23 Best Rare and Unique Dog Breeds

Have you ever seen a dog that looked so unfamiliar you just had to know what it was? Besides inherently unique mixed-breed dogs, certain dog breeds aren’t often seen as pets. Some of these dogs are fairly high-maintenance, so people tended to shy away from them for easier breeds. And others simply never took off in popularity despite being excellent dogs. These rare dog breeds range widely in appearance and temperament. And some even have traits that are infrequently seen in most dogs.

There are around 200 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), some more common than others. These 23 unique dog breeds are some of the rarest, though; these breeds are not often seen or owned. Some are not yet even categorized by the AKC.

1. American English Coonhound

Descended from English foxhounds, the American English coonhound is an American breed specifically bred to hunt raccoons. These dogs are intense hunters and thrive in a pack. They have a very high prey drive and require vigorous daily exercise if not used for hunting. While they can be affectionate with their family, they are not as devoted as some other breeds. Their short coat doesn’t require much grooming beyond brushing and an occasional bath.

2. Australian Kelpie

This tireless, hardworking herding dog from Australia is very intelligent, eager to please, and energetic. Australian Kelpies need a great deal of daily exercise, but can also relax happily near their family at the end of the day. They make good watchdogs and are devoted to their family. Their thick coat requires little regular grooming beyond an occasional bath and brushing.

3. Azawakh

This speedy sighthound is an ancient breed from West Africa used for racing and hunting. The Azawakh is a very independent, intelligent, and loyal breed that doesn’t show affection as openly as some other breeds, but is very devoted to its family and suspicious of strangers. These dogs need a great deal of daily exercise, and excel as running partners. They don’t require a great deal of grooming beyond an occasional brushing and bath.

4. Bergamasco Sheepdog

An Italian herding dog, the Bergamasco sheepdog has a striking coat that naturally forms thick mats and requires very little maintenance. These dogs are somewhat independent and wary of strangers, but are intelligent, trainable, and can be very devoted to their family. They don’t need excessive exercise, just a good walk and perhaps a game of fetch each day.

5. Biewer Terrier

Pronounced “beaver” the Biewer terrier is a toy dog that lives to love its family. These playful, affectionate canines get along with just about everyone, including other household pets. They like going on walks, learning tricks, playing fetch, or just hanging out with their family. Their long, silky fur requires daily brushing to remove tangles and snarls, but they don’t shed very much.

6. Canaan Dog

Originating in ancient Israel, Canaan dogs herded livestock and guarded property. These smart, vigilant, and athletic dogs are well suited to dog sports and other activities that engage the body and mind. However, they can be territorial and wary of strangers, so positive-reinforcement training and socialization are essential to provide structure and discipline.

7. Cesky Terrier

Cesky terriers originated in Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic. Ceskys tend to be playful and moderately energetic, which makes them good matches for many types of households. They are alert and protective but not overly defensive. Plus, they often get along well with children and are receptive to training.

8. Estrela Mountain Dog

This Portuguese herding dog is known for its intense devotion to its family and its affectionate nature, but tends to bond most closely with one favorite person. These large dogs are fairly calm, but do like to play and do require a great deal of regular exercise to remain healthy and happy. Their thick, wavy, double coats require regular brushing and baths, and their nails need regular clipping, as they grow quickly.

9. Kai Ken

A Japanese hunting dog, the Kai Ken is a very intelligent, devoted breed that is affectionate with its family, but suspicious of strangers. These canines make good watchdogs and require regular exercise to ward off boredom or destructive behaviors. Their short coats don’t shed much and require little in the way of grooming.

10. Komondor

The komondor is a large dog with a protective corded coat that gives it a mop-like appearance. Originating in Hungary, where it once guarded sheep, this breed is powerful and brave. However, it can be defensive, independent, and even stubborn at times. Consistent training is necessary to provide guidance and structure.

