20 Rare Dog Breeds You Probably Don’t Know About
Get ready to fall in love with these unique and adorable pups you won’t see at your local dog park—or almost anywhere else.
Meet your new doggy obsessions
Warning: You’re about to fall in love with these 20 dogs, but don’t get too attached just yet—you might not be able to find one of your own to take home! These breeds are particularly rare, with fewer than 1,000 calling the United States their home. While some have been around for thousands of years, others have come onto the scene a lot more recently. Either way, you might be surprised you never heard of them until now. Rare or not, though, all dogs want these 19 things from you.
When it comes to herding sheep, the Australian Kelpie is the blue-chip candidate for rounding up the herd, whether the herd consists of sheep, other dogs, or kids. For that reason, the Kelpie isn’t a breed for a first-time dog parent or a family with young children. If the Kelpie is right for you, however, it’s essential that you to provide your pup with plenty of stimulating mental and physical exercise daily, notes the American Kennel Club (AKC). That could even include surfing! A Kelpie named Abbie Girl won the World Dog Surfing Championship in Pacifica, California, two years in a row! Check out the 11 superpowers dogs have…that you don’t.
Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound
The Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound, which is originally from Germany, has a superior tracking ability and can differentiate between a wounded animal it is hunting and other animals of the same species. You’re not likely to see a BMSH hailing a cab—unless it’s to get out of the city. The BMSH needs lots of space to roam and is not a fan of kennels. “This energetic breed is courageous and determined when hunting,” says Mary Burch, PhD, an animal behaviorist with the AKC Family Dog Program. “They are calm and devoted to their families, but they need an experienced owner.” If you’re a city person, these are the 15 best dogs for apartment living.
Estrela Mountain Dog
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The Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal. The Mastiff-type dog has some unique features, including a black mask, a hook at the end of its tail, and small ears. An Estrela is a devoted companion for life. “Much like the Leonberger, this is a big and sturdy dog with a warm personality,” says Mari-Beth O’Neill, Vice President of AKC Sports Services. “You do not see dogs like this every day. If you are looking for a dog that is a protector and a playmate, this is it.” See more big, lovable, and adorable dogs that tip the scales at 100-plus pounds.
It would be incredibly rare to see a Thai Ridgeback outside of Thailand. You might mistake a Rhodesian Ridgeback for one, as both have the trademark ridge of hair on their back that grows in the opposite direction of their coat. These days, Thai Ridgebacks are loyal companions, and while they also exhibited loyalty way back when, they did so in a slightly different way: It was their job was to keep cobras away from their humans, and they would kill a cobra, if necessary. “While Thai Ridgebacks can be loyal family pets, they are independent and protective and are not the best choice for the first-time dog owner,” says Burch. On the other hand, these dog breeds are a good fit for first-time pet parents with kids.
Treeing Tennessee Brindle
The Treeing Tennessee Brindle hails from the United States, mainly in and around the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains. TTBs are alert, agile, and super fast. They have an inherent instinct to hunt, and they “tree” their prey by forcing it up into a tree. Once they have the prey isolated, they alert their human by baying. According to the AKC, the old saying “You’re barking up the wrong tree” comes from this type of hunting. For non-hunting humans, TTBs love agility training, going out for walks several times a day, playing games inside (like hide-and-seek), and chasing balls. Here are some other reasons why dogs howl and bay.
This adorable small breed hails from the rocky island of Vaeroy in Norway. Long ago, Islanders depended on the Lundehund to hunt and retrieve puffins from rocky crevices to sustain them through the long winter. And the Lundehund is perfectly equipped for the task. It has six fully functioning toes (not dewclaws) and extra paw pads—for rock hoppin’. Clever and affectionate, the Lundehund’s other distinctive features include an “elastic neck” that stretches back, so its head can touch its spine, and ears that go forward and backward at will or even shut. Regularly check the ears of your dog to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Here’s how often you should be cleaning your dog’s ears—and how to make it a more pleasant experience for both of you.
The “flocks” on the Bergamasco Sheepdog always get a second look. How is that hair even natural? Yet it is, and it happens because the strands of hair get woven together, creating flat layers of felted hair that cover the body and legs. The unique coat isn’t just glam-squad worthy—it helped its ancestors stay warm and cozy in the frigid Italian Alps. The Bergamasco’s long upper eyelashes keep the curtain of hair out of its eyes, preventing snowblindness. Surprisingly, the flocks don’t shed and aren’t as hard to maintain as they look, O’Neill says. Fleas aren’t the only source of itching for dogs. Check out the 9 possible reasons your dog is scratching.
How about a muzzle snuggle from this cute scruffy face? The Pyrenean Shepherd comes in two coat varieties: rough-faced and smooth-faced. Rough or smooth, both types have bright eyes and a perpetual smile. The breed is a great candidate for agility, rally, obedience, dock diving, freestyle work, and almost any fun dog sport. Devoted to their pet parent, the Pyrenean has an intuitive sense about their owner’s desires and does particularly well with clicker training and positive, reward-based methods. Need some help training your new dog? It’s so much easier when you know these secrets from professional dog trainers.
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You know you’re top dog if your picture is on a postage stamp and you’re the national dog of your country. The contemplative eyes and distinguished beard of the Czech Republic’s Cesky Terrier conveys a stately and dignified vibe. Yet the Cesky is no stuffy politician. “They are a pack breed, which means they would fit well with other dogs, and they love to play and are great companions with their family,” says Jerry Klein, DVM, the AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer. The Cesky isn’t a breed you’ll see every day—there are only about 600 in the United States.