When you think of cute puppies, which breeds come to mind? Chances are, you think of the same breeds everyone else in America knows and loves: Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, Beagles, Siberian Huskies, etc. These may be the most popular breeds in the US, but that definitely doesn’t mean they are the cutest dogs out there.
By selective breeding practices and geographic isolation, hundreds of dog breeds have been created to do man’s bidding. Some breeds never came into vogue, others never had large population numbers, and more have had their livelihoods phased out, and are now considered rare. All of them are found in such small numbers that they sometimes aren’t even acknowledged by the American Kennel Club.
1. Fila Brasileiro
The Fila Brasileiro also known as the Brazilian Mastiff is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil. It is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness and an unforgiving impetuous temperament. When a Brazilian Mastiff finds its quarry, it does not attack it, but rather holds it at bay until the hunter arrives. Owing to these qualities, the Brazilian Mastiff is used as a guard dog, as a shepherd dog for herding livestock and as a hunting dog for tracking and controlling large prey. When slavery was legal in Brazil, the Brazilian Mastiff was used to return fugitives unharmed to their slave masters. This breed has been banned in many countries because of its temperament and potential for aggression.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small, purebred dog originating from Norway. The Norwegian Lundehund is known for being super alert, protective, energetic, and loyal. Most of these pups have either black, grey, red, white, or yellow fur. Their life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years, and they are comparable to the very popular Shiba Inu breed in size and appearance.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small and agile Spitz breed with several unique characteristics in combination not found in any other dog. Features such as six toes on each foot; prick ears that fold closed, forward or backward at will; and the ability to tip the head backward until it touches the back bone all helped them perform their job as Puffin hunter. Their dense coat ranges from fallow to reddish brown to tan in color, with black hair tips and white markings, or white with red or dark markings.
3. Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai was developed fairly recently by a woman in Alaska who took a strong interest in a small dog resembling a Husky. Over time other breeders became interested in furthering the development of the Alaskan Klee Kai; however, it is still considered a rare breed.
Often referred to as a miniature Husky, the Alaskan Klee Kai is a medium-sized dog breed with very similar markings to the Siberian Husky. The most desirable feature in a Klee Kai is the facemask (similar to the markings seen on a Husky face). The Alaskan Klee Kai can be seen in a toy, miniature or standard since weighing anywhere from 5 to 22 pounds at a height of 13 to 17 inches.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small and affection dog that is a loving and loyal family pet. This breed may be cautious around strangers and small children, so it is best to socialize it at an early age. The Klee Kai makes a good watch dog as it is very alert at all times.
The Tibetan Mastiff is huge in size and noble in bearing, known for a “solemn but kind expression” and an impressive double coat. Its aloof, watchful, and independent nature makes the Tibetan Mastiff an excellent guardian breed but a reluctant participant in organized activities like obedience.
Tibetan Mastiffs have a strong instinct concerning people, and if they don’t get over their initial dislike of a particular person, there’s usually a reason. Tibetan Mastiffs cannot be walked off leash and should be taken on several different routes during their daily walks to prevent them from becoming territorial of their walking route.
The Tibetan Mastiff can be a wonderful breed for the proper owner and home, but he can’t fit into just any lifestyle. If you’re interested in this breed, do your homework and talk to breeders and other Tibetan Mastiff owners.
5.New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Guinea singing dog is named for its unique vocalization. Some experts have referred to it as a wild dog but others disagree. Little is known about New Guinea singing dogs in the wild and there are only two confirmed photographs of wild sightings. Captive-bred New Guinea Singing Dogs serve as companion dogs.
The New Guinea singing dog is a small-to-medium-sized dog of fox-like appearance with a wedge-shaped head, prick ears, obliquely-set triangular eyes, plush coat and a brushy tail. The New Guinea singing dog is extremely agile and graceful. This breed is presented in a completely natural condition with no trimming, even of whiskers. The coat is average to long in length. Colors include red or shades of red with or without symmetrical white markings, black and tan. White markings are common, but should not form more than one-third of the body’s total color. White markings are permissible only in the following areas and may not form spots or patches on the body: Muzzle, face, neck, belly, legs, feet and tail tip. The head is fairly broad and the body duly muscular. The jaw structure is more advanced than a Dingo’s. The hindquarters are lean and the medium-length tail is soft and fluffy.
Swedish Vallhunds are athletic dogs, excelling in obedience, agility, tracking, herding, and flyball, in addition to traditionally being a farm dog used for herding. The “small, powerful, fearless” breed comes in a variety of colors and with a variety of tail lengths, from bobtail (no tail) to a full curl tail.
