The domestication of wolves, marked by their gradual transformation from wild pack hunters into beloved canine companions of civilized humans, is a journey that history can vaguely trace as far as 40,000 years ago.
This enormous time frame has allowed many to simply confine details of the earliest human-dog coexistence to legends – one depicted in the 2018 adventure film Alpha.
As of 2017, there are 89.7 million dogs living with people in the United States. Not only are they abundant in sheer population alone; they even continue to multiply in terms of breed variety. The American Kennel Club (AKC) currently identifies 193 canine breeds and each year, these dog varieties have their own popularity ranking.
However, popularity itself is a different type of prestige altogether and they do not always have a corresponding monetary value. Some of the most expensive dog breeds in the world are too exotic that they have barely even made their names known in the AKC registry – let alone in the general public.
These are 10 of Alpha’s most expensive descendants today:
These native dogs of Siberia reign as the most expensive breeds in terms of the lowest average price. The Samoyed is a very reliable animal companion in the Arctic wilderness; primarily entrusted with the hauling of people’s cargo via dogsled and often operating as guards and hunters.
This breed is characterized by its singular appealing looks – a thick white coat, pointed ears, and a perpetual smile in its muzzles. Interestingly, Samoyeds wear two layers of fur.
One of the many reasons why they fetch such a hefty breeder’s cost is that they can withstand hostile low temperatures dropping down to negative 60 degrees Celsius.
Intelligent and very energetic, Samoyeds require a pet owner with a vigor that matches their own. If they lack attention, they tend to misbehave at best or become destructive at worst.
These dogs may put themselves at risk if they managed to escape as they are bred for long distance travels.
- Estimated Price: from $4,000 to $11,000
- Average Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
- Average Weight: 45 to 65 lbs (male), 35 to 50 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 21 to 24 inches (male), 19 to 21 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 65th
Classified as a non-sporting dog by the AKC, the Lowchen typifies a pet that is meant to accompany high-class ladies of any era – from medieval royals and noblewomen to contemporary ‘strong-and-independent’ socialites. It currently reigns as the second most expensive dog breed in terms of the lowest average cost.
These long-haired canines have been a popular curiosity in Europe during the Middle Ages and their iconic appearance has made cameos in several historical paintings.
The name Lowchen is a loosely translated German for “little lion.” These dogs replicate their namesake wild cat as they have thick manes on the front side of their bodies while nearly cut bald at the lower leg, hind section, and tail.
Lowchen dogs are very outgoing at best and often high-strung at worst. Centuries of guarding their rich and powerful mistresses have made them very alert to sudden noises. It would seem that they also inherited the overindulgence of their ancestors as they never respond well to corrections.
- Estimated Price: from $3,000 to $9,000
- Average Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
- Average Weight: 15 lbs (male and female)
- Average Height: 12 to 14 inches (male and female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 171st
The third most expensive dogs in terms of average price range are also one of the oldest breeds on earth. A native of China, the Chow Chow can trace its history as far back as 206 BC.
During the 8th Century AD, an emperor of the Tang Dynasty was rumored to have owned a kennel with over 5,000 of these dogs and twice the number of the caretaker staff.
The Chow Chow is characterized by its pudgy face, fluffy fur, and a bluish tongue that frequently sticks out of its perpetually scowling jaws. This dog is endowed with a level of cleanliness that is only matched by its social refinement. To some extent, they tend to behave like cats.
Among strangers, the Chow Chow is too reserved to be an acquaintance. It is, however, very devoted to its caretakers. Most importantly, its subpar level of fitness and low energy makes it an easygoing urbanite.
- Estimated Price: from $3,000 to $8,500
- Average Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
- Average Weight: 45 to 70 lbs (male and female)
- Average Height: 17 to 20 inches (male and female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 74th
This native dog of Tibet has enjoyed a revered status of ancient guardians – a terror among home intruders with the size and muscle to back up its grit. For a dog of its colossal form, the Tibetan Mastiff is surprisingly very agile.
This breed is ranked fourth via the lowest average price range; although it has been rumored in 2014 that some Chinese breeder sold one for 2 million bucks!
Just like the Samoyed, this high-altitude dog breed also wears two layers of coat. Its unique appearance is marked by a thick lion-like top mane – as if its head is covered by a wooly hood. Its square-like face exudes an air of solemnity reminiscent of the Himalayan atmosphere.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a typical example of a decent guard dog. It is gentle and compassionate among its homeowners but it tends to be very territorial against strangers.
Curiously, this breed would rather do work-related tasks (e.g. patrol) than organized play (e.g. fetch).
- Estimated Price: from $2,500 to $7,000
- Average Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
- Average Weight: 90 to 150 lbs (male), 70 to 120 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 26 inches (male), 24 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 135th
Classified by the AKC as a hound canine, the Saluki is one of the best examples of hunters that can track down and chase its prey at a long drawn-out hunting expedition. Not surprisingly, it has been a stalwart assistant of warrior kings in the classical period – from Egyptian pharaohs of 7,000 B.C. to Alexander the Great.
The Saluki is characterized by its slim body, long legs, and an angular snout sharply protruding between large droopy ears. One may think of it as the canine counterpart of a typical NBA superstar as far as physique is concerned.
In terms of temperament, the Saluki possesses a milder and dignified disposition. As a pet owner, you will seriously require high fences when owning this dog breed.
It makes excellent escape artists and it is agile enough to out-jump low-level obstacles. This dog also grows restless (if not destructive) without toys to mentally stimulate it.
