The relationship between humans and dogs may be one of loyalty and trust but that wasn’t always the case. We bred them, over the course of thousands of years for a variety of reasons; some for food, work or sport and more recently for nothing more than companionship. As dogs acclimated to their new roles, so did their appearances—they became smaller and cuter but with an attitude that reminds you of their wolf ancestors. None of this was random, but purposely done by their breeders. Below are the origins of five of the cutest dog breeds.
A Pug’s miniature size isn’t an accident—they were specifically bred to be small enough to fit a person’s lap. They first showed up in China in 400 BC, not as an everyday dog, but solely for the upper class and royals, who viewed them a symbol of wealth. These dogs were so highly valued that the Chinese emperors would assign guards and servants to keep them safe and comfortable. Their symbol of royalty spread far and wide, even when they arrived in Japan, Russia and England where they became the beloved pets of several rulers in these countries.
The origins of the Chihuahua are a bit unclear. Some say that it is the descendant of the much bigger but similar-looking Mexican dog, Techichi. Other accounts state that it is a crossbreed between the Techichi and the Chinese Crested Dog, while some people insist that it is actually native to Italy where its ancestor, the Italian Maltese Pocket Dog, is from. The reports of the Chihuahua date back to 1880, when tourists visiting Mexico named it after a Mexican town, since they were unfamiliar with the breed.
Akitas are cute and loveable but prone to moments of aggression, specifically to other dogs of the same sex. This is because they were initially bred to perform more aggressive duties including hunting, fighting other dogs and guarding their owner hence their original Japanese name, “matagi” meaning “esteemed hunter.” For centuries, these dogs were used by the Japanese to take down much larger and dangerous animals including deer, boar and even black bears. During the 17th and 19th, the Akita was bred further for dogfighting which was put to an end after the sport was banned.
They’re small but have larger-than-life personalities. That’s because at one point, up until the 19th century to be exact, Pomeranians used to be much larger than their current size. In fact, they were bred as sled dogs in the 16th century. It’s not clear exactly what breeds were used but most people agree that the Deutscher Spitz was definitely involved. As the breeding continued, Pomeranians started getting smaller and smaller as they were frequently sought out as lap dogs and companions.
5. German Shepherds
As suggested by its name, the German shepherd was created solely to guard sheep in 1899 by a man named Max von Stephanitz who believed that dogs should only be bred for work. He selected one of the many dogs bred by the shepherds due to their intelligence and named it “Deutscher Schaferhund” or “German Shepherd dog.” He then proceeded to breed the dog with other shepherd dogs, some closely related to wolves, to create the German shepherd that we are familiar with today.
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