Norwegian Lundehund dog

Norwegian Lundehund dog (Photo by Makabas on Shutterstock)

Rare dog breeds are the unicorns of the pet world. Their unique appearances and quirky personalities are enough to make any dog lover swoon. Whether it’s their peculiar coat patterns, distinctive body shapes, or one-of-a-kind expressions, you won’t be able to resist the charm of the rarest dog breeds.

When choosing the perfect pooch for your household, there are many things to consider. Adopting a dog from a shelter is always a good thing to do. While shelter dogs’ behavior fluctuates as they acclimate to their new home, research shows owners generally remain satisfied with their furry friends. Plus, you can find some really unique mixed breeds in shelters that you can’t elsewhere.

The quirky canines on our list are often the result of centuries of careful breeding, creating a fusion of fascinating traits that set them apart from the more common breeds. Plus, being rare means you’re part of an exclusive club when you welcome one into your home – you’re not just a dog owner; you’re a trendsetter.

When you’re out and about with your distinctive pooch, you become an instant magnet for dog-related small talk. You’ll find yourself sharing stories, facts, and tidbits about your four-legged buddy, and you might just inspire others to explore the world of rare dog breeds. We are excited to inspire you to own one of the rarest dog breeds which is why we have created this awesome list below. Do you have a pooch that deserves a spot on this list? Leave a comment to let us know!

Otterhounds
Otterhounds (Photo by Boys in Bristol Photography on Pexels)

The List: Most Rare Dog Breeds, According to Experts

1. Norwegian Lundehund

The number one on our list of rare dogs will surely make you smile! “In Norwegian, the term ‘lundehund’ literally translates as ‘puffin-dog’. This breed was developed to hunt puffin birds along the coast of Norway dating back to the times of the Vikings. One unique characteristic of the Norwegian Lundehund is the fact that the breed has six toes on each foot, all fully formed and muscled,” writes Highland Canine.

Norwegian Lundehund
Norwegian Lundehund (Photo 70749273 | Norwegian Lundehund © Radomír Režný | Dreamstime.com)

You won’t believe what this dog can do. “Norway’s Lundehund was bred for the specific purpose of hunting puffins, and that’s allowed it to diverge significantly from other hunting dog breeds. But the fact is that the Lundehund may be older than most hunting dogs. The unique dental structure the Lundehund shares with the 5,000-year-old fossilized remains of the Varanger Dog suggests they split off from the rest of the evolutionary family tree a long time ago. You can more easily distinguish them from other dogs thanks to their unique six-toed feet. These unique paws help them navigate the treacherous cliffs and slippery crags where puffins are known to roost, and they can also be used to dig into the burrows that puffins call home. The development of new puffin hunting techniques nearly led to the extinction of this breed in the early twentieth century, though they have since grown to a population of around 1,400,” shares AZ Animals

Have you ever met a dog with extra extremities? “This agile dog was able to navigate rocky cliffs thanks to its highly flexible limbs and extra toes. The lundehund is loyal and sensitive, forming a close bond with its family. It responds well to positive-reinforcement training,” notes The Spruce Pets.

2. English Foxhounds

Number two on our list is the English Foxhound. “Many rare dog breeds come from across the pond, such as the English foxhound, bred in England. They are used for fox hunting and tend to be much stockier than their American counterparts. The conformation of the English foxhound hasn’t changed much since they were first bred, around the 1700s,” writes RD.

An English Foxhound
An English Foxhound puppy (Photo by Mary Swift on Shutterstock)

With an English Foxhound, you’re not just a pet parent – you’re a curator of canines. “These social butterflies, weighing between 60-75 pounds, possess a distinctive hound temperament,” says Southwest Journal. “Being pack hounds, they thrive on interaction and companionship, whether with other animals or humans, making them particularly gentle with children. However, their prevalence as house pets is rare, largely owing to their relentless pursuit instincts, which dominate their behavior. English Foxhounds were originally bred for fox hunting, a pursuit activity wherein a pack of hounds and horse-mounted hunters relentlessly chased a single fox until it was exhausted.”

