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13 Exotic Dog Breeds: Info, Pictures, Traits, & More

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

two bergamasco

Some dog breeds are very common, like the Labrador Retriever or French Bulldog, but in this article, we’re going to look at some of the least common breeds. These breeds are not well-known or very popular, making them challenging to find. However, if you do find them, then they may make a great addition to your family.

Often, rare dog breeds are bred for a specific purpose and may not make the best family pets. However, if you’re looking for a dog for one of these specific purposes, then they may be a good choice.

Here are some of the most exotic dog breeds.

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Top 13 Exotic Dog Breeds

1. Azawakh

Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Height: 23–29 inches
Weight: 33–55 pounds
Temperament: Aloof, independent, loyal, and protective

The Azawahk is a graceful, sleek breed that originated in West Africa. They’re easily recognizable thanks to their long legs, slim body, and elegant appearance. They are sighthounds and look like it. You may notice that they look similar to more common sighthounds, like the Greyhound.

These canines were bred to chase things and still retain these instincts today. They are very energetic and have a strong prey drive. They aren’t the best option for homes with cats and other similar animals for this reason.

2. Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Shepherd standing in the field
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock
Height: 22–24 inches
Weight: 57–84 pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, patient, and loyal

The Bergamasco Shepherd is exceptionally rare outside of Italy, where it originated. It was bred as a herding breed that is best known for its unique coat that forms mats or “flocks” of hair. These mats provide protection from the elements, allowing them to remain with their flock through all weather conditions.

These dogs may have a rugged appearance, but they are known for being extremely gentle and affectionate. They’re loyal to their families and bond easily with their owners.

3. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd dog
Image Credit: Jagodka, Shutterstock
Height: 25.5–30 inches
Weight: 80–220 pounds
Temperament: Protective, fearless, and loyal

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is extremely large and imposing. After all, they were bred in the Caucasus region and originally bred to guard livestock from predators. Therefore, they had to be big and imposing. Their dense double coat helps protect them from the weather, allowing them to stay outside for long periods at a time in many different weather conditions.

They are fearless and wary of strangers, making them excellent guard dogs. They must be socialized from a very early age to prevent unnecessary aggression.

4. Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear sitting on grass
Image Credit: JacLou DL, Pixabay
Height: 8–12 inches
Weight: 9–15 pounds
Temperament: Friendly, affectionate, and playful

This canine has a very soft coat that is often described as being like cotton. They’re an exceptionally rare breed, though they are slowly becoming more popular. They’re known for being friendly and affectionate. Plus, their small size makes them work great in a range of different homes and situations. They even do well in apartments.

The Coton de Tulear tends to be extremely social. They enjoy interacting with other people and pets, and their low-shedding coat makes them great for those who don’t want tons of fur lying around their house. These dogs do well with children, though they do require some significant grooming.

5. Thai Ridgeback

Red thai ridgeback sitting on the floor
Image Credit: katamount, Shutterstock
Height: 20–24 inches
Weight: 35–75 pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, and protective

The Thai Ridgeback is a medium-sized breed known for the ridge of hair running along its back that grows in the opposite direction to the rest of its coat.

Originating in Thailand, they were used for various tasks, including hunting, guarding, and companionship. They are known for their independence and can be aloof with strangers, but they are loyal and protective of their families.

While they do have a similar line running down their back, these dogs are not the Rhodesian Ridgeback—that is a separate breed.

6. Chow Chow

chow chow dog lying
Image Credit: espirito85, Shutterstock
Height: 17–20 inches
Weight: 45–70 pounds
Temperament: Aloof, independent, and loyal

Chow Chows may not be the rarest breed on this list. However, they are one of the most exotic-looking. They are characterized by their long lion mane and blue-black tongue. They’re very easy to recognize and often described as “cat-like.” They clean themselves similarly to a cat and tend to be exceptionally independent.

They can be very reserved with strangers, though, so they require plenty of socialization. Otherwise, they can become aggressive. Chow Chows can be loyal and affectionate with their families, but they require consistent training and socialization from an early age.

7. Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

Xoloitzcuintli breed mexican hairless dogs
Image Credit: Kalinina Maria, Shutterstock
Height: Varies
Weight: Varies
Temperament: Calm, affectionate, loyal

The Xoloitzcuintli come in three different sizes and can be either hairless or coated. Their history dates back to Aztec times when they held significant cultural significance in Mexico. They’re known for being extremely loyal and bonding closely with their owners.

They’re generally well-suited to indoor living, as they have a low energy need. However, their exact grooming needs depend on the exact type of coat the dog has.

8. Puli

Image Credit By: bodzazsuzsa, pixabay
Height: 14–18 inches
Weight: 20–40 pounds
Temperament: Energetic, intelligent, and loyal

The Puli is a distinctive Hungarian herding breed known for its corded coat, which consists of tight, dense curls that resemble dreadlocks. Their coat served to protect them from the elements and predators while herding livestock.

Pulis are intelligent, agile, and energetic dogs with strong herding instincts. They require regular grooming to maintain their unique coat, which makes them a bit high-maintenance. They work well for many families if you can meet their grooming and exercise needs.

9. Borzoi

Photo credit: artbycharlotte, Pixabay
Height: 26–28 inches
Weight: 60–105 pounds
Temperament: Gentle, intelligent, and independent

Also called the Russian Wolfhound, this elegant, graceful breed has a long history as a hunting dog in Russia. They were bred for incredible speed and agility, as they were often used to hunt down larger game like wolves.

Despite their past, these dogs are quite laidback. They love humans and need plenty of companionship. They’re very gentle and do well with children, as well.

10. Tibetan Mastiff

tibetan mastiffs in the park
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock
Height: 24–26 inches
Weight: 70–150 pounds
Temperament: Protective, loyal, and independent

Originally from the Himalayas, the Tibetan Mastiff is a very protective, massive breed that was traditionally used to guard livestock and property. They are extremely big with a thick double coat that makes them look even bigger. They’re able to withstand the cold better than most dogs, which is important when you’re living in the mountains.

They are very independent and can be aloof with strangers. They’re loyal to their families, but they do require plenty of socialization to prevent aggression.

11. Peruvian Inca Orchid

Peruvian Inca Orchid
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock
Height: 10–32 inches
Weight: 9–55 pounds
Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, and lively

Also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, this breed comes in both hairless and coated varieties. They’re quite elegant and graceful dogs. However, they have a reserved personality that requires plenty of socialization. Otherwise, they can become fearful and aggressive.

These canines are pretty intelligent and can be sensitive. They attach to their family closely, but they can be prone to separation anxiety. It’s important that they learn to be alone from a young age.

12. Leonberger

happy leonberger
Image Credit: AnetaZabranska, Shutterstock
Height: 25.5–31.5 inches
Weight: 90–170 pounds
Temperament: Gentle, friendly, and trainable

The Leonberger is a giant breed originating from Germany, bred as a working and draft dog. They have a thick double coat that gives them a lion-like mane and a strong, sturdy build.

Leonbergers are gentle giants known for their affectionate nature, intelligence, and patience, making them great family companions. However, ensure you can meet their socialization and exercise needs, which can be quite high.

13. Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, pikist
Height: 8–11 inches
Weight: 4–15 pounds
Temperament: Charming, affectionate, and lively

The Japanese Chin is a toy breed known for its charming expression, luxurious coat, and elegant appearance. Originally bred as companions for Japanese nobility, they have a friendly and affectionate personality.

Japanese Chins are well-suited to indoor living and enjoy being the center of attention. They’re obviously companion dogs and enjoy spending as much time with their people as possible. However, it’s still important that they are properly trained and socialized.

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Final Thoughts

Each dog is an individual. While we’ve described some of the most exotic breeds above, these dogs may still have slightly different traits than what we’ve described. These canines are also very rare and often have a smaller gene pool. Therefore, they may be more prone to certain health conditions so be sure to adopt from a quality breeder.

While these exotic dogs can be a great option, they often are very purpose-bred. Therefore, they may not necessarily be the best option for families in some cases.

Featured Image: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

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