20 Photos That Show Exactly How The Nation’s Favorite Dog Breeds Have Transformed

You might think you know everything about your dog, down to where they like to be scratched and which toy they enjoy most. But if your pup is purebred, you may not know much about their breed’s history. Are you aware, for example, of how their looks have changed over the generations? Many dog breeds have totally transformed in time, so let’s now take a look at 20 of them. They might just surprise you more than your own pooch’s newest trick – we think, anyway.

20. Saluki

The Saluki isn’t as well-known as many other dog breeds, even though they’re apparently the first-ever domesticated dog. Though these slim, long-legged pups have a dancer-like grace to them, they’re incredibly adaptable, too. In other words, they’re capable of surviving in a slew of different environments. But they’re quite expensive – some cost thousands of dollars – and training them can be tough. So, out of 196 entries on the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds list, the Saluki ranks 120th.

The Saluki hasn’t changed physically all that much over the centuries. In fact, pictures of them etched into Egyptian tombs look very similar to the dogs we see today. However, as they migrated across the Middle East, they developed new colors and coat textures. That’s why you can today find Salukis with feathered, smooth or silky fur in colors ranging from cream to fawn to red to black.

19. Beagle

Ever since American families began discovering the Beagle in the early 20th century, they’ve been one of the country’s most popular breeds. This trend may have been encouraged by the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog shows, which ushered them into the spotlight. A Beagle won Best in Show honors in both 2008 and 2015, after all. And the breed as a whole sits in sixth place on the AKC’s list of most popular dogs.

Modern Beagles have a similar build and coloring as their predecessors from 1915, as pictured above. However, the breed has gone through a massive transformation since the first Beagles arrived in the mid-1700s. At the time, the dogs were only 8 to 9 inches tall – people called them “pocket Beagles.” Eventually, though, people came to prefer them as more substantial hunting companions and hounds, so they were bred to fit the bill.


18. Chow Chow

Do you love dogs and cats? With the Chow Chow, you get the best of both worlds. Some say this fluffy breed has cat-like behaviors, such as its independent streak and aloofness. However, once you win over a Chow Chow, you have a very loyal companion on your hands. And that characteristic explains why it sits in the top half of the AKC’s popularity ranking – it comes in 75th place on the list of 196 breeds.

If today’s Chow Chow looks a lot bigger than pictures of its 100-year-old counterpart, your eyes aren’t fooling you. The breed’s average weight has increased from 50 pounds to 75 pounds since then. Plus, a close look at their faces will reveal another big change: today’s pups have way more wrinkles.


17. Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terriers pack a lot of personality into their small frame. They are brave, confident and smart, which makes sense, considering they were once bred to hunt. As companions, though, they get their energy out on long walks and playing with fervor. All of this combined makes for a lively pet, which explains why they’re the 57th most popular pooch amongst all AKC breeds.

The changes in the Scottish Terrier are pretty easy to spot – clearly, the dog’s coat has gotten much longer over the years. In letting their hair grow out, breeders have cultivated a new texture and shape for the breed’s locks. Scotties used to have wiry hair, but they now have softer strands.


16. Basset Hound

According to the AKC, the Basset Hound is the 39th most popular on their list of 196 breeds. It all comes down to the adorable pooches’ charming personalities. Sure, they can be stubborn on occasion. But most of the time they’re low-key and sweetly mannered, which ultimately means that they’re great pets.

Much of the Basset Hound’s charm comes from its looks – long ears, droopy eyes, short stature. They haven’t always been this cartoonish, though. Over time, they’ve been bred to exaggerate these adorable features. Their ears have grown bigger, they stand shorter than before, and their skin has become even saggier.


15. Newfoundland

There’s no gentler giant than the Newfoundland – the AKC’s 40th most popular breed – known for its sweet disposition, loyalty to its family and gentleness with children. Plus, their humans find them easy to train. This may all trace back to the breed’s start as working dogs. They often worked on Canadian fishing ships as lifeguards, diving in and saving people who fell into frigid waters.

Not much has changed about Newfies. Well, except the fact that they’ve gotten even larger in the past 100 or so years. In 1915 males were said to reach about 100 pounds. Nowadays, though, they can hit a weight of around 150 pounds. It’s like we said, they’re gentle giants.


