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Home Dog BreedsOverview of Dog Breeds Historic Dog Breeds: Mastiffs, Collies, and Huskies Explored

Historic Dog Breeds: Mastiffs, Collies, and Huskies Explored

by Dan Turner

Dogs aren’t just our best friends; they’re living history books. From ancient guardians to royal companions, some breeds have stories that are deeply intertwined with human history. I’m fascinated by how these four-legged companions have shaped cultures and been pivotal in human stories across the globe.

Take the Saluki, for instance, often considered among the oldest dog breeds. They were the hunting buddies of pharaohs in ancient Egypt, depicted in their tombs. Or the mighty Mastiffs, used as war dogs by the Romans. Each breed carries a legacy, a piece of the past that we can still see, touch, and hug today. Let’s jump into the tales of these historical canines and discover the roles they’ve played throughout the ages.

The Saluki: A Breed of Ancient Royalty

When I first laid eyes on a Saluki, I was taken aback by its sheer elegance and grace. Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my admiration. The Saluki has a pedigree that dates back to ancient times, and believe it or not, these dogs weren’t just pets; they were revered by pharaohs in Egypt. They weren’t your average household pup; they were a symbol of royalty.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into their fascinating history. Salukis are among the oldest dog breeds, with their history intertwined deeply with that of human civilization. It’s said that the Saluki was the chosen hunting companion of pharaohs. Imagine these slender, long-legged dogs racing across the desert sands in pursuit of game, their elegant bodies a blur. They weren’t just good at their job; they were unmatched.

What’s more intriguing is their representation in ancient Egyptian artifacts. Salukis were often depicted in tomb paintings and sculptures, showcasing their importance in daily and afterlife beliefs. They were so valued that they were mummified similarly to humans, a practice reserved for beings of high esteem.

But what made the Saluki so special?

  • Speed and agility: Capable of reaching high speeds, they were unparalleled hunters.
  • Loyalty and intelligence: Salukis were not only loyal companions but also smart and intuitive.
  • Physical beauty: Their sleek, slender bodies and graceful demeanor were seen as the epitome of canine beauty.

Fast forward to today, and the Saluki still carries that air of nobility. Though no longer reserved for royalty, they continue to be cherished for their beauty, temperament, and historical significance. Owning a Saluki is like owning a piece of history, a living link to the past that we can cherish and enjoy. They remind us of our enduring connection with the animal world and the deep bonds that have developed over millennia.

 Their story is not just about the past; it’s alive, present in every sleek Saluki that trots elegantly by my side.

The Mighty Mastiffs: War Dogs of the Romans

When I first stumbled upon the history of Mastiffs, I was fascinated. These dogs weren’t just big; they were colossal, with a presence that commanded respect. The Romans, renowned for their military might, didn’t just use these dogs for companionship; they were an integral part of their war strategy. Imagine being a soldier in ancient Rome, your side flanked by a group of towering Mastiffs—now that’s an image of absolute power.

The Mastiffs’ role in Rome wasn’t limited to intimidation. They were also:

  • Protectors of soldiers and citizens alike
  • Guardians of prisoners
  • Efficient in carrying messages across battle lines

Their Size Was Their Weapon, and it was used to full effect. These dogs were not only large; they were agile, brave, and, above all, loyal to their handlers.

It’s said that the Romans admired these dogs so much that they were often given as prestigious gifts to foreign dignitaries. This practice helped spread the breed across Europe, laying the foundation for the Mastiff we know and love today.

Training a Mastiff for war wasn’t just about harnessing their physical capabilities. It also involved cultivating a deep bond between the dog and its handler. This relationship was crucial, as it built an unparalleled level of trust and understanding. The Mastiffs needed to know when to defend, when to attack, and when to stand down—all based on the commands and signals from their human companions.

The legacy of the Mastiff goes beyond the battlefield. Their impact on other breeds is undeniable. Many modern breeds have Mastiff blood in their lineage, a testament to the versatility and enduring appeal of these ancient dogs.

Reading about the Mastiffs’ involvement in Roman warfare gives me A New Appreciation for their intelligence, versatility, and the profound bond they shared with humans. 

