Amazing but Rare Dog Breeds Only a True Dog Expert Would Know

Think you’re a dog expert? Then prove it! You can probably identify all the of the dog breeds you see regularly at the park, but do you know the names of obscure dog breeds? Many are just as awesome as more popular dog breeds, even if they aren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club. But you see them strolling around the city or running around the dog park a whole lot less.

Read on to test your knowledge of the most rare dog breeds.

Breed No. 1

Black Skye Terrier in the garden

This dog breed hails from an island in Scotland. | iStock.com/CaptureLight

Let’s start with a dog breed that’s rare, but not totally unheard of. The AKC reports that this medium-sized dog is typically courageous and good-tempered. The breed has a reputation for agility and strength, and also for “elegance and dignity.” These small dogs become devoted to their family members, but sometimes they have a stubborn streak. Need another clue? They were originally bred for hunting foxes on an island in Scotland.

Skye terrier

Black Skye Terrier in the garden

This is the Skye terrier. | iStock.com/CaptureLight

Breed No. 1 is the Skye terrier! According to the AKC, the breed is “plucky but dignified.” The Skye is a terrier, of course, but not the overly-hyper kind. A Skye terrier does well with long walks and vigorous play. The breed’s independence may make training a challenge, but these dogs are famously loyal and devoted. Plus, they can get along with other dogs and with children if you supervise appropriately.

Breed No. 2

American Foxhound in snow

This breed has its origins in the United States. | iStock.com/Pro16productions

The AKC reports that this dog breed has an English cousin, but was bred in the United States specifically to hunt foxes and other game. This dog is known as a scenting pack hound. In fact, they can run for many hours while chasing prey. (Expect a high energy level if you want to bring one into your home!) The AKC notes that the breed is typically easygoing but can also be stubborn and independent. Plus, these dogs need a significant amount of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

American foxhound

American Foxhounds before a hunt

This is the American foxhound. | iStock.com/BackyardProduction

Breed No. 2 is the American foxhound! The AKC notes that even though the American foxhound is one of America’s native breeds, it’s also one of the rarest. Hilariously enough, the organization reports that these dogs “could be called ‘Springsteen hounds’ because, baby, they were born to run.” They respond well to training, and they bark “when necessary.” However, they do need plenty of exercise and probably won’t take well to a sedentary lifestyle.

Breed No. 3

Portrait of dog Fila Brasileiro

This breed shares lineage with the mastiff and bloodhound. | iStock.com/Julia_Siomuha

Here’s where things start to get tricky and the breeds begin to get harder to identify. This particular dog breed is related to the mastiff and bloodhound. That lineage, Outside points out, could explain this dog’s large bones, loose skin, and smooth coat. This working breed has a reputation for excellent tracking ability. But these dogs sometimes have aggressive tempers, so you’ll need to train carefully.

Fila Brasileiro

Portrait of dog Fila Brasileiro

This is the Fila Brasileiro. | iStock.com/Julia_Siomuha

Breed No. 3 is the Fila Brasileiro! VetStreet reports that this dog, also known as the Brazilian mastiff, is powerful, intelligent, and headstrong. These dogs love spending lots of time with their families. However, he isn’t a good choice for an inexperienced dog owner. A Fila Brasileiro benefits most from having an owner who can be firm and consistent in training and socializing him.

Breed No. 4

head of a stabyhoun

This dog breed comes from the Netherlands. | iStock.com/Corinne Poleij

Next on the list we have one of the very rarest dog breeds in the world. Outside reports that this dog breed hails from Friesland, a province in the northeastern part of the Netherlands. Today, there may be as few as 4,000 of these dogs in existence. They make great hunting and guard dogs, and they’re also good at catching pests like moles and rats. They are project-oriented dogs, and enjoy being involved in whatever task you’re working on. Most have black and white coats, though a few in the Netherlands have brown and white coloring. An orange and white variety is nearly extinct.

Stabyhoun

portrait of a stabyhoun

This is the Stabyhoun. | iStock.com/Madcorona

Breed No. 4 is the Stabyhoun! The AKC reports that this medium-sized dog breed likely originates from the Spanjoel, or Spaniels, that were brought to the Netherlands during the Spanish Occupation in 1568 to 1648. The breed has talent in hunting, retrieving, and pointing. They’re also affectionate and make great family dogs. In fact, the name translates from the Dutch as “stand-by-me-dog.” Stabyhouns are eager to please their owners, and while they’re very active outside, they are calm inside the house.

