10 Unusual Dog Breeds You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Imagine walking a dog that piques curiosity and invites intrigue with its unique presence.

There exists an array of dog breeds, some of which remain relatively unknown even to passionate dog enthusiasts.

These breeds offer a blend of unique characteristics and captivating histories, lending a unique aspect to your pet-owning experience.

This isn’t just about exploring rare dog breeds; it’s about appreciating the lesser-known aspects of canine diversity.

Join us as we journey into the less charted terrains of the dog world, revealing intriguing breeds that may resonate with your own unique tastes and preferences.

Why Unusual Breeds Are Fascinating

Unusual dog breeds offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of canine diversity.

They serve as living links to cultures, traditions, and geographical regions that are often overlooked.

From their unique appearances to their distinctive behaviors, these breeds provide a refreshing contrast to the more well-known breeds, expanding our appreciation of the versatility and adaptability of man’s best friend.

A Primer On Rare And Unusual Dog Breeds

While we may be familiar with breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, the world of dogs is vast and varied.

In this article, we will explore ten breeds that are less known but just as fascinating.

Prepare to embark on a journey through canine history and diversity, learning about the breeds’ origins, physical characteristics, temperaments, and health considerations.

1. The Azawakh


Origin And History

The Azawakh hails from West Africa, more specifically from the Sahel region.

Primarily a sighthound, it was used for hunting and guarding livestock against predators.

Its name comes from the Azawakh Valley, reflecting its deep regional ties.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

The Azawakh is a tall, slender breed known for its elegance and speed.

Its coat is short and comes in various colors.

It is a protective breed, often forming strong bonds with its family while being reserved around strangers.

Its intelligence and independent nature require consistent, gentle training.

Care And Health Considerations

Azawakhs are generally healthy, although they can be prone to certain genetic conditions, such as hip dysplasia and bloat.

They require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health, and their short coat makes them more sensitive to cold weather.

2. The Finnish Spitz

Origin And History

The Finnish Spitz, Finland’s national dog, has a history dating back over 3,000 years.

These dogs were initially used for hunting, particularly for tracking birds, earning them the affectionate nickname “Barking Bird Dogs.”

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

With its fox-like appearance, dense coat, and lively expression, the Finnish Spitz is certainly eye-catching.

This breed is known for its cheerful, friendly disposition, though it can be somewhat reserved around strangers.

Finnish Spitz dogs are active, intelligent, and require mental stimulation to stay happy.

Care And Health Considerations

Though generally healthy, the Finnish Spitz can be prone to genetic health issues like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.

They require regular exercise and mental stimulation, and their thick coat needs regular grooming to prevent matting.

3. The New Guinea Singing Dog

Origin and History

As its name suggests, the New Guinea Singing Dog is native to the highlands of New Guinea.

This breed is considered one of the most primitive, and it’s best known for its unique vocalizations that sound like ‘singing.’

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

Resembling a small dingo, the Singing Dog has a medium-size build, almond-shaped eyes, and a bushy tail.

They are alert, curious, and quite agile, capable of climbing and jumping like a cat.

However, they are not typical pets, retaining many wild behaviors, and requiring ample space and exercise.

Care And Health Considerations

As a relatively wild breed, the New Guinea Singing Dog is robust and doesn’t have many breed-specific health issues.

However, their high activity level requires extensive exercise and mental stimulation.

They also have a strong prey drive, so they need to be monitored around smaller pets.

4. The Otterhound

Origin And History

Originating in England, the Otterhound was initially bred for hunting otters, which were considered pests to local fish populations.

Today, with otter hunting banned, the breed is one of the most endangered native British breeds.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

The Otterhound is a large, amiable dog with a shaggy coat and an impressively keen nose.

They are known for their webbed feet, which made them excellent swimmers for their original work.

Despite their hunting origins, Otterhounds are typically laid-back, friendly, and get along well with children and other dogs.

Care And Health Considerations

Otterhounds are prone to certain health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, gastric dilatation-volvulus, and autoimmune problems.

Their shaggy coat requires regular grooming, and they need a fair amount of exercise to keep them healthy and content.

5. The Peruvian Inca Orchid

Origin And History

The Peruvian Inca Orchid, also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, is an ancient breed with a history that dates back to pre-Inca cultures.

They were considered sacred and used as companions and bed warmers due to their warm skin.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

As the name suggests, this breed is mostly hairless, though there is a coated variety.

They come in three sizes: small, medium, and large.

Peruvian Inca Orchids are smart, quick to learn, and affectionate with their families, but they can be wary of strangers.

Care And Health Considerations

Being hairless, they are prone to skin issues and need protection from extreme weather conditions.

They can also be susceptible to dental problems due to the genetic mutation that causes their hairlessness.

Exercise and mental stimulation are necessary to keep this breed happy and well-balanced.

6. The Swedish Vallhund

Origin And History

The Swedish Vallhund, also known as the Västgötaspets and Swedish cow dog, has a history dating back over 1,000 years to Viking times.

Bred for herding cattle, these dogs are deeply ingrained in Swedish culture and folklore.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

With a striking resemblance to a Corgi, the Swedish Vallhund is a small, robust dog with a thick coat and a friendly, intelligent gaze.

They are active and cheerful dogs with a strong herding instinct, known for their agility and endurance.

Care And Health Considerations

Generally a healthy breed, Swedish Vallhunds are prone to hip dysplasia and eye problems.

As energetic dogs, they need ample exercise to prevent obesity.

Regular brushing is also needed to maintain their thick coat.

7. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Origin And History

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is the smallest of the three types of Portuguese Podengo.

Historically, this breed was used in Portugal for hunting small game, with their keen senses making them excellent at their job.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

This breed is small, lean, and hardy, with two coat types: smooth and wire.

Known for their intelligence and playful nature, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are energetic dogs with a lot of spirit.

They are friendly with their families but can be reserved around strangers.

Care And Health Considerations

They are typically healthy dogs with few breed-specific health issues.

However, they need plenty of exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

Regular grooming, particularly for wire-coated individuals, is needed to keep their coat healthy.

8. The Thai Ridgeback

Origin And History

The Thai Ridgeback is an ancient breed indigenous to Thailand, used primarily as a guard dog and for hunting small game.

Known for the characteristic ridge on its back, it’s one of only three breeds with this trait.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

Thai Ridgebacks are medium-sized dogs with a muscular build, a loose skin, and a short, smooth coat.

They are loyal, intelligent, and can be independent, sometimes presenting a challenge for first-time dog owners.

Care And Health Considerations

Thai Ridgebacks are generally healthy, but they can be prone to hip dysplasia and dermoid sinus, a genetic skin condition.

They require moderate exercise and mental stimulation.

Their short coat is low maintenance but they need protection from cold weather.

9. The Norwegian Lundehund

Origin And History

The Norwegian Lundehund, also known as the Puffin Dog, hails from Norway’s remote Lofoten Islands.

Bred for hunting puffins on steep cliffs, they have several unique features to aid in this task.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

These small dogs possess some remarkable features: they have six toes on each foot, extremely flexible joints, and can close their ears to protect against debris.

Lundehunds are friendly, alert, and energetic dogs with a strong prey drive.

Care And Health Considerations

The breed has a specific health condition known as Lundehund Syndrome, a complex of gastrointestinal disorders.

They require a specific diet and regular monitoring for health issues.

Their thick double coat needs regular grooming.

10. The Xoloitzcuintli

Origin And History

The Xoloitzcuintli, often shortened to Xolo, is one of the world’s oldest and rarest breeds.

Hailing from Mexico, they were considered sacred by the Aztecs, Toltecs, and Maya.

Physical Characteristics And Temperament

Xolos come in three sizes and can be hairless or coated.

They are known for their calm demeanor, intelligence, and loyalty.

Hairless Xolos have a warm, smooth skin, while coated ones have a short, flat coat.

Care And Health Considerations

Xolos are generally healthy, but the hairless variety can suffer from skin problems and needs protection from the sun and cold.

Regular mental and physical stimulation is important to keep them content.

Exploring these ten unusual dog breeds opens up a world of diversity in the canine kingdom.

While they may be less common, each of these breeds offers unique characteristics, rich histories, and individual quirks that make them incredibly fascinating.

As with any dog breed, potential owners should consider their lifestyle, environment, and commitment level before bringing one of these rare breeds into their home.

No matter the breed, each dog deserves a loving, caring forever home.

Before You Go…

If you want to learn more, watch the following video.

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.