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Labrador Retriever
The original Labradors were all-purpose water dogs originating in Newfoundland, not Labrador. Not only did the breed not originate in Labrador, but it also was not originally called the Labrador retriever. The Newfoundland of the early 1800s came in different sizes, one of which was the "Lesser" or "St. John's" Newfoundland the earliest incarnation of the Labrador. These dogs medium-sized black dogs with close hair not only retrieved game but also retrieved fish, pulled small fishing boats through icy water and helped the fisherman in any task involving swimming. Eventually the breed...
Rate:  (4.2)
German Pinscher
The progenitor of better-known Pinscher breeds, the German Pinscher is an old breed that can trace back its lineage to the German Bibarhund of the seventh century and the Tanner of the 14th century. In the 1600s, dogs with this ancestry or type were mixed with Black and Tan Terriers, creating the Rattenfanger, a versatile working ratter and watchdog. The Rattenfanger became the Pinscher, and it remained a hardworking dog for several centuries, especially valued for its rodent-catching ability around the stables.
Rate:  (3.3)
Chihuahua
The smallest breed of dog, the Chihuahua has a controversial history. One theory holds that it originated in China and was brought to the New World by Spanish traders, where it was then crossed with small native dogs. The other theory contends that it originated entirely in Central and South America, descending from the native Techichi, a small mute dog that was sometimes sacrificed in Toltec religious rituals. A small red dog was believed to guide the soul to the underworld, and every Aztec family kept such a dog, which was sacrificed and buried with any deceased family member.
Rate:  (4.1)
Bull Terrier
Bull-baiting and dog fighting were long considered great entertainment by many Europeans, and patrons were constantly trying crosses to achieve the ultimate fighting dog. Around 1835, a cross between a bulldog and the old English terrier produced a particularly adept pit dog known as the "bull and terrier." A later cross to the Spanish pointer added needed size, and the result was a tenacious, strong, yet agile dog that came to dominate the pits. As interest in the exhibition of dogs grew in England, little attention was paid to these dogs so long associated with the lower echelons of society.
Rate:  (4.3)
Amstaff - American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier descended from the same lines. The prototype originally sprang from crossing the old type of bulldog with some old terrier types, probably the English sooth terrier. The result was aptly called the "bull and terrier," later to be dubbed the Staffordshire bull terrier. The dogs gained fame among fanciers of dog fighting, a popular sport despite its having been declared illegal. Their fighting ability gained them passage to America in the late 1800s, where they dominated the fighting "pits." Here they became known as the pit b...
Rate:  (4.4)
Rottweiler
The Rottweiler's ancestors were probably Roman drover dogs, responsible for driving and guarding herds of cattle as they accompanied Roman troops on long marches. At least one of these marches led to southern Germany, where some of the people and their dogs settled. Throughout the succeeding centuries, the dogs continued to play a vital role as cattle drovers around what was to become the town of Rottweil (which is derived from red tile, denoting the red-tile roof of the Roman baths that had been unearthed there in the eighth century). Rottweil prospered and became a center of cattle comme...
Rate:  (4.6)
German Shepherd Dog
Despite an outward appearance slightly resembling a wolf, the German shepherd dog is a fairly recently developed breed and, contrary to namve beliefs, it is no more closely related to the wolf than any other breed of dog. The breed is the result of a conscious effort to produce the ideal shepherd, capable of herding and guarding its flocks. Perhaps never in the history of any breed has such concerted effort been put into improving a dog, mostly due to the formation in 1899 of the Verein fur Deutsche Scharferhunde SV, an organization devoted to overseeing the breeding of the German shepherd.
Rate:  (5)
Dobermann
Few people can claim to have had so great an impact upon the dog world as Louis Dobermann of Thuringen, Germany. Dobermann was a door-to-door tax collector who needed a watchful guard dog to accompany him on his rounds. In the late 1800s he set about to create an alert streamlined guard dog, most likely by crossing the old German shepherd and German pinscher, with later crosses of the black and tan Manchester terrier, greyhound and Weimaraner.
Rate:  (4.7)
Chow Chow
The chow chow has some spitz characteristics. Because of this, it has been proposed that the chow chow either descends from spitz forebears or is itself an ancestor of some of the spitz breeds. Unfortunately, the origin of the breed has been lost in time, but it has been known in China for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Its original purpose may have been as a hunting dog, sniffing out and even pointing birds for the nobility. The breed declined in quality and numbers after the imperial hunts were ended, but a few pure descendants were kept in isolated monasteries and wealthy households.
Rate:  (3.5)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
In the early 1800s, the sport of rat killing had become quite popular among the working classes. Bull-baiting, which had been popular in earlier times, did not lend itself to the cities, and fanciers of the rat pit became increasingly enamored of dog fighting as a more exciting alternative to rat killing. In their efforts to produce a fearless, quick, strong contender for the dog pit, they crossed the bulldog of the time with the black and tan terrier, thus producing the "bull and terrier." Selective breeding resulted in a small nimble dog with incredibly strong jaws.
Rate:  (4.4)