Which of the following breeds do you think we fabricated?
1) The Baffinland Husky
2) The Chinese Foo Dog
3) The Maltese Bulldog
4) The Goodenough Island Native Dog
Guess what? They are, or were, all real breeds, making this a dreaded “trick question,” and doubly so because the Maltese Bulldog is now extinct. This dog of the small island of Malta became extinct during the 20th century, but before it vanished, it was used as a farm dog, dedicated watchdog, and sadly, a fighting dog. There are those who maintain that the breed can still be found in back alleys, but others insist the Maltese Bulldog was simply a strain of Pit Bull. More than one canine encyclopedia mentions it as a stand alone breed which is why we used it, as well.
The Baffinland Husky is a regional breed of sled dog named after Baffin Island in the northeastern regions of Canada, but it can be found in coastal areas of the 900 mile long island, as well. That this was a breed in its own right was established early in the 20th century, and it had been breeding true enough to be used in the creation of other breeds, namely the Greenland Dog. Medium sized, longer backed, and shorter muzzled than other nordic breeds, these dogs differ from Huskies in that they are always black and white, and white eye spots are common. Again, this is a very localized breed, and it would probably be astonishing to find it anywhere else.
The westernmost of the three large islands found in the Solomon Sea of Papua New Guinea is home to the Goodenough Island Native Dog (possibly the best breed name ever). These dogs were first encountered by a collector working for Lord Rothschild towards the end of the 19th century. Described as “spitz-like” these black dogs with white markings were breeding true for who- knows-how-long. They may have been a protein source for the islanders, and the breed’s present status is largely unknown.
Most people think Chinese Foo Dogs are decorative statuettes typically placed in or outside of a building to protect the structure from negative energy – and they are that, but they are also real dogs.
Interestingly, in China the Shih Tzu is referred to as Shizi Gou, or “foo dog,” but tell any member of the Chinese Foo Dog Club of America that their dogs aren’t real, and you’re apt to get a rise out of them. Named after the Chinese city of Foochow (known today as Minhow), the Chinese Foo is a Spitz-type dog whose resemblance to a Chow Chow is striking. In fact, some believe the breed’s origins include the Chow Chow crossed with North European hunting dogs. A favorite claim (or perhaps breed legend) is that the Foo Dog could be the missing link between the Mongolian Chow Chow and the Chinese Wolf. The Standard sized Chinese Foo Dog (it also comes in toy and miniature sizes) was originally bred to guard Buddhist temples some 3,000 years ago, as well as hunt and pull sleds, but it was thought the breed had become extinct by the 19th century. Today, Foo Dogs are still rare, but the breed is said to be growing in popularity in the U.S. We weren’t able to find the Chinese Foo Dog Club of America, but we’re still looking!
We mention these obscure breeds simply to point out that the world is filled with wondrous dogs, and the aforementioned breeds probably aren’t even included in the estimated 400 canine breeds of the world that we know about.
Image of a Chinese Foo Dog found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information