True to his heritage as a working farm dog breed, the Swedish Vallhund is an intelligent and alert companion. He is an active dog who needs an equally active owner. Train him for dog sports or give him a job to do around the house, and you’ll get along fine with him. The Swedish Vallhund is generally healthy, although he can fall victim to a hereditary eye disease called retinopathy. His medium-length coat comes in many different colors and combinations.
This breed was introduced into the United States back in 1994, and has been seeing a rise in awareness and popularity ever since. This wrinkly-faced, Asian dog is identified by the ridge of hair growing against the lay of the coat along the spine, a characteristic shared with the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They are a strong-willed and powerful breed, and are still used in their native home as livestock guardians and protection dogs.
The Thai Ridgeback is a primitive breed that originated in Thailand and was first brought to the United States in 1994. The dogs were used in Thailand as watchdogs, to pull carts, and to hunt vermin such as rats and dangerous prey such as cobras and wild boar. Like most primitive breeds, they can be a handful and a half to live with.
8. Appenzeller Sennenhunde
The Appenzeller originated as an all-around farm dog breed, who stayed busy herding the livestock, guarding the farm, and pulling carts in his native Switzerland. Today’s Appenzellers have still got the energy, smarts, and self-confidence that makes for valuable working dogs — but they’re anything but low-maintenance. Dogs of this breed need lots of exercise, training, and a job to do.
Also known as the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, this is the rarest of the four ancient Swiss mountain dog breeds. He got his start as an all-around farm dog — herding livestock, pulling carts, and guarding the farm — in the Appenzell region of Switzerland.
Today the Appenzeller’s known for being a versatile working and family dog who’s smart, cheerful, self-assured, reliable, and fearless. His slight wariness around strangers and tendency to bark makes him a good watchdog, but he needs lots of early socialization so he doesn’t become overly suspicious. And because of his barkiness, he’s not the best dog if you have nearby neighbors.
The Bedlington Terrier captures your attention with his unique lamblike appearance and keeps it with his entertaining, opinionated personality. Don’t let his appearance fool you, however. The Bedlington is all terrier: inquisitive, intelligent, alert, and aggressive toward small animals outdoors.
Bedlingtons throw themselves with enthusiasm into the activities of their family. They love to be the center of attention and will play the clown to get it. Bedlingtons welcome guests and entertain them with their antics, but they’ll let you know if they think someone’s shady. Bedlington people say their dogs have astute judgment and make excellent watchdogs.
Exercise is important to keep a Bedlington happy and healthy, but he has moderate energy levels and activity needs. He’ll match his activity level to yours and can be satisfied with a nice walk or vigorous game of fetch. He can jog with you or go on a hike. Although he’s rarely used in the field, his hunting abilities include pointing, retrieving, tracking, and, of course, going to ground after den animals. Whatever you do with him, he’s happy to be a couch potato afterward.
Affectionate and tolerant, this hunting dog breed gets along with people, kids, and other pets. However, like all sporting breeds, he needs a great deal of exercise to stay happy and calm. He excels at water retrieving in particular, but also enjoys other canine sports.
The Stabyhoun or Stabij is one of the top five rarest dog breeds in the world as of 2013. It is from Friesland and in particular from the Frisian forest area, a region in the southeast and east of Friesland. The breed has been mentioned in Dutch literature going back to the early 1800s, but has only extended its range from the 1960s outside of Friesland and not until the 2000s did the range officially extended beyond the Netherlands. The name Stabij translates roughly as “stand by me” with the last part simply Frisian, meaning dog, which is pronounced “hoon”. The dog is considered a Dutch national treasure. There are only a few thousand Stabyhouns in existence today worldwide.
11. Finnish Spitz
With its fox-like appearance and fluffy coat, this breed is a strikingly handsome one.
Originally bred in Finland, the Finnish Spitz was initially bred as a hunting dog.
Owners employed the dog to hunt small game like grouse; however, it has also been deemed as effective for hunting large game like moose.
In many ways, it’s strange that this breed is so rare outside of its homeland as it also makes an excellent family pet and is revered for its child-friendly temperament.
While Finnish Spitz puppies are often born with dark coats, adults sport coats that range from honey-gold to golden-red. Some adults may sport a chestnut coat. As a medium-sized dog, males may weigh no more than thirty pounds.
Females rarely weigh beyond twenty-two pounds. Lively and alert, the Finnish Spitz loves to be active. This breed does not like to be kenneled, however, and values its run of the home. Indoor exercise complements its fitness needs, but it also requires long walks and outdoor play.
