Although all dogs seem to share certain traits and a common language, each breed has a distinct cultural background. Pet expert Marc Morrone discusses the heritage of a handful of dogs whose origins are 100 percent American.
One of the oldest American breeds, the Boston terrier is a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier. Although it isn't much of a fighter, it can fend for itself quite well. A wonderful companion and family pet, the Boston is often referred to as the "American gentleman of dogs."
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The Chesapeake Bay retriever, or "Chessy," was one of the only sporting breeds to evolve solely in the United States. In the early 19th century, an English cargo ship containing two Newfoundland puppies got wrecked off the coast of Maryland. The puppies were given to locals, who bred them with some hounds. Soon after, the first Chesapeake Bay retriever was born.
One of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan malamute was developed by a tribe of nomadic Inuit people known as the Mahlemuts. The Mahlemuts lived in western Alaska and needed large, hardy drafting dogs. In addition to these virtues, the "mal" is fond of people, especially children who let them pull their sleds in winter.
American Water Spaniel
Considered to be Wisconsin's state dog, the American water spaniel was developed in the heartland during the early 1900s, primarily to recover drowned foul. Lean and light, they're hunters who thrive in the cold, wetland waters of the upper Midwest from early spring to late fall. Bred to be small enough to fit in hunters' canoes, these dogs make good pets for active families.
Despite its name, the Australian shepherd was developed exclusively in the United States in the late-19th century. So named because of the breed's early association with Basque sheepherders who migrated from Australia, it was bred to have strong herding and protective instincts. The bred's status rose with the increased popularity of Western-style horse riding after World War II, and the breed was subsequently seen at rodeos, in movies, and on television shows. With its wonderful temperament, it makes a great family pet.