Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
The American Dog Breeds
From the arrival of the first Europeans, America has been a melting pot. In the beginning, only a few countries intermixed with the Native Americans, but later residents came from almost everywhere, and many of them brought their dogs.
Some of the dog breeds introduced to America have not changed much since they first arrived. However, those created in America have been a product of this melting pot, and the best were always chosen.
True American Dog Breeds
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Blue Tick Coonhound
- Catahoula Cur
- Redbone Coonhound
- Carolina Dog
- American Foxhound
- Alaskan Malamute
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- American Water Spaniel
- Boston Terrier
- American Eskimo
- Rat Terrier
1. American Pit Bull Terrier
Like a lot of people in the United States, this dog's ancestors came from England and Ireland. And, like a lot of people in the “new world," there are some dark areas in his history before he left his home. In this case, no one will let him forget it.
Back in Europe, the dog was used to bait bulls, then for ratting, and finally for dogfighting. When brought to the US, the Pit Bull became a farmer's dog and was used to catch cattle and hogs, herd cattle, hunt, and finally as a guard.
The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is just a medium-sized dog. They can weigh as little as 15 kilos (about 33 pounds) and as much as 27 kilos (about 60 pounds).
They are usually healthy but are prone to hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and heart problems. Some lines are prone to demodectic mange, too.
APBT have an average lifespan of 12 to 14. Although this dog is eager to work, he is one of the most commonly banned dog breeds in Europe and South America; Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore have also banned this breed. Some cities and counties in the US have also implemented a ban.
2. Bluetick Coonhound
The Bluetick Coonhound is an all-American scenthound. He comes out of Louisiana, where the breed founders put him together using the Bleu de Gascogne from France, the English Foxhound, and both the American and the Black and Tan Foxhound.
They might have thrown in a little chicory, too, but who knows about things in Louisiana.
Yes, they will howl and bark a lot. Yes, they will run off if given the chance. And yes, they are kind of rough around the edges, but they are still American and willing to work. Blueticks are muscular, medium-sized (about 20 to 35 kilos, or 45 to 80 pounds), and although they may be prone to hip dysplasia, they are a pretty healthy breed of dog.
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The Bluetick Coonhound has an average lifespan of about 11 or 12 years. These dogs like to get out and use their noses, so they need the wide-open spaces of the west; this Coonhound should not be asked to adapt to life in the city.
Dolly Parton, David Allen Coe, Charlie Daniels, and now Blake Shelton have all immortalized this dog in song. That is good enough for me. They do tend to slobber. Oh well.
3. Catahoula Cur
This is probably the oldest breed developed in the U.S., put together from Spanish Greyhounds, mastiffs, Beaucerons from France, and a few of the Native American dogs that may have been around at the time.
The result was a pretty spectacular working dog. They may be called “Catahoula leopard dogs” from some Choctaw words, or maybe from some French mispronunciation. Whatever you call them, they are still a dog bred for performance, and not looks. A few years ago they were declared the Louisiana state dog.
Catahoulas are good at hunting feral pigs and all sorts of American wildlife, great at herding, and make great watchdogs. Fanciers claim that they have a special bond with the children they are supposed to take care of.
Deafness is a serious health issue since some of the dogs have been selected to be mostly white and have blue eyes. Some of the dogs are also prone to hip dysplasia.
These dogs have a 12- or 13-year life expectancy. Governor Long was a fan, and if he were around today he probably still would be.
4. Redbone Coonhound
All Coonhounds are American, but not all of them are blue, black and tan, or even yellow. This great American legend is red.
The Redbone Coonhound is different in a lot of ways. His ears are floppy. (Well, I guess that isn't different.) His coat is short and coarse to protect him in the undergrowth. (Okay, that isn't much different either.) The dog’s paws are thick and the face is sad. (All right, all right!) The Redbone Coonhound is red.
The dogs were originally bred from red foxhounds from Scotland, Irish foxhounds, and then there were the red Bloodhounds from France. “Redbone” comes from the name of the breeder, however, not the color.
He is just a hunting dog, bred to take down bears, cougars, and of course raccoons. They are agile both in the forest and out. They are medium-sized, about 20 to 30 kilos (about 45 to 70 pounds), bark a lot, and are a healthy mixture but prone to hip dysplasia.
They live for about 11 or 12 years. Redbone Coonhounds do better in the house than Blueticks but they still go through the puppy crazies and need to be obedience trained.
Just make sure you can put up with the barking before you decide to search for one of these dogs.
5. Carolina Dog
Several new breeds have been put together in the last few years (American Alsatian, Silken Windhound, Mi-Ki), but in the meantime, we found out that not everything out there is a product of the melting pot. Even America has a pariah dog.
The Dixie Dingoes were only discovered in the 1970s in the isolated cypress swamps of the southeast U.S., and have been kept in captivity since the '80s. They are wild or feral dogs, and DNA testing has proven that they are more closely related to the East Asian dogs than to the European.
Carolina Dogs are medium-sized (about 10 to 20 kilos, or 20 to 45 pounds), have sort of a dingo-colored coat, and look about like wild dogs everywhere.
They are still a hard-to-find dog breed and the only significant information has been collected by ecologists at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Lab. You might find them at a UKC dog show, but they can also be registered with the American Rare Breed Association.
