Top 9 Dog Breeds With "Wrong" Names

An Australian Shepherd and a Great Dane

The first species to be domesticated by humans was the dog, scientifically known as Canis lupus familiaris. It was domesticated more than 14,000 years ago from wolves, specifically Pleistocene wolves, an extinct lineage or ecomorph of the grey wolf. Today, over 370 dog breeds are recognized globally by dog registries. In the United States alone, the AKC fully recognizes 201 breeds, while the UKC, America's second-largest dog registry, recognizes over 376.

On the other hand, the FCI, the largest canine organization of the world, lists 360 breeds. Some of these breeds have very descriptive names that tell us what kind of dog they are and from where they originate. However, most dog breeds' name is technically a misnomer. In other words, some dog breeds are bearing the wrong names, which is causing so much confusion. In this article, I've compiled a list of 9 dog breeds with wrong and confusing names.

1. Australian Shepherd

An Australian Shepherd holding an American flag its in mouth

The Australian Shepherd is truly a shepherd dog breed, and very smart at that. However, the breed does not hail from Australia, although the name suggests otherwise. The breed's name suggests it hails from Australia, when in actuality it was developed in California, USA, in the 19th century. This makes the Australian Shepherd an all-American dog breed, despite its name.

The breed is believed to be descended from a variety of herding dogs imported, alongside sheep, to the US from Australia and New Zealand. The Australian Shepherd reportedly took its name from this trade. Originally used solely as a herding dog, the Australian Shepherd has evolved into one of America's most popular companion dog breeds.

2. English Shepherd

An English Shepherd dog

Like the Australian Shepherd, the English Shepherd is a herding dog breed from the United States. The breed's name is technically a misnomer, as it was bred from English settler's dogs in North America. Specifically, the English Shepherd's progenitors were a variety of herding dogs, including collies, imported to the U.S., alongside sheep, by early settlers from Britain and Ireland. The breed reportedly took its name from these ancestors. As such the breed shares ancestry with the modern Australian Shepherd.

The English Shepherd and Australian Shepherd are similar in size and temperament. So, they're both very energetic and require a lot of physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

3. American Eskimo Dog

A happy American Eskimo Dog

The American Eskimo Dog is not from America, albeit the name suggests otherwise. The breed originated in Germany and was renamed "American Eskimo Dog" due to anti-German sentiment during World War I. The dogs that would become the American Eskimo Dog migrated to America with their German owners. In the 1930s and 1940s, the breed became very popular in the United States as a circus performer, in addition to serving as a watch and companion dog. The American Eskimo Dog presents a constantly smiling face and thus often appears on lists of dog breeds that smile the most.

4. Great Dane

A black Great Dane

The Great Dane is certainly great, but it is not Danish. The breed descends from mastiff-like dogs and is German in origin, not Danish. The breed's name was derived from "Grand Danois," one of its French names, which translates to "Big Danish" in English. According to legend, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, a French naturalist, while traveling in Denmark, referred to the giant breed as a "Grand Danois," or Big Danish, when in actuality the breed originated in Germany.

5. Japanese Chin

A Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is a toy dog breed believed to have originated in China, despite its name. However, the route by which the dog arrived in Japan is a widely debated topic. Some accounts claim that the dogs were given as gifts to the Japanese royalty in AD 732 by Kim Jangson, while others maintain that they were given to the Empress of Japan as gifts in the 6th or 7th century. Still, according to other accounts, the Chin first arrived in Japan around the year AD 1000. The Japanese Chin first arrived in England in 1613 and in the U.S. in 1853. Today, the breed is popular as both a lap dog and a companion dog.

6. Tibetan Spaniel

A Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is truly from Tibet, but it is not a true Spaniel. The breed is a companion dog, unlike true spaniels, which are gun dogs. The Tibetan Spaniel probably took it from the fact that it resembles bred-down lapdog versions of the hunting spaniels, like the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

7. Tibetan Mastiff

A Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan is certainly from Tibet, but it is not a mastiff-type of dog. Europeans who first came to Tibet referred to the giant dog as a "Mastiff" because that's the name by which they refer to virtually all large dog breeds in the West. Several Tibetan breeds were misnamed by Early Western visitors. These include breeds such as the Tibetan Spaniel, which is not a Spaniel, and the Tibetan terrier, which is not a terrier.

8. Tibetan terrier

A Tibetan terrier in a New York park

The Tibetan Terrier truly originated in Tibet. However, it is not a member of the terrier group. European travelers referred to the breed as a terrier due to its resemblance to known terrier breeds. In Tibet, the breed is called "Tsang Apso," which roughly translates to "shaggy or bearded dog." The breed was historically kept as a good luck charm, mascot, watchdog, herding dog, and companion dog.

9. Chinese crested dog

A Chinese crested dog

Albeit the name suggests otherwise, the Chinese crested dog is not Chinese. The origin of the breed is thought to be either Africa or, more likely, Mexico. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers reportedly found Chinese Crested dogs in Mexico. Likewise, during the 1700s and 1800s, British, French, and Portuguese explorers found the breed in various parts of Africa.

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