What is the oldest breed of dog?
Dogs are the oldest domestic animal, originating 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. They are believed to be descendants of wild canines, most likely wolves, which began to frequent human settlements where food was more readily available. The more aggressive canines were probably driven off or killed, while the less dangerous ones were kept to guard, hunt, and later herd other domesticated animals, such as sheep. Attempts at selectively breeding desirable traits likely began soon after.
The oldest purebred dog is believed to be the saluki. Sumerian rock carvings in Mesopotamia that date to about 7000 B.C.E. depict dogs bearing a striking resemblance to the saluki. The dogs are 23 to 28 inches (58 to 71 centimeters) tall with a long, narrow head. The coat is smooth and silky and can be white, cream, fawn, gold, red, grizzle (bluish-gray) and tan, black and tan, or tricolor (white, black, and tan). The tail is long and feathered. The saluki has remarkable sight and tremendous speed, which makes it an excellent hunter.
The oldest American purebred dog is the American Foxhound. It descends from a pack of foxhounds belonging to an Englishman named Robert Brooke who settled in Maryland in 1650. These dogs were crossed with other strains imported from England, Ireland, and France to develop the American Foxhound. This dog stands 22 to 25 inches (56 to 63.5 centimeters) tall. It has a long, slightly domed head, with a straight, squared-out muzzle. The coat is of medium length and can be any color. They are used primarily for hunting.