Whether because of geography, outdated usage, or unpopularity, there are several breeds of dog that are virtually unknown to dog lovers across the globe. Check out some of the rarest dog breeds on the planet, and let us know your favorite in the comments section!
A national treasure in Hungary, the Komondor is perhaps best known for its long, corded coat. The dreadlocks form as the dogs reach adulthood, and typically measure in at 8-11 inches long. And these coats are heavy, the heaviest in the dog world, and have historically helped make the sturdy pooches survive any number of adverse weather conditions. In Hungary, most of the two to three thousand Komondor guard livestock on farms or serve as pets in rural areas. Stateside, a similarly-sized population is primarily composed of show dogs.
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Originating in the Netherlands, the Stabyhoun originated as a versatile farm dog, helping out with hunting and serving as a watch dog. Today, the breed is extremely rare outside of its native land; even including the Netherlands, there are likely only 3,500 Stabyhouns worldwide. A friendly, intelligent and obedient dog, Stabyhouns make a great family pet.
8. Canaan Dog
The Canaan Dog has a long and storied history, with depictions of the rare breed in ancient drawings in its native Eastern Mediterranean region. Indeed, this pooch has been around since Biblical times. They’ve survived in the desert for millenia, often wild and semi-wild. In the 1930s and 1940s, the dogs were captured to be bred for military use, and use as guide dogs and pets. Today, there are only about two to three thousand worldwide.
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For centuries, Western Europeans have been breeding the Löwchen as a companion dog. The happy-go-lucky pooches were prized among people from all walks of life: from royalty to farmers. With just a few hundred registered across the globe, and under 100 in the United States, the Löwchen is undoubtedly one of the rarest dog breeds.
6. Thai Ridgeback
Outside of its native Thailand, the Thai Ridgeback was unknown up until recently — even today, just a handful of dogs exist outside of the country. The name comes from the ridge of hair on their back that grows opposite to the rest of their coat, a feature found in only two other breeds. Quite intelligent and athletic, Thai Ridgebacks are a little more in tune with their natural drivers than your average pooch.
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5. Norwegian Lundehund
In Norway, the Lundehund was originally bred to hunt puffins. Since the protection of puffins in the country, these cheerful and alert dogs have taken up the role of relatively mischievous companion dogs. World War II and the two following decades almost saw the extinction of the breed. In 1963, the six surviving Lundehunds were carefully bred, and today, there are about 1,500-2,000 worldwide.
4. American Foxhound
Though they have a storied history, in 2011, the American Foxhound breed was dead last in the American Kennel Club’s registration numbers. The breed originated with George Washington, who bred English and French foxhounds to help him with, well, fox hunting. The pooches are easygoing, mild-tempered, athletic, independent and stubborn.
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3. Glen of Imaal Terrier
Originating in Ireland, the Glen of Imaal Terrier (or Glen for short) is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. Glens tend to be stoic and inquisitive dogs, and are not nearly as excitable as other terriers. Dating back to the 19th century, the era of World War II almost saw the Glen’s extinction; it wasn’t until the 1970s that an interest in the rare breed blossomed.
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Arthur Treadwell Walden, a dog driver during Alaska’s Klondike Gold Rush, created this extremely rare breed while breeding and training sled dogs in his native New Hampshire, where it is now the official state dog. After Walden and his two successive breeders died, the breed experienced a rapid decline. Then, in 1981, with a population of only 11 breedable Chinooks, breeders across the United States stepped up to save the rare pooches. Today, only about 800 Chinooks are registered worldwide, and around 100 puppies are born each year.
Blame it on the chihuahuas if you must. In the past few decades, exotic breeds have been capturing the hearts of Brits, and several breeds of English dogs are experiencing a serious decline in popularity. And none more so than the Otterhound. That, coupled with the U.K.’s ban on otter hunting in 1978, has led the Otterhound population to dwindle, and it now holds the dubious distinction of the nation’s rarest breed.
With around 1,000 living around the world, and only 300 in the U.K., the Otterhound is rarer than the Giant Panda. Luckily, though, in March 2012, the population got a major boost: two litters with 19 puppies between them were born within a few days of each other.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons