Rare Dog Breeds You May Never Have Heard Of

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While we can all recognize a Golden Retriever or a Pug, and we may even be able to distinguish between different breeds of Terriers, there are certain dog breeds we have likely never heard of, but that nevertheless make incredible pets and companions.

Today we’ll be taking a look at 8 such breeds, and hopefully you’ll be able to identify them if you ever come across them. You may even fall head over heels in love with one, and immediately start looking for a breeder.

In no particular order, here is our list of rare dog breeds you may want to learn more about:

The Lagotto Romagnolo

As the name itself may suggest, the Lagotto Romagnolo comes from Romagna, and was first bred way back in Medieval times. While it is often thought to be a poodle-mix, it’s actually the oldest water retriever we know of.

Bred to fetch ducks for the medieval nobleman, this curly Italian pup has today repurposed its impeccable nose to hunting truffles. Easy to train, playful and a keen walker, the Lagotto is a ball of energy that will brighten up your dullest days.

The Mudi

The Mudi (pronounced as moody) is a vibrant and active Hungarian native, and this rare breed is still used for herding in Eastern Europe. There are less than a thousand of them in existence today, which makes them all the more precious and interesting.

They are keen explorers and love to spend time outdoors, so they make excellent partners in crime to hikers and long distance walkers. However, they also need their cuddles, so you’ll likely find them snuggling up on your bed once you get home from that long hike.

The Otterhound

The British Otterhound is currently one of the most vulnerable native breeds in the UK. Bred to protect fisherman from the peskiness of otters, the ban on otter hunting has driven the breed practically to extinction.

A calm and sensitive dog, the Otterhound is a great companion for solo owners, whom it will shower with affection. It does however still like to roll around in the mud, so you may need to count on frequent dog baths if you were to share your home with this ball of joy.

The Black Norwegian Elkhound

A predator by nature, but a very calm and affectionate dog when around his family, the Black Norvegian Elkhound can sometimes be a bit of a handful. He is an amazing watch dog and will protect his family at all times.

His dark color once made him stand against the northern snow, and is still a trademark of the breed today. While requiring a firm hand and very disciplined training, the Norwegian Elkhound can be a great family dog, as long as you clearly establish some boundaries.

The Chinook

Chinooks were bred with one purpose in mind: to combine the speed of a sled dog with the power and strength of a freighting dog. They are substantial and dignified, but their eyes reveal their true kind nature.

They are very calm dogs that like being around people and are especially fond of children. They are good workers and will enjoy any kind of obedience, agility or even search and rescue tasks. They need to be exercised often though, as they are not particularly apt at keeping themselves busy.

The Kai Ken

The Kai Ken was bred in Japan to hunt a whole range of different game, and is today considered rare even in its native country. They are very devoted dogs and prefer to be around their companions.

A highly athletic dog that is an excellent swimmer and climber, they will hunt down their prey no matter what. They are however able to live in apartments as long as they are exercised regularly. Being highly intelligent, they will learn to adapt to your wishes and commands in no time.

The Thai Ridgeback

A muscular breed, naturally athletic and certainly eye-catching, the Thai Ridgeback has a ridge of hair that grows in the opposite direction from the rest of his coat. Originally bred as hunting and guarding dogs, they have adapted to modern-day life and today make great companions.

They are driven by prey though, are highly intelligent, and do require proper socialization from a young age. They can be suspicious around newcomers, so they should only be considered by experienced dog owners.

The Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is the ultimate bodyguard. Its lineage can be traced back to ancient Rome, where he was considered to be an unmatched protector.

A large dog with a noble bearing, the Cane Corso can appear incredibly intimidating at first glance. Highly intelligent and eager to please, Corsi are loyal and will protect their family from any danger. They do however require a firm hand and an experienced owner, someone who will be able to be their pack leader effortlessly, as their sheer size can pose a significant threat.


The rare breeds we’ve listed here have mostly been bred with a clear purpose in mind: hunting, herding, guarding. When the need for that purpose has lessened, their existence has been compromised.

However, they have managed to survive with the aid of careful and determined breeders, and they still make many families very happy to this day.

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