Rare dog breeds are those breeds that are not fully recognized by the AKC or have no specific rankings and numbers. Some of these dogs may also be extinct. Let us take a look at 25 of the rarest dog breeds today.
1. Catahoula Cur
The Catahoula or Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, while considered a rare breed today, had been in existence long enough. However, it was only added to the AKC as a herding breed in 2010. These dogs come in different colors, including their eyes. They have an ‘otherworldly stare’ that says ‘I am different, I think different’, I am an individual, I am watching you!’ This is a highly intelligent, energetic dog. Interesting fact: this dog was prized by famous hunters like Teddy Roosevelt.
2. Azawakh/Tuareg Sighthound
The Azawakh is quick, attentive and energetic. A tall slender dog found in countries like Mali, Niger etc, the Azawakh is known for its gentle temperament and affectionate and playful nature. However, he may appear wary, even aggressive, with strangers. Colors of Azawakh range from sand, dark red, white, black, parti-colored to shades of brown. Its intelligence, protectiveness and loyalty make it a great watchdog.
3. Afghan Hound
As the name suggests, this cool dog breed originated in Afghanistan. It has no distinct history but may have been used by natives for hunting. So rare is this breed, that it was kept hidden and pure until the nineteenth century. Some say the Afghan is the original Sight Hound. It is estimated to have arrived in the US in 1920s. Powerfully built, this dog has a long, silky coat. Temperament of the Afghan can be described as strong willed and distinctive. Its independent nature makes it difficult to train. Afghan hounds are good with kids but not too good with small animals. They need moderate to high activity. The Afghan Hound is one of those rare large dog breeds that requires a patient, loving owner.
4. Pharaoh Hound/Kelb Tal Fenek
Pharaoh hound is known by different names including Kelb Tal Fenek. It is the national dog of Malta. This rare large dog breed is characterized by large, muscular body and wedge shaped foreface. Pharaoh dogs resemble the dogs in many early Egyptian artworks. This breed is intelligent and easy to train. It is affectionate with family members but wary with strangers. The rare dog breed is believed to be capable of smiling and blushing! Best owners for this large rare dog breed include an active family in a suburban or urban house.
5. Ibizan Hound
The Ibizan hound was considered to be an ancient breed but research shows that it may be re-creation of an ancient breed from Ibiza. Spanish hunters and farmers mainly bred it for hunting rabbits. The Ibizan comes in two-coat varieties-smooth or wirehaired. Colors for both varieties may include white or red, either solid or in combination. This is an affectionate, energetic dog that is playful with kids.
The Sloughi almost became extinct at the turn of the 20th century due to disease and political upheaval in North Africa, from where it originated. It first came to the USA in 1971.Sloughi is one of the rare medium dog breeds that comes in two types –desert type and mountain type. It is affectionate with family members and does well with active, patient owners who can devote time to them.
This is an exotic, working dog believed to have descended from Tibetan dogs. The characteristic features include a double, wooly undercoat and thick, corded white outer coat. This is a calm, alert protective dog devoted to its family. Although he is an independent dog, he won’t roam. However, he needs a firm, experienced owner and a rural home.
8. Icelandic Sheepdog
Also known as Iceland dog, this rare dog breed was brought to Iceland by Viking settlers. Icelandic dogs have tan, gray, brown or black coat with white markings. This is a gentle, cheerful dog that is confident and enthusiastic. It does best with an active family in a country setting.
9. Hungarian Puli
Mark Zuckerberg owns a Puli named Beast. Like many rare mountain dog breeds, the Puli are believed to originate from Tibetan terriers that were brought to Hungary. The Puli was used for sheepherding for over 1000 years. This hairy dog breed has a thick double coat which is wooly on the underside and wavy, curly, brushed out or corded on the top. Its temperament can be best described as fun loving, devoted, playful, affectionate and friendly. This breed needs attention, plenty of grooming and protection from heat. Komondor and Hungarian Puli look pretty similar.
King Matthias I was believed to have kept Kuvasz as his bodyguard dogs. Like several rare dog breeds above, this breed also originated in Tibet and came to Hungary from there. The word Kuvasz means archer in Arabic and armed guard of nobility in Turkish. The double coated breed has a wooly undercoat and short, wavy or straight top coat which is white. Kuvasz is a spirited, gentle breed that is also intelligent and curious. This active rare dog breed needs a loving, energetic family preferably in the suburban or rural home.
11. Airedale terrier/Bingley terrier
The Airedale is the largest of all British terriers- a cross between the rare Otterhond and now extinct Black and Tan Terrier. It is sometimes believed to be the King of terriers and is used often as police, military or hunting dog breed in many parts of the world. Airedales make excellent guard dogs-alert, protective and non aggressive. Because of their exuberant and unreliable nature, they need to be supervised around young children and small animals.
12. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog/Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund
The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is one of the rare mountain dog breeds which may be a cross between Roman Mastiff and local Swiss breeds. It is believed to be the progenitor of the St. Bernard. It was used extensively in military work during WWII after which the breed almost became extinct. This is a large muscular tricolored dog with black, white and tan colors. Temperament can be best described as alert, watchful, faithful devoted and territorial but non aggressive. Bernese Mountain dogs and Greater Swiss Mountain dogs look similar but there are subtle differences.
13. New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Guinea Singing Dog is also known as Canis Hallstromi, Singer or Hallstrom’s dog. This breed is rare both in and out of captivity. This fox like dog has a red sable coat with white markings. The friendly, intelligent breed also has a high prey drive and howls rather than barks. It does not respond well to harsh voice and punishment. This cat like dog is sensitive and often considered similar to Australian Dingo.
14. Korean Jindo
The Mongols may have brought the Jindo to Korea and as they were completely isolated on the island, their bloodline remained pure. In 1938, the Korean Government assigned this breed as the ‘National Treasure’. Jindos are sturdy, mid sized dogs with medium length double coat. Colors may range from white, black, fawn, tan and brindle. This hardworking dog has a high prey drive but is loyal and affectionate to family members. It might be aggressive or dominant towards other dogs but can respond well to positive reinforcement and obedience training.
15. Finnish Lapphund
Both Swedish and Finnish Lapphunds have roots dating back to 9000 years. The native Scandinavian people may have bred them for reindeer herding and hunting purposes. Today, both rare breeds perform these herding and hunting dog tasks but are also wonderful as companions. Finnish lapps are medium sized dogs with double coat. They are stubborn and prefer cool climates.
16. Spanish Waterdog/Perro de Agua
This curly coated breed can retrieve prey from water and also herds sheep. They received recognition as a distinct breed only in the 1970s. Spanish Water Dogs are strong, medium sized and come in white, black, chestnut colors. Their coat is wooly and needs plenty of grooming. This is a fun loving, faithful, obedient, active and hardworking dog.
The Transylvanian hound is also known as Hungarian Hound and was once preferred by Hungarian royals as pets. This extremely rare breed has a keen sense of direction and hardiness and well suited to snowy, extremely cold climates.
The Schillerstovare is a rare breed highly prized for its stamina and keen sense of hunting especially in thickly forested and snowy areas. It has a thick coat that insulates it from the cold and it loves to track and hunt alone rather than in packs. The name Schillerstovare comes from the originator of the breed Per Schiller.
19. Gascon Saintongeois/Viredale Hound
This rare breed comes from the Gascon region in France. It is prized for its keen sense of smell and has a white coat with sparse black speckling. This roe-deer packhound is known for its amiable temperament.
20. Himalayan Sheepdog/Bhotia
This rare dog breed originates from the foothills of Himalayas and may have the Tibetan Mastiff as one of its ancestors. The exact origins and former uses of this breed remain obscure. Today though, this dog with strong herding instinct is popular as a house pet thanks to its loyalty, friendliness and guarding skills.
21. Bracco Italiano/Italian Pointer
This rare breed is good with kids. Bracco Italiano has been featured in many 14th century paintings where it is usually depicted as a hunting dog used for driving game birds into traps. The Bracco is still used a s working dog in many places. It may have a stubborn streak.
This breed is very rare in the United States and may have originated from France. Barbets have served various roles including hunting and sailor dogs to flock drovers and companions. They have also been used for locating lost items and lines at sea. Barbets are famous for their bearded look and have once been used by aristocracy. This highly trainable dog is social, fun loving and has a passion for water.
The Otterhound is one of the rarest breeds recognized by the AKC. This cheerful, shaggy big fella has a keen sense of smell and can cover an incredible distance in a short amount of time. Otterhounds are bred for working in water and hence have webbed toes. They have a harsh outer-coat covering a thick wooly undercoat.
24. Clumber Spaniels
Clumbers are a rare breed having large waiting lists for puppies. In 19th century, this breed became popular with English Nobility. This is a friendly, laid back dog having long silky and frilly coat. There may be several breeds in its ancestry including a Basset Hound and Alpine Spaniel. The rare dog breed has a very tragic and violent history when Edward VIII cold heartedly killed nearly hundred Clumbers from his father’s possession.
25. Chinese Shar-Pei
In 1978, the Guinness Book of Records listed the Shar Pei as the rarest breed. This ancient breed has history dating back to nearly 2000 years. It is known for its characteristic wrinkly skin and broad, full muzzle. Their temperament can be best described as regal, alert, intelligent, dignified, and independent. Read more about the Shar Pei here.