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20 Rarest Dog Breeds (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are some of the most popular dog breeds, often the choice for families and individuals looking for an obedient, loyal canine. While both can be beautiful and get some looks around the park, they’re common dogs that don’t have the appeal of rare dogs. There are some breeds that are so rare that most people haven’t heard of them, especially those that aren’t yet recognized as breeds yet. If you’re looking for a very rare breed that will catch many people’s eyes, here are the 20 rarest dog breeds in the world:

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1. New Guinea Singing Dog

Height 12 – 18 inches
Weight 20 – 32 pounds
Temperament Intelligent, resourceful, independent
Energy HIGH

One of the oldest dog breeds in the world, New Guinea Singing Dogs are related to dingoes and have similar appearances. These basal dogs got their names due to their unique howl, which changes in frequency and has a haunting, melodic feel to it.


2. Telomian

Height 15 – 19 inches
Weight 18 – 29 pounds
Temperament Alert, Loyal, Adaptable
Energy HIGH

Telomians are not actually recognized by any major kennel club and were rejected by the Malaysian Kennel Club as a breed due to their status as a pariah dog (somewhat “wild” dogs that live amongst humans in Asia). Telomians are spitz-like in appearance, looking quite similar to the Basenji.


3. Schapendoes

Height 16 – 20 inches
Weight 26 – 45 pounds
Temperament Obedient, Loyal, Intelligent
Energy Moderate to High

Schapendoes dogs, also named Dutch Sheepdogs, are Dutch-based dogs that were once bred for herding purposes. These medium-sized sheepdogs are great family pets and enjoy a wide variety of activities, from hiking to canine sports.


4. Xiasi Dog

Height 17 – 20 inches
Weight 25 – 65 pounds
Temperament Friendly, Sociable, Loyal
Energy Moderate

 On the brink of total extinction, Xiasi Dogs are rugged, small shaggy dogs that hail from the Xiasi village in the Guizhou Prefecture in China. Xiasi dogs are believed to bring wealth to their families, so many villagers keep these friendly, happy-go-lucky dogs.


5. Stabyhoun

Height 20 – 22 inches
Weight 44 – 55 pounds
Temperament Friendly, Sociable, Loyal
Energy High

One of the rarest dog breeds in the world and native to the Dutch province of Friesland, Stabyhouns are excellent hunters and great family pets. ‘Stabys,’ as they’re often called, are independent hunters and will follow any hint of prey, so it’s important to keep an eye on them before they’re gone from sight.


6. Chongqing dog

 

Height 12 – 18 inches
Weight 30 – 55 pounds
Temperament Loyal, Protective, Brave
Energy Moderate

Chongqing dogs might be nearly 2,000 years old, but it’s hard to know exactly when they started showing up in Chinese history. Fiercely loyal and potentially aggressive when spotting a threat, Chongqing dogs are natural guard dogs that are wary of strangers.


7. Azawakh

azawakh-dog-running
Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Height 24 – 29 inches
Weight 33 – 55 pounds
Temperament Lively, Affectionate, Tenacious
Energy HIGH

With speeds that rival the Greyhound, Azawakh dogs are a rare breed of sighthound from Africa that can outrun most dogs. These fast, agile dogs can be quite protective since they were bred for guarding and hunting, so early socialization is crucial to prevent aggression.


8. Chinook

australian-cattle-dog
Credit: suzieh870, Shutterstock
Height 21 – 27 inches
Weight 55 – 90 pounds
Temperament Athletic, Friendly, Gentle
Energy HIGH

Chinook dogs are the state dog of New Hampshire, created by an innkeeper looking for a sled dog without the unpredictable natures of huskies and malamutes. Although they’re not recognized by the AKC, Chinooks are a popular breed due to their gentler, calmer temperaments.


9. Kai Ken

ken kai
Image Credit: Melissa Grisham, Shutterstock
Height 17 – 22 inches
Weight 30 – 40 pounds
Temperament Alert, Brave, Reserved
Energy HIGH

A rare breed from Japan, Kai Ken dogs, are intelligent dogs with a knack for hunting and watching over their property. Though they’re not aggressive towards people, Kai Ken dogs bond very strongly with their families and are naturally reserved with new people and strangers.


10. Xoloitzcuintli

Height 10 – 14 inches; 14 – 18 inches; 18 – 23 inches
Weight 10 – 15 pounds; 15 – 30 pounds; 30 – 55 pounds
Temperament Alert, Loyal, Intelligent
Energy Moderate to High

 Xoloitzcuintli dogs, also called Mexican Hairless dogs, are an ancient breed of dog that dates back to nearly 3,000 years ago. Coming in three official sizes (toy, miniature, standard), they’re highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and make excellent watchdogs.


