18 Dog Breeds So Uncommon, They’re Virtually Unknown

Written By Jill Taylor

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but not every breed enjoys the celebrity status of the labrador or chihuahua. However, even lesser-known breeds can make great pets, just like these 18 dog breeds that are so uncommon that you’ve probably never heard of them.

Löwchen

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Löwchens are nicknamed “little lions” thanks to their petite size and mane-like fur, but their origins are shrouded in mystery. The American Kennel Club suggests that the breed hails from Europe—whatever the case, Löwchens are a rare (but cute) sight, making them a highly sought-after breed.

Skye Terrier

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The Skye Terrier takes its name from its birthplace on the Scottish Isle of Skye. Although this small canine’s resilience allows it to flourish on the windswept island, the breed is relatively rare. Britain’s Mary Queen of Scots allegedly owned one in the 1500s—now, however, the breed is dangerously close to extinction.

Otterhound

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As the name suggests, Otterhounds were once used to hunt otters in Great Britain. However, as otter populations declined, so too did the need for this waterproof canine. Ironically, measures to protect otters doomed their hunters, and there are now only a few hundred in the world.

Mudi

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All dogs get muddy; some dogs are Mudis. Prior to World War II, farmers used the Hungarian breed’s speed and agility to control their livestock. Unfortunately, many Mudis died during the war, leading to their current scarcity. Thankfully, there were some survivors, and they’re still used in agriculture to this day.

Chien de Saint-Hubert

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The Chien de Saint-Hubert is named after the Belgian monastery where the breed is believed to have originated. These hunting dogs were once given as gifts to the French royalty; however, the anti-monarchy French Revolution ended this practice, and other types of hound replaced the vanished breed.

Chinook

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Not to be confused with the helicopter of the same name, the Chinook is a playful breed perfectly suited for families. However, this muscular dog can more than pull its weight when it comes to work and is even used as a sled dog in its native state of New Hampshire!

Tibetan Mastiff

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The large Tibetan Mastiff relies on its thick double coat to survive the harsh Himalayan mountainous regions it calls home, which Britannica claims can plunge as low as –8° Fahrenheit! These harsh conditions are likely the reason why this breed is so rare to find outside of the region.

Sloughi

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The North African Sloughi has been used as a hunting dog for centuries. As one of the first wild dogs to be domesticated, they’re among humanity’s earliest furry friends. It’s a shame that they’re so uncommon these days, as they really are delightful and hard-working canines!

Kai Ken

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The water-loving Japanese Kai Ken are excellent hunters, and they’re also popular with families due to their loyalty towards humans and other dogs. Preservation efforts since the 1930s have attempted to boost the Kai Ken population, but sadly, the breed is becoming a rarity worldwide.

Pharaoh Hound

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While the Egyptian pharaohs are remembered for their impressive pyramids, these ancient rulers were like modern humans in one sense—they also loved dogs. Their fit-for-a-king Pharaoh Hounds are thought to have spread throughout the world thanks to Phoenician sailors, but in modern times, they’re only really popular in Malta.

Treeing Tennessee Brindle

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Originating in the United States, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle is a cur-type hunting dog that specializes in chasing its prey up trees. The breed’s courage and ability to track scents make it popular in the Ozarks and the Appalachian Mountains, but they haven’t really made it far out of the region.

Thai Ridgeback

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Rarely seen outside of Thailand, the Thai Ridgeback is a protective breed often used for guarding or hunting. The breed can be traced back over three centuries—Thailand’s historical transport links were poor, meaning that the Thai Ridgeback stayed pure rather than mixing with other breeds. The result is an unusual but loyal companion.

Polish Lowland Sheepdog

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As the World Bank points out, agriculture is responsible for 4% of global GDP, but this wouldn’t be possible without breeds like the Polish Lowland Sheepdog. These work-loving furballs may be small, but their muscular bodies and natural smarts mean that they’re very capable of keeping livestock in line, at least in Poland!

Cesky Terrier

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The short-legged Cesky Terrier is the national dog of Czechia and the result of a centuries-long breeding tradition. The best Cesky Terriers are relatively calm and small dogs, making them ideal for families with kids. However, they’re hard to find outside of Czechia, with only around 600 in America!

Canaan Dog

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Canaan dogs are very active, making them the perfect company for aspiring athletes. They are Israel’s national dog, and its history can be traced back to the Roman occupation of the region over 1500 years ago, but you’re unlikely to find them in many other parts of the world.

Estrela Mountain Dog

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The Estrela Mountain Dog is Portugal’s oldest breed, and for centuries, it helped shepherds control their herds of sheep. However, due to their wide skill sets, these vigilant canines are now primarily used by law enforcement agencies, which we imagine disappoints shepherds worldwide!

Norwegian Lundehund

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Norwegian Lundehunds were once used to hunt puffins, a Scandinavian delicacy. The breed’s extra toes helped them to cling to cliffs during the hunt. Unfortunately, interest in the breed (and their prey) has declined; as Dogster explains, the few remaining Lundehunds are now rarely seen outside of Norway.

Bergamasco Sheepdog

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Finally, famous for its matted coat, the Bergamasco hails from the frosty slopes of the Italian Alps, although the French dispute this, claiming the breed for themselves. Whatever the case, this breed is enjoying a comeback—although many died in World War II, there is now a renewed interest in the Bergamasco Sheepdog, and we couldn’t be happier!

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