Over the centuries, people have bred dogs to be companions, workers, snugglers, and pets. Because of this, dogs are the most diverse land animals in terms of physical appearance. While you might know that Labs are squarely-built short-haired retrievers and Dachshunds are short, squat, little badger fighters– there are many rare dogs whose form and function you haven’t yet imagined.
Sometimes it feels as if everyone walking down the street has a dog, but you won’t find these breeds on every sidewalk. Some hail from far-off locales, others have unique features like extra digits or talents like truffle-hunting. All of them are found in such small numbers that they sometimes aren’t even acknowledged by the American Kennel Club.
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.
This breed is a Turkish Pointer, and is readily identified by its “split-nose”. This may be the result of severe inbreeding, or because the local hunters prized the fabled hunting prowess of split-nosed dogs over pointers with normal appearing noses. Either way, they are virtually unknown outside of Turkey, although they are prized in their homeland for their hunting abilities.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
This dog got its unique name because of its unusual colorful coat that looks like a leopard’s skin. Interestingly enough, this dog originated in the state of Louisiana. It is believed to be the first species of dog bred in the United States and it becomes one of the rare dog breeds now. The name comes from Lake Catahoula, where they were bred to hunt wild boar. Later on, they were put to work as herders because of their ability to put fences around livestock.
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.
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!
Mudi will behave well around children, but its seems to do best when exposed to them as a puppy or else it is apt to view them as equal members of the pack and not as humans to which it must obey. This dynamic dog can be found outside of Hungary but it remains quite rare at present.
This scent-hound, not surprisingly, was bred to hunt otters. An old British breed, its precise origins are not known.
This large hound typically weighs between 80 and 120 pounds. It has a grizzly-colored coat and distinctive webbed feet that support its ability in the water.
Naturally, the Otterhound is an adept swimmer. Otters were popularly hunted in the Otterhound’s homeland since the Middle Ages. Even so, today’s Otterhound can only be traced to roughly the early nineteenth century.
The Otterhound has been regarded as a great family pet and doesn’t seem to mind lounging about with its human family. However, the breed does require exercise to keep fit and to maintain its physical prowess.
Though this breed is highly regarded, it is a rare one with only about 1,000 known to exist. This low count means it is an endangered breed. In the UK, considerable effort is going into the cause to save this British breed.
As a large breed, it’s not surprising that hip dysplasia is among its health complaints. Yet even as a rare breed of dog, the Otterhound is not associated with many health problems in general. Epilepsy, however, is one condition known to affect this particular breed.
This Japanese dog breed is incredibly rare and many people won’t get the chance to see one unless they visit Japan.
On the other hand, readers of Manga (Japanese-style comics) may spot one in print as these dogs are well-liked by Manga artists.
The Kishu is a medium-sized dog with a white coat. Other color Kishu dogs may be seen on occasion, but a white coat is most common for this breed.
Throughout its history, the Kishu was used to hunt animals like deer and even boar. Interestingly, this breed is a great hunter because it’s known for its ability to quietly stalk its prey. It knows not to bark and is well known for its quiet manner.
While the breed is known for its tough demeanor, it is also regarded as an immensely friendly one which makes it a great pet. This dog is also regarded as highly loyal—especially to its family.
The dog is especially associated with its homeland and its export is restricted. There are breeders outside of Japan, but the breed is quite rare around the world.
Intelligent yet strong-willed, this breed can become somewhat aggressive around other dogs if not socialized as a puppy. It enjoys its dominance!
This rare dog is the direct descendent of one famous sled dog, named Chinook. After the breed founder’s death in 1963, this breed went into rapid decline and looked as if it would be lost forever. A dedicated group of dog lovers found the remaining 11 breedable dogs in 1981 and worked diligently to restore this breed. Today’s Chinook is primarily a housedog, although a few enjoy being used as sled dogs.
New Guinea Singing Dog
This unusual breed is both a wild dog and a pet. It is a true wild dog that was once found throughout the island of New Guinea. It gets its name from the strange singing sound it makes. Little was known about these dogs until 2 were sent to Australia in 1956. The singing dog is an unusual dog because it is not genetically related to any other species of dog. Some experts have even classified it as a separate species. It is related to the dingo, the first dog in Australia, which was brought to that nation by the ancestors of today’s Aborigines. Although still found in captivity, singing dogs are one of the rare dog breeds in the wild.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid has been around since before AD 750, and today it remains an uncommon but treasured pet. The “agile, smart and swift” breed is good at hunting and lure coursing as well. But its most notable quality is that it is sometimes hairless, with skin that appears in a variety of colors.
This terrier-type of sheep dog is not well-known outside of Hungary, but it is highly regarded in its homeland.
It is also a versatile herding dog and will happily herd cattle or pigs too. In fact, around many farms, these dogs are even used to hunt rodents.
While most Pumis are gray in color, they can also be seen in shades like white, black, and brown. With their thick and curly coats, these dogs are well-liked for their handsome appearance.
For this reason as well as their lively intelligence, they are popular among families. Pumis are quite easy to train.
Though they can be playful amidst their human family members, they can be quite weary of strangers. Experts suggest socializing their dogs as puppies to tamp down their weariness. These dogs tend to weigh about thirty pounds and grow to about nineteen inches in height.
Because they love to run and prefer to remain active, they do best in households that have large backyards. This type of dog is not content with apartment living.
To enhance their need for fitness, owners should provide them with at least one long walk or a jogging session each day. When its fitness needs are met, this dog can make a fine family pet.