37 SURPRISINGLY Rare Dog Breeds You’ve Never Heard Of

Have you ever seen a Pug? How about a Bichon Frise?

Chances are, if you’re a dog lover, the answer is yes.

But what about a Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-itz-queent-lee)? or an Azawakh (ahz-uh-wok)?

These are just some of the 37 surprisingly rare dog breeds that you’ve probably never heard of.

From the Australian Cattle Dog to the Shikoku Inu, there’s something for everyone in this list of lesser-known canines.

37. New Guinea Singing Dog

Image from Instagram:@jenniferilene

New Guinea Singing Dog is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. It is also one of the most ancient dog breeds, dating back to at least 4,000 years ago.

The New Guinea Singing Dog is a small to medium-sized dog with a wedge-shaped head. They have erect ears and a long tail that they often hold curled over their back.

Very few have been domesticated over the years, with those that are being used for things like guarding and very rarely, for companionship.

The dogs are quite intelligent, gentle, and affectionate. However, they are very reserved and independent and need a lot of patience before trust can be established.

36. Telomian

Image from Instagram:@marley_maya_rescue_dogs

The Telomian is so rare that it is actually not recognized as a standard breed by any major kennel club around the world.

They are great family pets known for their friendly demeanor and high levels of intelligence. They are also very social although require a bit of time to warm up to unfamiliar individuals.

The Malaysian native breed is rarely exported to other countries. Furthermore, it is not very common in its own home country which complicates things further for the breed.

35. Griffon Nivernais

Image from Instagram:@maggie_griffon

Griffon Nivernais is a rare breed of dog known for its hunting prowess.

The Griffon Nivernais is an old breed dating back to the 1600s. It is thought to be a cross between the Grand Griffon Vendeen and the Saint Hubert Hound.

They were used by the French nobility for hunting big game, such as wild boar and deer. The breed nearly became extinct during the French Revolution but was saved by Countess de La Coudraye, who preserved the bloodline. Today, there are only a few hundred Griffon Nivernais in existence.

34. Harrier

Image from Instagram:@fotoandersnilsson

This compact hunting dog is very similar to the larger American Foxhound and the smaller Beagle in terms of appearance and history.

Unfortunately, the Harrier’s mid-range size makes it significantly less popular than the other two breeds. Dog lovers who like big hunters go for the foxhound, while those looking for a smaller breed often prefer the beagle.

Despite the limited demand, the Harrier still has loyal supporters around the world who have so far managed to keep the intelligent and energetic dog out of extinction.

33. Tibetan Mastiff

Image from Instagram:@diego.tibetan_mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is a beast and that is in no way an exaggeration. At about 26 inches in height and 160 pounds or more in weight, this dog stands as one of the largest breeds in existence.

Due to their large size, they are very difficult and expensive to take care of. As a result, overall demand for them is not very high.

However, they are quite popular in the big and rare dog category and are actually quite expensive as a result.

32. Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound

Image from Reddit:@meowroarhiss

Yes, you read that right! The Double-Nosed Andean Tiger Hound is commonly referred to as a double-nosed dog due to the fact that each nostril is completely separate as a result of a cleft deformity which gives the illusion of two noses.

These dogs were kept as scent hounds to track tigers in their native country of Bolivia. Contrary to popular belief, their split noses are not the reason why they are so talented as tracking dogs.

31. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Image from Instagram:@titans.family

This is another giant dog breed whose large size is responsible for its demand paradox, with most people avoiding them and those who love them willing to pay an arm and a leg.

Unfortunately, their personalities do not do them any favors as far as increasing their demand goes. This is because the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is known for being very stubborn and difficult to control. They can also be quite dangerous if they feel threatened.

30. Bergamasco Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@windyhillbergamascos

Another breed whose aesthetic you will either love or hate is the Bergamasco Shepherd. To put it kindly, they kind of look like matted mops; but in genuinely the best way possible.

Their pseudo-locks actually serve more of a purpose than being a conversation starter as they helped keep the shepherd dog warm in the Italian Alps.

Today, their use as shepherd dogs has reduced as with it their popularity and demand which is why they are so hard to come by.

29. Karelian Bear Dog

Image from Wolfgang

This is the kind of dog whose affection you really have to earn. They are fast and fierce hunting dogs that were bred and trained to go up against some of the most formidable opponents, including bears.