In its homeland, the Finnish Spitz is famous for its barking ability and has been hailed as the “King of the Barkers.” Because they are exceptional barkers, many people prefer to employ them as watchdogs.
12. Chinese Foo
The Chinese Foo hails originally from China and was bred for guarding Buddhist temples, and can be dated back to Antiquity.
The naming of this dog is extremely significant to the Buddhist religion. The Chinese Foo looks like a lion, which is a sacred animal to Buddhists. The Chinese word for Buddha is Fo, which led to the original name – the Dog of Fo.
The Chinese Foo dog is compact and has a square profile. It comes in three sizes: Toy, Miniature or Standard. It has a moderately broad head with pricked ears and the tail is carried over its back. Their chest is deep and moderately broad with a short, powerful and compact body, well-sprung ribs, and short, wide, muscular loins.
It has a broad wedge shaped heal and the muzzle and back of the skull look to be of equal length when regarded from the side. The stop isn’t large, but it is clearly defined. The nose is straight and usually black in color. Its ears are set high and are firm and erect when on alert. They are rather small considering the size of the dog, and are rounded at the tips.
A dog breed named for the Azawakh Valley in the Sahara desert where he originated, this is a lean and swift hunter with a regal presence. He’s proud but loyal, and protective of his home and family.
Hailing from the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert, the proud and elegant Azawakh has long been a guardian, hunter, and companion to tribes in that region. He’s named for the Azawakh valley in the Sahara.
Azawakhs are gentle and affectionate with their families, but they can be standoffish toward strangers and dislike being touched by people they don’t know. They’re also protective of their people and property. Fans describe them as a wonderful combination of loyal and independent.
Because they’re sighthounds, they’re attracted by motion and are likely to chase animals, people on bicycles or skateboards, or even running children. On the other hand, these lean, muscular dogs make excellent companions for joggers and runners. Indoors, they’re fairly inactive and are content to snooze on the couch.
The large and rough-coated Otterhound was originally bred for hunting otter in England. Built for work, the dog breed has a keen nose and renowned stamina. He is also a playful clown, friendly and affectionate with his family. He is an uncommon breed, with fewer than 10 Otterhound litters born each year in the United States and Canada.
Why is the breed so uncommon? No one knows for sure, but it certainly isn’t because of the Otterhound personality. Sometimes called the “class clown,” the Otterhound has a sweet, affectionate, fun-loving personality. He’s independent, too, not demanding a lot of attention. After greeting you with enthusiasm, the Otterhound is likely to finish the nap he was taking when you arrived.
The Otterhound is a large breed. Even small females weigh about 65 pounds, and large males can weigh 125 pounds. They’re definitely dogs who take up space in the household.
Otterhounds are great with kids, but because of their large size and bouncy personality, they may be too rowdy for very young or small children. They can also be too boisterous for frail seniors.
The Eurasier is a relative newcomer to the dog world. Created in Germany only 50 years ago, he is the product of crosses between the Wolf Spitz, a Nordic-type breed found in Germany, the Chow Chow, and, later, the Samoyed. The resulting puppies bred true, meaning they could reproduce themselves, and a new breed was born and recognized by the German Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale. The name was chosen to signify the breed’s European and Asian background.
The Eurasier is devoted to his family but takes a while to warm up to anyone else. He’s usually not aggressive towards strangers, but he doesn’t like them to pet him. If you want a dog that loves everyone at first sight, don’t choose a Eurasier.
When they are part of his family, the Eurasier is tolerant of children and other pets. He’s an excellent watchdog, alert but not noisy. Early and frequent socialization will help you bring out the best in your Eurasier.
The name Chinook means “warm winter winds” in Inuit, and its double coat keeps it comfortable in the cold. The Chinook originated in New Hampshire as a drafting and sled-dog racing breed, combining the power of a freighting dog and the speed of lighter racing sled dogs.
Created in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Chinook dog breed made his name on Admiral Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition in 1928. These days he’s a multipurpose dog who’s happy hiking, competing in agility and other dog sports, pulling a sled or other conveyance, and playing with the kids.
Since then, the breed that bears his name has had its ups and downs. It has come close to disappearing several times, but someone has always stepped in to rescue it from the brink of extinction.
That’s not surprising when you consider that inside the Chinook’s plain brown wrapper is heart, strength, intelligence, and a mellow sweetness.
The Chinook was bred for his pulling ability and stamina. Today, his expedition days are behind him and he’s considered the consummate companion: loving, athletic, and versatile. He’s a great choice if you want a jogging or hiking companion; not so much if you’re looking for a retriever or water dog.
17.Peruvian Hairless Dog
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a breed of dog with its origins in Peruvian pre-Inca cultures. It is one of several breeds of hairless dog.
