Most people only know a few dog breeds, including Golden Retrievers, Labs, Yorkies, and Bulldogs. There are 360 officially recognised breeds worldwide, many of them rare or unusual. Veterinarians and pet experts told us about some of the rarest dog breeds. Learn what sets these animals apart and how to adopt them.
It's no surprise that the Puli dog and its signature dreadlocks make our list of the most unique dogs. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), "the coat's naturally occurring cords are wooly, dense, and weatherproof." Usually, the dogs are black, charcoal, or white, and weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.
"Also known as the Arabian Hound, Gazelle Hound, or Persian Greyhound, [Salukis] are sighthounds (meaning they hunt by sight rather than scent)," says Jackson. "They resemble Greyhounds and are closely related to the Afghan Hound in the U.S., [but] they are bred mainly in the Middle East."
Another hairless breed is the Xoloitzcuintle (or Xolos for short), which hails from Mexico. "Evidence of this breed has been found among the ruins of the Mayan and Toltec tribes," shares Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale. "Often called the perro pelón mexicano (Mexican Hairless Dog), dogs of this breed can be born with or without fur, sometimes in the same litter."
Their curly, lamb-like fur makes them hypoallergenic and reduces shedding. Mastopietro says their soft, thick fur makes them cuddly companions. Their tasselled ears make them look teddy-like. The AKC recommends clipping and brushing Bedlington Terriers' fast-growing fur every two months.
This breed has a "great beard," says Brorsen. It's also obscure. Schapendoes were common in the Netherlands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but Border Collies drove their numbers down. The breed was revived after WWII, but few know about them.
This breed has unique features. Jackson says their black-and-brown coats and brindle markings make them "Tiger Dogs." Kai Kens are "one of six protected breeds in Japan" and "national monuments"AKC says Kai Kens are rare in Japan. Originally bred as hunting dogs, they're affectionate, loyal, and smart.
"Papillon" means butterfly in French, and this breed's large ears and long hair resemble their namesake, says Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM at PetSmart. "They're smart, agile, and live 15 years on average," she says. Bruns says Papillons are fun-loving.According to PetMD, they're "one of the oldest toy dog breeds" and have been depicted in art since the 16th century. Their long, silky coats require a lot of care, but they make great family pets.