The 30 Most Unusual and Uncommon Dog Breeds

© Ershov_Andrey/

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Published: May 5, 2024

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You’re probably familiar with popular breeds like Labrador retrievers, poodles, bulldogs, and golden retrievers. But did you know that the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes at least 200 different dog breeds — including many you’ve likely never even heard of. Let’s explore the most unusual and uncommon dog breeds out there!

1. Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo)

Xoloitzcuintli playing on the beach.

Xolos come in many different sizes.

©Kalinina Maria/

The Xoloitzuintli, or Xolo for short, dates back thousands of years and was revered by the ancient Aztecs. While some Xolos have fur, most are hairless or nearly hairless, with just a touch of hair on their heads, tails, or feet. 

2. Komondor

running the Hungarian Sheepdog Komondor. High quality photo

The Komondor is a Hungarian guardian dog.


With its unusual corded coat, the Komondor looks a bit like a four-legged mop, but don’t let that fool you. Komondorok are surprisingly agile and lightning-fast! 

3. Ibizan Hound

Ibizan Hound standing posed to perfection

The Ibizan hound originated on the Balearic Islands of Spain.

©Sally Wallis/

Ibizan hounds may look serious, but they have very playful personalities. These intelligent dogs are amazing problem solvers and escape artists who will always keep you entertained. 

4. Cirneco dell’Etna

the puppy cirneco is standing on the sand

Cirneco dell’Etna are loyal and gentle dogs.

©undefined undefined/iStock via Getty Images

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an unusual and uncommon Italian breed named after the Mount Etna volcano in Sicily. These lithe and slender dogs are unusual outside Italy

5. Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz standing in field

The Finnish spitz is a very vocal dog.


A national treasure of Finland, the Finnish spitz is a stunning red dog with an elegantly curved tail. These uncommon dogs look like foxes with their pointed ears, long snouts, and gorgeous double coats of golden-red fur. 

6. Otterhound

Rare breeds of dogs - Otterhound

Otter hunting is now illegal.


The otterhound is a shaggy sweetheart with an affectionate and even-tempered personality. During Medieval times these unusual dogs were bred for otter hunting with uniquely webbed feet for swimming. Unfortunately, today the otterhound is a rare and vulnerable native breed.

7. Mudi

Stunning nice totally black Hungarian Mudi, outside on a sunny summer day with green grass background.

There are only a few hundred mudi dogs in the United States.


Accepted by the AKC in 2022, the mudi is an all-purpose dog from Hungary. Mudi dogs are intelligent and energetic companions who are always up for an adventure with their favorite human. 

8. Lagotto Romagnolo

Types of water dogs - Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo dogs are strong and hardy.


The Lagotto Romagnolo is a sweet Italian breed originally bred as a hunting and water dog. Today, these curly-coated canines are also beloved family members. Some people even use them as highly prized truffle hunters! 

9. Canaan Dog

canaan dog playing

The Canaan dog is the national dog of Israel.

©Aneta Jungerova/

This unusual and uncommon breed has an ancient ancestry with roots in the Middle East. With a dingo-like, wild appearance, Canaan dogs have amazing skills in herding and various dog sports. 

10. Azawakh

Rare breeds of dogs - Azawakh

Azawakh dogs are calm and happy to hang out around the house with their humans.


Originating in West Africa, the Azawakh is a regal breed with a tall and slender body. Fueled by a high prey drive and seemingly endless energy, these dogs transform into calm and fiercely loyal companions with their families. 

11. Peruvian Inca Orchid

black peruvian inca orchid standing on the stones

Peruvian Inca orchid dogs are affectionate and loyal.


Like their name, these unusual and uncommon canines have a history linked to the Incan Empire. Some Peruvian Inca orchid dogs may have tufts of hair on their heads, feet, or tails. However, most are completely hairless. 

12. Sloughi (Arabian Greyhound)

A brown Sloughi dog (Arabian greyhound) stands on top of a sand dune in the Sahara desert of Morocco.

Sloughi dogs are sensitive and need positively reinforced training.

©Rosa Frei/

A regal sighthound from North Africa, the sloughi has a greyhound-like build. Bred for hunting and guardianship, these sleek dogs are often aloof and reserved with strangers. However, they form strong bonds with their families. 

13. Norwegian Lundehund

Rare breeds of dogs - Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian lundehunds can turn their legs out for better mobility.


Like its name, the Norwegian lundehund comes from Norway where it was originally bred to hunt puffins along the rocky coast. These unusual dogs have incredibly flexible joints and six toes on each paw (compared to the usual four)

14. Chinook


Chinook dogs need plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy.


The chinook, an uncommon and nearly extinct dog breed, originated in New Hampshire as a sled dog. These powerful canines are as hardworking as they are eager to please. They are also calm and do well with families, children, and other dogs. 

15. Cesky Terrier

Types of terrier dogs

The Cesky terrier is the national dog of the Czech Republic.

©Dora Zett/

These feisty canines were bred for hunting in Bohemian forests with short legs and sturdy bodies. Cesky terriers are intelligent, clever dogs that love to be challenged.

