18 Dog Breeds So Rare, You’ve Probably Never Heard of Them

We’re all very familiar with America’s favorite dogs. Labradors, Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Bulldogs… the list goes on and on. But even those who consider themselves canine experts may be unfamiliar with some of the pups on this list. Ready to test yourself? Let’s take a look at 18 dog breeds so rare, you’ve probably never heard of them.


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The Azawakh is a West African breed originally bred for guarding and hunting roles. They have a gorgeous, slim build and short, sleek coat. In temperament, they’re typically independent yet loyal and protective. Because there are only small populations outside of their native region, they’re considered a very rare breed.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

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The Catahoula Leopard Dog gets its name from its distinctively spotted coat and from Catahoula Parish in Louisiana, where it was first bred for herding and hunting. According to the United Kennel Club, this breed has become famous for being the official State Dog of Louisiana. However, it is still very rare outside of the state.

Lagotto Romagnolo

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Lagotto Romagnolos originated in Italy and are known to be proficient truffle-hunting dogs. They have beautiful curly coats, a keen sense of smell, and are highly intelligent and trainable. But because they are primarily used for truffle hunting in Italy, it’s rare to find them elsewhere.


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As you may have guessed from their name, Otterhounds were first bred for hunting otters in the United Kingdom. They are famous for their waterproof coats and webbed feet, which help them move more freely in water. Since otter hunting has fallen out of fashion, the breed has become more and more rare over the years.

Thai Ridgeback

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The Thai Ridgeback originated in Thailand and was first bred for guarding and hunting. They can be recognized by the distinctive ridge of hair along the top of their back. Thai Ridgebacks are also known for being loyal, protective, and agile. While they’re rare outside of Thailand, some people still use them for hunting.

Norwegian Lundehund

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A fun fact about the Norwegian Lundehund is that they have six toes on each foot. According to the American Kennel Club, these extra toes help provide more grip and traction when walking on difficult terrain. These unique hounds were originally bred for hunting puffins in Norway and are rarely seen outside of the country.   


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The Chinook is another rare breed seldom seen outside of certain parts of the U.S. and snowy regions. They were first developed in the country for sled pulling, meaning they have great levels of strength, stamina, and agility. Chinooks are also known for being exceptionally gentle and friendly.

Belgian Laekenois

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As you can tell by the name, the Belgian Laekenois originated in Belgium and was originally used for guarding and herding roles. They are known for being alert, intelligent, and protective, as well as having a distinctive wiry coat. However, they’re still rarely seen outside of Belgium.

Swedish Vallhund

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The Swedish Vallhund was first bred in Sweden for herding cattle. Despite their small size, they are incredibly sturdy, agile, and strong—so strong that they were a favorite breed among Vikings 1,200 years ago. While they’ve been around for many years, they’re still rarely seen outside of Sweden.

Bergamasco Sheepdog

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The Bergamasco Sheepdog originated in Italy, where they were bred for—you guessed it—herding sheep. While they’re considered rare outside of Italy, they’re widely loved for their patience, loyalty, and attentive nature. They’re also famous for their distinctive mats of hair.


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Mudis are intelligent, versatile dogs known for their curly coats, intelligence, and versatility. They were first bred in Hungary for herding and guarding roles, which is probably why they have such high energy levels. Unfortunately, you’ll rarely get a chance to see them outside of the country.

Danish-Swedish Farmdog

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As implied by their name, Danish-Swedish Farmdogs were bred in both Sweden and Denmark to help with vermin control. These adorable little dogs are known for their friendly, outgoing personalities. While they’re still fairly commonly used in Scandinavia for hunting and companionship, it’s rare to find them anywhere else.


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Kooikerhondjes originated in the Netherlands and were originally used for duck hunting, which some still participate in today. They’re known for being friendly and alert and for having a striking, distinctive coat with beautiful markings. But you may have to jump on a plane if you want to see one, because they’re a rare sight outside of the Netherlands.

Peruvian Inca Orchid

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The Peruvian Inca Orchid is perhaps most famous for its hairless, elegant appearance. They’re also known for being loyal and affectionate, but they are rarely seen outside of Peru, where they were originally bred to be companion dogs.  

Finnish Lapphund

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Finnish Lapphunds are fluffy, intelligent dogs who were first bred in Finland for herding reindeer. While few have made an appearance in other countries, they’re still quite popular in Finland for herding and companionship, making them a versatile and adaptable breed.

Finnish Spitz

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The Finnish Spitz is an adorable little dog with a sharp bark, a fox-like appearance, and a cute little curly tail. Despite their small size, these tiny dogs are surprisingly strong, energetic, and brave. They were bred in Finland for hunting small game, and few have made their way outside of the country.


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The Boerboel breed was developed in South Africa for hunting and guarding purposes. They’re revered for their protective nature, muscular build, and strong sense of loyalty. Despite their many positive qualities, they are rarely found outside of South Africa, where they continue to be used for guarding.

Belgian Tervuren

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According to the American Kennel Club, the Belgian Tervuren was first registered as an official breed in 1959, so they haven’t had an incredibly long time to make their way out of their homeland in Belgium. However, they are incredibly beautiful dogs noted for their long, luxurious coats and elegance.

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