Dogs are one of the most common pets in the world, especially in America. More than half of American households own a dog. In total, 63.4 million US households1 have a dog. That makes them the most popular American pet by far.
According to the American Kennel Club,2 Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dogs in the country since 1991. Most dog people know a Lab when they see one, as is the same with most of the highly popular pooches, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Bulldogs. While we wouldn’t call any of those breeds boring, they’re certainly not that exciting anymore. We’ve all seen them before, but the following 25 breeds are a different story altogether. There are many on this list that you’ve likely never heard of or seen before. These 25 breeds are the rarest on Earth.
The 25 Rarest Dog Breeds in the World
An African sighthound that stands up to 29 inches tall but weighs no more than 44 pounds, the Azawakh is a slender, tall dog with proportions similar to a Greyhound but with a straighter back. Not officially recognized by the AKC, the Azawakh is an ancient breed hailing from the Sahara Desert region.
2. Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terriers are dogs in sheeps’ clothing. They look like they’re wearing a sheep’s coat, but underneath, these are athletic and agile dogs. Before owning one, you have to understand just how energetic they are, as you must provide a large yard and lots of exercise for a member of these rare dogs.
3. Biewer Terrier
Representing the 197th breed added to the official AKC registry, the Biewer Terrier just became an official AKC breed in 2020. As the newest AKC official breed, they just haven’t had time to expand much. These dogs are still very rare, but you can likely expect to start seeing their numbers expand quickly.
4. Carolina Dog
Still part of the Foundation Stock Service and still not officially recognized by the AKC, the Carolina Dog is a reserved breed of moderate size. They’re descended from the dogs that came to North America by crossing the Bering land bridge, making the breed quite ancient, despite their lack of official recognition. While being similar in appearance to dingoes, these dogs are true Canis familiaris members, unlike Dingoes, which are not. However, all of them are members of the Canidae family.
5. Catahoula Leopard Dog
Unrecognized officially by the AKC as of yet, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is a rather sizable breed that’s adored for the many eye colors and patterns its members sport. This is the only breed to originate in Louisiana, and they’re known for making great guard dogs, watchdogs, and companion pets.
It’s estimated that there are only 200 Catalburun canines in existence. Smart and devoted animals with great natural hunting and tracking abilities, the Catalburun is a great dog all the way around. However, there’s one feature that really stands out on this breed, which is the double nose that these dogs have. Their noses are essentially forked, as if each nostril were its own separate nose.
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7. Cesky Terrier
Loaded with energy but still calmer than the average terrier breed, Cesky Terriers are the national dog of the Czech Republic. They’re great companions; smart and thrill-seeking. These dogs are a great fit for everyone from the kids to the grandparents. But they’re not very popular, or maybe they’re just so rare that no one knows them. The Cesky Terrier is ranked 185 in popularity among 197 dog breeds, making them one of the least popular breeds of all right now.
Ranked five spots lower than the Cesky Terrier at 190 of 197 breeds, the Chinook is a hard-working breed with above-average intelligence and patience. These dogs aim to please, making them easier to train. Unfortunately, this breed is nearly extinct. Among recognized AKC breeds, the Chinook is one of the scarcest.
9. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
With elongated bodies set atop stubby little legs, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier looks like a Dachshund cross. They stand about 11 inches tall and weigh into the low 20s, but they’re deceptively tough, as they were bred for exterminating vermin.
10. English Foxhound
Receiving recognition as the 62nd AKC official breed in 1909, the English Foxhound is an old breed with a lot of history. Strong, sturdy, and graceful with all-day endurance, this Foxhound is a great hunter. They’ve got girthy chests to house large lungs for hunting all day. Plus, they’ve got the muscles to match. The prey drive of this breed is incredibly strong, as they’re hardwired for the hunt.
11. Estrela Mountain Dog
With specimens reaching heights of 29 inches and weighing as much as 132 pounds, Estrela Mountain Dogs are some gargantuan pooches. They were bred for guarding livestock, which they excel at. Today, it’s been shown that they’re just as adequate at guarding humans, and they bond for life with their family. It’s believed that they’re the oldest breed from the Estrela Mountains of Portugal.
12. Fila Brasileiro
Bred for hunting large game, Filas are fierce-looking dogs that are known for being incredibly loyal to their family. Also known as the Brazilian Mastiff or Brazilian Bloodhound, this breed is banned in several countries for perceived aggression. They can weigh up to 180 pounds and stand up to 30 inches in height, making them quite dangerous if one were to become aggressive.
