Outside of dog breeders and dog show attendees, most people only know a handful of dog breeds—Golden Retrievers, Labs, Yorkies and Bulldogs, to name a few of the most popular. But in the world there is 360 officially recognized breeds, many of which are so rare or unusual that you may never have seen them. To learn more about these unusual dogs, we spoke to veterinarians and pet experts, who gave us details on some of the more unique dog breeds. Read on to find out what sets these animals apart and what it might be like to bring them into your family.
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It’s no surprise that the Puli dog and his iconic dreadlocks made our list of the most unique dogs. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “the coat natural cords are woolly, dense and weather resistant. Usually the dogs are black, charcoal or white and weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.
“These dogs look like smaller versions of Komondors as they also have long fur that locks together and resembles human ‘locs’,” notes Courtney Jacksonveterinarian and founder of The summary of pets. “They come from Hungary and are mainly used as herding dogs.” For this reason, their fur is there to protect them from the elements. This is also why they are so affectionate, good with people, and easy to train.
“Also known as the Arabian Hound, Gazelle or Persian Greyhound, [Salukis] are sighthounds (meaning they hunt by sight rather than scent),” Jackson says. “They look like sighthounds and are closely related to the Afghan Hound in the United States, [but] they are bred mainly in the Middle East.”
What makes this breed unique, however, is their “beautiful flowing locks of hair around the ears and tail,” notes Patrick Holmboechief veterinarian for Cooper Pet Care. He also explains that Salukis were bred to race, so they require more exercise than other breeds.
The breed is commonly referred to as “the naked dog,” says Travis Brosen, an animal expert for Animal Planetfamous dog trainer, host of My Big Pet Makeoverand judge on the Discovery Plus series dog games. “This greyhound hails from Peru and is both intelligent and affectionate. The Inca is great with families and fun fact: you guessed it, he doesn’t shed a lot!” The only place you might see hair on the Peruvian Inca Orchid is on their head, “where they have a little tuft of fur that looks like a natural mohawk,” Jackson notes.
The AKC explains that the breed available in three sizes, ranging from 10 inches tall to just over two feet. This dog is also agile and alert, but may not behave well around other small animals.
Another hairless breed is the Xoloitzcuintle (or Xolos for short), native to Mexico. “Evidence of this breed has been found among the ruins of the Mayan and Toltec tribes,” shares Daniel Caughillco-founder of The story of the dog. “Often referred to as perro pelón mexicano (Mexican hairless dog), dogs of this breed can be born with or without fur, sometimes in the same litter.”
With a wrinkled face, athletic body, and mottled skin, this dog is definitely one of a kind. While you don’t have to worry about shedding or grooming, their hairless bodies do require extra care, “like winter coats and sunscreen,” notes Iram Sharmaa veterinarian and writer at PupVine.
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Named after the town in eastern England they hail from, Bedlington Terriers are agile, athletic, and intelligent sighthounds. They” have very unique fur and color [and] are gray, blue or even tan in color,” explains Erin MastopietroCEO of dope dog.
Their curly, lamb-like fur is definitely what sets them apart, and it also makes them hypoallergenic, as they don’t shed much. Plus, “they can be perfect cuddly partners since their fur is super soft and thick,” Mastopietro notes. Their tasseled ears only add to their teddy bear appearance. But you will want to note that Bedlington Terriers’ fast growing fur should be trimmed every two months and brushed once or twice a week, according to the AKC.
This dog doesn’t just have a friendly face; the AKC gives the breed the highest scores for “loving with family” and “good with other dogs”. Also known as the Dutch Sheepdog, Schapendoes originated in the Netherlands. In fact, the “does” part of their name means “swamp”, as they are “swampy parts of Holland”, says Brorsen.
This breed is visually unique because it “sports an amazing beard,” Brorsen notes. But it’s not very well known either. As the AKC explains, “Schapendoes were everywhere in the Netherlands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but their numbers dwindled considerably when Border Collies were imported.” After World War II, the breed was revived, but many people still haven’t heard of it.
There are several unique aspects to this breed. First, their black and brown coats and brindle markings earned them the nickname “Tiger Dogs,” Jackson notes. Additionally, she explains that Kai Kens are “one of the six protected breeds in Japan” and are considered “national monuments” in the country.
Kai Kens are a rare breed, even in Japan, says the AKC. Although originally bred as hunting dogs, they are extremely affectionate and loyal to their owners and are known to be highly intelligent.
This skinny sighthound is so named because it originated in ancient Egypt. According to Pharaoh Hound Club of America.
The breed is recognizable by its “elegant frame and huge ears,” notes Linda SimonMVB, MRCVS, A consultant veterinarian at FiveBarks. She says they generally enjoy good health, but “they have very thin skin and sparse coats, so they don’t handle cold temperatures well.” Another thing to consider is that although they are incredibly affectionate, they are still hounds by nature and love to run and require a decent amount of exercise.
The word “papillon” means butterfly in French, and this breed is so named because its big ears and long hair make it look like its namesake, explains Jennifer Browns, DVM, MPVM at PetSmart. “They are known for their intelligence, agility and long average lifespan of over 15 years,” she says. Bruns adds that the Butterflies are fiery and fun.
What’s also interesting about this dog is that it is “one of the oldest toy dog breeds [and] have been depicted in artwork dating back to the 16th century,” according to PetMD. They are considered great pets, but you won’t be surprised to know that their long, silky coats are high maintenance.
Doodles in general are probably one of the most common breeds. Just think about how many Goldendoodles you’ve probably seen recently. But there are other Poodle crosses that many people don’t even know exist.
Christos Philippouowner and trainer Delaware K9 Academy, says that from what he sees, “the current craze is definitely the Doodle.” Some of the unique Doodles he has worked with include the Great Danoodle, Great Dane, and Poodle (pictured above); Saint Berdoodle, Saint Bernard and Poodle; and Schnoodle, Schnauzer and Poodle.
Likewise, Madelyn Harrisdog specialist and writer for doodle dog club, says that one of the most unusual breeds she has encountered is the Dalmadoodle, a mix of Dalmation and Poodle. “They are known for their unique and distinctive appearance, which includes fluffy doodle hair with Dalmatian spots!” she shares.
Although Harris says Dalmadoodles are “the ideal family dog”, Philippou warns that crossbreeding isn’t always the best option. “These Doodle breeds are often bred with sub-par genetics, which causes more serious anxiety issues,” he explains. He also says people turn to Doodles because they’re looking for hypoallergenic dogbut there are many other breeds that are ideal for allergy sufferers.