9 Most Rare Dog Breeds You Might Not Know Exist

rarest dog breeds

Humans have always shared their lives with dogs, initially as hunting partners or working animals. It wasn’t until around the 16th century that dogs began to be widely recognized as pets. Fast forward to 2024, and dogs are a ubiquitous sight, sporting jumpers and matching bandanas, with an estimated 65.1 million pet dogs residing in US households.

Just like fashion trends, the popularity of certain dog breeds fluctuates over time. For example, the release of Disney’s Dalmatian-themed movies sparked a surge in demand for Dalmatians, a phenomenon known as the ‘Dalmatian Effect.’ Similarly, the popularity of Siberian Huskies soared with the success of the TV show Game of Thrones in 2011.

However, beyond these popular breeds, there are many beautiful, rare dog breeds that remain largely unknown to the public. At WAF, we cherish every dog, and we want to highlight some of these lesser-known, exquisite breeds. Join us as we explore the world of rare dog breeds, celebrating their unique qualities and histories.

Geographic Location of Rare Dog Breeds

9 Most Rare Dog Breeds

1. New Guinea Singing Dog

rare dog breeds

The New Guinea Singing Dog, also known as the New Guinea Highland Dog, is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world and is found in the highlands of New Guinea. According to Wikipedia, these dogs are considered an ancient lineage, closely related to the Australian dingo, and they look quite similar to them.

First discovered by explorers in the 1800s in New Guinea, they are rare partly because of crossbreeding with other dogs brought by explorers, which diluted the purebred population. They are descendants of some of the earliest dogs domesticated from Asian wolves about 15,000 years ago.

These dogs are called “Singing Dogs” because of their unique vocal abilities. They can vary the pitch of their howls, making them sound like they are singing. They are also known for their strong hunting skills, driven by a strong prey instinct. Remarkably, they have a flexible spine much like a cat’s, enabling them to climb trees to pursue birds and rodents.

Singing Dogs are very active and require a lot of exercise. Training them can be challenging, so they are not typically recommended for first-time dog owners. However, with consistent and patient training, they can become loyal companions.

2. Chinook

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The Chinook is a unique American dog breed with origins in New Hampshire, developed by explorer and author Arthur T. Walden. Inspired by his experiences during the Gold Rush days in Alaska, Walden aimed to create a sled dog that embodied power, endurance, and speed. To achieve this, he crossed a mastiff-type dog with a northern husky.

Chinooks are exceptional athletes known for their hardiness, intelligence, and loyalty. They thrive in a pack environment and are best suited for homes where they won’t be left alone for extended periods.

Hillspet notes that their high intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, and their gentle, non-aggressive nature makes them excellent working dogs, particularly in roles assisting the handicapped.

Despite their background as working dogs, Chinooks do not require extensive physical activity. They are content with long walks or hikes but equally happy to relax and nap on the couch. While they may bark at strangers as a warning, they are not prone to aggression.

3. Estrela Mountain Dog

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The Estrela Mountain Dog comes from the Estrela Mountains in Portugal and is one of the oldest breeds from the region. Known for being an excellent livestock guardian, the Estrela also has a special love for children and families, making it a protective yet gentle companion at home.

This breed is very loyal and tends to form a strong bond with one particular family member, although it loves the whole family deeply. Because of their protective nature, it’s important to train and socialize them early to ensure they don’t become overly dominant or aggressive.

AKC notes that Estrela Mountain Dogs are usually calm but can be playful, especially around children they know and during their puppy years. If they’re not working as farm dogs, they enjoy playing in a fenced backyard or going for daily walks to keep them active.

Estrelas have a thick coat that feels a bit like goat hair and comes in both long and short varieties. Regular grooming each week and occasional baths will keep their coat in good condition and enhance your bond with them.

4. Telomian

rarest dog breed in the world

The Telomian is a unique and rare purebred dog, notable as the only Malaysian breed that has been bred outside of its native country. Originating from Malaysia, Telomians were initially bred by indigenous people to control pests like snakes, rats, and other small jungle animals.

As a breed that descends from feral dogs such as dingoes, Telomians retain a wild nature compared to other domesticated breeds and are not typically recommended as family pets, especially for families with small children.

Telomians are athletic and require early socialization with people and other dogs to develop well-rounded behaviors. Despite their intelligence and playful spirit, their strong prey drive and love for running make them more suited for active, engaging activities that challenge both their mind and physical abilities.

When it comes to grooming, Telomians are low maintenance. Weekly brushing with a natural bristle brush is sufficient to remove loose hair and maintain the health and shine of their coat.

5. Karelian Bear Dog

rarest dog in the world

The Karelian Bear Dog is a sturdy and independent hunting breed from Finland, originally used by the native Finns for hunting large predators like bears and cougars. Although it’s one of the most common dog breeds in Finland, it remains quite rare in the United States.

This breed is known for its fearless nature and ability to work independently, even surviving in the wild without human help. Because of their strong instincts, Karelian Bear Dogs need to be socialized from a young age to prevent them from becoming feral. They are not particularly friendly with strangers and generally prefer to keep their distance.

Karelian Bear Dogs are best suited for experienced owners who can provide the consistent training and socialization they require. They are very active dogs and need a lot of daily exercise to stay healthy and content.

In terms of grooming, the Karelian Bear Dog has a dense, all-weather coat that requires weekly brushing. They shed seasonally, so during these times, they may need more frequent grooming to manage the shedding. Regular grooming helps keep their coat in good condition and reduces loose hair around the house.

