This is what purebred dogs looked like in the past and now: they have completely transformed over time

Buzgó Csilla

2021. February 21 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary,  Dogs of all nations

Over the past hundred years, breeders have not only refined the appearance of dogs. Although it is not visible in the photos, the personality of some breeds has changed a lot since the beginning of the 20th century.


In theory, the process of breeding is meant to promote the preservation of desirable varietal traits and the weeding out of traits labeled as unfavorable. However, it happens that what is beneficial for humans is detrimental to the health of dogs, and vice versa. What is still within the healthy limits for the dog is not arbitrary according to some breeders with strange tastes. Fortunately, in most cases we experienced positive changes, only a few varieties suffered from human intervention.

Let’s see how the dog breeds that have seen the most noticeable changes in more than 100 years have evolved!


In the past, poodles with corded fur were more popular than today, more people kept this dog with such a special coat. While today it is available in four sizes, at the beginning of the 20th century only normal and toy poodles were listed in the trade books.

The fur of the smaller version was described as finer, and it was only allowed a height of 30.5 cm. It must have been a poodle at almost 56 cm, and its body was somewhat larger and stockier than specimens bred according to the current standard.


There is a lot of criticism of the pug breeding process for the cruel mutilation of the facial nose. The difference is really striking: not only the head, but also the body is less wrinkled, the legs are more rabbit-like, the torso is slimmer, the ears are slightly larger, and the proportions of the whole are different from today’s version.

However, his kind, intelligent character has not changed: he is the same adorable social dog as he was in the beginning.

Airedale terrier

Formerly a traditional young breed, although its colors have not changed in 100 years. However, its outer coat was shorter, tougher, and, according to the description, resistant to the elements. It had much smaller ears than its modern counterparts, and its tail was thicker and straighter than that of the current Airedales, which often have a rather snail-like curl towards their backs.

Bolognese dog

Known today as a small, clownish cloud, the dog was once described as a lady’s lap dog with long, wavy fur and large, expressive, watery eyes. At that time, he attracted attention with his somewhat honeysuckle-looking fur and slightly erect ears, which now hang completely down on his head. Even then, his tail curled on his back in a funny way, as it does nowadays, or else it got longer during breeding.

Italian Greyhound

Although the body shape of the 100-year-old version is somewhat more square and smaller, it still resembles the modern version of the breed. However, its head looks more like a chihuahua than a greyhound. The light shape of the nose has remained, but the tips of the ears are now receding towards the skull. Two weight groups were distinguished by the old breed standards, specimens under and over 3.6 kg.

English bulldog

Although this good-natured, grinning tank can hardly be called graceful, the old bulldogs were blessed with a slightly finer body type than today’s. Their heads were smoother, with fewer wrinkles, and their legs were more spindly. For 100 years, breeders have had a very liberal approach to colors, allowing all variants known today. In addition to its appearance, the bulldog’s personality has been tamed a lot: it has become more peaceful and kind, and it can also be found in families with small children.

Bull Terrier

Perhaps he has the most striking skull structure of all: the bull terrier’s interesting football-ball head was not seen anywhere at the time by dog lovers. His physique has also become much more compact and muscular, and the almond shape of his eyes has become even more characteristic over the decades. The neck was once slimmer, now it can be said to be stronger, and the color of the old version could only be white.

West highland white terrier

This terrier of Scottish origin, which today is classified more as a lap dog, used to be a loyal companion of hunters, because its white color really could not be mistaken for any local game. Its coat became denser and more even during breeding, and specimens with slightly shorter noses and rounder heads became more common.

Shetland sheepdog

The majestic coat of the modern sheltie was a little shorter and more close to the body at the beginning, and only later did the rich coat reminiscent of collies develop. Its characteristic appearance began to develop during the Viking rule in the 700s, and later it became the intention of the breeders to create an elegant miniature collie, i.e. a Scottish sheepdog. The result was a short and lovely dog with a shorter nose, rounder eyes, long, woven hair.

Labrador retriever

lmost unrecognisable in the picture as everyone’s favourite assistance and family dog. The ears of the retro Labrador are not as distinctive as those of the modern version, but the most significant difference is the coat. At that time, only the colour black was accepted, later the popular and dark brown Labradors.


The heritage of Rottweilers could still be felt on, their bones and body structure were much stronger than those of today’s graceful, slender versions. The ears were cut in a similar way to the modern standard dictation, although the form of the cropping may have differed slightly from the current fashionable form – although this practice is now less and less permitted. The personality development of the Doberman is also worth mentioning: the wilder, more aggressive temperament of the past has been replaced by a more manageable nature.

Boston terrier

Boston terriers of old were stockier than today’s, had smaller ears, and had a more arched back. Unfortunately, they were also affected by the facial disfigurement typical of pugs, but the breed became more versatile in terms of colors.

While the brown and tiger-striped versions were not mentioned in the old trade books, they are now bred in these shades as well.

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