22 Rare Dog Breeds You Might Not Know About

rare dog breeds

We generally see the same dog breeds in our neighborhood when we drive somewhere, and so on. It’s surprising when you see a dog breed that’s unfamiliar on TV at the Westminster Dog Show or in real life.

Canine breeds become rare when a working dog’s job is eliminated. For example, a pup who helped fishermen was replaced by a net. Also, some breeds are only in their native country, so they are rare to other nations.

Another example is a dog that hunted another animal to extinction and is no longer needed to hunt that animal.

Rare Dog Breeds

Here are 22 of the world’s rarest dog breeds and info about their personalities, physical stats, coats, and more.

1. Azawakh

rarest dog breeds
Height23.5-29 inches tall
Weight33-55 pounds
LifespanThey live 12-15 years

Azawakh, one of the rarest dog breeds, is a slender sighthound from Burkina Faso in West Africa. The AKC (American Kennel Club) says they are loyal and independent. Azawakhs are elegant with a short coat that can be red, clear sand to fawn, brindled, tricolor (often predominantly white), blue, black, and brown.

Their face may have a black mask. Their fur is short, so they don’t need much grooming.

These West African sighthound dogs aren’t always as affectionate as other breeds, but they are very devoted to their family. They are so rare that they are one of the most expensive dog breeds.

2. Bergamasco Sheepdog

rare dogs
Height22-23.5 inches tall
Weight57-84 pounds
Lifespan3-15 years

Another of the rare dog breeds is the Bergamasco. The AKC describes them as sociable, loving, intelligent, muscular, independent, patient, and eager to please. Bergamascos are good with children and other animals. This unique breed has an excellent work ethic and makes a good guard dog. They need regular physical exercise.

They have a striking double coat with naturally occurring loose mats that look like cords and protect them from the cold of the Italian Alps and predators.

Their cords cover their eyes, and they channel Cousin It from the Adams Family. These guard dogs are in the herding group and have gray or black coats. Bergamascos are one of the weird dog breeds.

3. Chinook

rare odd dog breed
Height22-26 inches tall
Weight50-90 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

The Chinook dog, one of the unique dog breeds, was created in New Hampshire. The Chinook is a working dog. The AKC describes their temperament as energetic, affectionate, patient, devoted, calm, good with kids and dogs, and they protect their pack. They have above-average patience and intelligence.

The Chinook has a double coat in fawn, red, gold, tawny, palomino, gray, red, and silver fawn color with a short coat and an adorable black mask. Chinooks pull sleds and carts. This pup is also the official state dog of New Hampshire.

4. Finnish Spitz

what is the rarest dog breed
Height15.5-20 inches tall
Weight20-23 pounds
Lifespan13-15 years

The Finnish spitz looks like a fox. They are affectionate, good-natured, friendly, lively, good with kids and dogs, energetic, and smart. The Finish spitz has a dense double coat that is red, gold, or red and gold in color.

They are talkative and were called the Barking Bird Dog. Finnish spitzes are athletic dogs in the non-sporting group and were originally bred to hunt small game and birds.

The Finnish spitz’s history goes back around three thousand years to central Russia, where they were initially bred for hunting.

5. Otterhound

unique dog breeds
Height24-27 inches tall
Weight80-115 pounds
Lifespan10-13 years

The Otterhound, one of the rare dog breeds, was bred to hunt otters (and have webbed feet) because the marine animals were eating all the fish, and humans were going hungry in medieval 1300s England. The cute and shaggy Otterhound is a great hunter for otter hunting, and soon, otters were listed on the endangered species list, so Otterhound breeding declined. Those webbed feet work!

According to the AKC, they are affectionate, smart, friendly, sensitive, inquisitive, stubborn, even-tempered, and boisterous. They are strong and skillful swimmers and need regular exercise. Only 24 Otterhound puppies were born in the UK last year.

Boisterous Otterhounds are in the hound group and have a long, waterproof, double coat in black, black and tan, blue, cream, gray, liver and tan, tan, and wheaten color.

6. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

most rare dog breeds
Height17-20 inches tall
Weight30-50 pounds
Lifespan12-14 years

The Polish lowland sheepdog, one of the rare dog breeds, is a herding dog that looks like a short Old English sheepdog stuffed animal. The AKC describes them as affectionate, clever, confident, stubborn, playful, and they protect their people.

They have long-hair coat that’s beige, black, black and white, brown, chocolate and white, gray, gray and white, tricolor, or white color.

Long coats need grooming/brushing a few times each day.

7. Norwegian Lundehund

rare small dog breeds
Height12-15 inches tall
Weight12-18 pounds
Lifespan12-15 yrs

The Norwegian Lundehund is alert, agreeable, affectionate, energetic, sometimes shy, loyal, and sensitive. They are a non-sporting breed created to hunt puffins and faced extinction when hunters began using nets, and water dogs lost popularity with the end of dog puffin hunting.