According to the FCI breed standard, the most important aspect of its appearance is its hairlessness. The dog may have short hair on top of its head, on its feet, and on the tip of its tail. In Peru, breeders tend to prefer completely hairless dogs. The full-coated variety is disqualified from conformation showing. The color of skin can be chocolate-brown, elephant grey, copper, or mottled. They can be totally one color or one color with tongue pink spots. Albinism is not allowed. The eye color is linked to the skin color. It is always brown, but dogs with light colors can have clearer eyes than darker-skinned dogs.
Peruvian Hairless dogs are affectionate with family but wary of strangers. They tend to be very protective of women and children in the family. They are typically lively, alert and friendly with other dogs. They are agile and fast, and many of them enjoy sight-hunting small rodents. These dogs do not like to be alone, but when trained, can do well. They tend to know their allowed territories and respect it. These dogs are intolerant of extreme temperatures, although they are quite comfortable wearing clothing and will even play in the snow if dressed warmly. They generally require an owner that understands dog language and are not recommended for beginners. They learn fast, and they are very smart, but get bored easily with repetitious games like “fetch”.
This rare dog is a Hungarian herding dog that is still bred for work as well as for show and companionship.
A relative of the Puli and Pumi, the Mudi is found in a variety of colors such as fawn, black, white, yellow, gray, and others. The dog is well-liked for its great versatility.
It is a great hunter as well as herder. It is also beloved for its great temperament. Known for its health and long life, the Mudi does like to exercise. Its active nature is what makes it so ideal for herding.
Aside from enjoying plenty of walks and exercise, this dog is also a game lover. It will excel in games like Frisbee or other types of fetch games.
An agile and intelligent breed, the Mudi also makes a fine guard dog. With all its many charms, it is a wonder that this breed is so rare!
The Mudi is a Hungarian herding dog that is bred for both work and show (and companionship, of course). Although not as popular as other Hungarian herding breeds, many prefer the Mudi for work and believe they remain unmatched in their skill.
19. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
This breed originates from working-line German Shepherds that were experimentally bred with Carpathian wolves. The experiment was held by the Czech military to create better military working dogs. It was officially recognized as a breed in 1982 by the Czechoslovakia, and now is the national breed of Slovakia. They have now become a versatile breed competing in a variety of venues, and they can easily learn to live with families and other domesticated animals.
The breed was engineered as attack dogs for use in military Special Operations done by the Czechoslovak Special Forces commandos but were later also used in search and rescue, schutzhund, tracking, herding, agility, obedience, hunting, and drafting in Europe and the United States. It was officially recognized as a national breed in Czechoslovakia in 1982. Officially recognized as a breed by FCI in 1989.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is very playful, temperamental, and learns easily. However, it does not train spontaneously, the behavior of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is strictly purposeful – it is necessary to find motivation for training. The most frequent cause of failure is usually the fact that the dog is tired out with long useless repetitions of the same exercise, which results in the loss of motivation. These dogs have admirable senses and are very good at following trails. They are very independent and can cooperate in the pack with a special purposefulness. If required, they can easily shift their activity to the night hours. Sometimes problems can occur during their training when barking is required.
20. Kai Ken
If you picture a small dog with a dark coat, pointed ears and a fluffy tail, you have the image of a Kai Ken. These dogs hail from Japan where, even in their native land, they are still considered fairly rare. What makes these dogs unique is the tiger-like stripes that adorn their coats in various shades.
There are two variations of the Kai Ken – the shishi-inu-gata type and the shika-inu-gata type. The former is known for its stockier body and bear-like face. The later was famed for deer hunting and is known for its longer, thinner body and foxlike face. Today, the Japanese do not distinguish between the two types as both played a significant role in the development of the breed.
Bonus: Australian Stumpy Tailed Cattle Dog
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs are high-energy, intelligent and active. Not content with sitting around the house for hours on end, these dogs will encourage you to take them outside for exercise, play and work. Being herders, Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs can be one-person dogs, cautious and wary of strangers—qualities that make them excellent watchdogs.
The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog breed began evolving in the early 1830s because of the need for a dog that could work cattle in Australia’s very harsh environment. The breed that we see today is the result of many years of careful thought and selective breeding by dedicated people. Three breeds of dog went into the making of the “Stumpy”. First there was the crossing of the Dingo with an English breed of dog called the Smithfield which is where the gene comes from that is still present in the Stumpy today. Then the progeny from these matings were crossed with the smooth coated blue merle Collie and so a breed of dog was born that cattlemen, then and today, swear is the best working dog in the world.