14. Shetland Sheepdog

There’s a reason why the Shetland Sheepdog is the 25th most popular dog in the AKC. This breed is famously smart, making them a breeze to train. Plus, they have a fine-tuned sensitivity when it comes to their humans. Shelties are affectionate and loyal to their families, but they take a while to warm to strangers – which makes them great watchdogs, too.

In the last century, Shetland Sheepdogs have doubled in size. They used to weigh 7 to 10 pounds, but they now come in at around 20. Plus, their hair has gotten longer, which makes them look bigger, too. Nevertheless, they’re still smart, hardworking and beloved as pets, even as they’ve grown.


13. Old English Sheepdog

If there’s one thing the Old English Sheepdog is famous for, it’s surely its shaggy, white and gray coat. And while all that hair makes this pup look big and fluffy, it actually hides a very muscular frame. As such, they make for hard workers when used as herders. Meanwhile, they make great companions, too, thanks to their sweet, patient nature and intelligence. Overall, they rank 72nd in terms of their popularity, according to the AKC.

The Old English Sheepdog has changed in two major ways. For one thing, they actually used to herd cattle, not the sheep for which they’ve been named. On top of that, the breed has transformed physically. It’s hard to believe, but a century ago they had even more hair than they do now.


12. West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier comes 42nd overall on the AKC’s popularity list, but the dog-centric organization notes that they’re one of the most popular terriers of all. These fluffy pups may look delicate, but they’re brave and independent pets. Their spirited personalities delight their owners, too – watch how wildly they play and you might just fall in love, too.

Westies looked a bit different a century ago, though. You can probably tell from the above photos that the breed has gotten a little shorter with time. Specifically, they’ve generally lost about one or two inches in stature. Nevertheless, they remain the same fearless pooches that they always have been.


11. Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a reputation for being tough, but it’s an undeserved one, according to the AKC. The group has written, “No one told the Rottie he’s not a toy breed, so he is liable to plop onto your lap for a cuddle.” Of course, this powerful pooch can protect its family if necessary, and that brave-but-goofy demeanor makes it a very popular breed – eighth on the AKC’s overall list.

Today’s Rottweilers look a lot different than their forebears, though. Their snouts have gotten a bit shorter and their faces have become wider. Their reddish patches are larger and their hair has gotten a bit coarser, too. Plus, most owners choose to leave their tails as-is, rather than docking them.


10. German Shepherd

The second-most popular dog of all 196 AKC breeds, the German Shepherd makes a loyal, courageous companion. They learn commands well and can move quickly, as well. Of course, this makes them great service animals, but families love this breed, too. Turns out, they can be just as gentle and loving as they can be fierce.

The German Shepherd hasn’t always had its imposing silhouette, though. A century ago, in fact, these pooches were actually considered to be medium-sized, weighing a mere 55 pounds or so. Nowadays, they weigh some 20 to 40 pounds more than that. Plus, modern German Shepherds have a back with more of a slope.


9. Boxer

Boxers have long lingered at the top of the list of America’s most popular dog breeds. Nowadays, they’re 11th on the AKC’s list. They remain a favorite because, well, they have it all. They’re smart, patient and protective, so they make great companions for children and adults alike. They’re beautiful animals, and they can be downright goofy, too.

Boxers are one of the brachycephalic dog breeds, which means they have a skull that’s no less than 80 percent wide as it is long. This gives their faces that smushed-in look for which they’re so beloved. As you can see in the above photos, this feature has become even more pronounced over the years. The Boxer’s muzzle has gotten shorter, and their noses have become upturned, too.


8. Doberman Pinscher

When it comes to guard dogs, there’s one that rises above the rest. We’re talking, of course, about the Doberman Pinscher. This sleek, strong and smart dog makes an incredible pet if you’re looking for protection. Those qualities, combined with their muscular physique and glistening coat, make the Doberman “royalty in the canine kingdom,” according to the AKC. They remain popular among dog owners, too, ranking 17th out of all 196 recognized breeds.

Today’s Doberman has a sleeker, shinier coat. Plus, it looks as if it stands a bit taller than the century-old version. But perhaps the biggest change in the modern Doberman is its ears. Back in the day, owners clipped the dog’s ears and manipulated them to stand upright. They did this to help their guard dogs hear more – erect ears can hear more. But less and less vets and owners want the cosmetic procedure done. So, many Dobermans have their natural, floppy ears instead.


