The United States is sometimes referred to as a cultural melting pot, a place where immigrants from around the world come together to form an entirely original society. Although this metaphor has been challenged in recent years, it cannot be denied that America’s roots stretch in the direction of every nation on Earth.

The migration to these shores has not been limited to people, however. From the earliest days of discovery, settlers brought with them the things they needed to survive and flourish in the New World: food, drink, cookware, clothing, tools, weapons and livestock.

Among the domesticated animals that arrived in America from abroad, perhaps none proved as valuable to the growth of the nation as did the horse, ox and dog.

Dogs in particular proved invaluable. Unlike the larger animals, they could be bred to serve many and varied purposes. In America, various combinations of Old World breeds and local dogs were tried in an effort to produce animals that could support the local economy. A dog’s usefulness was paramount, and in time specific breeds began to emerge.

Some of the new dogs were used for hunting in the water, while others were enlisted to trail game at night. Using the dogs available to them, Americans of every sort produced many hunting breeds that could take full advantage of both the terrain and the wildlife.

From the industrial cities in the North to the deep Southern swamps, new breeds emerged that could be put into service as draft animals and guards, companions and baby sitters. Some were even enjoyed strictly as entertainment.

The American Kennel Club recognizes the contributions made by our native breeds by investing in their preservation. On Independence Day, Best In Show Daily takes a quick look at each of the American-made breeds that were developed out of necessity and were often utilized to help support a growing nation.

American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The American Water Spaniel was developed in the upper Midwest in the 19th century as a retriever on land and in the water.

  • • State dog of Wisconsin
  • • Developed from a variety of existing European and native breeds
  • • Used to retrieve waterfowl from small boats
  • • Once called the American Brown Spaniel
  • • Dr. Fred J. Pfeiffer promoted the breed following World War II
  • • Wavy coat called “marcel”
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1940

Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel. Photo © Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America.

Boykin Spaniel. Photo © Boykin Spaniel Club and Breeders Association of America.

The Boykin Spaniel hails from the southeastern U.S. and was developed as a hunter in the early 1900s.

  • • State dog of South Carolina
  • • Developed from a stray dog found wandering near a Spartanburg church
  • • Used to retrieve ducks from boats and flush upland game
  • • Used to drive deer and track wounded game
  • • Adapted to working in hot weather
  • • Can have brilliant gold eye color
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2009

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever began with the rescue of two St. John’s Water Dogs from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland in 1807.

  • • State dog of Maryland
  • • Developed from St. John’s Water Dogs bred to local dogs
  • • Used to work on land and water
  • • Adapted to retrieve in the cold and rough Chesapeake Bay
  • • Yellowish or amber eye color
  • • Waterproof coat of brown, sedge or “deadgrass” color
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1878

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Cocker Spaniel was first referenced in the 19th century as “any flushing Spaniel weighing less than 25 pounds.”

  • • Smallest of the land Spaniels
  • • Used to flush and retrieve the American woodcock
  • • Modern breed from Ch. Obo II
  • • Separated from English Cocker Spaniel in 1946
  • • Divided into ASCOB, Black and Parti-color varieties
  • • Very popular as a companion
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1878

American English Coonhound

American English Coonhound. Photo © AKC.

The genesis of the American English Coonhound is in the southern U.S., where it was developed as a wide-ranging hunter over rough terrain.

  • • Developed from “Virginia Hounds”
  • • Has roots in America back to the 17th century
  • • Used to hunt fox by day and raccoon by night
  • • Originally called the English Fox and Coonhound
  • • Coat colors of bluetick, redtick and tricolor-tick patterns
  • • Loud and melodious voice
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2011

American Foxhound 

American Foxhound. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The American Foxhound dates back to crosses of George Washington’s Virginia Hounds with French Hounds presented to the president by the Marquis de Lafayette.

  • • State dog of Virginia
  • • Developed for the sport of fox hunting
  • • Admired for its speed and stamina
  • • Taller than the English Foxhound
  • • Of several strains today
  • • Has a loud “musical” bay or howl
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1886

Black and Tan Coonhound

Black and Tan Coonhound. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Black and Tan Coonhound is a determined and independent hunter developed for trailing and treeing raccoons.

  • • The first AKC-recognized breed of Coonhound
  • • Developed from the Bloodhound and Virginia Foxhound
  • • Coal black with tan markings
  • • Heavier build and longer ears than other Coonhounds
  • • Courageous night hunter of raccoons
  • • Possesses strong treeing instinct
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1945

Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhound. Photo © AKC.

The Bluetick Coonhound originated in the American South from the crossbreeding of French Staghounds, Foxhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds and Cur dogs.

  • • Mascot of the University of Tennessee
  • • Descended from the Grand Bleu de Gascogne
  • • Sturdy and athletic in build
  • • Named for its black and white mottled coat
  • • Red ticking may appear on feet and lower legs
  • • Has a loud bawling bark
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2009


Plott. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Plott is named for the man who came to America from Germany in 1750 seeking a new life, accompanied by five wild-boar hounds.

