What These Popular Dog Breeds Looked Like In The Past

If you love dogs as much as we do, you probably smile every time you see one in the street. Yet, what you might not realize is that the dogs you see in front of you have changed dramatically over the years.

As one of the most popular domesticated animals in the world, there are millions of dogs in homes across the globe. Around 900 million, in fact. This mammoth number is then split into various different breeds, and each breed has its own little traits that set them apart from the rest. Although these furry companions have stood alongside their owners over the last few thousand years, they have also undergone a huge amount of breeding over that time. Because of this, some of these dogs have changed dramatically – not only in their personalities and their talents but also in terms of their appearance. You might want to take a long, hard look at these breeds because some of them don’t look anything like they do now…

Airedale Terrier

This is one of the first recorded pictures of the Airedale terrier, and although you can’t tell from this black-and-white image, it’s been noted that this dog rocked a dark tan coloring. Their hair was recognized as “hard and wiry” rather than soft and fluffy, but things have changed over the course of history.

While the color of this dog breed hasn’t changed too much, the fur certainly has. Airedales are now known for their fluffy and ragged hair, and that’s why they have proven to be so popular with families and homes across the globe. It also helps that they are known for their fun and affectionate temperament.

St. Bernard

St. Bernards rose to everyone’s attention after they were featured in the likes of Beethoven and Peter Pan, but they have been staking their place within history for hundreds of years. That’s because these dogs have been bred from their ancestors in the Alps, who were utilized for their size and their strength.

Back in the day, these dogs would be used as rescue dogs in the mountains, and their history can actually be traced back to the 1700s. Since then, the St. Bernard has undergone a transformation into domestic life. They now have much smaller features, and offer a droopy and wrinkly face that many people find adorable.

Neopolitan Mastiff

As you can probably tell by the name, the Neapolitan mastiff hails from regions in Italy and the surrounding areas. They are large dogs that have long been used as guard dogs by their families, because they are extremely loyal and friendly to their owners, but can seem ruthless and territorial to others.

This was also the case in the 1900s, when these dogs were trained to bait various animals, including bears, bulls, and jaguars. When this came to an end, these dogs become more mainstream, with more and more families choosing to adopt them when they became a little more family-friendly. They are still large today, but their droopy faces make them more appealing.


If you’ve ever been to China, you may have noticed that there are Pekingese dogs around the whole country. That’s because they were bred in this country, and have since become a firm favorite with those in China and across the globe. Over the course of their existence in this world, the Pekingese dog breed has been celebrated and honored, but there’s no doubt about the fact that its appearance has changed over the years.

In recent years, selective breeding has created a new form of Pekingese, and one that has a flatter face. They are also now bred to have more hair, and can often be found in dog shows across the globe because of their short stature and their overwhelming locks.


Whether you know it as a sausage dog, a wiener dog, or a dachshund, there’s no doubt about the fact that this breed of dog is instantly recognizable. With their long bodies, they seem unlike any other dog breed in the world, and this worked in their favor back in the day. They were first bred to hunt the likes of badgers and rabbits, and their low center of gravity and their slim frame meant that they were able to burrow underground and grab them.

Although they haven’t changed a huge amount over the years, it’s fair to say that many breeders have tried to make these dachsunds even more appealing to owners. They have become even shorter and longer, which makes them even cuter.

Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington terriers are known for their strange and unusual appearance, as they are sometimes confused for sheep due to their fluffy appearance and their small stature. The shape of their head also looks strangely similar to that of a sheep, and they are pretty adorable. However, they have undergone a rather noticeable change over the years, because these dogs haven’t always looked like sheep.

As you can see in this picture from the past, this breed of dog looks hugely different from the ones we know and love today. Not only were they much shorter in their stature, but their heads were a different shape, and their hair was much more wiry and less fluffy than it is today.


There are various variations of schnauzers in the world, and they are all known for their long hair and their facial hair – that almost looks like a beard and mustache! This dog breed has been around for hundreds of years, and the photo on the left can actually be traced back to 1915.