- Estimated Price: from $2,500 to $5,000
- Average Lifespan: 10 to 17 years
- Average Weight: 40 to 65 lbs (male and female)
- Average Height: 23 to 28 inches (male) 21 to 23 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 125th
If you aspire to own a dog with a heritage that takes you back to the classical period, the Pharaoh Hound is another breed to rival the Saluki.
This dog was not only commonplace in ancient times. It is also one of the most widely traveled breeds on earth. The Phoenicians who ruled the Mediterranean seas were highly responsible for bringing the Pharaoh Hound as far as Malta.
This breed is pretty much a short-coated and pointy-eared counterpart of the Saluki. They both possess the same physical shape, although the Pharaoh Hound is endowed with smoother facial contours. They typify the canine anthropomorphic statues (of the god Anubis) of Ancient Egypt.
The Pharaoh Hound was bred to chase its prey, so you can only imagine the amount of energy it packs. It requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity – either guided or on its own.
Just like the Saluki, you need to have high fences to keep Pharaoh Hounds enclosed. With such strong hunting instincts, they are likely to endanger themselves outside your ‘controlled environment’.
- Estimated Price: from $2,500 to $4,500
- Average Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
- Average Weight: 45 to 55 lbs (male and female)
- Average Height: 23 to 25 inches (male), 21 to 24 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 168th
As one of Japan’s oldest spitz-like canine breed, the Akita traces its origin as early as the 17th Century. Named after the country’s northern region, the Akita was a product of generations of competitive enterprise among the local breeders.
The name Hachiko has brought honor to the Akita dog breeds for its legendary exploits as a role model of canine loyalty.
Like the Samoyed, the Akita is characterized by its stocky built, curled fluffy tail, and a cheerful (though unsmiling) expression. It competes with the Tibetan Mastiff in terms of size and weight, although it appears leaner and short-haired by comparison.
The Akita is an embodiment of the samurai virtues which, apart from loyalty, includes good work ethics, alertness, and courage. Due to its size, it is only natural not to expect an athletic burst of energy.
Nonetheless, moderate exercise can truly help curb unhealthy weight and restlessness.
- Estimated Price: from $2,000 to $5,000
- Average Lifespan: 10 to 13 years
- Average Weight: 100 to 130 lbs (male), 70 to 100 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 26 to 28 inches (male), 24 to 26 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 46th
Tracing its origins during the height of the Roman Empire, this dog breed is a testament of this civilization’s successful scientific curiosities (animal husbandry). Cultivated for hard work and gritty frontier life, the Rottweiler’s direct ancestors provided the Roman legions with an invaluable edge in terms of logistics.
Even during the Dark Ages, rural communities throughout Europe managed to employ the Rottweiler for herding cattle and guarding homes.
This dog is distinguished for its short and silky black coat, muscular built, and resolute expression. Its fur makes it a relatively low-maintenance pet since it only sheds occasionally.
The Rottweiler has pretty much recalled (in its genetic memories) its natural predisposition for the rigors of living outside civilization. It is always a good idea to bring it along in your outdoor adventures.
Although it may not be too impressive in terms of its athletic feats, it has cemented its reputation as cooperative and tough public servants (e.g. rescuers, police dogs, and soldiers).
- Estimated Price: from $1,500 to $7,000
- Average Lifespan: 9 to 10 years
- Average Weight: 95 to 135 lbs (male), 80 to 100 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 24 to 27 inches (male), 22 to 25 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 8th
The second most popular dog breed in AKC’s registry still remains as one of the priciest varieties sold by breeders in the United States. The German Shepherd can trace its origins in the late 1800s when Imperial Germany’s breeders, under the initiative of an ingenious cavalry officer, produced a world-class sheep-herding canine.
As far as the looks are concerned, the German Shepherd was able to retain (albeit gentler) the facial features of its wolf ancestors. A zealous but serene pair of eyes is evenly set above its protruding black muzzle. It also wears a double coat, with the fur around its neck almost as thick and opulent as the hairs covering its tail.
The German Shepherd is one of the two most ideal candidates (other than the Belgian Malinois) in the US military due to its courage, a keen sense of smell, alertness, intelligence, and discipline. It also leaves the same positive impression in the law enforcement agency (K-9 unit).
Needless to say, German Shepherds are never meant for pet owners with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Estimated Price: from $1,500 to $6,500
- Average Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
- Average Weight: 60 to 90 lbs (male), 50 to 70 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 24 to 26 inches (male), 22 to 24 inches (female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 2nd
The tenth most expensive breed in this list also happens to belong to the quirkiest-looking of all. The Bulldog is a direct descendant of the ancient Bullenbeisser Mastiff – an aggressive canine guardian known for attacking wild animals.
The 13th Century English monarch King John once employed Bulldogs as gladiators to be pitted against a raging wounded bull. Despite being bred for such a disgraceful form of amusement, this dog has elevated itself as a national symbol of England.
The Bulldog’s appearance is unmistakably very unique. It is always remembered for its flat round face, droopy eyes, pudgy cheeks, and oversized jaws. To add more comic effect, its corpulent body is being propped by short burly limbs.
Unlike the German Shepherd, a Bulldog is an ideal pet for those who are not predisposed to physical activities (e.g. senior citizens). Although this dog can use the short outdoor walk, it prefers to lounge and watch television with you until it falls asleep.
- Estimated Price: from $1,500 to $5,000
- Average Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
- Average Weight: 50 lbs (male), 40 lbs (female)
- Average Height: 14 to 15 inches (male and female)
- AKC Popularity Rank: 4th