Their years of use as hunting dogs fostered traits like their territorial, mistrusting, and volatile nature. All of these make them difficult to live with as family pets or first-time dogs. However, those who have lived with them know that once they trust you, they are super friendly and loyal.

28. Bedlington Terrier

Image from Instagram:@willowbedlington

You would be forgiven if you mistook a Bedlington Terrier for a little lamb with its light-colored curly coats and rounded heads.

However, don’t let this cute-looking little pooch have you fooled, as they can be quite vicious, especially with other, smaller pets, as they are very territorial.

These days, they are mainly kept as sports dogs for things like dog shows and races as they are obedient and trainable.

27. Pyrenean Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@pyreneanshepherd_club

This is not to be confused with the Great Pyrenees. However, the two were often used together, with the shepherd dog herding the livestock and the Great Pyrenees offering protection.

Like most other breeds on our list, the popularity of other related breeds made the demand for the Pyrenean Shepherd decrease, which is why they are not as many now as they were before.

In this case, it is the Great Pyrenees that took over with its versatility, allowing it to be used as both a livestock guard and a herding dog.

26. Russkiy Toy

Image from Bissell

These dogs were very popular among the Russian aristocracy as companion lap dogs. They were also often kept as working dogs on countryside farms to keep vermin at bay.

They may be among the smallest dog breeds in existence, but they are quite hardy. In fact, they have survived two different incidences of extinction threats.

With their unique aesthetic, adorable lapdog build, and friendly personality, it is safe to say that it is a good thing that they survived. 

25. American Foxhound

Image from Instagram:@lolathefoxhound

American Foxhounds, as the name suggests, were bred for scent tracking during fox hunting parties. These breeds are not as common anymore in a world where sport hunting is not as prevalent.

However, for those who do keep them as family pets, their friendly nature and loyalty are definitely traits worth celebrating. They are also considered some of the most versatile and intelligent dogs and can be trained for a variety of purposes.

24. Puli Dog

Image from Instagram:@lunapuli

The Puli dog looks like a literal mop but in the most adorable way. They are quite rare outside their native country of Hungary, where they are mainly kept as sheep herding dogs.

However, due to their unique aesthetic and sweet personality, they have become very popular in North America and Europe.

One of the most iconic Puli dogs is Beast, which belongs to tech innovator and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

23. Skye Terrier

Image from Instagram:@uljainskyes

The Skye Terrier is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. They are actually considered critically endangered, with many reports claiming that the breed may not survive the next few decades without active repopulation efforts.

This is truly a shame, as the Skye Terrier is truly a special breed. These dogs are best known for their intense devotion and affection for their human companions, as well as their obedience and overall friendly nature.

22. Fila Brasileiro

Image from Bully Beds

Also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, this rare dog breed is considered one of the most dangerous in the world. They are innately aggressive both with strangers and their owners if mishandled.

Due to the frequency and intensity of violent outbursts, the Fila Brasileiro is banned in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Australia.

However, there is still a small but very determined fanbase that has maintained the demand and population of this breed.

21. Kai Ken

Image from Wolfgang

The Kai Ken is one of Japan’s national monument breeds. It is given such honors due to its impressive levels of intelligence, loyalty, and bravery.

Despite having so much to offer, the Kai Ken is quite rare not only around the world but also in its home country.

This is mainly due to the rise in popularity of other local breeds with similar characteristics and more to offer. These include the Shiba Inu and Japanese Akita.

20. American Leopard Hound

Image from Instagram:@americanleopardhoundcute

This is one of the oldest hunting breeds in North America. They are very intelligent and obedient and, therefore, quite easy to train. They are also very energetic and are also known for their endurance.

You would think that with all these awesome features to offer, they would be super popular today. Unfortunately, these traits were seen as ideal for mixed breeding to produce stronger and smarter dogs that ended up becoming way more popular.

19. Peruvian Inca Orchid

Image from Instagram:@themuttleykrew

The Peruvian Inca Orchid dog stands out the most with its hairless body. This is another one of those features that have to grow on you with time.

However, hairlessness actually made the breed quite popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is because their hairless bodies generate a lot of heat to keep their owners warm during Peru’s cold, dry seasons.