  • • State dog of North Carolina
  • • Descended from the Hanoverian Hound
  • • Bred for 200 years by descendants of Johannes Plott
  • • Used for hunting bear and wild boar
  • • Moderately boned, quick and agile
  • • Of various brindle colors, also brindle with saddle, and black or black with brindle trim
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2006

Redbone Coonhound

Redbone Coonhound. Photo © AKC.

The Redbone Coonhound was developed in the American South from hounds brought to America by Scottish and Irish immigrants.

  • • First developed in the state of Georgia
  • • Descended from Foxhounds brought from Scotland and Ireland
  • • Originally bred for its solid red color
  • • Used to track and tree game, including the raccoon and cougar
  • • Swift hunter over the most difficult terrain
  • • Dark eyes with a pleading expression
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2009

Treeing Walker Coonhound

Treeing Walker Coonhound. Photo © AKC.

The Treeing Walker Coonhound is descended from English Foxhounds by way of the Virginia Hound and a hound called the Walker.

  • • Originally called the English Coonhound
  • • Known as “The People’s Choice” among Coonhound breeds
  • • Used to track and tree raccoon, possum and squirrel
  • • Possesses extreme endurance and a desire to perform
  • • Ears of medium length
  • • Tri-colored with white or black predominant
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2012

Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Alaskan Malamute is named for the Mahlemuts, a nomadic Inuit people from the Arctic who used the breed to haul their possessions.

  • • State dog of Alaska
  • • Largest and oldest of the Arctic sled dogs
  • • Capable of hauling heavy loads over great distances
  • • Face markings often distinguish the head
  • • Thick, coarse coat, but never long or soft
  • • Plumed tail carried over the back
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1935


Chinook. Photo © AKC.

The Chinook was developed in the northeastern U.S. as a powerful draft animal used for hauling and sled dog racing.

  • • Developed in the state of New Hampshire
  • • Created by polar explorer Arthur Walden
  • • Descended from the Greenland Husky, Mastiff, and German and Belgian Shepherds
  • • Dark almond eyes with black eye markings
  • • Various ear carriages acceptable
  • • Tawny coat color, from pale honey to deep reddish-gold
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2013

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The American Staffordshire Terrier was developed in late 19th century America from Bulldog and Terrier crosses made in England.

  • • Appeared in U.S. by 1870
  • • Originally called Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier and Yankee Terrier
  • • Current name decided with breed’s recognition
  • • Possesses a proverbial courage
  • • Unusual strength for its size
  • • Any color, though white, black and tan, and liver discouraged
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1936

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier. Photo © AKC.

Rat Terrier. Photo © AKC.

The Rat Terrier is a playful and intelligent companion that craves human affection.

  • • Developed in the 19th century by crossing European Terrier breeds
  • • Later crosses were made with Beagles, Whippets, Toy Fox Terriers and IGs
  • • Popular farm dog throughout the early 20th century
  • • Two sizes: Miniature and Standard
  • • Tail may be natural bobtail, docked or naturally long
  • • Coat color is “Pied,” predominately white with colored patches
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2013

Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Toy Fox Terrier is the proverbial “big dog in a small package,” with a personality greatly determined by its Toy and Terrier origins.

  • • Developed by crossing the Smooth Fox Terrier with various Toy breeds
  • • Possesses an intelligent, take-charge attitude
  • • Capable of treeing squirrels and flushing out rodents
  • • Elegant head with an interested expression
  • • Docked tail held high, carried erect
  • • Predominately white coat color with a predominately solid-colored head
  • • Recognized by AKC in 2003

American Eskimo Dog

American Eskimo Dog. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The origin of the American Eskimo Dog begins with German immigrants who combined several European Spitz breeds.

  • • Descended from the German Spitz, White Keeshond, Pomeranian and Volpino Italiano
  • • Originally called the American Spitz; current name decided in 1917
  • • No connection with the North American Eskimo people
  • • Popular 19th-century circus performer
  • • Competes in conformation shows in three size divisions
  • • Pure white or “biscuit cream” coat color
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1994

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Boston Terrier breed was developed, not surprisingly, in the city of Boston, where it was originally employed as a fighting dog.

  • • State dog of Massachusetts
  • • Descends from the Bulldog and White English Terrier
  • • Nicknamed “The American Gentleman”
  • • Originally exhibited as Round Heads or Bull Terriers
  • • Import named “Hooper’s Judge” behind most modern Bostons
  • • Coat color of brindle, seal or black, with white markings both required and desired
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1893

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd. Photo © AKC/Mary Bloom.

The Australian Shepherd was developed in the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries to work sheep brought from Australia to the American West.

  • • May have Basque origins in the Pyrenees Mountains
  • • Once called the Blue Heeler, Bob-Tail and Spanish Shepherd
  • • Popular ranch and rodeo dog
  • • Performed in television and film
  • • Possesses strong herding and guarding instincts
  • • Coat colors include black, blue merle, red, red merle – with or without white markings and/or tan points
  • • Recognized by AKC in 1991

To read up on any of these American-made breeds, visit the American Kennel Club website.

Revised 7/6/12 to add the Australian Shepherd, which was not included in the original article. Thank you to our Best In Show Daily readers who pointed out our unintentional omission.