16 Cool Dog Breeds With Style and Smarts That Make Impressive Pets
It's natural to get excited when you spot cool-looking dogs online, especially when you've come up with an equally cool name for them! Nevertheless, take your time researching breeds that catch your eye to ensure the best fit.
Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo. is a telehealth practitioner on Vetster. She says while you might love how a dog looks, it's better to choose a canine buddy best suited to your lifestyle. "Having the option to 'test-drive' a dog before permanently adopting is a great way to see if you and the dog whose picture you fell in love with can actually live together." So be prepared to take notes on the following cool dogs!
Myers, like many of us, remembers seeing her first Borzoi in the Disney film classic "Lady and the Tramp" and was excited to learn that this stylish, lanky dog with the long nose was real and possibly one she could bring home! Once known as the Russian wolfhound, this elegant, gentle pooch is an excellent sprinter who loves to exercise, then be pampered indoors with attentive care for her luxurious coat.
It’s no surprise the German shepherd—considered one of the most popular dogs in the U.S.—ranks high with pet lovers on the list of coolest dog breeds of all time. Although they’re terrific as military and law enforcement canine officers, these pups are also active and fluffy cuddlebugs with their furever families. Cool dog mixes often feature German shepherd parents because they have many desirable traits.
The dogo Argentino is a unique canine recognized in 2020 as the American Kennel Club’s 195th breed. This muscular athlete, Myers says, was bred to hunt, and not just a pheasant or duck, but wild boar, mountain lions, and other large game. A dog owner experienced with training and socializing working breeds will probably love the strong ambition and tender heart of this good boy.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Speaking of cool-looking dogs, the Catahoula leopard dog is a stunner (that merle pattern!) and, if we’re honest, rather upfront with his strong streak of independence. If your goal is to have a sharp hunting dog who loves tasks and bonds well with the right positive reinforcement training, this historic Louisiana bayou breed might be a canine match in heaven, especially if he’ll be the only pet in the house.
Sweet, gentle, and loving, greyhounds are known for their speed—up to 45 mph!—and sightwork, so keep these factors in mind if jogging together on a trail chock full of bunnies! Although it takes patient dog lovers to help greyhounds adapt to new surroundings and training, especially if rescued, these soft-tempered beauties are super responsive and love quality time with their families.
A Boerboel, also known as the South Africian mastiff, is smart and massive (200 pounds! Wow!) Pronounced boo-r-bull in the Afrikaans language, the name means ‘farmer’s dog’ and this breed is known for being a good guardian. Often described as ‘big loving babies’ who are great in families with children, boerboels require early and consistent guidance from experienced pet parents.
This guy! Totally an extrovert. Whatever you’re into, bull terriers are, too! He’s eager to learn, ready to hike or take a long run in an instant, and responds well to training. A bully will shine with dedicated attention in a single-pet adult household, amusing anyone he meets with a goofy sense of humor and rambunctiousness. Keep him occupied and he’ll keep you entertained!
Kings, queens, presidents, and lovers of ancient Irish lore are all fans of this wolfhound. Not only is the Irish wolfhound the tallest registered dog breed at 30 inches high, she’ll also weigh as much as 180 pounds! Once bred to hunt wolves, she’s eager to be engaged mentally and physically. While her mounds of shaggy fur is a lot to manage, it’s worth it to have such an intelligent and kind doggo.
In looks, temperament, and abilities, a Vizsla (pronounced veezh-la or veesh-la) is hard to beat for people who want a devoted canine companion. He’s a ‘velcro dog’ for sure! This talkative Hungarian multitasker expects a lot from you, though. So if you’re ready to train a good hunter, agility master, therapy dog—anything that provides constant companionship and activity—think of a Vizsla!
Is it a bear? No, it’s a Tibetan mastiff! Large? Try humongous! (Can you imagine trying to fit a full-grown one into a car?) As a guardian dog, they’re intelligent, more than a tad willful, and appreciate quiet time, so a skilled pet parent with a large fenced property is the best match for this mastiff so can keep a good eye on things for you. Oh, and be prepared for a monstrous blowing coat season!
A Basenji hardly barks at all. Instead, he yodels (or sounds like an air raid siren!) These cool rare dogs are mighty small game hunters from the African Congo. Basenjis are energetic and playful, excelling at canine sports such as tracking, agility, and lure coursing. Often described as ‘cat-like’ in their independent nature and grooming habits, they still want to be with you doing all things!
The silhouette of a Doberman pinscher is instantly recognizable, as is his reputation for being a protective wunderkind (he has German heritage). Loyal, highly intelligent, and full of energy, a ‘Dobie’ is another velcro dog who wants to be an active part of his human’s life, with consistent training from puppyhood and daily physical and mental activities such as flyball or scentwork.
Fluffy and friendly, Bedlington terriers offer another funky benefit: they’re mostly hypoallergenic—as much as dogs can be, anyway! Training with treats is wonderful positive reinforcement for a Bedlington to help manage barking, and she’s a great companion for both children and seniors. Cats—eh, not so much, as her natural terrier instincts take over! Best to have her as a solo dog, too.
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
Myers says the ancestors of a xoloitzcuintli were chosen precisely for their unusual appearances. A ‘xolo’ forms close bonds, and can be a calm yet athletic pup in a family with older children as long as they’re socialized and trained early in puppy kindergarten. And while these hairless cool dogs don’t shed (even the slightly-more-haired varieties of the breed), they need sunscreen!
Alaskan Klee Kai
Similar to a pint-sized husky, the Alaskan klee kai (Inuit words meaning ‘little dog’) can be great for apartment living—just make sure she’s mentally and physically stimulated each day, ‘cause this clever pup has no problem outsmarting you! She’s a great swimmer, eager to tackle new tricks, and enjoys performance sports, too. These cool small dogs love their people and pets around (with proper introductions, of course!)
Even Myers, a longtime dog fancier, says this breed is new to her, so allow us to present the coolest dog you've probably never heard of: the Beauceron. This French herding dog is highly intelligent and skilled in law enforcement and search and rescue—and he forms close bonds with his adult buddies. Experienced and active dog owners eager to participate in competitive dog activities and continued training should check him out!