Get ready for daily doses of puppy paparazzi – everyone wants to snap a pic of your English Foxhound. “One of the four foxhound breeds, the English Foxhound is the rarest dog breed in the United States based on 2019 AKC registration data. The breed rose to prominence during the reign of Henry VIII in England. These dogs are best utilized for hunting, and despite their gentle disposition, are rarely used as house pets,” notes Highland Canine.

3. Azawakh

The third pick on our list of the most rare dog breeds is the Azawakh. “The Azawakh is a West African sighthound that originated in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. This slender hound has a refined appearance, but don’t be fooled. This is a hardy, long-lasting hunter who has been chasing gazelle over the blistering sands of the Sahara for over a thousand years,” shares AKC.

Azawakh
An Azawakh dog running on the beach (Photo 89079518 | Azawakh © otsphoto | Dreamstime.com)

Watching your rare dog prance around the house is like having your own personal fashion show. “Though they’re sometimes mistaken for more popular types of sighthounds like the Italian greyhound and whippet, the Azawakh actually first emerged in West Africa as many as 8,000 years ago,” AZ Animals explains. “Their fine and beautiful coat can appear in a number of different colorations, but the lean but powerful musculature of the breed is always readily apparent. Originally bred as hunting dogs, this rare dog breed distinguishes itself from other sighthounds for its fierce loyalty to its human companions. Though they’ve been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t introduced to America until the 1980s.”

No need for Instagram filters when your pet is already a walking, barking work of art. “This speedy sighthound is an ancient breed from West Africa used for racing and hunting. The Azawakh is a very independent, intelligent, and loyal breed that doesn’t show affection as openly as some other breeds, but is very devoted to its family and suspicious of strangers. These dogs need a great deal of daily exercise, and excel as running partners. They don’t require a great deal of grooming beyond an occasional brushing and bath,” says The Spruce Pets.

4. Otterhound

The Otterhound may look like your hippie uncle, but he’s much more than that. “Amiable and boisterous, the Otterhound is a large hunting breed originating in England. As its name suggests, the breed was developed for otter hunting. Because its quarry was found on land and in water, it differs from other hounds with its rough, double coat and webbed feet. Strong in body and mind, the Otterhound is an inquisitive breed with an exceptionally powerful nose,” says AKC.

Otterhound dog
Otterhound dog (Photo by Alexander Taranenko on Pexels)

Rare dog breeds come with a built-in “wow” factor. “The otterhound is a big, lovable dog that was once used to hunt otters in medieval England,” explains The Spruce Pets. “With webbed feet and a waterproof coat, this breed is an ideal swimmer. Otterhounds can be boisterous and excitable, making them good for active families, but training is essential to keep them manageable. They need regular exercise and grooming but not an excessive amount of either.”

“King John maintained his own pack of otterhounds, and resident members of the breed could often be found in and around churches and larger estates as well,” shares AZ Animals. “Their rough coats and large, vibrant personalities made them ideal dogs for hunting otters. And while some hunters sold their pelts for a decent income, otter extermination was largely about competition between humans and otters for fish in nearby waters. Ironically, the efficiency of the otterhound nearly led to its extinction. Otter hunting was briefly banned in the United Kingdom in 1979 out of concerns that these activities were decimating otter populations. And while it would be discovered that pesticides were actually at the root of the problem, the otterhound population never quite recovered. The world population of this breed is estimated to be roughly a thousand, though there’s been a slow but steady incline in numbers over the past few years.”

5. Mudi

Rounding out our list is the Mudi, from Hungary. “This Hungarian herding dog is as active as it is versatile. It makes a talented hunter, rodent exterminator, herding dog and flock guardian, but as a pet the Mudi is happiest when given long walks or jogs and a large area in which to run free,” says Outside Online.