Although there isn’t a huge change in the schnauzer’s appearance over the years, there are a few distinct changes to take note of. Their hair and their ears are much longer, but their legs are significantly shorter than the schnauzers of the past. Nevertheless, they are still one of the most popular dog breeds across the globe.

Bull Terrier

If you’ve ever seen the musical, Oliver!, you’ll have seen one of these dogs before. They are often considered a very unusual dog, because of their oval face, their pointy ears, and their stocky bodies. However, they haven’t always looked this way!

These dogs were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in the late 1800s, and they were known for being extremely agile and graceful back in the day. Now, bull terriers aren’t quite as lean as they once were, they have been bred to have their football-shaped head, and they seem to have developed extra teeth over the years.

Shetland Sheepdog

Whether you know it as a Shetland sheepdog or Sheltie, there’s no doubt about the fact that this breed is hugely popular with people across the globe. This is one of the oldest photographs of a Shetland sheepdog, but as you can see, it doesn’t look too different from the dogs we know and love today.

In fact, one of the only differences between the two dogs is the fact that modern Shelties are much larger in size. They are now around 10 pounds heavier than they were back in the early 1900s, and their fur is much longer than it used to be. As per their name, they are especially good at herding animals, but they are also seen as loyal companions.

English Bulldog

Over the years, English bulldogs have undergone a wild and tumultuous journey, and their breeding history has allowed them to change dramatically. When those in the 19th century realized that these dogs were strong and stocky, they decided to use them for their own entertainment. They were bred to be bull-baiters, and they were bred to be fearless and muscly.

When bull-baiting became illegal in 1835, the English bulldog was given the chance to rebrand itself. It has since been bred to have a thicker body that’s lower to the ground than its ancestors, and breeders have tried to make their adorable wrinkles even more pronounced. Sadly, this breeding has left English bulldogs with various health issues.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

If you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom, you may have noticed that there are many cavalier King Charles spaniels across the region. Although these dogs have been bred across the world, their history lies first and foremost around the UK. That’s because they were King Charles II’s favorite breed of dog, and these dogs can actually be found in old portraits of the ruler.

Over the years, however, this breed of dog has been bred to look a little more aesthetically pleasing. Their eyes have become larger, their muzzle has become more short and stout, and their forehead is much smaller. As if that wasn’t enough, they are also known to be much more fluffy in today’s day and age.


The shar-pei is another dog that has come from China and has also been bred to look a little differently over the years. Most people will instantly spot a shar-pei when they see one, but you might not know that the picture on the left is what these dogs used to look like.

This ancient dog was once the perfect guard dog because it was not only loyal but also wary of any strangers that would venture near to its home. Although they are still used as guard dogs in some homes, they are now also seen as adorable pets who have a strange and unusual look about them. That’s because they now feature a larger stature that features a huge number of wrinkles.


The Saluki breed of dog is an amazing specimen that has been bred from sighthounds. This means that they were once used for hunting with their perfect vision, rather than scent alone. They were used as hunters back in the day, where they would use their sight, their strong legs, and their stamina to hunt game animals and provide their owners with food for the night.

Before too long, these slender dogs became associated with royalty and were later bred to look even more prim and proper. That’s why they look so different today. Rather than looking strong and stocky, these Salukis are much thinner, and their features are elongated. However, their hair has remained relatively similar.

Old English Sheepdog

Well, it’s clear to see that there is a slight difference between these two old-English sheepdogs! Nowadays, this breed is known for being extremely hairy and large, but most people don’t realize that this breed has actually been bred from small sheepdogs that had a much shorter (although still very long) coat.

Back in the 1900s, these dogs were shorter, and their heads were a bit longer. Over the years, they have undergone a small but fairly noticeable transformation, and some old English sheepdogs are now so shaggy their hair covers their whole face. They are now known for their cute and cuddly nature and are rarely used to herd sheep.