Unfortunately, this hairless aesthetic is not as popular today, leading to a reduction in demand.

18. Finnish Spitz

Image from Native Pet

The Finnish Spitz was often used as a hunting dog for both pointing at hiding prey as well as distracting them to give hunters an advantage. Despite having such a unique skill set, the Finnish Spitz has slowly become less popular as stronger sight, and scent hounds become more common.

They are also quite stubborn and mischievous despite being so intelligent so training them for keeping as companion pets have often proven more trouble than it’s worth.

17. Kooikerhondje

Image from Instagram:@kooikerkeo

World War II hit different dog breeds strongly, but very few were affected as much as the Kooikerhondje from the Netherlands. This breed came very close to extinction before enthusiasts in Europe took steps to repopulate.

Despite these efforts to save the breed from complete disappearance, their numbers have never returned to a stable level. And given how rare they are outside their native home country, it is not too far outside the realm of possibility that they might soon become endangered again.

16. Cesky Terrier

Image from Instagram:@daisydogthepeskycesky

The Cesky Terrier is a very smart and affectionate pooch that makes for an awesome lap dog. They are very similar to other small breeds like the Glen and the Scottish Terrier in terms of appearance and friendly and docile personality traits.

Paradoxically, there is quite a lot of demand for these breeds, especially due to their hypoallergenic nature. However, they are still very rare with very few breeders having purebred versions of the dog.

15. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

Image from Best Bully Sticks

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a mixed wolfdog obtained from breeding the Carpathian grey wolf with a German Shepherd Dog. Predictably, this is one of the strongest and potentially most dangerous dog breeds out there.

They are, therefore, rarely kept as companion pets. Instead, their ferocious nature and the intelligence inherited from the German Shepherd make it very popular for use in military and law enforcement applications.

14. Chinook

Image from Bully Beds

The Chinook is one of the newest dog breeds on our list, having only been developed in the early 20th century. It was an instant hit in its home state of New Hampshire, United States. It is actually considered the state dog.

Despite this popularity, it has not managed similar levels of popularity elsewhere in North America or the world in general. This is mainly due to the presence of dogs with similar builds and temperaments around the world with more established fanbases.

13. Canaan Dog

Image from Embark Vet

The Canaan dog is a very rare breed mainly found in Middle Eastern countries like Israel and Lebanon. There are about 1,600 purebred Canaan dogs, and with the limited demand, this number is only going to get smaller.

In fact, there are about 900 million dogs in the world from more than 300 dog breeds. That makes the breed’s population a drop in the ocean, and unfortunately, there are no signs of things getting better for the smart and loyal breed.

12. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Image from Instagram:@teddythedandie

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is native to Scotland, and very few are found outside this part of the UK. They have a very unique and endearing look with their small build and disproportionately long torsos.

They have quite large personalities for their tiny little bodies and are perfect for dog lovers who want a spirited and social breed. However, they are not very tolerant of mishandling and should be socialized early to avoid negative incidences.

11. Xoloitzcuintle

Image from Instagram:@vovking_swe

This unique breed is also known as the Mexican hairless dog. As the name suggests, they have absolutely no fur, which comes in handy for dog owners with allergies.

However, this aesthetic is not very popular with most dog lovers around the world.

It also does not help matters that the Xoloitzcuintle has a reputation for being stubborn and aloof. However, owners who have bonded with them, they are celebrated as being calm, loyal, and awesome companion pets in general.

10. Stabyhoun

Image from Embark Vet

The Stabyhoun is considered a national treasure in the Netherlands, where it is originally from. This is mainly due to its personality as the dog is very smart, loyal, and gentle.

Despite this popularity back home, it is not as big of a hit around the world with only a couple of thousand in existence as purebred Stabyhouns.

In general, they are fantastic family pets with very low maintenance demands and a lot to offer as companion pets.

9. Lagotto Romagnolo

Image from Healthybud

The name Lagotto Romagnolo literally translates to “the water dog of Romagna.” This is due to its history as a hunting dog that was used to retrieve prey from the water.

These adorable canines are very friendly and always eager to please their human companions. They get along very well with children as well as other pets with early socialization.

Despite all this, they are teetering ever closer to extinction as their demand within Italy, as well as the rest of the world, continues to drop.

