11 Dog Breeds You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

There are quite a few rare and not readily known dog breeds. Some are not fully recognized by the AKC, while others are. My favorite among the rare breeds is the Swedish Vallhund, because it looks a lot like a rogue corgi!

With names like the Xoloitzcuintli and Kooikerhondje, these breeds often seem quite exotic, but many have roots similar to the common breeds that you see today. Don’t ask me how to pronounce some of the names, because I don’t know!

Here are 11 of my favorite rare dog breeds:

  • Rare Dog Breeds 1 of 12

    Meet 11 rare and unusual dog breeds. The three pictured above are particular favorites of mine. Click through to find out more about them!


    Photo Credits: Hans-Werner NeumannMebrett, and Lovisa.

  • Swedish Vallhund 2 of 12

    This is my favorite rare breed, because it looks like wolf corgi! The Swedish Vallhund has been around since the time of the Vikings. They are fearless and sturdy, and known to be great farm dogs and cattle herders. They are also loyal, affectionate and active. They are great at canine sports. Learn more at the Swedish Vallhund Club of America.


    Photo Credit: Mebrett

  • Catahoula Leopard Dog 3 of 12

    If you are from Louisiana, you likely know this pup, as it is your state's official dog! The breed is believed to have found its roots in northern Louisiana. It is a very attractive and sturdy dog bred to herd livestock. The breed is not eligible for American Kennel Club registration, but it can compete in events that do not require registration, such as agility, obedience, and rally O. As a bright and athletic dog, it would do well in those events. The breed is known for being strong and independent, so good training is a must. The breed also requires a lot of exercise. Learn more at Vet Street.


    Photo Credit: Cherie Damron

  • Lundehund 4 of 12

    The Lundehund (left) was recognized as an official American Kennel Club breed in 2011. The dog is known for being a terrific pet with an even disposition and playful nature. It also requires minimal grooming. Sounds perfect if you can find one! It originated in the arctic of Norway as a retriever of live Puffin birds of all things. When the Puffin became a protected species in the 1800's, the breed numbers dwindled, but it was saved from near extinction after World War II. Yet its numbers remain limited. Learn more at the AKC Lundehund page. Also in this picture is the rare breed Entlebucher Mountain Dog (right), which is much like a short hair Bernese Mountain Dog.


    Photo Credit: Pets Adviser,

  • Xoloitzcuintli 5 of 12

    Considered one of the rarest dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo for short) is also one of the oldest. It is believed that the Xolo accompanied man on the first migrations across the Bering Straits. The name is Aztec in origin. The Xolo is often referred to as the Mexican hairless dog, although there is also a coated variety. Known as a calm, tranquil, and attentive dog, it makes a great pet. Learn more at the AKC Xoloitzcuintli page.


    Photo Credit: Pets Adviser,

  • Hovawart 6 of 12

    The Hovawart is an old German breed. It looks a lot like a golden retriever, but with tri-color markings. Known as a working dog, its name means yard or farm watchman. They are very devoted dogs, good for families, but they require sufficient activity. The breed is rare, and it's not able to be registered with the American Kennel Club at this time. Learn more at the Hovawart Club of North America.  

    Photo Credit: Hans-Werner Neumann

  • Kooikerhondje 7 of 12

    The Kooikerhondje originated in Europe hundreds of years ago. This little spaniel type of dog was originally bred to lure ducks into traps in The Netherlands. It also became a favorite of Dutch nobility and appears in paintings by Dutch Masters. The breed is working on American Kennel Club recognition. It is still a rare breed outside of Europe. Learn more at the Kooikerhondje Club of the USA.


    Photo Credit: Pets Adviser,

  • Schapendoes 8 of 12

    The Schapendoes originated in the Netherlands where they were primarily used for herding sheep. Their numbers decreased as border collies became more popular. They have a pleasant disposition and make good family pets. Learn more that the AKC Schapendoes Page.



    Photo Credit: Lovisa

  • Lancashire Heeler 9 of 12

    These adorable little dogs are herders from England. Fifty to sixty years ago, they were very common on English farms for catching rodents and moving the livestock, but later their numbers dwindled. They are now a rare breed but are making a comeback. Learn more at the United States Lancashire Heeler Club.



    Photo Credit: Seth Anderson

  • Azawakh 10 of 12

    The Azawakh excels at canine sports such as lure coursing. It is a West African sight hound and is known for being a great companion. The breed has great endurance and is traditionally known as being useful as a protector of flocks and as a hunter. The breed debuted in America in the 1980s. Learn more at the AKC Azawakh page.


    Photo Credit: cayenne2006

  • Mudi 11 of 12

    The Mudi is a herding dog that hails from Hungary and has been in existence since the nineteenth century. Considered a very rare breed, with only a few thousand worldwide, the dogs are active, intelligent, and hard working. The breed excels at agility, obedience,  flyball, and other sports. They are friendly and playful. The breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, but you can learn more at the Mudi Club of America.


    Photo Credit: Diana


  • Pumi 12 of 12

    The Pumi is a close relative of the Mudi and another herding dog, the Puli. Pumis have fun, floppy ear tips, that I just love. They are very active and intelligent, making them good at canine sports, but they also require good training. Learn more at the Hungarian Pumi Club of America.


    Photo Credit: Pets

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