Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Shepherd (Photo by magdanphoto on Shutterstock)

Dogs have been our loyal companions for centuries, providing us with love, companionship, and endless joy. While there are countless dog breeds around the world, some stand out for their unique and exotic characteristics. From the strikingly beautiful Azawakh to the charmingly tiny Dandie Dinmont Terrier, these extraordinary dog breeds captivate our hearts and pique our curiosity. This article will explore the most exotic dog breeds in the world, delving into their fascinating origins, distinctive appearances, and remarkable traits. Whether you’re a dog enthusiast or intrigued by the extraordinary, you’ll surely be fascinated by these rare breeds. 

Of course, all dogs are different and rare in their own ways. A new study also shows that some consider their dogs to be “gifted.” Researchers from Eötvös Loránd University have discovered that only a few dogs globally show the unique skill of knowing the names of their toys. These gifted dogs learn these names quickly and remember those names for over two months. Researchers call these dogs Gifted Word Learners. 

An especially gifted and highly intelligent dog can recognize up to 200 commands from their owner. According to a recent study, this is over a hundred more than the average dog is said to understand. To find this information, the team surveyed 165 dog owners who are the pet parents of several different breeds. The study finds that common commands are among the most likely words a dog will know. These include “sit,” “come,” “down,” “stay,” “wait,” “no,” “OK,” and “leave it.” However, researchers note that dogs most frequently respond to their own names.

I’d say that all makes for one gifted and smart pup! Combine that with the rare qualities of the breeds found on today’s list, and you’ll be sure to have one unique furry friend. As always, we at StudyFinds have researched across eight expert sources to bring you today’s list of the top seven most exotic dog breeds mentioned most. Don’t agree with our list or feel we missed out on an especially rare breed? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments down below. Now, onto the list. 

brown puppy lying on carpet during daytime
Shar-Pei (Photo by Sophie Elvis on Unsplash)

The Most Exotic Dog Breeds You Need in Your Life

1. Tibetan Mastiff

A Tibetan Mastiff
A Tibetan Mastiff (Photo by Tatyana Kuznetsova on Shutterstock)

The Tibetan Mastiff is a majestic and ancient breed of dog that originated in the Tibetan Plateau. With its imposing size and thick, luxurious coat, this breed has captured the fascination of dog enthusiasts around the world. Hepper describes this breed as “the ultimate guardian dog.” They also mention that the how far back the history of this dog breed goes is unknown, but some think they are ancestors of other Mastiff breeds. 

These pups look like they are the lions of the dog kingdom. As far as their temperament, A-Z Animals says they are extremely intelligent, but independent. This makes them more stubborn to training and following your rules.  

The Tibetan Mastiff can also grow to be huge! They can weigh between 100 to 160 pounds with a shoulder height of 26 inches. According to Top Dog Tips, Tibetans historically believed this breed to be the reincarnation of monks and nuns. They also note that their heavy coats helped them survive freezing conditions in the Himalayan Mountains, where they were bred. 

2. Shar-Pei

short-coated tan puppy
Shar-Pei (Photo by Tiago Vasconcelos on Unsplash)

The Shar-Pei, also known as the Chinese Shar-Pei, is a distinctive breed of dog that originated in China. With its wrinkled skin, unique appearance, and loyal nature, they were bred to guard livestock, which explains their alert and protective nature. They are described as immensely loyal to their owners with a calm disposition, but they can be weary of strangers (A-Z Animals). 

For a brief history on the breed, Top Dog Tips says the breed came about during the Han Dynasty. In 1949, a near eradication occurred as the People’s Republic of China imposed a dog ownership ban, leading to the shooting of stray dogs. Fortunately, a few Shar-Peis survived in Hong Kong and Taiwan. We are lucky to have these pups still around today.

According to Pet Keen, this unique dog features small ears, wrinkles across the body, and an inverted tail. The term “Shar-Pei” translates to “sand skin,” reflecting the breed’s uneven and coarse coat that kind of resembles dunes of sand.

