How Dog Breeds Have Changed

How Dog Breeds Have Changed

Did you know that dog breeds have changed significantly over time? While the exact changes to dogs are hard to identify due to a lack of photographic evidence in ancient times, there are still many differences in dog breeds even from around 100 years ago when we do have pictures to look at.

While dog breeds change for a variety of reasons, most changes are influenced by human activity, since only humans have the power to control which dogs have puppies with which other dogs. So, how have humans changed dog breeds over the years? And is this practice good or bad for dogs?

Let’s dig into the history of dog breed changes, how specific breeds have changed, and what these changes mean for the dogs who undergo them.

The History of Changes in Dog Breeds

As most of us know, dogs started out as wolves. However, over time, wolves changed into many different dog types, including the German Shepherds, Akitas, Terriers, Collies, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Poodles we see today, among many others. 

While there is dispute over when exactly humans began to live in companionship with the canine species, it is likely that this relationship began to develop thousands of years ago. At this time, it is likely that humans spent some time breeding dogs to help the animals survive or thrive in differing climates or jobs (i.e., some might be better at hunting, some at herding, etc.).

It was about 150 years ago, during the Victorian age, that dog breeding really began to take off. At this time, people in Great Britain were living in an age with more time to enjoy their pets. In addition, influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin, many were eager to breed the most ideal dog possible. 

Today, there are more than 400 distinct dog breeds available for pet owners to choose from. Each breed has unique characteristics, talents, and, unfortunately, health issues that have come about through the breeding process. 

Let’s consider some of the breeds that, based on pictures, have changed fairly significantly over the past 100 years or so.

Specific Dog Breed Changes

In 2012, Science and Dogs created a layout comparing dogs today from their breed forefathers about 100 years ago. These older pictures were taken from the book Dogs of All Nations, written by W.E. Mason and published in 1915.

St. Bernard

How St. Bernard's have changed

As you can see, the St. Bernard is now much larger with longer hair and a flatter face. St. Bernards tend to overheat quickly and are prone to all kinds of diseases such as hemophilia, Stockard’s paralysis, and fibrinogen deficiency, among others.

German Shepherd

How German Shepherd's have changed

The German Shepherd has, in time, developed a shorter body, thicker fur, and shorter legs. They now have large barrel chests and are much larger and heavier than their forefathers. German Shepherds today are less athletic than their ancestors as well.

Bull Terrier

How Bull Terrier's have changed

The Bull Terrier has developed shorter back legs, a larger belly, and a narrower, deformed skull. Today, the Bull Terrier is much less handsome than its ancestors and prone to health issues including deafness.

Basset Hound

How Basset Hound's have changed

The Basset Hound today is much lower to the ground than its forefathers. It has also developed longer ears, excessive skin, and lower back legs. Many Basset Hounds suffer from vertebra problems or eye problems due to droopy skin.


How Boxer's have changed

The Boxer has developed a much shorter face than its ancestors. Unfortunately, a shorter face does lead to issues such as difficulty breathing or regulating its temperature. This makes it difficult for the Boxer to perform well in athletic adventures.


How Daschund's have changed

The Daschdund has developed much lower back legs, a longer back, and a longer neck. Unfortunately, this new build makes it harder for the Daschund to move and also makes it prone to paralysis, vertebra issues, and other leg issues.


How Bull Dog's have changed

The Bulldog has developed a lot of excess skin and a much squatter face. Unfortunately, bulldogs struggle to maintain a healthy life or even breed and have puppies because of these changes to their physical structure.


How Pug's have changed

The Pug, while quite a cute dog still, has developed a much lower, larger chest and a flatter face. As with the Boxer, these changes make it hard for the Pug to regulate heat. It also struggles with breathing issues and other health problems.

Are Dog Breed Changes Good?

As you can see, dog breeds have developed various issues because of breeding. Health problems are common in dogs who have bred only for human pleasure. However, that’s not the whole story. 

By promoting proper dog breeding, humans can help these precious animals live fuller, happier, and healthier lives as a whole! So, dog breeding can cause problems for dogs in some situations. However, the practice of dog breeding is not all bad. 

It’s up to us as humans to help dogs live healthy lives. This includes using our ability to breed dogs based on our own selections well. We need to provide dogs with the support they need to thrive because they can’t necessarily do that on their own. 

Dogs are always going to suffer from genes that are simply less strong and healthy than those of their early ancestors. However, humans can help dog breeds change well by breeding healthier, stronger dogs together. In doing so, we can use dog changes for good and create happier, healthier dogs for our own children and grandchildren for generations. 

One major part of helping dogs stay healthy is providing them with a clean, safe environment. That’s where we come in. We love to provide you with useful information to help you keep your dog healthy. We also love to serve you by supporting you in that endeavor! 

Our team knows that one of the biggest challenges of keeping your dog healthy is maintaining a clean yard. That’s why when dogs poop, we scoop! If you’re interested in getting help for scooping poop to give your dog a happier, healthier yard, check out our services to learn more.