by Melody Keilig

We all love our dogs, no matter what breed they are or if they’re purebred or have a diverse mix of multiple breeds. But do you ever wonder about the dog breeds that are rarely seen, if at all? 

Even the most dedicated dog lovers have probably never heard of these twelve of the rarest dogs on the planet!

1. Canaan

The Canaan dog breed is found throughout the Middle East in countries like Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. This breed resembles the German Shepard in appearance with some distinct differences, such as its lighter coloring and curled tail. As of 2012, it’s estimated that only 2,000 to 3,000 Canaan dogs exist in the world.

2. Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian breed that originated in the Delta del Po marshlands in the eastern part of Italy. The name of this dog comes from the Romagnol dialect, can lagòt, which translates to “water dog.” Traditionally, this breed is used as a hunting dog for waterfowl but is mostly used today to hunt for truffles. This dog breed is considered one of the oldest in the world, with literary references dating back to the 1400s!

3. Azawakh

The Azawakh is a dog breed from the region of West Africa that is found in several countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The Azawakh gets its name from the Azawagh Valley of West Africa. This dog breed is tall, slim, and resembles a Greyhound in appearance. It is estimated that there are only about 1,000 Azawakh dogs left in the world.

4. Mudi

The Mudi is a herding dog from Hungary, where they were first discovered in 1936. To this day, they are a favored working companion for farmers for their loyalty and protection of livestock. They’re a very energetic and active breed, so they’re often used for various dog sports for their agility. It’s believed that there are no more than a few thousand Mudi dogs found in the world today.

5. Chinook

The Chinook is a dog breed that originated in New Hampshire in the United States during the early 20th century. In fact, it’s known as the official state dog of New Hampshire! The Chinook was bred as a sledding dog for expeditions. Today, this dog is mostly found as a family pet, but some are still used in recreational activities like Skijoring and other dog sports. Only about 100 Chinook puppies are born every year, making this one of the rarest dog breeds in the world.

6. Peruvian Inca Orchid

Famously known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is native to the country of Peru in South America. Although it’s considered a household pet today, it holds cultural significance to the country as a national symbol. The origins of this breed date all the way back to 750 AD! There are only around 1,000 of these dogs in the world today.

7. Otterhound

The Otterhound is a dog breed from Britain, specifically in the Northwest region of England. Originally bred for hunting, the Otterhound can track prey on land and water with its extremely sensitive nose. They are especially unique with their double coat and webbed feet! In 2012, it was estimated that there were only 600 otterhounds in the world. It’s considered to be the most endangered native breed in Britain today.

8. Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier is a breed from Scotland, getting its name from the Isle of Skye islands near the region. This breed is the oldest terrier breed, dating back 400 years! The Skye Terrier was originally bred to hunt vermin, which explains its low appearance on the ground. They’re also known for their exquisite coat and loyalty, as well as their sudden favorability by the British upper classes. In fact, it is reported that Mary, Queen of Scots, snuck her Skye Terrier beneath her petticoats to accompany her to her own execution in 1567! 

9. Tibetan Mastiff

This dog breed was originally bred in the Himalayan Mountains to guard the nomads of Tibet, as well as stand guard at Tibetan monasteries. They’re known for their large appearance, loyalty, independence, stubbornness, and easy-going nature. Tibetan Mastiffs are fantastic working dogs, as they can get easily bored with nothing to do. With its hefty coat of fur, this breed sheds heavily once per year! 

10. Kai Ken

The Kai Ken is a dog breed that originated in Japan, where it is considered a national symbol. This breed is one of the six dogs protected by the Nihon Ken Hozonkai, an organization that ensures the preservation of Japanese dog breeds. The Kai Ken is a natural hunter and excellent swimmer, having known to cross rivers while hunting prey. They’re also known for being fiercely loyal dogs and suitable for families. 

11. Ovcharka

This dog breed is more commonly known as the Caucasian Mountain Dog, having originated in the Caucasus Mountain regions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The Ovcharka has a strikingly large appearance, with its strong muscles and heavily boned proportions in comparison to its height. In fact, they can weigh up to 220 lbs! They’ve been bred to guard livestock, hunt bears, and serve as prison dogs in Russia. 

Despite their intimidating size, Ovcharkas are gentle giants and very protective over their owners.

12. Catahoula Leopard Dog

This dog breed originates from the United States, specifically in Louisiana where it became the official state dog in 1979. The Catahoula Leopard Dog is known for its unique fur pattern that loosely resembles a leopard, as well as its beautiful blue eyes. It’s believed that this breed originated in the 1700s when French settlers emigrated to modern-day Louisiana. The name “Catahoula” is the Choctaw word for “sacred lake.” Although its population is larger than previous dogs on this list, there are only about 25,000 Catahoula Leopard Dogs in the world. 

With so many diverse dog breeds in every corner of the planet, which of these amazing rare dog breeds would you want to take home? 

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