Are you looking for something a little more unique than a German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever? If so, you’re probably aware your options aren’t super limited in the canine realm. On the other hand, do you really know what’s out there? Let’s dig in and we’ll show you some amazing breeds of dog that you may not have heard of and open your eyes to a whole new world of doggy possibilities.
1. Coton du Tulear
Coton du Tulear are a gorgeous breed of dog that most people haven’t heard of. They’re bright white, extremely fluffy, and rather small. Their coat is very soft despite its wiry look, making them a favorite among those who know their lapdogs.
As far as their personality? Playful and outgoing the Coton du Tulear is one of the most curious dogs around and they’re extremely easy to socialize. One of their neatest tricks is that they often stand up on their hind legs to amuse people with no training.
They’re actually the national dog of Madagascar. Most likely originating from pirate dogs for a long time only the leaders of the country were allowed to own them which contributes to their rarity. The unique coat is incredible for those who’ve never been near one before and is thought to be the result of a single genetic mutation in the past.
The end result? A fluffy, soft dog with a unique coat and an excellent temperament as a companion.
2. Finnish Spitz
The Finnish Spitz resembles a red fox, but the similarities end there. These unique hunting dogs are considered “barking pointers,” which means that they’re used in the field to bark at game. While originally bred to find game in trees they’ve been known to chase elk and even bears in some instances.
To be fair, despite their amazing looks there’s a reason they’re a bit rare and it’s tied to the way they’re hunted with. The Finnish Spitz is known for rapid, loud barking and outside of hunting contexts they’re known to bark at pretty much anything which is even slightly out of the ordinary.
In Finland, there are even competitions for their barking.
Still, if you can put up with the noise then you’ll have an independent, loving family dog that most people find endearing. They’re rather unique, and not very common these days, but there’s a reason the breed is still around.
3. Norwegian Lundehund
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small Spitz-type dog that was originally bred to hunt puffins and steal their eggs. Despite the rather odd provenance, they’re a great dog that is usually found as a hiking companion these days.
Oddly enough, the Norwegian Lundehund is actually one of the oldest purebred dogs in the world. They hail from as far back as the 1600s, but the breed has suffered quite a bit for their ancient purebred status.
The fact of the matter is that inbreeding wasn’t as well understood in the past as it is now. The repetition of recessive traits can cause serious issues in these dogs, but those who are in charge have currently begun an outbreeding program to try and keep them going.
The breed has actually come near extinction more than once. When it comes to rare breeds, however, they’re definitely up there. There are only 1400 or so of them currently in the world, but if you can find one and are looking for a small dog that likes to be active you’re in luck.
4. Canaan Dog
Another breed with ancient provenance, the Canaan Dog is actually the national dog of Israel. There’s evidence that the breed was in existence as far back as 700 years ago, making them truly elderly.
Unlike the Norwegian Lundehound, however, the Canaan Dog is actually one of the healthier breeds out there. They’ve existed alongside humans in a semi-wild state for some time, fitting neatly into the category of dogs known as pariahs. That means there’s been plenty of opportunity for outbreeding among them.
Today they’re carefully bred, avoiding many of the problems that arise with inbreeding in some popular species of dog.
Due to their pariah state these dogs tend to be extremely intelligent but very wary. Life in the desert has caused them to develop more advanced survival instincts than many other breeds which can make them unsuitable as pets for some.
To other owners, it simply makes them a challenge worth taking on. For an experienced dog keeper being able to make a loyal canine companion out of a Canaan Dog is a rewarding task but those unfamiliar with their differing temperament from your average dog will likely find them quite frustrating to raise and train.
The Otterhound is an extremely rare dog that comes out of Britain, with roughly 600 of them left worldwide. Like their name suggests they were originally bred to hunt otters and because of their unique quarry they have some truly unique qualities.
The most prominent of these is their coat. It’s oily and rough, as well as being a double coat, which helps to repel water and keep the dog warm in the Northern climate. In addition, they have strongly webbed feet which made them strong swimmers.
The reason for the decline of these intelligent dogs? Primarily the fact that otters have become a protected species in Europe.
They’re a large breed, coming in regularly at over 80 pounds but their distinct lineage means that only a few animals were able to be bred into a companion animal. These days there are few packs of them remaining, but they’re beginning to make a comeback as they’ve been selectively bred.
Despite the small gene pool, the Otterhound is often a remarkably healthy dog, especially for a larger breed. Their unique provenance and a renewed interest in the breed haven’t quite outstripped their rarity yet but more of them are finding homes as family dogs these days.