Rare Dog Breeds
Whether you’re a dog lover or not, people tend to stop in their tracks when they see rare dog breeds. Nowadays, everybody seems to be walking their beloved retrievers, beagles, terriers, German Shephers, and other oft-sighted breeds.
The below breeds, however, are very rare. Some come from faraway places while some have very unique traits and abilities. Read all about the 30 most rare dog breeds we’ve shortlisted.
1. Bedlington Terrier
Nope. It’s not a toy and it’s not a lamb. It’s a Bedlington Terrier.
The Bedlington Terrior was named after the mining town of Bedlington, Northumberland in North East England. Both the ASPCA and AKC call it mild and gentle and recommends it as being good with children. Don’t be fooled by its lamb-like appearance though. It has been said to be “fit to kill any other dog of his weight”.
Previously bred to hunt vermin in mines, today, the Bedlingtons excel in the show ring and as companions. (Photo Source)
2. Bergamasco Shepherd
The Bergamasco Shepherd is an ancient and rare dog breed from the freezing Italian Alps near Bergamo. They are so few that the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a sample size of only 10 living dogs.
As can be seen from the photo, its most distinctive feature is its unusual felted coat. As the dog gets older, it forms flat mats causing it to be called “mop dogs” by some people.
3. Bouvier Des Flandres
The Bouvier de Flander is another herding dog breed from Flanders. Its french name means “Cow Herder of Flanders”. Built compactly with a rugged appearance, the most notable feature of the Bouvier is its impressive head accentuated by a moustache and heavy beard.
Bred in the past for cattle driving, cart pulling, and sheep herding, these dogs nowadays make for good family pets as well as excellent guard dogs. The Bouvier possesses admirable traits like intelligence and control while , at the same time, displaying a pleasant, gentle, loyal, and obedient temperament. (Photo Source)
4. Brussels Griffon
The Brussels Griffon is a toy dog from Brussels, Belgium. The Burssels Griffon is said to have been bred from the crossings of the pug, terriers, and toy spaniels. This is evident in the large eyes, undershot jaw, and short nose.
The Griffons were almost wiped out by the Second World War. Ushered in with other rare dog breeds, this dog originally bred to hunt verimin now shines as an active companion dog. (Photo Source)
Also Read: Best Dog Breeds: Choosing Your Ideal Pet
5. Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula dog breed has a history that extends way back from prehistory. One theory posits that they were bred from red wolves or red war dogs.
Traditionally used in hunting wild boar, the Catahoulas are tough working dogs that are outstanding in tracking and hunting. It was named Louisiana’s state dog in 1979.
6. Catalburun or Double-Nosed Pointers
As their name implies, the Catalburun breed has a distinct “split-nose” feature. Its unusual nose is credited for the dog’s hyper sensitivity to smells. Unlike a normal dog’s nose, its nostrils are separated by a band of skin and fur giving the appearance of double noses.
This breed is only found in Turkey.
7. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
If there is anything you notice right away with the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, it is its sheer size. The Caucasian dogs are an ancient breed and have been guarding livestock in the Caucasus Mountains for at least 600 years.
It is very territorial and dog-aggressive. They are natural protectors and can take down humans, wolves, and even bears!
8. Chinese Crested Dog
If you like hairless dogs, you might like the Chinese Crested Dog. These dogs come in two varieties – the Powder Puff and the Hairless. The Hairless variety is the nearly hairless dog with the trademark silky hair on its while the Powderpuff is the genetically recessive counterpart with the full coat.
The Chinese Crested Dog is amazingly tolerant of heat. It neither pants nor drinks lots of water even in hot weather. On the other hand, it cannot bear the cold and can die from really low temperatures. (Photo Source)
9. Czechoslovakian Vlcak
Many would agree that the Czechoslovakian Vlcak looks more like a wolf than a dog. It is a relatively new breed of dog and is a result of an experiment in 1995 wherein 48 working line German Shephers were crossed with Carpathian wolves. As a result, this dog has the trainability of the German Shepherd coupled with the endurance and strength of the Carpathian Wolf.
Initially used in the military and not for beginner dog owners, the Czechoslovakian Vlcak is very protective of its masters. Also, this breed of dogs is surprisingly affectionate with children.
10. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier dogs are the “gentlemen” of the terrier world being calm and reserved. It is said to be the only dog among rare dog breeds with a literary heritage.