8. Thai Ridgeback

Image from Big Lu

For a very long time, the Thai Ridgeback dog was completely exclusive to Thailand. The dogs were kept for a variety of uses, from work as guard dogs to companion pets. However, most of the dogs existed as wild breeds with very little, if any, human contact.

As they become more popular in the west, one of the biggest challenges is socialization and bonding as they have evolved into very independent and reserved dogs.

7. Mudi

Image from Canna Pet

There is no denying the fact that the Mudi is a very rare dog. However, with their versatility and endearing personality, it is safe to say that they stand a very high chance of surviving for quite a while longer.

The Hungarian dog breed was initially bred for use as a shepherd dog but was later adapted for other purposes, including hunting and companionship.

Today, this jack of all trades is popular mainly as a show and sports dog for its combination of athleticism and intelligence.

6. Otterhound

Image from Dog.com

With about 600 Otterhounds remaining all over the world, this breed is dangerously close to extinction.

They were quite popular in the 1800s where, and as the name suggests, they were used primarily for hunting otters.

However, strict regulations in the early 1900s were imposed to protect the otters, which rendered the Otterhound jobless and, therefore, in very little demand. With time, this shift in attitude has seen them drop to near extinction.

5. Norwegian Lundehund

Image from Instagram:@klisjee

The history of this spitz-type dog is quite interesting. The endangerment of most breeds on our list was due to environmental factors or indirectly through changes in demand trends.

With the Norwegian Lundehund, the government played a huge role in the dwindling numbers. In the early 1900s, a Lundehund levy was imposed on civilians who owned the dog making their ownership financially impractical.

Unfortunately, the breed has never recovered from this policy, with very few existing both in Norway and the world in general.

4. Azawakh

Image from Instagram:@paulcroesphotography

The Azawakh is a sighthound type of dog native to the Saharan Desert in Africa. At speeds of up to 64 kph, it is also one of the fastest dog breeds in the world.

Its speed and endurance made it very popular among hunters, especially in Europe. However, as hunting for sport becomes less common, so do the numbers of these breeds.

Today, most of the surviving purebred Azawakhs are kept as dog racing breeds.

3. Catalburun

Image from Instagram:@emiryargin

This dog is also known as a Turkish Pointer. One of the key standout features of the breed is the two-nose appearance as a result of a cleft deformation that makes both nostrils appear separate.

In addition to its pointing skills, the Catalburun has great scent-tracking skills, which, contrary to popular beliefs, have nothing to do with the two-nose structure.

The dogs are from Turkey, where the majority of the surviving ones can be found today.

2. Coton de Tulear

Image from Best Bully Sticks

The Coton de Tulear is Madagascar’s national dog breed and is very rarely found outside this island country. With an origin story as epic as theirs, it is really a shame that they are so rare.

These dogs are very similar in appearance to popular lapdogs like the Maltese. However, they have a quieter predisposition and a more laid-back personality. In fact, they will only bark when they are excited.

1. Beauceron

Image from Darwin’s Pet

The first thing that is likely to come to mind when you see a Beauceron is a Doberman Pinscher. Though not identical, the similarities between the two are hard to miss.

This is because the Beauceron is one of the main contributing breeds to the Doberman.

Unfortunately, as the popularity of the larger, stronger, and more trainable mixed offspring increases, the demand and numbers of the Beauceron continue to dwindle all over the world.

What Is The Rarest Dog Eye Color? 

Green is considered the rarest single-eye color in dogs. In fact, there are only two dog breeds that the color is likely to naturally occur. These are the American Pitbull and the Pomeranian Husky. Even with these two breeds, the color is not as common as others, like blue and brown.

What Is The World’s Most Expensive Dog? 

The Tibetan Mastiff is the most expensive dog in the world. On average, Tibetian Mastiff puppies cost between $5,000 and $14,000, depending on where you buy them as well as their age. This breed is also the record-holder for the most expensive dog ever sold when a Tibetan Mastiff was sold to a Chinese businessman for about $2 million.

What Is A Rich Person Dog? 

A rich person dog is a breed considered popular among the wealthy and elite in society. Usually, this is due to a special characteristic, whether it is a unique skill set or a desirable temperament trait. Rare and pricey dog breeds are also often considered rich person dogs.

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Pete Decker