16. Skye Terrier

Black Skye Terrier sitting on grass

The Skye terrier is one of the most uncommon terrier breeds in the world.

©Lourdes Photography/

Hailing from the Isle of Skye, these charming dogs have served as beloved companions of European royalty, including Queen Victoria and Mary Queen of Scots. However, today Skye terriers are endangered in the UK.

17. Belgian Laekenois 

Rarest Dogs: Belgian Laekenois

Belgian Laekenois dogs have a lot of energy to burn.


The Belgian Laekenois is a sporty dog with curly fur. Although affectionate companions, they need lots of mental and physical activity and enrichment and are always on the move. 

18. Bedlington Terrier

Types of terrier dogs

Many Bedlington terriers love playing in the snow.


The Bedlington terrier may look like a cute little lamb, but it’s actually an uncommon and unusual dog breed from Northumberland, England. These curly-coated chambers are true working dogs, excelling in activities like dog sports, hunting, racing, and even swimming. 

19. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Rarest Dogs: Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont terriers have mustard- or pepper-colored coats.


The Dandie Dinmont terrier stands out with its short legs, long body, and impressive hairdo. Despite their regal appearance, these terriers are hardy, tough, and determined. However, unlike other terrier breeds, Dandie Dinmonts are usually more calm. 

20. Estrela Mountain Dog

Dogs similar to St Bernards - Estrela mountain dog lies down exhausted after a day at work

Estrela mountain dogs need lots of space.

©Oliver OB/

A large and formidable breed from the Estrela Mountains of Portugal, Estrela mountain dogs are calm and courageous canines. Their impressive size, intelligence, and alertness make them excellent police dogs. 

21. Hovawart


Hovawart dogs need lots of time and attention from their owners.

© Zett

A versatile working dog, the hovawart is an uncommon and unusual breed from Germany. While their guarding instincts and work ethic make them excellent family companions and working partners, Hovawarts are not recommended for first-time dog owners. 

22. Kai Ken

Kai Ken in a River

Kai Ken dogs are excellent watchdogs.

©Lindsay VG/

A spitz-type dog breed from Japan, the Kai Ken or Tora Inu (tiger dog) has a unique brindle (stripe) coat. This ancient breed was trained to hunt wild boar, deer, and even bears. 

23. Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Stunning nice fluffy sable white Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, on a sunny day.

Nederlandse kooikerhondje dogs love being the center of attention.


The Nederlandse kooikerhondje, a small spaniel-type breed from the Netherlands, is a beautiful dog with silky white and orange fur. Although originally bred for duck hunting, these dogs are sweet, affectionate, and playful. 

24. Pyrenean Shepherd

Shepherd Dog - Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean shepherds are naturally gifted herding dogs.


Built for the challenging terrain of the Pyrenees Mountains, the Pyrenean shepherd is a big ball of energy. These agile dogs are also intelligent and need plenty of mental enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. 

25. Stabyhoun (Stabijhoun)

Beautiful Frisian Stabyhoun sitting in a field of flowers.

The stabyhoun’s name means “stand by [me] dog”.

©Max Jongkoen/

One of the most uncommon and unusual dog breeds in the world is the stabyhoun. These affectionate dogs come from the Friesland province of the Netherlands, where they were bred as versatile working dogs. 

26. Swedish Vallhund

Portrait of typical Swedish Vallhund in the grass during an agility training.

Swedish vallhunds may have sailed with the Vikings!

©Marcel van den Bos/

With a history going back at least 1,000 years, the Swedish vallhund is a very uncommon and unusual breed. These compact, short-legged canines were originally bred for herding livestock. They also have friendly and playful personalities. 

27. Thai Ridgeback

Thai ridgeback dog

Thai ridgebacks are powerful dogs originally bred for work and hunting.


Originally from Thailand, the Thai ridgeback has a striking, reversed ridge of fur running down its back. This unique feature makes the dog’s coat stand out, with the ridge growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the hair. 

28. Bergamasco Sheepdog

Bergamasco sheepdog laying in the grass

Many Bergamasco sheepdogs bond with one particular human companion.


The first thing you’ll notice about a Bergamasco sheepdog is its stellar fur coat. Unlike most dogs, these Italian herders don’t really shed. Instead, their fur shapes into dense mats (or “flocks”).

29. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Polish Lowland Sheepdog isolated on a white background.

Polish lowland sheepdogs are intelligent and can have quite the stubborn streak.

©Paul Cotney/

The Polish lowland sheepdog sports an impressively shaggy coat that complements its strong, muscular build. Originally bred for herding, these uncommon and unusual dogs can thrive in apartments as long as their exercise and mental needs are met. 

30. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

Studio shot of an adorable Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen looking curiously - isolated on grey background.

“Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen” translates to mean “large, low, shaggy dog of the Vendéen region”.

©Csanad Kiss/

The grand basset griffon Vendéen (or GBGV), comes from France’s Vendéen region, where it was bred to hunt anything from small rabbits to wild boar. Despite their tough and powerful physiques, however, GBGVs are calm, patient, and affectionate dogs. 

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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