This breed’s name comes from Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering. In the book, their namesake Dandie Dinmont is a rough but friendly farmer from Liddesdale who owned a number of terriers. The dogs were referenced to as Dandie Dinmont’s Terriers with the apostrophe “s” being dropped as time went by.
Today, Dandie Dinmont Terrier dogs are becoming rare and hard to find. (Photo Source)
Also Read: Easiest Dogs to Train for Family Pet
11. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen
Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens are a hunting breed of dog from France. In some regions, they are still kept to hunt game but are more commonly kept as companions and pets.
12. Karelian Bear Dog
The Karelian Bear Dog is a rare dog breed that is closely related to wolves and descended from Viking Age spitz-type hunting dogs. The Karelian Bear Dog gets its name from its ability to hunt and protect its humans from bears. With an ability this powerful, it is no wonder that it is a National Treasure in its country.
This breed is highly intelligent, athletic, and energetic. They suffered near-extinction after World War II. There are only approximately 300 of these dogs in the United States. (Photo Source)
13. Lancashire Heeler
The Lancashire Heeler has a Corgi-like appearance and a terrier personality.
It was bred to be used as a herder of cattle. When people stopped relying on cattle dogs though, the Lancashire Heeler greatly declined in numbers and went almost extinct. Nowadays, they are domestic pets and are good for apartment-living.
The Lancashire Heelers have been placed in the Rare Breeds Register due to their very small number. (Photo Source)
The Leonberger is a giant breed of dog. It is as big as a lion and as tall as a five year old. German breeder Heinrich Essing bred the Leo from a crossing of the Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and the Great Pyrenees. His goal was to create a canine that closely resembled the lion in their town crest.
Leos have been owned by notable royal families including the Prince of Wales and Napoleon II of France to name a few. It is the oldest purebred German dog.
Leonbergers LOVE to swim and hike and can also do search and rescue operations. (Photo Source)
The Löwchen, also called Little Lion, is another dog that quite resembles a lion with the right haircut. It was considered the rarest breed in the world during the 1960s. This breed was kept as pets by the aristocrats and can be found in numerous Renaissance paintings.
Lion-like only in looks, it is playful and gentle. It was bred to be a companion and is great with both children and adults. (Photo Source)
The Mudi is a rare herding dog. Even in Hungary where it comes from, it is also hard to find and is one of the rare dog breeds. It is still around thanks to dedicated dog breeders.
The Mudi is a dog that thrives on activity and the outdoor life. They love to play especially Flyball and Frisbee. It is very brave and nothing scares it—not even wild boar!
It is very gentle and loving in the family. It is good with children and makes a good guard dog. Mudi owners find their Mudis incomparable. (Photo Source)
17. Neapolitan Mastiff
Neapolitan or Italian Mastiff is a large ancient and fearless dog. It is a natural protector and guard dog. Owners say that they are very athletic and playful when outdoors but very mellow when inside the house.
They have a relatively short life expectancy of 7 years which is common to giant breeds.
18. New Guinea Singing Dog
You read right! It’s a singing dog.
The New Guinea singing dog is a genuine wild dog. Coming from New Guinea, it is aptly named because of its melodious and distinctive howl which sharply reaches in pitch. An average howl can last 3 to 5 seconds.
The New Guinea tribes keep these dogs as hunters and companions for their children. They are said to be to be very shy and preternaturally uncanny. They are so rare that a sighting merits an article in the National Geographic Magazine. (Photo Source)
How adorable are these dogs?
The Otterhound is bred top hunt otters. It is a rare dog with only around 1,000 known to exist since otter hunting was banned in England in the late 1970’s.
The Otterhound has an adorable “good old boy” personality. This dog is easygoing and LOVES to swim. He dives into water from lakes to drinking bowls. He shambles around klutzily and tends to slobber water.. (Photo Source)
20. Portuguese Water Dog
This breed gained fame when it became the dog icon of the Obama family. The Obamas have two water dogs now: Sunny and Bo. Chosen partially for being hypollergenic, Bo was gifted to the President’s family by Senator Ted Kennedy.
Who knew that the Obama family had one of the rare dog breeds?
“Porties” as they are called, are very bright and intelligent dogs with bubbly personalities. They need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. (Photo Source)
21. Russkiy Toy
Russkiy Toys are among the smallest dogs in the world. This toy breed became unpopular during the early twentieth century among Communists for its association with aristocrats and later became well-known after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
It was originally bred to be a rat fighter and a watch dog. Still, this breed is very friendly and can become very attached to its humans. Superbly loyal, it will protect its family from danger.