6. Lagotto Romagnolo

what is the rarest dog in the world

The Lagotto Romagnolo, originally bred as a water retriever, holds a unique distinction as the only purebred dog recognized globally as a specialized truffle hunter. Despite their cuddly teddy bear appearance, Lagottos are rugged and durable workers with significant strength and endurance.

This ancient breed is not only a capable worker but also a calm and affectionate companion, making them excellent family pets. They adapt well to different living situations, including apartments, but they do require dedicated time for exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Lagottos are perfect for those who enjoy water sports or outdoor activities and thrive on daily physical activity. When they’re not active, they enjoy relaxing and spending time with their family members at home. Lagottos form strong bonds with their owners and require ongoing training throughout their lives to ensure they maintain good behavior.

WebMD points out that grooming a Lagotto is relatively straightforward, as they rarely shed. However, their curly coats can trap dirt and debris, so regular grooming is essential to keep them clean, especially after playing outside.

7. Fila Brasileiro

rare dogs

The Fila Brasileiro, also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, is a large, powerful breed renowned for its tracking ability and formidable nature as a guard dog. Highly alert and intelligent, these dogs require a strong, confident owner who can act as a pack leader to manage their assertive tendencies.

Historically, in Brazil, Fila Brasileiros were used to track escaped slaves, holding them until their captors arrived. Despite their size, they are surprisingly fast and agile, capable of intense loyalty and devotion to their family. However, they are very cautious around strangers and can display aggression, which has led to the breed being banned or restricted in several countries.

With their families, Fila Brasileiros are friendly and affectionate, but they need thorough socialization from a young age to learn that not all strangers are threats. This socialization helps mitigate their naturally suspicious nature.

Fila Brasileiros sheds moderately and requires weekly brushing to maintain a healthy coat. They are not suitable for apartment living due to their size and energy levels; they thrive in homes with large yards or a farm where they can exercise freely.

8. Catahoula Leopard Dog

top 10 rarest dog breeds

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is an intelligent, energetic, and beautiful breed known for its striking appearance and robust work ethic. These dogs are part of the herding group and thrive on having tasks to complete, making them ideal for active roles where they can utilize their energy and intelligence. Known for their loyalty and playfulness, Catahoulas are both hard-working and strong-willed.


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According to the ASPCA, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are relatively rare. While they are more commonly found in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, they are much harder to locate in other parts of the United States and are almost impossible to find outside of the U.S.

Catahoulas can be a good fit for families with older children who understand how to interact with a large, energetic dog. Their herding nature and vigorous energy might be too much for younger children. Because of their strong personalities and independent nature, it is recommended that Catahoulas be adopted by experienced dog owners.

In terms of grooming, Catahoulas shed a moderate amount, so your home won’t be overrun with dog hair, but regular brushing will help manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.

9.Β Mudi

what's the rarest dog

The Mudi is a lesser-known breed, intriguing researchers who believe it originated from crosses between herding dogs and Spitz-type dogs. It’s thought to be related to other Hungarian herding breeds like the Puli and Pumi. The Mudi faced near extinction during World War II when many were killed, but post-war breeding efforts using the remaining dogs helped revive the breed.

The Mudi is a lively and active dog that thrives on having a job to do. Thanks to its intelligence and energetic nature, this breed excels in roles such as trick dog performances and therapy work.

The Mudi is a smart, cheerful dog with an easy-to-care-for coat. While he generally gets along well with children and other pets, especially if raised with them, he needs a secure fenced yard to stay safe and contained. Without enough mental stimulation and activity, he might resort to barking or finding his own entertainment, which can sometimes be less desirable.

In terms of grooming, the Mudi’s coat naturally repels dirt and doesn’t require frequent baths. However, they do shed seasonally and need weekly brushing with a natural bristle brush to keep their coat in good condition.

How to Spot Rare Dog Breeds

Methods to Recognize Rare Dog Breeds

Discovering rare dog breeds is exciting! This chart shows easy ways to identify and learn more about these unique canine friends, from checking their physical traits to getting DNA tests. Whether you’re a dog lover or an aspiring owner, these tips will help you on your journey to understanding and recognizing the world’s rarest pups.


Exploring the world of rare dog breeds offers a fascinating glimpse into the diversity and history of canine companions. From the Hungarian herding dog, known for its unique capabilities and origin, to the Carolina Dog and Finnish Karelian Bear Dog, each rare breed brings its own unique story and set of traits.

The Bedlington Terrier, often noted for its resemblance to a little lamb, is another rare breed that captures the hearts of dog enthusiasts. Whether it’s a breed developed for specific work like herding or a breed that has transitioned from a once wild existence, these rarest breed dogs each offer a special insight into the evolutionary and cultural impacts on the development of dogs.

Their rarity not only makes them unique but also emphasizes the importance of preserving the diversity within the canine world.

Mahvash Kazmi
Mahvash Kazmi, with a rich academic background in English Literature and Journalism, is not just a master of words but also a passionate advocate for the voiceless. Her vast experience, from teaching to insightful content creation, is underpinned by a profound love for animals and an unwavering commitment to conservation. An ardent animal lover, she often finds solace in nature's tales and the gentle purrs of her beloved Persian cat, Gracie. Her dedication to the environment and the written word combine to create truly compelling writing. With a heart that beats for the wild and the written word, she crafts compelling stories on animal issues, urging readers to coalesce for a cause.

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