Every dog park has its fair share of Labs, golden retrievers, and French bulldogs, but you'd be less likely to find these rare dog breeds in your neighborhood. These pups are scarce but incredible; hard to find because the breed either fell out of favor or never made it into the popular crowd. But fans of these unique dog breeds say the effort is worth it.
While today’s most popular dog breeds make awesome pets, there’s a whole pack of rare breeds waiting to be rediscovered. If you’re itching for a pup that’ll stand out among the pack, check out these unique breeds big and small.
We’re calling it: Chinooks are the next “it” dog (at least they should be). These mellow pups were the brainchild of a New Hampshire musher who wanted to make an amazing sled dog. At one point, there were only 125 Chinooks left in the world and they’re still a rare dog breed today. Only about 150 puppies are born each year. Known for their affection toward children and easygoing attitude, Chinooks are ideal family dogs.
The Spinone Italiano is starting to get noticed in the U.S., but gained popularity in Europe long ago for their hunting prowess—Spinones both point to game with their muzzles and retrieve birds from the water.
This hunting breed from the Piedmont region of Italy has incredible stamina, an adorable scruffy look, and a lovable nature.
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Looking for a big, friendly pup? The shaggy otterhound fits the bill, though you’ll have a heck of time finding one since there are fewer than 800 in the world. Rarer than the giant panda, otterhounds come straight from 12th-century England where they guarded fish ponds and hunted (you guessed it!) otters. If you’re considering this large dog breed as a companion, know this: Otterhounds love water (and have the webbed feet to prove it!) and thrive in a family that appreciates their slap-happy personalities.
Lundehunds have six toes and extra paw pads on each foot for better grip (jealous, rock climbers?). They can close their ears to keep out water and debris and they have flexibility like you wouldn’t believe—they can bend their head backwards to touch their backbone and spread their front legs out to the sides, both of which help them get in and out of small spaces.
What do you get when you cross a labradoodle with a koala bear? A pumi! Well, not really, but that’s what this Hungarian herding breed looks like with its signature perky ears and curly hair. It’s rare to spot a pumi outside his native country, but we bet you’re thinking this medium-sized cutie-pie would be a cuddlebug. Think again: The pumi was made for working on farms and still prefers running around to spending time on the couch.
Not nearly as common as hybrid breeds like the puggle or the always-popular goldendoodle, the golden dox is just as easy to fall in love with. Also called a golden weenie or a golden dachshund, this hybrid dog breed is a golden retriever and a dachshund combo. As you can imagine, the breed is both sweet and spunky. A golden dox definitely needs some rough-and-tumble playtime, but is happy to snuggle up afterwards.
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If this breed looks familiar, it's because they're a close cousin to the Yorkshire Terrier. The Biewer terrier’s unusual black, white, and tan coloring is a result of a rare, recessive gene in Yorkies. With a cheery face and childlike personality, Biewer terriers are adorable companions who love chasing down a toy, going on walks, and making new friends.
It’s easy to see why the Afghan hound gets a lot of second looks: Flowing locks, a tall stature, and wise eyes. This ancient breed looks like dog royalty and they act like it, too. Afghans are cool toward strangers and have a mind of their own, often taking off to follow the scent of prey (they’re hounds after all!).
Maybe that’s why you won’t find many Afghans at the dog park—because taking care of their long hair is a full-time job!
The Xoloitzcuintli may have the most interesting past of any breed. These strange-looking dogs were companions to the Aztecs. But by the early 19th century, the breed had mostly disappeared except for those found in isolated mountain towns. It's thought that the love of renowned Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera helped to spark the breed’s renewed popularity within the country. Nowadays, this hairless underdog is the national pup of Mexico!
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