3. Portuguese Water Dog

a black dog standing in the snow looking at the camera
Portuguese Water Dog (Photo by Real Estate Partners on Unsplash)

The Portuguese Water Dog, also known as the PWD or Portie, is a highly intelligent and energetic breed that originates in Portugal. This breed has a rich history, dating back to the 16th century. Dog Breed Finder says that females of this breed are typically more beautiful than males. They are strong, beautiful dogs

The Awesome Daily finds it hard to resist this breed’s luscious curls. Like their name states, they are comfortable going for a swim. This is because of their history in Portugal herding fish into nets and being the right hand to fisherman in many ways. 

While you may not be looking for a new pet to herd fish, their ancestry does make them a breed that requires a lot of physical activity. A-Z Animals say that despite their intelligence, they are considered high maintenance. Why? They need plenty of grooming to avoid their pretty curls matting. With that being said, don’t get a Portuguese Water Dog unless you are ready for a commitment.

4. Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Shepherds
Bergamasco Shepherds (Photo by slowmotiongli on Shutterstock)

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a unique and fascinating breed of dog that has a long history dating back to ancient times. Originating in the Italian Alps, these dogs were bred for their exceptional herding abilities and their distinctive coat. To paint the picture, Hepper describes them as a “four-legged mop.” The breed boasts natural dreadlocks. While that might seem daunting in the realm of maintenance, they actually require little grooming. They also don’t shed much, making them perfect for anyone allergic to pet hair.

According to Upper Pawside, their history dates back 7,000 years in Persia. Why the corded coat? This actually keeps them toasty in cold temperatures and protects them from predators. They also warn that only experienced pet owners should take on a Bergamasco due to their independent tendencies. Otherwise, they are super smart and gentle.

A-Z Animals says they get their name from a town in the alps, Bergamo. They also note that this is a great breed to have around children and other animals

5. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier (Photo by Radomir Rezny on Shutterstock)

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a small breed of dog that originated in the border region between England and Scotland. This unique and charming breed is known for its distinctive appearance, with a long body, short legs, and a large, round head. The Awesome Daily says they were originally kept as farm dogs for hunting rodents, but now there are only a few hundred registered annually. 

Oddly enough, this dog got its name from a character in a book. In the early 1800s, a novel called “Guy Mannering” was publish by Sir Walter Scott. A character in the book named Dandie Dinmont had pet terriers. That is who inspired the name of this little spunky breed. According to Upper Pawside, they are described as intelligent, energetic, and good with little kids. Do be warned, they should have a fenced-in yard due to their independent streak

Dog Breed Finder notes that they do not require excessive amounts of exercise. A few walks here and there should get all their ya-ya’s out. They can be a bit challenging to house break, though.

6. Azawakh

Azawakh (Photo by otsphoto on Shutterstock)

The Azawakh is a unique and elegant breed of dog that today is gaining recognition and popularity worldwide for its striking appearance and loyal, affectionate nature. Hepper says this breed comes from West Africa and is believed to be one of the oldest purebred lineages on earth. They were used to chase wild animals historically, but aside from their prey drive, they make loving pets.

AKC mentions that although they give off a classy look, they are powerful hunting dogs whose lineage traces back thousands of years to the Sahara desert. They hail from the Sighthound family, which means they hunt by sight and sound instead of through scent tracking

According to Upper Pawside, their lean build allows them to sprint at amazing speeds without injury. As pets, they require moderate physical activity and stimulation and are known for being flight risks. So, be ready to have your hands full with an Azawakh.

7. Leonberger

brown and black dog running on water during daytime
Leonberger (Photo by Stephanie Lucero on Unsplash)

The Leonberger is a majestic and gentle giant of a dog breed that captures the hearts of all who encounter them. With their impressive size and striking appearance, they are often mistaken for a lion or a bear. However, beneath their majestic exterior lies a sweet and affectionate temperament. The Leonberger is a cross between a Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and a Pyrenean Mountain Dog and can reach up to 170 pounds.

According to Top Dog Tips, their name comes from the city of Leonberg in Germany, where the breed originated. The breed was common among royalty with the King of Italy, Czar of Russia, and Prince of Wales all owning Leonbergers.

As far as temperament goes, Pet Keen notes that they are peaceful and rarely bark. But that doesn’t mean they are lazy. They are very active and like to be with their owners as much as possible. Although they can be a little stubborn at times, with proper training, you can expect a social, friendly pup

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About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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