Fortunately, they make a great family pet that fits well in active families. They have adorable puppy faces.

The AKC explains that they are a unique dog breed and were able to climb the rocky cliffs of Norway with flexible limbs and six toes — no other breeds have six toes on each foot. They developed the perfect traits for climbing rocky cliffs.

The Norwegian Lundehund, from the Norwegian coast, has a thick double coat that’s reddish brown, white, sable and white, or tan coat color. Double coats shed when the seasons change, so they need grooming then.

8. Komondor

rarest dog in the world
Height25.5-27.5 inches tall
Weight80-100+ pounds
Lifespan10-12 yrs

The Komondor, one of the rare dog breeds, is a Hungarian herding dog in the working group. According to the AKC, they’re brave, loyal, large, powerful, agile, and dignified.

Their white cord coat color protected them from the elements and helped them blend in with the sheep they guarded. Komondors are one of the most distinctive breeds in the world because they look like cute mops.

9. American English Coonhound

rarest dog breeds in the world
Height23-26 inches tall
Weight45-65 pounds
Lifespan11-12 years

The American English Coonhound is a sociable, mellow, sweet hound that’s good with dogs and full of energy. They have a high prey drive.

American English coonhound has a smooth coat that can be black and tan, tri-colored, black, blue, brown, tan, and red and white.

10. Skye Terrier

uncommon dogs breeds
Height9.5-10 inches tall
Weight35-45 pounds
Lifespan12-14 years

Skye Terriers, one of the rare dog breeds, are adorable and affectionate pooches from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. They are good-tempered, clever, and courageous. The Skye Terrier has little legs and long hair and is twice as long as they are tall.

Their big ears stand up high, and they were originally bred to hunt foxes. They are ridiculously cute dogs when the fur that normally covers their eyes is in a frontal ponytail.

The Skye terrier’s long silky fur comes in black, blue, cream, fawn, gray, platinum, and silver. They are in the terrier group, and these terrier dogs need brushing and grooming.

11. Canaan Dog

rarest dog
Height19-24 inches tall
Weight35-55 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

The Canaan dog is the oldest pariah (stray) dog in the world and is smart, alert, vigilant, confident, and protects their people. They make a nice pet and are quick, docile, agile, territorial, and have worked as herders.

They are also athletic dogs that are black, cream, golden, liver, red, tan, and white. They are in the herding group and the national dog of Israel.

12. English Foxhound

rarest dog breed in the world
Height24 inches tall
Weight60-75 pounds
Lifespan10-13 years

The English foxhound, one of the rare dog breeds, is an old breed that’s affectionate, good with dogs and kids, playful, gentle, friendly, energetic, needs mental stimulation, makes a great companion, and is a big barker.

English foxhounds are also powerful hunting dogs, first for stags, and when the deer population plummeted, they were used for hunting foxes.

English foxhounds are in the hound group and are black, white, tan, lemon and white, and white. They were officially recognized by the AKC in 1909.

13. Cirneco dell’Etna

uncommon dog breeds
Height16.5-19.5 inches tall
Weight17-26 pounds
Lifespan12-14 years

Cirneco dell’Etnas are in the hound group and are one of the rare dog breeds. They are affectionate, athletic, fast, good with dogs, playful, intelligent, friendly, and independent. They are an all-tan, dark brown, or chestnut ancient coursing hound from Sicily.

As pets, they are calm with gentle nature, loyal, and low-maintenance. They look like their Pharaoh Hound cousins from Malta.    

Cirnecos are an ancient breed that chased birds and rabbits around Mt. Etna and can go hours without food or water while running in the heat.

14. Mudi

weird dog
Height15-18.5 inches tall
Weight18-29 pounds
Lifespan12-14 years

The Mudi — one of the rare dog breeds — are active, playful, protective, affectionate, intelligent, courageous, energetic, agile, and need their brains stimulated. According to Petlogix’s Instagram, “Their name is pronounced ‘moody,’ but they are quite the opposite.” They can handle unmanageable and stubborn livestock without being aggressive.

The AKC reports that they are farm dogs from Hungary that come in black, white, yellow, gray, gray-brown, and brown.

They are in the herding group and also perform search and rescue in the US and Finland.

15. Ibizan Hound

the rarest dog in the world
Height23.5-26 inches tall
Weight45-50 pounds
Lifespan11-14 years

Ibizan hounds, one of the rare dog breeds, are calm, family-oriented, polite, affectionate, good with other dogs, playful, and tireless. They are an ancient breed whose big-eared and long-necked image is found on relics from ancient Egypt. They were bred as rabbit coursers in Spain’s Balearic Islands and are in the hound group.

Ibizans can leap and sprint like nobody’s business and need to exercise daily.

Their coat can be red, red and white, white, and white and red.

16. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

unusual dog breeds
Height15.5-18 inches tall
Weight40-45 pounds
Lifespan13-15 years

Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen (GBGV), one of the rare dog breeds, is playful, full of energy, friendly, affectionate, good with dogs, happy, outgoing, independent, and needs their minds stimulated.