11. Lagotto Romagnolo

These curly-coated canines sniff out truffles in their native Italy, but also make excellent family dogs, due to their affectionate, undemanding natures, and their tendency to get along well with humans young and old, other dogs, and dog-friendly cats. Their woolly coats shed little and don’t require a lot of grooming beyond occasional trims, baths, and brushing.

12. Lowchen

Outgoing and affectionate, it’s surprising that lowchens aren’t more common. The history of the breed isn’t clear, but the dog seems to be of European descent. Likely ancestors include the Maltese and Bichon Frise. The lowchen has a hair coat that constantly grows, meaning it sheds very little but needs brushing and trims for maintenance.

13. Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian lundehund was developed to hunt puffins on a remote island off the Norwegian coast. This agile dog was able to navigate rocky cliffs thanks to its highly flexible limbs and extra toes. The lundehund is loyal and sensitive, forming a close bond with its family. It responds well to positive-reinforcement training.

14. Otterhound

The otterhound is a big, lovable dog that was once used to hunt otters in medieval England. With webbed feet and a waterproof coat, this breed is an ideal swimmer. Otterhounds can be boisterous and excitable, making them good for active families, but training is essential to keep them manageable. They need regular exercise and grooming but not an excessive amount of either.

15. Peruvian Inca Orchid

This Peruvian sighthound is usually hairless, although some do have short coats. The breed comes in three different sizes, but all are very affectionate, energetic dogs that need plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation. They make good watchdogs, as they are protective of their family. Hairless dogs need to have sunscreen applied on sunny days.

16. Pharaoh Hound

The pharaoh hound is an agile dog that originated in ancient Egypt. These dogs tend to be athletic, independent, and energetic. They do best in an active household with plenty of structure. They can be reserved around strangers but loyal and trusting of family. Grooming needs are minimal, but exercise needs are high.

17. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Shaggy, compact, and adorable, the Polish lowland sheepdog is a herding dog that also makes a fine watchdog or companion. They are intelligent and affectionate, but can be stubborn. Their long, double coat requires quite a bit of regular grooming, or you can choose to keep your dog’s coat trimmed short to reduce the tendency to mat and tangle.

18. Puli

The puli is a Hungarian breed with memorable dreadlocks like the komondor. As a herding dog, the puli is surprisingly agile underneath all that coat. The breed tends to be a loyal companion that needs a moderate amount of exercise. Keeping its coat neat and clean is the most time-consuming part of having a puli.

19. Pyrenean Shepherd

Playful, devoted, and intelligent, the Pyrenean shepherd is a French herding breed that can have either a “rough” shaggy coat or a smoother, shorter coat. Either way, these dogs are very high energy and require a great deal of daily exercise, along with social time with their family. Their thick coat needs regular grooming to reduce shedding and tangles.

20. Skye Terrier

Long and low, the Skye terrier was originally bred to hunt foxes. They are affectionate, strong, and good-natured dogs, but can be stubborn. Training should begin early to socialize these dogs and combat their tendency towards being reserved. Their long coats require regular grooming to keep the fur smooth and tangle-free.

21. Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish vallhund is a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed of ancient Viking descent. As a sturdy herding breed, these dogs are energetic, friendly, and good for active homes. They tend to be eager to please and do well with training. Regular brushing and bathing are the typical grooming requirements for this breed.

22. Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Bred to be ratters and still driven to chase small prey, the Teddy Roosevelt terrier is also a very friendly, affectionate dog that generally gets along great with humans young and old, other dogs, and dog-friendly cats, making them an ideal family dog. They are active and playful, and do well at dog sports like agility and flyball. They don’t require much grooming although regular brushing will help control shedding.

23. Xoloitzcuintli

The Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican hairless dog, is an ancient Aztec breed that comes in hairless and coated varieties. The hairless dogs have thick, smooth skin that needs sun protection. Xolos tend to be graceful, loyal, and even-tempered. They require a fair amount of exercise but are receptive to training and can adapt to life in most households.

Published On: May 26th, 2023Categories: Dog News