So, next time you see a Mastiff, consider the rich history and the incredible journey these dogs have been on. From ancient battlefields to modern living rooms, they’ve transitioned seamlessly, proving that their might is matched only by their loyalty and love.

The Border Collie: A Herding Hero

There’s something truly magical about Border Collies, and it’s not just their mesmerizing eyes. These dogs are brilliant; they’re the top achievers of the canine world. Known for their exceptional intelligence and herding prowess, Border Collies have a rich history that’s as fascinating as their acrobatic skills in the field.

Originating from the Anglo-Scottish border, these dogs weren’t just herders; they were, and still are, indispensable assistants to shepherds. The breed’s name itself reflects its deep-rooted history in shepherding and border country. Border Collies excel in understanding and executing complex commands, making them unparalleled in the world of herding dogs.

One of the key reasons for their exceptional herding ability is their intense stare, or “eye,” with which they control livestock. This isn’t a mere party trick; it’s a sophisticated method of communication and control, refined through generations.

Let me share some incredible facts about their intelligence and how they’ve made history:

  • Genetic Advantage: Their breeding for practical working ability has honed their intelligence to a remarkable degree.
  • Sports Champions: They dominate dog sports, including agility, due to their quick reflexes and eagerness to learn.
  • Historical Impact: Border Collies have been pivotal in developing other dog breeds, contributing their intelligence and temperament to the gene pool.

Aside from their work ethic, Border Collies are fiercely loyal and affectionate with their families. But, their intelligence comes with a need for mental and physical stimulation.

The relationship between a Border Collie and its handler is one of deep mutual respect and understanding. Training them is as much about forming a bond as it is about teaching commands. They don’t just listen; they engage, analyze, and sometimes, seem to read minds.

It’s this blend of intelligence, agility, and emotional depth that makes Border Collies more than just herding dogs. Their significance goes beyond the fields they tread; it lies also in the hearts they touch and the history they carry forward, showcasing the profound bond between humans and dogs.

The Siberian Husky: A Sled Dog with a Rich History

Diving into the world of the Siberian Husky, I’m always captivated by their resilience and the rich world of history they carry on their fluffy shoulders. Originating from the Siberian Arctic, these dogs were bred by the Chukchi people, not just as sled dogs, but as vital companions for survival in harsh conditions. 

Firstly, let’s talk about their endurance. Huskies can run for miles without tiring, a trait that was crucial for the Chukchi people who needed to traverse large distances for hunting and to communicate across their widespread communities. This isn’t just physical; it’s mental grit. They’re built to withstand temperatures that would make most of us rush for the nearest blanket and hot cocoa.

Their role in history isn’t just confined to their origin story. Huskies played a significant part in the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy.” When a diphtheria outbreak threatened the isolated town of Nome, Alaska, teams of sled dogs, including Huskies, transported the lifesaving serum over 674 miles of icy terrain. This event didn’t just showcase their physical capabilities but also highlighted their incredible determination and loyalty.

For their temperament. Owning a Husky is like having a piece of the Siberian wilderness in your home. They’re:

  • Intelligent
  • Independent
  • Playful

But it’s their pack mentality that truly sets them apart. They view their human family as their pack, which means they’re incredibly loyal but also need to feel like a part of the team. This isn’t a dog that’ll be content with a quick walk around the block; they need purpose, challenges, and plenty of exercise to thrive.

Their coat is another marvel. It’s not just for show; that double-layered fur serves as insulation against cold and heat, making them surprisingly adaptable to different climates. But, it also means they’re heavy shedders, so investing in a good vacuum and a grooming toolkit is a must for any Husky owner.


Exploring the rich histories of Mastiffs, Border Collies, and Siberian Huskies has been a fascinating journey. These breeds aren’t just pets; they’re living legacies of their ancestors’ courage, intelligence, and resilience. Whether it was the Mastiffs on ancient battlefields, Border Collies herding with unmatched skill, or Huskies braving the icy trails of Alaska, each breed has contributed uniquely to human history. Their stories remind me of the deep bonds we’ve shared with these remarkable animals for centuries. It’s clear that our lives are infinitely richer and more connected because of them. 


Dan Turner

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