Have you ever wondered what is being referred to when discussing primitive dog breeds? These are dogs that have kept their wolf ancestors characteristics largely intact. These traits include erect ears, shorter coats, a tendency to howl instead of bark, and heads that are wedge-shaped with pointed muzzles.
Primitive dog breeds come from all over the world, and the thought behind categorizing this group (although it’s not an ‘official’ dog breed group name) developed with little human help. Their evolution is considered more natural and uninfluenced by other types as time has passed.
Primitive Dog Breeds
Here are types of dogs that are considered primitive dog breeds.
This is a hunting dog that is from Central Africa and belongs to the Schensi dogs group. Schensi dogs are referred to as breeds that have not been completely domesticated. This type of dog are traditionally owned by pygmy hunters. The Basenji have also been referred to as the “Congo Terrier” and the “Bush Dog.” The word basenji means ‘little things from the bush’ or ‘villagers dogs’ from a language in the Congo region.
The Basenji has a larynx shaped differently than other dogs, and they do not bark. These dogs howl and yodel! The females are like wolves in the sense that they come into season only once a year. Domesticated dogs come into season twice a year. The Basenji is typically about 16-17 inches tall, weighs around 24 lbs, and lives over 10 years.
This breed is a popular house dog because of its loving and affectionate behavior. The Basenji dog is loyal, fast, agile, and smart. These dogs are independent minded so may need special training to follow orders. As you can imagine, this pup needs plenty of both physical and mental exercise in order to not be bored.
New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Guinea Singing Dog is an uncommon dingo-like breed that comes from New Guinea and lives in its highlands. The name comes from the breed’s ability to sound like they are singing, due to the several notes you can distinguish in their howl. It has been described as a ‘wolf howl with overtones of whale song.’
This breed is typically about 16-18 inches tall, weighs between 20-30 lbs, and lives around 15-20 years. The New Guinea Singing Dog’s coat colors are sable, black, and tan, but also tend to have white markings on them as well. This breed is thought to be nearing extinction in the wild due to the loss of habitat and the intrusion of mainland breed dogs.
The Canaan Dog was bred in Israel as a watchdog and a herder, and is the national dog of Israel. This breed possesses strong protective instincts, but they typically are not aggressive. The Canaan Dog is a highly intelligent and quick dog breed but not a common breed.
This breed lives over 10 years, is typically about 2 feet tall, and weighs around 45-55 lbs. Their coat is either red, red and white spotted, black, or black and white spotted. The Canaan Dog is obedient with family and reserved with strangers, and is a protector of its family and home.
The Pharaoh Hound was developed in Malta. This breed strongly resembles dogs that were illustrated in artifacts of Ancient Egypt. When you look at art from this era, you will see prick-eared hunting dogs, hence its name.
Pharaoh Hounds have a calm demeanor but needs frequent exercise. This breed is a graceful but rugged sprinting hound that is quick and persistent on scent. The Pharaoh Hound is friendly and affectionate. They are generally around 2 feet tall, lives over 10 years, and weighs around 50 lbs.
Canarian Warren Hound
The Canarian Warren Hound is also known as the Podenco Canario and is found on all the Canary Islands. This breed has Egyptian roots that can be traced for thousands of years. The Canarian Warren Hound is red with white markings and has a flesh-colored nose. This dog has a slender and athletically toned body and is typically around 2 feet tall, weighs between 35-49 lbs, and lives about 12-13 years.
These primitive dog breeds are used as rabbit-hunters. The Canarian Warren Hound is extremely quick, possesses sharp eyesight, and has a great nose for hunting. The dog breed are both restless and sensitive, so does not adapt well to a quiet indoor life. The Canarian Warren hound is also extremely affectionate but independent.
The Cirneco dell’Etna (or Cirnechi) is a sandy Sicilian hunting dog breed that is rare outside its native country. This dog breed is agile, strong, and built to run and hunt. These dogs are about 17-20 inches tall, weighs around 18-26 lbs, and lives 12-14 years.
The Cirnechi are low-maintenance companions, treasured for their gentle and loyal nature. This dog breed is often thought to look like a smaller version of the Pharaoh Hound. Their coat ranges from a light to dark tan or chestnut color.
The Ibizan Hound (or Cirnechi) is widely used in Spain as a pack dog for hunting rabbits. This quick dog can cover the roughest terrain at a “raking trot”, which is one of the focal characteristics of this breed. The Ibizan Hound has an enormous and long jump.
This dog breed is an all-action dog and needs constant exercise. The Ibizan Hound temperament is charming and appealing, making it a popular family dog. Their coat is either smooth or rough. The Ibizan Hound is around 22-29 inches tall, weights between 45-51 lbs, and lives 10-12 years. It has a flat skull, slender muzzle, and large tan pointed ears.
The Portuguese Podengo is the national dog of Portugal and is thought to originate from dogs brought to the Iberian Peninsula over 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians. There are three different varieties of the Portuguese Podengo so that they can hunt in any type of terrain. These include small (Pequeno), medium (Medio), and large (Grande). This breed has a variety of heights and weights, given the three different sizes.
The Podengos that have a smooth coat are found typically in the northern area where the climate is damp. Their quick drying coat handles wet weather well. The wirehair types of Podengos are typically found in the south, where it is more dry. This breed is extremely intelligent and alert, making them excellent and popular watchdogs.
The Carolina Dog is also known as the ‘American Dingo.’ This breed is thought to have been domesticated and brought to North America by early Asian settlers. These dogs are still found semi-wild in America’s southwestern states.
The Carolina Dog needs early socializing for it to be a family pet because it is naturally wary. Their temperament is loyal and reserved. The coat’s colors are either a deep red-ginger or black and tan color. These dogs are around 20 inches tall, weight between 34-40 lbs, and live 12-14 years.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid are known to have been important to Inca civilizations and are the national dog of Peru. These primitive dog breeds are either hairless or coated. The hairless Inca Orchid is better indoors due to its delicate skin. The coated dog breed can be any color and the hairless dogs always have pink skin, but can have different colors of mottling.
These dogs are about 20-26 inches tall, weigh anywhere from 26-50lbs, and live around 13 years. In Spanish, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is called ‘Perro sin pelo de Peru’ (Peruvian hairless dog) or ‘perros flora’ (flower dogs). There are only thought to be around 1,000 of this dog breed in the world, as they are not widely bred.
The Peruvian Hairless dog breed is a lively and graceful dog that was often seen in wealthier Incan homes. Their hairless characteristic is often paired with the absence of some teeth due to a recessive gene they produce. Their fine skin needs protection since these dogs can be easily sunburned and are sensitive to cold weather.
These dogs come in three sizes, including miniature, medio, and grande, and live 11-12 years. This primitive dog breed is usually an elephant gray color, with rose ears, pink patches on their legs, and a crest of hairs on the top of their head like a natural Mohawk.
The Xoloitzcuintli dog breed is also known as the Mexican Hairless or Xolo. These dogs had sacred significance to pre-Conquest Mexico. They were used as guard dogs to protect homes from intruders and evil spirits.
This dog breed has three sizes, including the miniature, intermediate, and standard. Xoloitzcuintli dogs are affective, very intelligent, and have a good demeanor. They are both good watchdogs and good companions. The Xoloitzcuintli breed has either red, liver, or bronze coats and live over 10 years.