11. Otterhound

Height 23 – 27 inches
Weight  64 – 110 pounds
Temperament Playful, Noble, Vocal
Energy Moderate

 One of the older breeds from Great Britain, Otterhounds, are playful sheepdogs on the verge of extinction. They’re very playful and affectionate in temperament, but they’re mostly known for their deep, howling bays that can travel quite far.


12. Thai Ridgeback

Height 20 – 25 inches
Weight 35 – 75 pounds
Temperament Protective, Brave, Independent
Energy HIGH

While the Rhodesian Ridgeback is uncommon, the Thai Ridgeback is even rarer and coveted for the stripe of backward-running fur along their spines. Hardworking dogs that originated in Thailand, these canines are naturally protective of their families.


13. Bedlington Terrier

bedlington-terrier_No-longer-here_Pixabay
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay
Height 15 – 18 inches
Weight 17 – 23 pounds
Temperament Curious, Companionable, Active
Energy Moderate to High

Like little sheep running around, Bedlington Terriers are mostly famous for their wooly, sheep-like coats and floppy ears. Less spontaneous and more reliable than some other terrier breeds, these lamb dogs are exceptional athletes and companion pets.


14. Finnish Spitz

Finnish-Lapphund
Image Credit: Scandphoto, Shutterstock
Height 15 – 20 inches
Weight 15 – 29 pounds
Temperament Vocal, Spirited, Loyal
Energy HIGH

Known for their signature barking and classic Spitz looks, Finnish Spitzes originated from Finland to hunt all sorts of game. If they’re not trained very early to control their barking, Finnish Spitz will be vocal about everything they see, smell or hear.


15. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dog
Image Credit: B Young, Shutterstock
Height 20 – 24 inches
Weight  35 – 100 pounds
Temperament Active, Determined, Inquisitive
Energy HIGH

Recognized as the state dog of Louisiana, Catahoula Leopard Dogs are farm dogs that can make great hunting dogs and family pets. Despite their high levels of energy and somewhat independent temperaments, these large spotted dogs are loving and affectionate.


16. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto-Romagnolo
Image Credit: Cemmerton, Pixabay
Height 16 – 19 inches
Weight 24 – 35 pounds
Temperament Trainable, Friendly, Affectionate
Energy  Moderate

The purebred dogs that are registered truffle-hunting dogs, Lagotto Romagnolos are starting to become more popular around the world. They’re famous for their serious knack for finding truffles, as well as their gentle, easy-going temperaments as family pets.


17. Hovawart

Hovawart-closeup
Image Credit: Pikist
Height 23 – 28 inches
Weight  55 – 88 pounds
Temperament Obedient, Protective, Dependable
Energy Moderate to High

Sometimes mistaken for Golden Retriever depending on the coat color, Hovawarts are more serious and wary of strangers. These sturdy, hardy dogs were bred to watch over farms and homesteads, showing exceptional obedience and dependability as working dogs.


18. Blue Lacy Dog

Height 18 – 21 inches
Weight 30 – 50 pounds
Temperament  Intelligent, Devoted, Active
Energy HIGH

The official state dog of Texas, Blue Lacy Dogs are reliable working dogs that do best on a vast homestead or farm setting. These natural hunters are athletic and need lots of exercise to be happy, but they’re intuitive with their owners and can be quite affectionate.


19. Boerboel

boerboel_ Jan Steiner_Pixabay
Image Credit: Jan Steiner, Pixabay
Height  23 – 28 inches
Weight  120 – 170 pounds
Temperament Serious, Protective, Loyal
Energy Moderate

Originating in South Africa, Boerboels are protective and territorial Mastiff-type dogs. These massive canines need to be part of the family and require a very experienced dog owner since they are dominant dogs that will quickly take over the home if they’re able to.


20. Tibetan Mastiff

tibetan-mastiff
Image: Sergey Lavrentev, Shutterstock
Height 24 – 30 inches
Weight 75 – 160 pounds
Temperament  Self-assured, Watchful, Aloof
Energy Moderate

Imposing in size and serious in demeanor, Tibetan Mastiffs are rare, Mastiff-type dogs that wary of strangers and protective of their families. Playful and gentle with children from their families, Tibetan Mastiffs need a lot of early socialization if your household has guests and relatives over often.


Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.