7. French Bulldog

There’s a reason why the French Bulldog has become the fourth-most popular of all AKC-recognized breeds. These pups easily slot themselves into any family and environment – and they particularly thrive as city dogs. They’re quite easy to care for, as well. You won’t have to walk a Frenchie for miles – they don’t need a huge amount of exercise, especially compared to other pooches.

The face of the French Bulldog hasn’t changed much over the years, nor have their beloved bat-like ears. What has transformed in the past century is this breed’s body type. They’ve been bred to be slightly smaller in stature. At the same time, however, they’ve gotten a bit more muscular, giving them a stockier build overall.


6. Great Dane

The largest of all Great Danes can measure in at 32 inches at the shoulder. And when they stand on their hind legs, they’re often taller than their humans. But these imposing-looking pooches couldn’t be sweeter and more patient companions. Their size makes them a big responsibility, but one that many households are happy to take on – they’re the 16th-most popular AKC breed, after all.

Great Danes used to be a whole lot leaner than they are today. A century ago, they weighed about 120 pounds while today’s males can be as heavy as 175 pounds. Indeed, their purpose has changed over the years, too. They used to hunt boar – an activity for which they’d presumably need to be nimble – and today they’re mostly house pets.


5. St. Bernard

Many people recognize – and love – the extra-large St. Bernard, a pup that originally hails from the Swiss Alps. They used to climb the snowy mountains in search of people in need of rescue, but nowadays they’re patient, sweet and protective pets. Basically, they’re great for families who bring one home.

But the modern St. Bernard might not be able to work as hard as its 100-year-old counterpart. The dogs have gotten much larger, which leads them to overheat with too much activity. And these two photos make it seem like the breed has gotten much furrier over the years, too.


4. Dachshund

The Dachshund has to be one of the most easily identifiable dog breeds out there, thanks to their long bodies and extra-short legs. These waddling pooches might not make great runners or jumpers, but they do like to walk, play and patrol their homes. They also have feisty, sometimes stubborn personalities. All of that combined makes them a well-loved breed, coming in 12th on the AKC’s popularity ranking.

A quick glance at these two photos reveals that Dachshunds have shrunk in size over the years. They’ve always had short legs, of course, but now their bellies graze the floor beneath them. They’ve been bred to have even longer backs and necks, too, giving them their famous weenie-dog shape.


3. Bull Terrier

If you put in the work with your Bull Terrier, you get a great reward in a warm, loving companion. To get there, though, this breed requires lots of socialization, training, plenty of exercise and lots of one-on-one time with you. Those who love these pups – the 62nd most popular of all AKC breeds – find the effort to be more than worth it.

Over the years, the Bull Terrier has seen one of the most remarkable transformations of all the dogs on this list. For starters, their bodies have gone from long and lean to squatty and strong. And then, there’s their infamous egg-shaped head – they had a more normal-looking noggin 100 years ago.


2. Poodle

Don’t let the hairdo fool you – Poodles aren’t the prissy dogs you might envision them to be. Behind that curly hair is an intelligent pooch that’s particularly athletic, especially if your pup’s a standard-sized Poodle. Add to that a low-allergen coat, and you’ve got an all-round great pet. That’s why the breed’s so popular nowadays, ranking 7th on the AKC’s list.

Years ago, though, curly hair wasn’t the norm for Poodles – people wanted their pups to have corded coats instead. But owners eventually started to groom them to look as they do today for functional reasons. Poodles used to be water retrievers, so the puffed-out bits and shaven spots helped them to swim more easily while keeping strategic spots warm.


1. Pug

The Pug’s the 28th-most popular dog breed of all, and they’ve long been a favorite four-legged companion. This breed is one of the oldest out there, and they’ve long served the same purpose. That is, to give and receive love from their human counterparts. And they don’t need much else to be happy – pugs thrive in both urban and countryside environments, with a single owner or with families. In the end, they just want to share some affection with you.

As you can see, the Pug has stayed the same size over the years. What has changed, though, is the pooch’s signature squashed face. Thanks to selective breeding, these dogs have developed flatter noses and larger eyes over the years. In other words, they look even more cartoonish – and, arguably cuter, if you love Pugs – than ever before.