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Home > Dogs > 12 Wrinkly Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

12 Wrinkly Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

giant mastiff up close

Wrinkles might mean we spend more time making sure our dog’s skin is free from dirt and other skin irritants, but those skin folds are also wonderfully adorable. There are all sorts of wrinkly breeds, from scent hounds to ancient war dogs and friendly companion breeds. They all have unique histories and personalities.

Here are 12 wrinkly dog breeds that are adored the world over.

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How Are Wrinkly Breeds Classified?

Determining whether a dog is a wrinkly breed or not is quite simple. As long as they have deep skin folds somewhere, wrinkly dog breeds can be wrinkly all over like the Shar Pei, only have wrinkles on their face and legs like the Basset Hound, or just have a wrinkly face like the Bullmastiff.

Many breeds have wrinkles for reasons other than how cute it makes them look. For scent-hounds like the Bloodhound, deep face wrinkles play a huge part in helping their noses work better. Bulldogs owe their wrinkles to their pit-fighting ancestors, where the loose skin served to protect their internal organs from damage. Sometimes, though, the deep wrinkles are indeed because they make the breed even more adorable.

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The 12 Wrinkly Dog Breeds

1. Shar Pei

brown shar pei standing on grass
Image by: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock
Origin: Han Dynasty, China
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Height: 18–20 inches

The wrinkliest breed of them all is the Shar Pei. Developed in China as far back as the Han Dynasty over 2,000 years ago, their appearance is a result of the unique culture that China developed while it was closed to foreign influences.1

As a breed that was developed by farmers, the Shar Pei is intelligent and versatile. They excel as hunters, guardians, herders, and companions. During the 1900s, the breed almost went extinct due to the Communist regime, but they were saved by U.S. breeders in the 1960s and 1970s.

While they’re calm and even tempered, their protective nature makes them wary around strangers. Toward their family members, though, they’re loyal companions.


2. Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiffs
Image by: Christian Mueller,Shutterstock
Origin: 700 B.C., Italy
Lifespan: 7–9 years
Height: 24–31 inches

With deep wrinkles all over their body, the Neapolitan Mastiff is an excellent guard dog through their appearance alone. They’re huge dogs, and despite their placid nature toward their loved ones, their wrinkles give them a dour expression that convinces everyone else to stand clear.

They’re descended from the ancient war dogs of the Roman Empire, and Mastiff-like dogs were recorded as early as 700 B.C. The Neapolitan Mastiff and other dogs like them were used as gladiators, war dogs, and guardians before they were introduced to farm work, cart pulling, and hunting.


3. Basset Hound

Basset Hound
Image by: Bill Anastasiou, Shutterstock
Origin: 16th century, France
Lifespan: 12–13 years
Height: Up to 15 inches

Thought to be descended from the St. Hubert Hound, the Basset Hound is a friendly and wrinkly goofball. They were first introduced during the 16th century in France as a slow, small hound breed. While they were initially favored by aristocrats, their plodding gait made them a good hunting partner for lower classes that couldn’t afford horses.

Unlike some other wrinkly dog breeds, the Basset Hound’s wrinkles serve a second purpose beyond making them look adorable. Along with their long drooping ears and short legs, their deep wrinkles help collect scents and give the Basset Hound more time to analyze them during a hunt. After the Bloodhound, they’re one of the best scent-hounds in the dog world.

They’re not the most affectionate of breeds, but they are incredibly friendly and have a fondness for adults, children, and other dogs. The Basset Hound also loves to make people laugh with their antics.


4. Bloodhound

Close-up portrait of a cute brown bloodhound puppy sitting on the sand
Image by: Glikiri, Shutterstock
Origin: 12th century, Europe
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 23–27 inches

The oldest and most efficient scent hound is a wrinkly dog breed. Known for their powerful nose, the Bloodhound was first developed in the 12th century and is both a loyal companion and a dedicated hunter. Their roots can be traced back to the monks in charge of breeding hounds for the bishops, and they were known as “blooded hounds” due to their “aristocratic blood.”

They were bred to work in a pack alongside humans, other dogs, and horses, so they adore having company even if they’re not the most affectionate of breeds. Along with their powerful noses, they’re stubborn and determined, with a single-minded focus on following scents, which often gets them into trouble.

When it comes to their scenting abilities, their wrinkles play a huge part in the breed’s skills. While their ears stir up scents, their facial wrinkles capture and hold smells so the Bloodhound can analyze them longer.


5. Bulldog

Bulldog playing with owner
Image by: ChickenStock Images, Shutterstock
Origin: 13th century, England
Lifespan: 8–10 years
Height: 14–15 inches

One of the most well-loved and easily recognized wrinkly-faced breeds is the Bulldog. As the national symbol of England, they’re a breed that’s been around since the 13th century. The first ancestors of the breed were a far cry from what they are today, though.

Bigger, stronger, and more brutish, the original Bulldog was a fighter bred for bullbaiting in the U.K. before the sport was banned in the 19th century. With the illegal sport going underground, the breed was transformed into a smaller and quicker dog, which led to several other Bulldog-type breeds, including the Bulldog that we know today.

As they lost their original purpose, the Bulldog was saved from extinction by breed fanatics who began to develop a friendlier, companionable breed. Today, the Bulldog shares the deep wrinkles of their ancestors but has a friendlier and more loyal and docile disposition.


6. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff
Image by: BORINA OLGA, Shutterstock
Origin: Mid-19th century, U.K.
Lifespan: 7–9 years
Height: 24–27 inches

In the U.K. during the 19th century, the country estates belonging to aristocrats covered massive areas of land. While poaching was illegal, estates were a frequent target for many opportunistic thieves. This led to the development of “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” or the Bullmastiff.

