The Best Rare and Unique Dog Breeds

Otterhound looking over fence

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Have you ever seen a dog that looked so unfamiliar that you just had to know what breed it was? Besides inherently unique mixed-breed dogs, certain dog breeds aren't often seen as pets. Some of these dogs are fairly high-maintenance while others simply never took off in popularity. If you're looking for an atypical pet, here are 10 of the rarest dog breeds.

Tip

Besides reputable breeders, look for breed-specific rescue groups if you're interested in bringing home a rare dog breed.

  • 01 of 10

    Canaan Dog

    Canaan dog lying down

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    Originating in ancient Israel, Canaan dogs herded livestock and guarded property. These smart, vigilant, and athletic dogs are well suited to dog sports and other activities that engage the body and mind. However, they can be territorial and wary of strangers, so training and socialization are essential to provide structure and discipline.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 35 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Well-balanced body; curled-over tail; colors include black, cream, golden, red, white, and more

  • 02 of 10

    Cesky Terrier

    Cesky terrier

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    Cesky terriers originated in Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic. Ceskys tend to be playful and moderately energetic, which makes them good matches for many types of households. They are alert and protective but not overly defensive, often get along well with children, and are receptive to training.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 13 inches

    Weight: 14 to 24 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short legs; long, fine, gray coat with furnishings

  • 03 of 10

    Komondor

    Komondor with a thick heavy white or cream corded coat, sitting on its haunches with an open mouth

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    The komondor is a large dog with a protective corded coat that gives it a mop-like appearance. Originating in Hungary where it once guarded sheep, this breed is powerful and brave. However, it can be protective, independent, and even stubborn at times. Consistent training is necessary to provide guidance and structure.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 26 to 28 inches

    Weight: 80 pounds and up

    Physical Characteristics: White corded coat; large head; deep chest

  • 04 of 10

    Lowchen

    A lowchen dog with grayish-brown hair on the front of its body, shaved hind quarters, and decorative tufts on its legs and tail

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    Outgoing and affectionate, it's surprising lowchens aren't more common. The history of the breed isn't clear, but it seems to be of European descent. Likely ancestors include the Maltese and bichon frise. This dog has a hair coat that continuously grows, meaning it sheds very little but needs brushing and trims for maintenance.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: 10 to 15 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long, flowing mane; colors include black, blue, chocolate, fawn, and more

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Norwegian Lundehund

    Norwegian lundehund sitting with open mouth

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    The Norwegian lundehund was developed to hunt puffins on a remote island off the Norwegian coast. 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.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Flexible body; dense double coat; colors include black, gray, reddish brown, white, and more

  • 06 of 10

    Otterhound

    Otterhound lying down

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    The otterhound is a big, lovable dog that was once used to hunt otters in medieval England. 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. They need regular exercise and grooming—but not an excessive amount of either.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 24 to 27 inches

    Weight: 80 to 115 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Large head; rough double coat; colors include black, black and tan, blue and cream, gray, and more

  • 07 of 10

    Pharaoh Hound

    Pharaoh hound

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    The pharaoh hound is an agile dog that originated in ancient Egypt. These dogs tend to be athletic, independent, and energetic. They do best in an active household with plenty of structure. They can be reserved around strangers but loyal and trusting of family. Grooming needs are minimal, but exercise needs are high.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Lean, muscular body; short, glossy coat; colors include chestnut, red golden, and tan

  • 08 of 10

    Puli

    black puli

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    The puli is another Hungarian breed with memorable dreadlocks like the komondor. As a herding dog, it's surprisingly agile underneath all that coat. The breed tends to be a loyal companion that needs a moderate amount of exercise. Keeping its coat neat and clean is the most time-consuming part of living with a puli.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 16 to 17 inches

    Weight: 25 to 35 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Naturally corded coat; colors include black, silver, and white

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Swedish Vallhund

    Swedish vallhund lying and smiling

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    The Swedish vallhund is a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed of ancient Viking descent. As a sturdy herding breed, these dogs are energetic, friendly, and good for active homes. They tend to be eager to please and do well with training. Regular brushing and bathing as necessary are its typical grooming requirements.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 20 to 35 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Wedge-shaped head; long, low body; colors include gray and red

  • 10 of 10

    Xoloitzcuintli

    Mexican hairless dog (xoloitzcuintli), side view

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    The Xoloitzcuintli is an ancient Aztec dog that comes in hairless and coated varieties. The hairless dogs have thick, smooth skin that needs sun protection. Xolos tend to be graceful, loyal, and even-tempered. They require a fair amount of exercise but are receptive to training and can adapt to life in most households.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 23 inches

    Weight: 10 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Hairless or short coat; colors include black, gray, brindle, fawn, and more