Breed No. 5

White Hungarian sheepdog Mudi outdoor

This dog breed has been around for centuries. | iStock.com/UroshPetrovic

Outside reports that this Hungarian sheepdog is active and versatile. He is a talented hunter, exterminating rodents, herding sheep, and guarding a flock. Like many other herding dogs, this particular dog breed can make a great pet. But you’ll definitely need to give him space to roam and take him on long walks and jogs. This dog breed has a long history, and it’s a little difficult to pinpoint its origin because of the different nomenclature used for herding dogs in the 15th to 18th centuries.

Mudi

Mudi Dog

This is the mudi. | iStock.com/Lisa_Nagorskaya

Breed No. 5 is the mudi! The AKC notes that humans discovered this breed in rural areas of Hungary, where the dogs already had existing herding characteristics. People didn’t create the mudi to be the perfect herding dog, but bred them “by need and performance selection.” The mudi still actively herds in Hungary and can handle a flock of up to 500 sheep. Interestingly enough, the mudi is the only herding breed in which both merle and solid white coloring are found in healthy dogs.

Breed No. 6

Lagotto Romagnolo dog

This dog breed comes from Italy. | iStock.com/UroshPetrovic

According to Outside, this dog hails from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The breed was named as a lake dog, and traditionally works as a gun dog. Interestingly enough, the breed is also talented at truffle hunting — a pretty rare skill. (In fact, they’re the only purebred dogs in the world recognized as truffle searchers.) These dogs are typically easygoing and affectionate. Plus, they’re eager to please their owners, which can make training much easier than it would be with a more independent breed.

Lagotto Romagnolo

lagotto romagnolo puppy resting on a wooden floor

This is the Lagotto Romagnolo. | iStock.com/Ivan68

Breed No. 6 is the Lagotto Romagnolo! According to the AKC, this breed is curious and upbeat but not hyper. They’re easily trained and enjoy spending time with their owners. They get along with children, though the AKC recommends that you supervise your dog when he’s playing with kids (which is a good practice with any breed). This dog breed can be fairly described as “ancient,” originally hailing from the lowlands of Comacchio and the marshlands of Ravenna, Italy.

Breed No. 7

Azawakh

This dog breed hails from west Africa. | iStock.com/Animalinfo

This west African sighthound has a short coat in a variety of different colors and marking patterns, including red, sand, fawn, brindled, parti-color, blue, black, and brown. Outside reports that the breed makes a “fiercely protective” companion and an “extremely intelligent” lure courser. These elegant dogs are loyal and affectionate.

Azawakh

Azawakh Puppy exploring the beach

This is the Azawakh. | iStock.com/Animalinfo

Breed No. 7 is the Azawakh! This breed hails from the regions of the southern Sahara and the Sahel, specifically the Azawakh Valley in the border region of Mali and Niger. The AKC notes that this dog breed is also known as the Tuareg Sloughi. These dogs didn’t make their way to the United States until the 1980s, but they’ve served as the companion of nomadic people in the south Sahara for hundreds of years. These high-energy dogs toe the line between loyalty and independence and are usually affectionate, gentle, and playful with their owners.

Breed No. 8

dog breed Thai Ridgeback

This dog breed has only recently gained recognition outside its home country. | iStock.com/DevidDO

Next on the list? A dog with a distinctive coat that gives him his name. Outside reports that this particular dog breed used to be largely unknown outside of its country of origin, but the breed is slowly gaining popularity elsewhere in the world. The dog’s most distinctive feature is a ridge of hair along its back that grows in the opposite direction of the rest of its coat. According to Outside, only two other breeds have the same feature.

Thai ridgeback

Thai Ridgeback Dog is Running

This is the Thai ridgeback. | iStock.com/White_bcgrd

Breed No. 8 is the Thai ridgeback! VetStreet reports that this primitive dog breed originated in — you guessed it — Thailand. There, these dogs served as watchdogs, pulled carts, and hunted both vermin and dangerous prey. But the publication warns, “Like most primitive breeds, they can be a handful and a half to live with.” Primitive dogs, also known as pariah dogs, have distinctive physical traits, and are often both smart and independent. That makes them difficult for novice dog owners to handle.

