If you are reading this, it’s likely you are the type of person who gets really excited when you see a cute dog walking by! And while all dogs are loveable, it gets especially exciting when you meet a breed you have never seen before. What do you picture when you hear “Golden Retriever”? A large, golden, fluffy dog! How about “Catahoula Leopard dog”? (Don’t get too creative, after all, it is still a dog!) But they ARE a beautiful and energetic breed that you don’t see in your neighborhood often. If you are interested in learning more about the unique characteristics and skills of 10 rare dog breeds, look no further!
1. Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula is a medium-large sized dog with a short, multi-colored coat. While the colors can range anywhere from white & gray to black & brown, they almost always have a spotted coat. This is where they got the “leopard” nickname! They are also likely to have a striking eye color, with occasional heterochromia (different colored eyes). The breed originated when the Spanish and French brought their hounds to Louisiana, who then crossbred with the native American wolf-dog. The Catahoula breed is known for herding wild cattle and hogs, so they require a lot of exercise and stimulation. They can be a great family dog or workout companion!
2. Dogue de Bourdeaux
As the name may give away, the Dogue de Bourdeaux originates in France. There really is no story behind their origin, as they are a very large purebred (averaging 100 pounds). The Dogue is exclusively a caramel brown color and has, according to the American Kennel Club, “proportionately, the largest head in the canine kingdom”. Keep in mind that with such a big head comes a lot of drool! Unfortuneately, this breed only lives for a short 5-8 years, but they are extremely loyal when properly trained and socialized. This breed is mildly energetic due to its size and strength, but they do not require as much exercise as other large breeds.
You may be thinking, “why is the Dalmatian on here? Everyone has seen 101 Dalmatians!” But think about how many Dalmatians you’ve seen in real life- not a lot! They are a highly active and graceful breed, which makes them great for endurance athletes. A lot of people claim Dalmatians can be aggressive, but this is just misplaced guarding (when not properly trained). Since they were originally bred to guard horses and coaches, they can still harbor this extinct for their owners. Their coloring is their most notable feature and cannot be mistaken! The Dalmatians lifespan is between 10-13 years, which is a decent age for a larger dog.
A little dog with a big bark (seriously, they are known for barking)! The name Schipperke, roughly translating to “little captain”, was chosen for their vermin control abilities that made them “popular with boat captains and tradesmen” (Animalia Life). They are exclusively black with a thick fur coat that doesn’t require much grooming. The Schipperke descended from Belgian sheepdogs, and while they don’t require a lot of space, they do need some form of daily exercise. This is because of their natural curiosity and sharp personality. This breed can be snippy around strangers, so it is best to be cautious without knowing the dog. Lastly, they need extensive training early on to encourage obedience (it’s always the little ones that are the most stubborn).
5. Bull Terrier (Full Sized & Miniature)
The Bull Terrier’s looks may seem odd to some, but not many dog breeds can say they are the mascot for Target! The snout is a result of crossbreeding Bulldogs and Terriers in Europe in an attempt to breed the strongest fight dog. While this is an unfortunate origin story, it resulted in a one of a kind dog. There is no specific coloring for the breed, and other than size, the full sized and miniature are identical. Their activity levels are naturally high, so excessive exercise is discouraged due to sudden lameness. The Bull Terrier’s lifespan is around 10-13 years.
6. Pharaoh Hound
Believed to have been descended from Egyptian hounds, the Pharaoh was first documented as a rabbit hunter in Malta. These beautiful, sleek creatures are a highly active, medium sized dog. They need at least two separate walks per day or a habit of self running in a large, enclosed space. They are notorious for running away no matter the amount of training, so it is best to keep them on a leash on all outings. The Pharaoh’s average lifespan is 12-14 years.
7. American Hairless Terrier
The Hairless Terrier is a select variety of the American Terrier (just missing the hair)! They are towards the end of the American Kennel Club‘s most popular dog breeds because not a lot of people prefer hairless dogs, but these guys have a lot to offer. They come in almost all colors and are a great lap dog. They are also known for being very sociable and friendly. Precaution should be taken with their skin in extreme weather to prevent sunburns or hypothermia. Their lifespan is about 14-16 years.
8. Afghan Hound
The exact origin of Afghan Hounds is not known, but is theorized to be in the areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. Their long and sleek coat requires EXTENSIVE upkeep at least once a week, unless you want a matted dog! Because of their stamina and build, Afghan Hounds should be exercised at least once a day, preferrably running distances without interruption. They are highly intelligient, easily trained, and average 12-15 years of age. Owners should be cautious when having any type of procedure done that involves anesthesia because of the Afghan’s low body fat density.
9. Basset Fauve de Bretagne
The Basset Fauve de Bretagne is like the underrated cousin of the Golden Doodle! A very family friendly breed that is small in size and big in personality. This makes it an especially great option for kids. They originated in France as a larger hunting dog, and became smaller in size when they were bred for owners lacking horses. The Basset Fauve’s signature coat is golden, wiry hair- meaning their upkeep is very minimal. They are easily trainable, and live for around 12+ years.
10. Central Asian Shepherd Dog
While you primarily see them in a snow-white color, the Central Asian Shepherd comes in an array of colors. They are listed as one of the top guard dogs by the American Kennel Club, and it’s not hard to see why! Their origin story is a unique one. They are the oldest known breed of dog in existence, and they are suspected to have evolved strictly from their environment, not at the hands of human interference. The Central Asian Shepherd actually requires very little grooming, and only a moderate amount of exercise. They can live for around 12-15 years.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. From hairy to hair-LESS, small to enormous, or playful to highly independent, there is no shortage of options for your future fur child. Just remember, the number one consideration when adopting a dog should always be whether your lifestyle is suitable for that specific breed. Once you’ve taken that into account, it doesn’t hurt to throw appearance into the mix! These 10 examples of unique breeds are just the tip of the dog pyramid.