw my first shar-pei pups in a pet store in 1990, and I was amazed because I had known years before that the breed was almost extinct. They especially became popular when Daniel Wood of New Kids on the Block, was pictured in a rockstar magazine holding a shar-pei puppy.

4. German Shepherd Dog
Created in 1899 by breeding old German herding dogs, there used to be 2 other varieties of the GSD. Once there was a longhaired and wirehaired version. While the longhaired sometimes pops up in modern GSD litters, the wirehaired version is completely extinct. During WW2, Germany lost a lot of popularity thanks to Hitler, and so did it's dogs. And by the end of the 1940s, the modern GSD was almost extinct. Those that survived became plagued with health problems. Sound specimens had to be imported from Germany to keep sturdy dogs, which were used for police work.

5. Lowchen
This is a small toy dog that, at one time in it's history, there were less than 20 specimens left in the world. Today, it is still not that popular, as there are only a few hundred registered each year. But in 1996, it gained recognition by the AKC. Though it is more numerous now, it will probably never be a very popular dog, but it has made a remarkable comeback.

6. Havanese
This is one of few breeds that is native to the island of Cuba. It is also known as the Havana Silk Dog. Though today, it is considered a separate breed, as it is somewhat different from the original Havana Silk Dog. The original version of the Havana Silk Dog is currently extinct, leaving us with the Havanese, which originally was an endangered breed. In the 1970s, there was only 11 individuals brought to the USA. From those dogs, came the modern Havanese, and it has become one of the fastest spreading dogs recognized by the AKC.

Well, those are some of the breeds that bounced back from the edge of extinction, thanks to human ingenuity. To learn more about all these breeds and many more, check out our book The Encyclopedia of the World of Dogs at UMG Productions.
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