These big, wrinkled dogs were a mix of the English Bulldog and the Mastiff. They were heavy, quick-footed, intimidating, and fearless. With their growing popularity as guard dogs, the Bullmastiff was further perfected due to the growing rivalry between the gamekeepers. Eventually, this led to these dogs entering the show ring.

Along with their tall, muscled bodies, the Bullmastiff owes much of their intimidating appearance to their wrinkled face. At heart, though, these dogs are loyal and incredibly affectionate.


7. Chow Chow

chow chow dog in the grass
Image by: Flower_Garden, Shutterstock
Origin: Han Dynasty, China
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Height: 17–20 inches

Their fur might hide most of their wrinkles, but the Chow Chow certainly deserves a place on this list. As one of the oldest ancient breeds, the Chow Chow can be traced back to before China’s Han Dynasty in 206 B.C. Believed to be the breed that helped develop spitz-type dogs, the Chow Chow has been companions to emperors and worked as hunters, guardians, and haulers.

Chow Chows were also once known as the “Edible Dog” in the distant past, when their ancestors were used as a protein-rich food source. While they’ve since left their edible days behind, they were only introduced to the rest of the world in the early 19th century. They were part of an exhibit in the London Zoo but didn’t become popular until Queen Victoria took an interest in the breed.


8. Dogue De Bordeaux

pregnant Dogue de Bordeaux
Image by: Jan Dix, Shutterstock
Origin: 12th century, France
Lifespan: 5–8 years
Height: 23–27 inches

The oldest French dog breed is also a wrinkly one. Similar in appearance to the Bullmastiff, the Dogue De Bordeaux is tall and muscular and has a deeply wrinkled face and neck. They’re an ancient breed, so it’s challenging to determine when exactly these dogs were introduced, but they’re believed to be descended from Roman Mastiff-type dogs.

While their Roman ancestors were used as gladiators and war dogs, the Dogue De Bordeaux was used on farms and as hunters, haulers, and guardians. Their use as guardians extended to French estates until the Revolution, when many members of the aristocracy were imprisoned or executed.

They became popular again following the 1989 movie, “Turner & Hooch,” and they are dedicated, loyal companions to all sorts of families.


9. French Bulldog

cream french bulldog sitting at the park
Image by: yhelfman, Shutterstock
Origin: 19th century, France
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 11–13 inches

One of the most popular wrinkly-faced, squashed-nose breeds is the French Bulldog. They’re adored for their massive ears, small stature, and goofy personality. They are also one of the wrinkly breeds that were solely bred to be a companion for all sorts of families.

Their origin story can be traced back to lace workers in England who favored toy Bulldog breeds in the mid-19th century. With the Industrial Revolution convincing many of the traditional lace workers to leave, the families and their toy dogs emigrated to the French countryside.

It was here that the French Bulldog was developed properly, with the original toy Bulldogs being bred with terriers, Pugs, and other breeds to create the Bouledogue Français. By the turn of the century, the French Bulldog was a popular city dog for aristocrats and common folk alike.


10. Mastiff

Black Bullmastiff
Image by: Urszula Drab, Shutterstock
Origin: Before 55 B.C., England
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Height: 27.5–30+ inches

Mastiffs were originally developed in England and were used as home guardians, big-game hunters, and war dogs for thousands of years. Their early ancestors drew the eye of Julius Caesar during a Roman invasion in 55 B.C.

The Mastiff’s size, temperament, and skillset helped assure them a place in Rome and the Colosseum. It wasn’t until later that the Mastiff was recognized by famous English artists and writers, including Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Despite their popularity, though, the Mastiff almost went extinct at the end of WWII, and their population was restored with the help of U.S. breeders. They might be far more docile than their ancestors, but they share the same size and wrinkly face that give them their unique intimidation factor.


11. Pekingese

Pekingese Puppy
Image by: AJ Laing, Shutterstock
Origin: Ancient China
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 6–9 inches

The Pekingese is one of several wrinkly dog breeds that originated in China, though it’s difficult to say when exactly they first appeared. They were among the many flat-faced and wrinkly toy breeds that the Chinese Imperial Court and other nobles favored as companions.

Although they’re a common breed all over the world today, the Pekingese were originally a well-kept secret in China. They weren’t introduced to the world until 1860, when several Pekingese dogs were given to Queen Victoria. After that, the breed became adored across the world for their regal bearing, wrinkled faces, and devotion to their owners.


12. Pug

pug dog sitting on the floor looking up on the camera
Image by: Dim Hou, Unsplash
Origin: Ancient China
Lifespan: 13–15 years
Height: 10–13 inches

Wrinkly toy breeds like the Pug have always been excellent companions. It might not be obvious from their small size, squashed nose, and friendly disposition, but the Pug is one of the oldest breeds around today, and their roots trace back to ancient China. Like the Pekingese and other Chinese breeds, the Pug was first introduced as a companion for the imperial family.

While they were developed in China, most of the Pug’s history that we’re certain about started in the 1500s, with Dutch traders introducing the breed to Europe. The Pug first became a beloved companion of the House of Orange in Holland and went on to become popular in the U.K. when William and Mary of Orange began their reign.

Their wrinkly face, squashed nose, goofy disposition, and loyalty still endear the Pug to people the world over.

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Conclusion

Wrinkles are a big part of what makes many breeds what they are today. They’re an adorable addition to a flat-faced breed favored by Chinese nobility or serve a purpose like protecting dogs in fights or helping with scent work.

While our own wrinkles are something that many of us grimace at, we can’t deny that the wrinkles on our favorite breeds are part of what makes them so adorable. We hope that this list of 12 wrinkly dog breeds has introduced you to a few new dogs to adore!


Featured Image Credit: Michelle Cavanagh, Shutterstock

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