Just like our immigrant ancestors, most of the dog breeds we know and enjoy today originated in other countries and came to the United States later on. However, there are a number of AKC registered breeds which were developed on American soil, and each has its own unique history and heritage:
Alaskan Malamute – The Alaskan Malamute was named after the native Innuit tribe called Mahlemuts who lived along the Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. The Malamute was developed for its abilities as a draft animal, and is one of the oldest Arctic sled dog breeds. Malamutes served to allow natives to travel over the harsh Arctic landscape. Later on, the breed transported mail throughout the land. A famous Malamute named -Balto- lead a team that saved residents of the Alaskan city of Nome from diptheria in the great Serum Run of 1925. Balto-s statue can be seen in New York-s Central Park. This loyal and devoted breed that has become a popular sled dog among sportspersons was registered by AKC as a Working dog in 1935.
American Eskimo Dog – Contrary to popular belief, the American Eskimo Dog is not descended from working sled dogs. The -Eskie,- as it is nicknamed, originated in the Spitz family of dogs, also known as the Nordic breeds. During the 19th century, in this country, Eskie-s were most commonly found in communities with German immigrants. Later in that century, the Eskie became a popular dog for use in traveling circuses throughout the U.S. Thanks in part to the breed-s agility and eye-catching snowy-white coat, the dog was used for many acts, including those that involved tightrope walking. The AKC first registered this breed in the Non-Sporting group in 1995.
American Foxhound – Since hunting was an integral part of life in colonial America, the American Foxhound was developed as a scent hound from strains of foxhounds imported from England, Ireland, and France as early as 1650. In fact, most of the early leaders of the American colonies were lovers of the chase. George Washington maintained a large pack of hounds at Mount Vernon. He took great pride in his hounds, and continually sought to improve them. In 1770, he imported a number of hounds from England, and in 1785, the Frenchman, LaFayette, shipped him a number of French foxhounds. These Virginia hounds were the founders of today-s American Foxhound. This energetic and easy-to-train breed was first registered by the AKC in the Hound group in 1886.
American Water Spaniel — The exact origins of the American Water Spaniel are not clear, however, it is principally in the Midwest that the present-day specimen evolved. In fact, the American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin. Thought to be a mixture of the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-Coated Retriever, he is known for his thick, wavy coat that protects it against water and weather. The virtue of this sporting breed — its ability to swiftly, efficiently, and merrily retrieve game — has long been appreciated in the United States. This affectionate and easily trainable sporting breed was first registered with the AKC in the Sporting Group in 1940.
American Staffordshire Terrier — The American Staffordshire Terrier or -AmStaff- is considered an -all-American- dog. It has been developed since the early 1800's as a result of crosses between the bulldogs of that time and game terriers and was known in America as early as 1870 under the names Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier, and Yankee Terrier. This type of dog was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers, and was used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship. A number of the early ancestors were also developed for the “sport” of dog fighting. The extraordinary vitality of this breed is a direct result of breeding for successful fighting dogs. This now illegal activity is, unfortunately, more often cited as the early purpose of the dogs rather than the general farm work. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1936 as a member of the Terrier group. In 1972, the name -American Staffordshire Terrier- came into use because American breeders had developed a type that is heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, and the addition of -American- to the AKC registration helped distinguish the two.
Australian Shepherd – Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd did not originate in Australia. Its ancestors actually came from the Basque region of the Pyrennes between Spain and France. In the late 1800-s, Basque sheep herders began emigrating to the United States and Australia, bringing with them this -little blue dog.- The Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds and California Shepherds. The Aussie rose rapidly in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War II, becoming known to the general public via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television. Their inherent versatility and trainability made them useful on American farms and ranches. Today, these attentive, loyal dogs work in many capacities such as service, therapy, drug detection, and search and rescue. The American Kennel Club began registering the Australian Shepherd in 1991.
Black and Tan Coonhound – An American hound bred specifically to hunt, the Black and Tan Coonhound of today picks up his trail and then -barks up- the moment his prey is treed. This breed is a powerful and agile dog with the courage and stamina enabling him to hunt deer, bear, and mountain lion. The Black and Tan in all probability descended from the Talbot Hound which was known in England during the 11th Century, then down through the Bloodhound and Foxhound via this country-s own Virginia Foxhound, frequently referred to as -the black-and-tan.- The black and tan strain was carefully developed over a period of years and was first registered as the Black and Tan Coonhound by the AKC in the Hound group in 1945.
Boston Terrier – Known as the -American gentleman- because of his calm disposition and formal black and white -tuxedo-, the Boston Terrier is one of America's native breeds. Developed in Boston, MA as his name suggests, he is a product of the English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. In 1889, a group of fanciers in Boston began showing the early ancestors of today-s Boston Terrier. When these dogs were first shown, they were often called Round Heads or Bull Terriers before their name was changed to Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier is a member of the non-sporting group and was first registered by the AKC in 1893.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever – This true American breed is thought to have originated from two puppies that were rescued from an English shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland, however, no complete and authentic record of his development exists. In the late 1800s, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was renowned for its ability to retrieve hundreds of waterfowl a day from the icy waters of the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake coat, which is very dense and has an oily texture, allows the dog to easily deal with extreme weather conditions. This slightly wavy coat sheds profusely in the spring and requires daily brushing. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a member of the Sporting group and was first registered with the AKC in 1878.
Plott — In 1750, two young brothers left Germany and emigrated to America with three brindle and two buckskin Hanoverian Hounds. One of the boys, Johannes Georg Plott, settled in Bute County, North Carolina and later in Lincoln County where he raised his family and bred his dogs. His son continued the breeding program. For the next seven generations (over 200 years), the Plott's were known as mountain men who used the family dogs to hunt. As Plott men built homes and raised families all over the Smoky Mountains, their dogs became known by their family name and were referred to as the Plott's. As the fame of the Plott Hounds spread, coon hunters began to take an interest in those with treeing instinct. The Plott came to be classified as a coonhound, yet the Plott's traditional work is to track and bring to bay or tree big game such as bear, boar, and mountain lion. Many Plotts today are still performing their original function. The official state dog of North Carolina, the Plott Hound is a member of AKC-s Miscellaneous Class.
Toy Fox Terrier — The Toy Fox Terrier was developed by breeding small Smooth Fox Terriers with several toy breeds including the Chihuahua and Manchester Terrier. Today, the Toy Fox Terrier is a well-balanced toy dog of athletic appearance displaying grace and agility in equal measure with strength and stamina. Truly a toy and a terrier, both have influenced his personality and character. As a terrier, the Toy Fox Terrier possesses keen intelligence, courage, and animation. As a toy, he is diminutive, and devoted with an endless abiding love for his master. One of the newest additions to the AKC registry, the Toy Fox Terrier was first recognized in January, 2003.