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For hundreds of years, dogs have lived side-by-side with humans, not only offering companionship and unconditional love, but working alongside us, performing tasks suited to the inherent physical and mental traits of their breeds.
Throughout the history of canine companionship, humans have shaped and altered the physical appearance and attributes of dogs to make them most suitable to perform a specific task. By isolating desirable characteristics, such as size and weight, body and face shape, muscular structure, prey drive, coat texture, length, and color, humans have successfully created more than 300 distinct and unique breeds.
However, with the popularity of conformation and breed judging, many breeds began to be bred for physical appearance alone, with certain physical characteristics, even those that are a hindrance to performing the jobs they were once bred for, becoming more desirable and more important than the health, vitality, and quality of life of the dog.
In 1915, W.E. Mason compiled and wrote Dogs of All Nations, a book that detailed every variety of dog that was, at the time, being bred true to type and for certain attributes, most usually to perform a specific task.
Now, over 100 years later, many of the breeds described and illustrated in his book are barely recognizable due to breeding to enhance particular characteristics. Many of these once healthy, vibrant breeds now suffer genetic health complications, breathing problems, bone and muscular dysfunction, and more – all as a result of these breed “improvements.” With help from Science and Dogs, take a look at how your favorite breeds have changed in the last 100 years.
Click NEXT to visit 10 popular dog breeds who, over the last 100 years, have been bred to the point of being nearly unrecognizable from their ancestors.