German Shepherd

Since the dawn of time, German shepherd dogs have been recognized for their companionship and their loyalty. Because of this, they have been used as police dogs for hundreds of years. This breed of dog was much smaller back in the day, but reportedly had extremely strong legs, the perfect poise, and a personality that made them extremely useful.

Since then, the breed has undergone an amazing transformation that has seen them grow a huge amount in size. The average German shepherd now weighs around 40 pounds more than it used to, but this hasn’t exactly worked in its favor. These dogs now often suffer from hip dysplasia.


The poodle is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and they have also been bred with other dogs to create new and exciting variations. One of the main reasons why the poodle is so popular is because they have beautiful curly hair that comes in all colors and thicknesses.

Many owners decide to groom their poodles to have extravagant hairstyles, but there’s no doubt about the fact that things were a little different in the past. That’s because this painting shows a poodle with long hair, but rather straight hair. Over the years, it seems to have been bred to have tight curls that make it much more attractive to potential owners.

Basset Hound

Like many other dogs in the world, the basset hound has an incredible sense of smell, and this definitely worked in its favor back in the day. Thanks to this impressive nose, the basset hound was used as a hunting dog that could also make its way into the tunnels below the ground to grab some of the hard-to-reach animals.

This was thanks to its small legs and low-to-the-ground body, which just seems to have become more prominent over the years. While this breed of dog has stayed relatively the same, there’s no doubt about the fact that it’s been bred to enhance its features. These dogs now seem to have longer ears and a droopier face.


Pugs are one of the most popular dog breeds out there right now because their squashed faces and their body rolls are seen to be extremely adorable. However, these pugs are a far cry from the pugs of the past. This old painting can be traced back to 1745, and it’s believed that this was the first depiction of the dog breed.

Without the squashed snout and the large and thin body, this pug is barely cognizable. It’s clear to see that a huge amount of selective breeding has been involved with this breed of dog, and this has left pugs with various health issues. Due to their small bodies with their large tongues, they are often susceptible to choking. Alongside this, their squashed faces often lead to breathing difficulties.


Bloodhounds are known for being extremely large and wrinkly in terms of their appearance, but there’s no doubt about the fact that this hasn’t always been the case. The picture on the left shows what the bloodhound used to look like, and there is a stark difference.

Back in the day, the bloodhound wasn’t quite as large but was also more slim in terms of its stature. Their ears were also much shorter, as the modern bloodhounds we know and love today have extremely long ears. In modern day, bloodhounds are often chosen as pets due to the fact that they have become much more wrinkly.

Scottish Terrier

If you’ve ever come across a Scottish terrier, you’ll know that they have long hair, a long face, and pretty short legs. So, it’s amazing to think that these two pictures represent the same breed! This dog has undergone a huge transformation over the years, and that’s all thanks to selective breeding.

The picture on the left can be traced back to the mid-1800s, and you can see that the modern Scottish terrier looks remarkably different from its ancestor. In the past, the terrier featured a spherical head with much larger legs. However, it seems as though their temperament hasn’t changed a huge amount, as this breed is still known for being extremely playful and fun-loving.


There’s a high chance that you have seen more than your fair share of Boxers over the years because they are extremely popular dogs. The picture on the left depicts the first registered Boxer, who went by the name of “Flocky.” However, you can see that Flocky is very different from the Boxer on the right.

Back in the day, this breed of dog was recognized by its short and pointy ears, a softer jawline, and a slimmer body. Today, Boxers are very different. They are shorter and stockier, and their ears are much longer and droop down their heads. Alongside this, the Boxer’s jaw has also become more square due to the results of selective breeding.

West Highland White Terrier

Whether you know it as a West Highland white terrier or a Westie, there’s no denying the fact that this breed of dog is hugely popular. As you can probably tell by the name, this breed originates from peaks of Scotland, and they were bred as hunting dogs.

Back in the day, they were especially competent in terms of fox and badger hunting, but they have since been transformed into loving and loyal dogs that serve as perfect companions. The picture on the left showcases what this dog breed looked like back in 1899, and they were much smaller and scruffier than the dogs we know today. Modern Westies have a longer coat and a stockier body.

