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You Might Be Surprised What These 10 Dog Breeds Were Originally Bred For

Humans and dogs have a long, colorful history together. Our species grew together, and as we bred dogs for jobs we helped shape who they are today (and vice versa!) Sometimes it can be hard to imagine your dog doing anything other than snoozing on the couch and snuggling up with you, but in another time and place, your pup may have been a fierce warrior or a keen hunter! In some cases you might have a hard time guessing what their job might have been! For example, did you know…

#1 – Rhodesian Ridgeback

This energetic titan was originally bred to hunt lions and other big game in South Africa. Well socialized, trained adults may be pretty mellow, puppies (under the age of two) however are a rambunctious ball of energy that will hunt and chase the cats, because it is in their nature to do so.



#2 – Bedlington Terrier

Don’t judge a Bedlington Terrier by the frou frou haircut, these dogs were intended to hunt rats in English coal mines. Later crossed with the Whippet, the faster Bedlingtons were suited for hunting larger animals.



#3 – Portuguese Water Dog

Bred originally by fisherman in and around the coast of Portugal, these water dogs were intended to dive off the boats to retrieve broken nets, herd fish and carry messages between boats.


#4 – Dachshund

A German import, some people have a hard time believing that these adorable dogs were originally bred to chase, dig out and kill a slew of forest animals like foxes and badgers. These obstinate little bundles of energy have been known to track a wounded animal for days.


#5 – Dalmatian

Although the origin is unknown for these distinct canines, the Dalmatian became the preferred dog for firehouses due to their connection with horses. Before engines were created, horse drawn fire carts were in use. Dalmatians were brought in to guard the horses when they weren’t working and run alongside them on their emergencies.

#6 – Welsh Corgi

Both varieties of Corgi, the Pembroke (the one without the tail) and the Cardigan, were originally bred to herd cattle. Being low to the ground, they nip at a cow’s heels to keep them moving and move quickly to avoid the cows hoof connecting with their head.

#7 – Lhasa Apso

A modern day lap dog, the Lhasa originally comes from Tibet. Paired with another breed these dogs guarded palaces and Buddhist temples. The Lhasa supplied the bark, alerting officials to breeches in security.


#8 – Tibetan Mastiff

Paired with the Lhasa Apso, the Tibetan Mastiff assisted with keeping palaces and temples secure. While the smaller dogs supplied the bark, alerting officials to intruders, the Mastiff would supply the bite. Or scare the offenders away by just rounding the corner.

Credit: Tibetan Paradise/Wikimedia Commons

#9 – Yorkshire Terrier

Another pampered little lap dog was also originally intended to hunt rats. British coal miners relied on these scrappy dogs to clear out the rodents before they went to work.

#10 – Airedale Terrier

These amiable companions are known as the largest Terrier. Originally bred in the Aire Valley, Yorkshire England by the locals to hunt otters, the Airedale went on to become a popular choice as a front line courier during World War I.


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Written by Renee Moen
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