These French canines have long ears and a shaggy, bramble-resistant coat. They are part of the hound group and are legendary hunters in Gallic folklore.

GBGV come in a range of coat color, including white and black, white and gray, white and grizzle, white and lemon, white and orange, white and sable, white, black, tan, black and tan, and fawn.

17. Cesky Terrier

obscure dog breeds
Height10-13 inches tall
Weight14-24 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

The Cesky Terrier is the national dog of the Czech Republic. Created by a Czech breeder, this terrier is adventurous, clever, affectionate, friendly, determined, prey-driven, great with children, hard workers, muscular, short-legged, and has a silky coat that comes in several shades of gray. They look like stubby miniature schnauzers.

The AKC states that Cesky Terriers are in the terrier group and were bred for hunting vermin and slightly bigger prey.

18. Pyrenean Shepherd

rare beautiful dog breeds
Height15.5-20.5 inches tall
Weight15-30 pounds
Lifespan17-19 years

The Pyrenean shepherd is still shepherding, sometimes with the Great Pyrenees. The Great Pyr guards while the Pyr Shep herds. They are playful, protective, lively, affectionate, need brain stimulation, and like to bark.

The AKC calls them enthusiastic, mischievous, and whip-smart. Pyr Sheps were bred from mountain herding dog breeds in the French and Spanish Pyrenees mountains.

Two Pyr sheps can handle 1,000 sheep, they are in the herding group and will herd anything that isn’t nailed down.

They come in ‘rough-faced’ and smooth coats in fawn, brindle, black, gray, slate gray, blue merle, fawn merle, brindle merle, black and white, and white.

19. Sloughi

interesting dogs breeds
Height24-29 inches tall
Weight35-50 pounds
Lifespan10-15 years

The Sloughi is an ancient hound dog with the nickname “Arabian Greyhound.” A sighthound and one of the rare dog breeds, they hunted fox, hare, jackal, gazelle, and wild pigs in North Africa. They are aloof with strangers but gentle, have an affectionate nature with their human pack, and make a nice pet. They are graceful and noble.

The Sloughi’s coat can be sandy, cream, mahogany, or red. Some dogs are brindle or have black markings.

20. Belgian Laekenois

weird dogs
Height22-26 inches tall
Weight55-65 pounds
Lifespan10-12 years

The Belgian Laekenois, a member of the herding group, are alert, strong, sturdy, affectionate, and protective with their people, and need to stimulate their minds. Laekenois are wary of strangers. They need regular brushing.

Their fuzzy coat comes in black and tan, fawn, mahogany, red sable, cream sable, fawn sable, red, and cream.

21. American Foxhound

strangest dog breeds
Height21-25 inches tall
Weight60-70 pounds
Lifespan11-13 years

The American Foxhound is in the hound group and one of the rare dog breeds. They are independent, easygoing, good with kids and other dogs, and like to bark. The American Foxhound Dog Breed was created in Virginia around the time of the American Revolution, and they are the American counterpart of the English foxhound.

Their coat can be black, white and tan; white, black and tan; white; white and red; white and cream; black, brown and white; blue; tan; brown, white and tan; and red.

22. Swedish Vallhund

most unique dogs breeds
Height11.5-13.75 inches tall
Weight20-35 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

The Swedish Vallhund is smart, vivacious, affectionate, friendly, good with children, watchful, and needs to stimulate their minds. They like agility tracking. One of the rare dog breeds, Swedish Vallhunds, are adorable little fluffs in the Herding group. They date back to the days of the Vikings.

They are rugged, lively, and designed short to nip at cattle’s heels. They may be a cross between Scandinavian spitz dogs and Welsh corgis.

Their coat can be gray, yellow, red, black, blue, and white and can have sable and white markings.

FAQs

What Is the 1 Rarest Dog Breed?

The number one of the world’s rare dog breeds is the Telomian.

What Are the 2 Most Expensive Rare Dogs?

The Azawakh is $9,500. A Tibetan Mastiff can cost $7,000.

What Is an Unusual Breed of Dog?

According to the AKC, their registration data lists the rare breeds that aren’t bred much because their jobs are obsolete or there’s not a big demand for them. There are certain dog breeds that couldn’t be included in this list, like the new guinea singing dog, Catahoula leopard dog, Biewer terrier, Bedlington terrier, Yorkshire terrier, Basset hound, Lagotto Romagnolo, Thai ridgeback, Peruvian inca orchid, Catahoula parish, Xolo hairless dogs, and many others.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re interested in a rare dog breed, you can look for a breeder or — better yet — find out if there’s a rescue group that specializes in that breed. Often, the AKC has the names of breeders and rescuers of each breed.

Rare breeds are as wonderful as more popular dog breeds. Their popularity isn’t a reflection on them and usually decreases when their job disappears or if they are only in their native country.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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