Breed No. 9

Young Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog staying on the stairs

This dog breed comes from Louisiana. | iStock.com/Eudyptula

Many believe this dog was the first dog bred in the United States. The breed has a multi-colored or spotted coat. These dogs were traditionally used to hunt wild boar, so they need regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. But as a small breed, they don’t need the vigorous workouts you might need to provide to a bigger, more active dog breed. Need another hint? The breed gets its name from a Parish in Louisiana. In fact, this breed has been the state dog of Louisiana since 1979.

Catahoula leopard dog

Young Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog

This is the Catahoula leopard dog. | iStock.com/Eudyptula

Breed no. 9 is the Catahoula leopard dog! The AKC reports that the breed originated in north central Louisiana, near the Catahoula Lake, but it’s made its way to Venezuela and Canada, where people have found the breed’s herding skill useful. They come in numerous colors, including black, blue, blue merle, brindle, chocolate, red, red merle, white merle, yellow, and yellow merle. Dogs of this breed, which has numerous names, make a good guardians, and they typically aren’t excessively shy or aggressive. 

Breed No. 10

Norwegian Lundehund in the spring garden

This breed has skills that make him a good puffin hunter. | iStock.com/CaptureLight

Next on the list is a dog breed you might remember hearing about because of its unusual characteristics. Outside reports that this unique dog is unlike any other breed: These dogs have six toes on each foot. They can also fold their ears closed, forward, or backward at will. And they can even tip their heads backward so far that they can touch their backbone. These dogs traditionally helped their owners with puffin hunting, which might give you a clue about the part of the world they call home.

Norwegian lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund

This is the Norwegian lundehund. | iStock.com/Chaolik

Breed No. 10 is the Norwegian lundehund! The AKC characterizes these small dogs as loving, loyal, brave, tenacious, and just a little bit stubborn. The breed gets along with children and with other dogs, though the AKC recommends some supervision. The Norwegian lundehund makes a great companion for active people. In fact, the AKC names the breed “dogdom’s champion climber — the perfect hiker’s companion.”

Breed No. 11

hunting dog on the fallen tree

This dog breed looks like a fox and comes from Finland. | iStock.com/PavelRodimov

This distinctive-looking breed is easy to recognize once you’ve first encountered one of these dogs. Thanks to its bushy tail, dense coat, and erect ears, Outside notes that this breed resembles a fox. Plus, the breed’s coloring ranges from “pale honey” to “deep auburn.” The breed has a reputation for speed and intelligence., and these little dogs are very active and game to play, run, and explore with you.

Finnish Spitz

hunting dog

This is the Finnish Spitz. | iStock.com/PavelRodimov

Breed No. 11 is the Finnish Spitz! According to the AKC, these dogs are courageous, friendly, and faithful. They look a lot like foxes, standing between 15 and 20 inches at the shoulder. Finnish Spitzes love running and playing with their owners. This breed is the national dog of Finland, and the history of the breed goes back several thousand years. The AKC explains, “About that time, two sportsmen from Helsinki observed the pure native dogs, realized their many virtues, and returned home with superior specimens in an effort to salvage the breed.”

Breed No. 12

The typical Swedish Vallhund

This dog breed comes from Sweden. | iStock.com/CaptureLight

Another obscure breed that most people have’t encountered before, this small dog is a lot more athletic than he looks. Outside reports that this breed excels in obedience, agility, tracking, herding, and flyball. Plus, these dogs are traditionally used on the farm for herding. They come in a variety of different colors. And their tail length also varies from a bobtail to a full curl tail.

Swedish vallhund

Swedish Vallhund at Beach

This is the Swedish vallhund. | iStock.com/Horsesdogscats

Breed No. 12 is the Swedish vallhund! According to the AKC, the Swedish Vallhund is “a timeless breed, as comfortable in a suburban backyard as they were on the prow of Viking longships 1,200 years ago.” These dogs are sociable and intelligent. This breed is also eager to please and relatively easy to train. And even though they stay very active, they also “settle down nicely for cuddle time.”

Read More: The 21 Easiest Dog Breeds to Own

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