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Landrace refers to a race of animals or plants ideally suited for the land (environment) in which they live and, in some cases, work; they often develop naturally with minimal assistance or guidance from humans (or from humans using traditional rather than modern breeding methods), hence are usually older, less modern races.

Landrace dogs

For example, landrace dogs are very different depending on their origins and purpose; Border Collies were a landrace breed in Scotland, where their primary characteristics had to do with how they herded sheep in the borderlands, and Salukis were a landrace breed in the Middle East where they chased game across open tracts of land. A landrace does not imply so much a breed as a type; for example, Border Collies traditionally have had a variation in appearance, from upright prick ears to nearly drop ears, different fullnesses of coat, and so on, although the general appearance was such that they could still be recognized as Border Collies and their performance around sheep most accurately represented their membership in that race.

Often, when people move to create a highly consistent breed, such as dogs for the show ring, focus is placed more on consistency of appearance rather than on consistency of behavior or adaptability to the environment, and much of what made the animals a landrace is lost. For example, show Border Collies might not be particularly good at herding sheep and might not have a coat that is appropriate for the Scottish borderlands; show Salukis might not be able to chase or catch hares in the desert.

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