13. Finnish Spitz
The Finnish Spitz is an officially recognized breed by the AKC, though they’re ranked 184th in popularity. This breed has fox-like features and even a reddish coloring similar to a red fox. Vocal, alert, and never shy with strangers, these dogs have a wide range of vocalizations they can emit, which they love to show off every chance they get.
14. Karelian Bear Dog
Weighing in at less than 50 pounds, the Karelian Bear Dog certainly isn’t bear-sized. However, they’re adept, independent hunters that are used for tracking and killing big game. This breed is confident and silent until they’ve achieved their goal, only barking once the prey animal is trapped.
15. Lagotto Romagnolo
Of all the breeds on this list that are fully recognized by the AKC, the Lagotto Romagnolo is probably the most popular, ranked 99 out of 197. They’re known as the “truffle dog,” because they’re known for having a sharp sense of smell that helps them root out truffles. Their bodies are covered in short, wooly curls all over. Though they look like cuddly stuffed animals, these dogs are tough and built for hard work.
Mudis have been around since the 1800s, though they’re not as of yet recognized as an official breed by the AKC. Unlike many breeds, the Mudi is thought to be a natural breed, occurring through the natural crossing of the Puli, the German Spitz, and the Pumi. These dogs are exceedingly rare, with less than a few thousand remaining specimens worldwide.
17. New Guinea Singing Dog
This ancient breed is found only in the New Guinea Highlands, located on the island of New Guinea. Closely related to the dingo, the New Guinean Singing dogs are known to produce some unique vocal sounds.
18. Norwegian Lundehund
Ranked just a few spots from the bottom of the AKC’s most popular list, the Norwegian Lundehund is a small spitz-type dog that somewhat resembles a Chihuahua. Despite the similar appearance, this breed is unique with some features that set it apart, such as having six toes and extra paw pads on their feet! Or how about an elastic neck that can spin around and touch the head to the spine? These are traits of the Norwegian Lundehund, which might be why they’re not too popular.
Loud and large with lots of energy, Otterhounds are dogs built for hunting otters. They’re adept swimmers with waterproof coats and webbed feet. Thanks to massive chests with large lungs and powerful shoulders, these dogs can swim all day without getting tired. And they have massive noses that can sense otters underwater over impressive distances.
20. Peruvian Inca Orchid
This interesting breed comes in three sizes, the smallest of which can be less than 10 inches tall, while the largest can reach heights of more than 25 inches. Weight discrepancies are just as massive, ranging from 8.5 pounds to 55 pounds. The Peruvian Inca Orca sighthounds are odd to see because they’re usually hairless and can have skin of any color.
Stabyhouns were bred to hunt on their own, killing rodents and rabbits that were damaging farmers’ crops. As such, they’re very independent pups with strong prey drives. They’re also very inquisitive, which can often lead to trouble. These are considered to be all-around dogs, able to hunt, retrieve, and point. Though not yet recognized as an official breed by the AKC, they are part of the Foundation Stock Service.
22. Swedish Vallhund
Ranked 169 out of 197 in popularity according to the AKC, the Swedish Vallhund is an ancient Viking dog. These herders are smart and full of energy, known for their rugged nature and cheerful temperament.
The Telomian breed is so rare that the AKC doesn’t even recognize it in their Foundation Stock Service. These dogs are found only in select isolated villages. You’ll find these villages located along the Telom River, in the middle of the rainforests that cover this part of the Malay Peninsula. But these dogs aren’t entirely domesticated or wild. Rather, they’re pariah dogs, and not really their own breed at all.
24. Thai Ridgeback
Sleek and compact, the Thai Ridgeback is covered in muscle, yet manages to remain completely streamlined. Their athletic prowess is well-known. The breed is named for the ridge pattern the breed displays where the hair on the bridge of the dog’s back grows in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat. There are eight different ridge patterns that a Thai ridgeback can exhibit. Excellent hunters and guard dogs, members of this breed are known to be self-sufficient and highly intelligent with a strong prey drive.
25. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the few dogs on this list recognized by the AKC that’s not at the very bottom of their popularity rankings. This breed is ranked 131 out of 197 for popularity, so they’re definitely not one of the more popular breeds. What’s special about this breed is its overwhelming size of up to 150 pounds for a male. Unlike many massive breeds, Tibetan Mastiffs can easily live for more than 10 years and is one of the rarest dogs in the world.
Dogs are one of the most common creatures around. We interact with them often. For some, interaction with a canine is an everyday occurrence, but not every type of dog is as commonplace as the next. Some breeds are downright rare, and seeing one anywhere other than your computer or phone screen would be a special happening. You’ve just read about 25 such breeds. Some of them are nearly extinct, and others have been close in the pas, yet all of these breeds are as rare as canines come.