Learn about dog breeds that were developed in the United States.

By Doug Jimerson

Although the majority of dog breeds were developed in other countries, there are some breeds that were created on American soil. Most of these breeds were molded to the specific needs of American owners. Here are 10 of our favorites:

Boston Terrier

It's hard to believe that the happy-go-lucky Boston terrier was first bred as a fighting dog right after the Civil War. Created by crossing an English bulldog and an English white terrier (with some French bulldog thrown in for good measure), the Boston quickly transitioned into a fun, active family pet. Bred near the city of Boston, the dog gained the nickname the "American Gentleman" for its courtly manner and handsome patterned coat. Boston terriers retain the round head and pushed-in faces of their bulldog ancestors and the active spirit of terriers. They make easy-care pets that can adapt to apartment or farm living. Colors include brindle, black, or seal with white markings.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The story of the Chesapeake Bay retriever, nicknamed the chessie, begins in 1807 when two Newfoundlands were rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland. These dogs were bred with other water-loving breeds such as the otterhound, flat-coated retriever, and curly-coated retriever. Eventually, the Chesapeake Bay retriever, as we know it today, appeared. The goal was to create a tough-as-nails retriever that could work in either the cold water of Chesapeake Bay or in the dense marshes and woodlands nearby. The Chesapeake Bay retriever is an intelligent but sometimes headstrong dog that is more than willing to participate in any outdoor activity with its family. The dog has a thick, slightly oily double coat that naturally repels cold water. Coat colors include sedge, brown, or deadgrass.

Boykin Spaniel

The official state dog of South Carolina, the Boykin spaniel was developed in the 1900s as a compact, all-purpose hunting dog that would fit the needs of South Carolina sportsmen. Nicknamed the "dog who doesn't rock the boat," the Boykin spaniel weighs between 30 and 40 pounds, making it an ideal companion in a tight duck blind or boat. Boykin spaniels were created by breeding retrievers with spaniels, and the breed retains the best instincts of both ancestors being able to flush and retrieve game. The Boykin also makes an outstanding family pet with an enthusiastic, easygoing personality. Colors include dark chocolate or rich liver.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Also called the Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog or the Catahoula cur, this handsome breed was developed specifically to catch or corral the wild hogs that roam the woods and fields of northern Louisiana. Now the official state dog of Louisiana, the Catahoula leopard dog is noted for its striking short coat that's spotted, brindled, patched, or solid. The dog can also have one or two blue, green, brown, or amber eyes. Catahoula leopard dogs are fiercely loyal to their family and require a strong pack leader and regular exercise to keep them happy. They can make excellent pets, but not if they are left cooped up in a backyard or apartment.

Alaskan Malamute

The draft horse of the sled dog world, the Alaskan malamute was developed to pull heavy loads over rough terrain and snow. Unlike its cousin, the Siberian husky, the malamute is not built to race. Instead, this dog breed has a solid, thick frame designed for endurance and strength. Its average weight is around 80 pounds. The malamute is an intelligent breed with a friendly, loving temperament. To protect the dog from cold weather, the malamute does have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to keep in shape. Coat colors include shadings of gray, black, sable, and red with a large amount of white on the belly, face, feet, and chest.

American Foxhound

George Washington is credited with creating the first American foxhounds after he determined that the English foxhound wasn't an ideal hunting partner for the American landscape. By crossing the English foxhound with French hounds and other local breeds, he eventually created a fast, fearless foxhunting companion. American foxhounds are an easygoing breed that loves children, but they requires lots of exercise to keep happy. Like other hounds, the American foxhound can be vocal so it is probably better living in a rural setting than in the city. They have a short, easy-care coat in almost any combination of white, black, and tan.

Australian Shepherd

While there is some confusion over where the Australian shepherd first appeared, everyone agrees it was not from Australia. In fact, most believe the breed was developed in the American West by possibly crossing local herding dogs with those brought over from Europe to help manage the large flocks of sheep on the frontier. Generations of breeding in the West eventually created the hardworking, intelligent herding dog we know today. Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, make fantastic family pets and excel in any type of dog sport. They do require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, but overall, they make fun, happy companions. Coat colors include blue merle, red merle, tricolor, and black and white. Aussies have short or bobbed tails.

Rat Terrier

A lot of dog in a small package: That's how you can describe the feisty and active rat terrier. Developed as an all-purpose farm dog, the rat terrier is a combination of many breeds including the Italian greyhound, beagle, whippet, and a variety of different terriers. The dog's main purpose was to kill rats and other vermin that would threaten the farmer's grain. At one time, this was probably the most popular farm dog in America. The rat terrier makes an excellent pet, especially for active families willing to take the time to train them. They are portable—rarely weighing over 20 pounds—and the tight short coat is easy to keep clean. Colors vary with combinations of tan, black, apricot, lemon, red, or chocolate spots and patches over a white base.

American Water Spaniel

The official state dog of Wisconsin, the American water spaniel is a relatively rare breed that was bred to perform as both a top-notch water retriever and a great family pet. Its ancestors include the Irish water spaniel and the curly-coated retriever. Like the Boykin spaniel, the American water spaniel is a medium-size retriever designed to fit easily into a small boat. Weighing only about 40 pounds, the American water spaniel has a thick, wavy, weatherproof double coat. It's a versatile breed that will happily spend the day hunting and then come home for a romp with the family. Colors include black, liver, and chocolate.

Plott Hound

In 1750, two German brothers named Plott brought a small pack of dogs with them when they immigrated to North Carolina. Over the next 200 years, breeders in North Carolina used the Plott brothers' bloodlines to create a hardworking dog they could use to hunt wild boar, raccoon, and bear. Today, the Plott hound is the official state dog of North Carolina and is prized for its fearless yet friendly disposition. It has a dense, short coat that's easy to maintain and, like other hounds, can be vocal when it wants to be. Plott hounds require regular exercise and make excellent pets. The most common colors are black and brindle.


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