The form on this breed is absolutely breathtaking.
The Saluki is one of the oldest breeds in history. Originally bred to hunt gazelles, Salukis were mummified with royalties and found in ancient Egyptian tombs. In Muslim communities, they were considered as a gift from Allah.
This breed seems to suffer from frequent early sudden death from various causes – labeled Saluki Sudden Death Syndrome. (Photo Source)
23. Slovensky Cuvac
The Slovensky Cuvac is a mountain dog breed bred as a livestock guard dog. They have always been bred in white to distinguish them from the beasts of the night.
Living mostly in the Slovak mountains, holiday visitors took to the dogs and started bringing them to the lowlands. Cuvacs are ultra loyal and very brave. It can resist predators like bears or wolves. This breed is very affectionate to its family and intensely protective. (Photo Source)
24. Swedish Lapphund
The Swedish Lapphunds are a reindeer herding dog. They are one of the oldest breeds of dogs and are very rare with only 5-10 in America. It is also called “the black beauty of Norrland”.
A lapphund makes for a good family pet. It is playful yet non-aggressive. It is curious and very devoted to family. (Photo Source)
25. Swedish Vallhund
The Swedish Vallhund originated during the age of Vikings. They were bred as cow and cattle herders. A very ancient national dog breed of Sweden, they were saved from extinction during the 1940s but are still counted as one of the rare dog breeds.
The Swedish Vallhund makes for a great companion. It loves human attention and can be a show-off probably because it is such a clown. This dog is spirited and athletic.
26. Tibetan Mastiff
Here’s another dog that looks like a lion in need of a haircut.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a direct descendent from the original Mastiff dogs of ancient times and were fierce guardians in their native Himalayans. Numerous health problems resulted when they were removed from their high mountain environments for trading and breeding.
Not for novice owners, this breed can be stubborn and intelligent to a fault. They tend to sleep during the day and be awake at night. In 2014, one Tibetan Mastiff sold for $1.9M. (Photo Source)
27. Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
The Xoloitzcuintli is known as the national treasure of Mexico. The Ancient people used this dog as a healing pet for aches and pains. The Xolos were among the first breeds recorded by the American Kennel Club but in 1959 they were removed from the AKC due to the breed’s scarcity and perceived extinction.
In 2008, the breed was recognized again by the AKC with the help of Mexican Artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera who put the Xolos back to the spotlight by including the dog in their paintings.
As can be seen, this breed is almost hairless. They are elegant, exotic, high-spirited, and emotional but can be high-strung. (Photo Source)
The Puli is one of the most unusual dog in the world. It looks like a moving giant mop!
They have a different herding style unlike any other herding breed. They use assertive bouncing movements and a high pitch voice in herding. There are only 150 Puli pups registered every year in the United States.
Like a bouncing spring, it has limitless energy and an equally insatiable curiosity.
The Azawakh is a breed used for hunting gazelles and other fleet animals of the African deserts. It is very rare outside of its native Africa. There are now 100-200 dogs in the United States.
The Azawakh has an incredible memory and can recognize other dogs even after a long time.
Alberto Rossi says this of Azawakhs: “To raise an Azawakh is like building a very fragile construction, which takes a lot of sensibility and can be destroyed from one minute to the next. But every minute it lasts, it fills you with great happiness.Every time I´m sitting in a chair or sofa at least one of my dogs tries to take a seat on my lap. The same happens to those of my guests which they love. In these moments they seem to be the image of calmness, gentleness, and trust. But one should not be deceived about this. In the deepest place of their soul resides something wild and native, and they will remind us about it with the first occasion and we should not forget, even for a moment, not to treat them like a normal dog.” (Photo Source)
30. Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog is an unusual breed. It is a favorite with Ancient Incan and other Peruvian people during pre-Incan cultures. The breed was nearly wiped out when the Spaniards arrived.
These dogs are lively, alert, protective and agile. They do not like to be alone. They require an owner who understands dog language. This breed is intolerant of extreme temperatures and can suffer from burns from the sun. (Photo Source)
And that rounds up our rare dog breeds list. Did you find them unique and unusual? After reading this list, do you think you would like to own a rare dog?