6. American Foxhound
This dog is now so uncommon that he could be put on the rare dog's breed list, but it was not always that way. The breed used to be common back when there were a lot more foxes to hunt. George Washington is considered an early breeder of the American Foxhound.
They are scenthounds, and like the Beagle, are bred to live in a pack. That makes them a lot harder to train than some of the working dogs.
7. Alaskan Malamute
I enjoy working with this dog breed, but most people that adopt one should not. They are huge freight dogs, bred to work, and when asked to sit around all day in an apartment or a back yard they do not do so well.
They dig, they chew, they howl, and they do shed a lot. Not the best choice for everyone.
8. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Another working dog, the Chessie is powerful and big, so not the best choice for a family with small kids. They are smart dogs, and if you live around a lake, expect your dog to jump in at all hours they are a great choice.
9. American Water Spaniel
Another one of those rare American breeds, the Water Spaniel is a great dog for those people who want an eager hunting dog who can jump in the water and not get wet. This is the Wisconsin state dog.
10. Boston Terrier
This little American is tough, even if he is on the small side. Most of the dogs are known to be polite with people but good watchdogs when they hear a stranger.
Since they are one of the flat-faced breeds, they do tend to snort. Something to live with.
11. American Eskimo
Okay, maybe this dog should not be on this list, since most sources claim he is really German. Of course, we all know that French Bulldogs are English, Japanese Chin are Chinese, and Italian Greyhounds are Greek. This dog is an American.
They are good watchdogs and definitely vocal. Maybe a little too much.
12. Rat Terrier
This little ratter has been around since the late 1800s, but he is still known as a digger, barker, and general all-around farm-type dog. In most places, they are still uncommon.
Where to Find These Breeds
Aren't these all-American dogs great? Have you found exactly what you have been looking for?
- Animal shelters: If you have decided to adopt one of the American dog breeds, your first stop needs to be your local animal shelter. You may find exactly the dog you are looking for. Maybe someone has had to give the dog up when moving; maybe the dog is a stray. Get over there and check.
- Petfinder.com: This site lists dogs available almost everywhere and you may find the breed you are looking for in a city or state close by.
- Rescue organizations: You can find these through the website dogbreedinfo.
- Dog shows: Some breeders can be found at dog shows, and you can ask them about prices and when puppies or adult dogs will be available. Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Blueticks, and Redbones are part of the AKC. American dogs like APBTs, Blue Ticks, Redbones, Catahoulas, and sometimes even Carolina Dogs can all be found at UKC dog shows.
Where Not to Go
Do not buy from a pet shop or an internet site that deals in shipping puppies; these places only support puppy mills. You might be dealing with some behavioral and housebreaking problems down the road, and you probably will not end up with a great American dog.
Information on Rare Dog Breeds
- Five Rare American Dog Breeds
Most breeds of rare dogs in America are new. Here are five great rare breeds: the Mi-ki, the Klee-kai, the Chinook, American Alsatian, and the Plott Hound.
Have I forgotten a breed that should be on this list? Let me know.
B A Tobin from Connnecticut on April 28, 2013:
Very interesting reading, once again! It is wonderful to be able to hear how many dogs sound. I loved the puppies in the tub... Ahhh how many were there?, 12 ! :)
Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 27, 2013:
Voted up and interesting. Great advice about petfinders.com and adopting from local animal shelter. Our current dog is a Feist that came from our local shelter. She is the sweetest and smartest dog I have ever had. Always enjoy your hubs!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 27, 2013:
Georgie, no southern girl should grow up without seeing these dogs! Thanks for the info on the Carolina dogs video; I am going to fix it as soon as my ISP starts letting me get into the videos!!!
wetnosedogs, you have probably seen all of these dogs down your way. Imagine poor Bob, never even having heard of a Catahoula Cur.
Mary, I like the Carolina dogs myself. The "Dixie Dingo" seems to be everywhere, and they have that wonderful little muzzle "bred" to fit inside a tin can!
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 27, 2013:
Very informative hub! And thanks for shedding light on some less known American dog breeds.
I would like to give honorable mention to Alaskan Malamute (the state dog of Alaska), Chesapeake Bay Retriever (the state dog of Maryland), and the recently approved by AKC, the Chinook (the state dog of New Hampshire). All three are working dog breeds.
Mary Craig from New York on April 27, 2013:
This one's just as great as the rest. You're giving us such great information on such a wide variety of dog breeds. It is always important to know how the breed will behave in your home, large or small.
I have to say I find the Catahoula and the Carolina breeds nice looking. I love the video of the Catahoula , it looks like a fun though active breed.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Bob Bamberg on April 27, 2013:
Interesting hub as usual. The only one of the lot that you'll find in my neck of the woods is the APBT. I've never heard of the Catahoula Cur, and neither has my spellchecker. The other Americans, I would guess, are found mostly south of the Mason-Dixon line? Voted up and interesting.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on April 27, 2013:
How can anyone not love a slobbering, barking hound? Great one on american dogs.
Georgie Lowery from North Florida on April 27, 2013:
Another great Hub! I love the first photo of the pit bull, these dogs are so beautiful and usually very friendly (and funny!). I hate that such bad things have happened with and to them.
Is it sad that I've lived in the South for a good chunk of my life and never knew what a blue tick coonhound looked like? I remember a song by Emmylou Harris where she sand about a blue tick hound dog named Gideon (Red Dirt Girl).
Thanks for the info!