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman pinscher has been portrayed in photos and paintings for its strong stature and its poise. This breed of dog knows how to stand tall, and it’s also known for being extremely territorial of the ones that they have connected with.

The first image of the Doberman pinscher can be traced back to the early 1900s, but you can see a few differences between this dog and the Doberman of today. Not only does the older breed have shorter ears, but it also has a shorter snout. Time and breeding seem to have elongated this dog, but some owners still aren’t impressed with their dog’s tail. Sadly, this leads to tail docking.

Chow Chow

The chow chow is an amazing breed of dog that also hails from China. While there are many legends that suggest that chow chows have been around for thousands of years, it rose to prominence throughout the 19th century, when it became a staple in Chinese homes.

Before too long, this breed of dog made its way across the pond and even wound up in Buckingham Palace with Queen Victoria! Known for looking like a cuddly teddy bear, these dogs haven’t been bred too much over the years. If anything, they have just been made to look even fluffier and cuter.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Although there’s no doubt about the fact that the Bernese mountain dog has undergone a distinct change over the years, it’s also fair to say that the change isn’t quite as drastic as some of the other breeds on this list. The painting on the right was completed in 1862 by a well-known animal painter by the name of Benno Rafael Adam.

As you can see, he painted a beautiful and speckled dog with a fairly round head. Over the years, the colors and markings on this cattle dog have changed slightly, and the Bernese mountain dog’s head has also changed shape. Apart from that, the Bernese mountain dog has stayed relatively similar to its ancestors.


Many people have the wrong impression of rottweilers because they have often been used as hunting and guard dogs. This is because they are strong and stable dogs that are fiercely loyal to those closest to them. It’s believed that these dogs can be traced back to Roman times, where these ancient people took advantage of the intelligence of these dogs.

Over the years, they have not changed a huge amount. While the head shape of this dog seems to have changed a little bit, there are no apparent differences between the old and the new. Thankfully, people are becoming more and more accepting of these dogs.

Irish Setter

Nowadays, Irish setters can normally be found with families that have children, or in dog shows. That’s because they are known for their beautiful coats and their peaceful temperament. The first reference of this setter dog can be traced back to the 1500s, but these dogs weren’t the solid red color that we know and love today.

Instead, they boasted a variety of colors, including red coloring with white accents. Not much has changed in terms of this dog and its breeding differences, apart from the fact that these Irish setters have longer ears and a slightly elongated body. This makes them look even more beautiful.

Wire Hair Fox Terrier

Can you believe that the picture on the left can actually be traced back to the late 1800s? This painting depicts an old wire hair fox terrier, which you might not recognize if you are a fan of the dog breed today. That’s because the differences in appearance are striking, Back in the day, this fox features short and wiry hair, rather than the long and soft fur they have today.

Alongside this, the modern-day dog’s ancestor can be seen to have a different head in terms of its shape and size. While the older breed had a fairly short head, the terrier we know and love today has an elongated snout and overall head shape.

English Setter

If you have ever seen an English setter, you’ll know that they have extremely long and tall bodies and even longer hair! Their body hair often reaches down to the ground, and they are known for being loyal dogs. While they were still rather large back in the day, they weren’t quite as big as they are now.

The picture on the left, taken in 1902, shows a dog that isn’t quite as stretched out as the one on the right. Over the years, the body, the neck, and the snout of this breed of dog has been elongated, and they are now seen as majestic and stunning animals.

Bearded Collie

Bearded collies are often known colloquially as “Beardies,” and it’s not hard to see why. Hailing from Scotland, this breed of dog was once used as a herding dog, which is why it used to look very different. Legend suggests that this breed of dog first reared its head in the 1500s, but the photo on the left shows just what this dog looked like back in 1915.

The dog was much smaller than it is today and featured a very different body shape. It was smaller, it was thinner, and it was much less hairy. However, it’s now much larger and often covered with so much hair that you just can’t seem to spot its eyes.