Mudi Dog
Mudi Dog (Photo 195584484 © JiA(TM)A- ZuzA!nek | Dreamstime.com)

The Mudi is one of the most intelligent dog breeds on the planet. “Pronounced ‘moody’, this Hungarian-born breed is quite the opposite of its name and is known for its upbeat and highly active nature. With fewer than 1,000 in existence, the Mudi breed is rarely spotted outside of its Eastern European homeland. Pointy-eared with a wavy-haired coat, this unique canine is believed to have originated in the 1800s and naturally developed from crosses between the well-known Pumi and Puli breeds. Boasting a high intellect and swift stride, Mudis are often used to herd sheep and cattle, and are additionally praised for making effective watchdogs,” writes Pet Plan.

Thankfully, activists have worked diligently to ensure the survival of the Mudi dog breed. “Rarity can sometimes be an impediment to gaining official recognition from official kennel clubs, but the Mudi is proof that it doesn’t have to,” shares AZ Animals. “As the youngest of Hungary’s three types of herding dogs, the Mudi has gained some interest as a type of rescue dog in Finland and as a pet throughout North America. Despite its lineage dating back to the 19th century, the dogs were killed in large numbers during the Nazi invasion and occupation of Hungary during World War II. Conscious efforts at conservation have brought this breed back from the brink, and the population has risen to a few thousand.”

Which rare dog breed do you think has the most interesting history? Let us know in the comments!

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Te-Erika Patterson

Te-Erika is the Publisher of The Feisty News for Women, the only full-service news source for women. Te-Erika is also the author of How To Love a Powerful Woman, Leave Your Baby Daddy and Loving Female Led Relationships: Relationships that Empower Women. A graduate of The University of Florida, Te-Erika enjoys a thriving career as a digital content creator that has spanned more than a decade. She enjoys chocolate, wine and solitude, and she is currently living a quiet life in Montgomery, Alabama. Follow her @Te-Erika

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9 Comments

  1. Lucian Emanoil Cuibus says:

    Also Japanese Akita Inu it’s a rare breathe

    1. VinDeeLoo says:

      No it’s not.

  2. Amy Schultz says:

    I have a Ridgeback Terrier/Pitbull mix puppy and I think there should be more information on the breed I was led to believe she was a Rhodesian Ridgeback but after looking at and reading about the breed I believe she is a Thai Ridgeback pitbull mix and I am learning alot about how loyal and no fear attitude etc ..She is an amazing animal

  3. CD fan says:

    You need to check out the Carolina Dog. It is not a man-made breed designed by humans for a particular purpose/job. The Carolina Dog was developed naturally without human interference. @ 15,000 years ago they crossed the Berring land bridge and spread into the Americas. Very interesting history. They are now recognized by the ukc and akc and man is now in the process of breeding for particular traits. 🥺

    1. Dee says:

      The Carolina Dog is both amazing and fascinating however they’re currently available on Craigslist so “rare” is probably a stretch.

  4. Rose Nicotra says:

    I consider the Mudi to be the most interesting of the rare breeds. A very strange combination of breeds.

  5. Emma says:

    I would like to hear more about Korean Jindo, as my dogs carry that Dna, they were tested.
    I thought they were Border collie crossed with Australian shepard i was surprised. Very very high energy smart dogs and very protective.

  6. Ray Schmoyer says:

    Florida cracker cur. Bloodlines started in 15 39 with Henry DeSoto bringing them to Florida with cattle. 10 ships. 400 animals cows, hogs, dogs, horses, They are a cow dog. They catch cattle and herd. Florida was very rugged very little pasture always animals or were breed for instincts, Florida was the largest producer of beef since 1539 till 1959 when Hawaii became a state 10 cows 10 acres. Without these animals it would not have been possible.

  7. Pat D says:

    I’d like to hear more about Hungarian Vizslas. I have been told that they are a rare bred.
    Also would like to hear about the Belgian Malinois.
    I’ve had both breeds and have rarely see them anywhere unless I look them up on the Internet