Rare Dog Breeds: You Might Not Have Heard of These

Rare Dog Breeds: dog adoption, best family dog breeds, small dog breeds, large dog breeds, most expensive dog breeeds

Everyone is familiar with the most popular dog breeds. Pups like Labrador Retrievers, Bulldogs, Beagles, and Goldies can be seen all over the place. More recently, mixed dog breeds have become more popular as well, like Goldendoodles and Morkies. These canines are popular and have been for years.

As such, some other dog breeds slip under the radar and are rarely seen. In some cases, they’re not often heard of. If you’re interested in some of the rare, unique dog breeds in the world, then this article is for you. 

Join us as we look at some rare pups!

What Exactly Is a Dog Breed?

The term “breed” is well-known, but what does it mean? And how can a breed be rare? Well, a dog’s breed is based on what the dog’s lineage was generally meant to do. People would breed dogs with specific jobs or purposes in mind and choose the dog parents who would give them the best results. Over time, these dogs would become specialized in their appearance, demeanor, and other traits, resulting in specific breeds.

A great example of this is the Greyhound. When looking at unique breeds, the Greyhound looks like very few others, as they were bred for one thing; speed. These pups were meant for catching animals smaller than them, and as the breed was being developed, sleek dogs were chosen. This eventually resulted in the breed looking the way it does now.

What Makes a Dog Breed Rare?

A lack of a sizable population makes a dog breed rare.

Now, this can be the result of two things:

  • Some breeds are disappearing as they are no longer needed to perform the tasks that they were developed for. There are a handful of hunting breeds that have been phased out in recent years, like the Russian Trackers (they eventually went on to become Golden Retrievers, though).
  • Or, on the other hand, the breed is new and hasn’t been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. While there are 340 known dog breeds in the world, the AKC only recognizes 197 of them.

What Does the AKC Require to Recognize a Breed?

For the American Kennel Club to recognize a dog breed, there are a few criteria that have to be met first.

A specific dog breed must fulfill these checkboxes:

  • The dog must “breed true,” meaning that when it produces offspring, the offspring have to be recognizable as that breed.
  • A national club must be devoted to the breed before recognition
  • Breed standards, including physical traits, temperament, and movement, must be established.

Once a dog breed has met all of these standards, then they can begin the approval process for recognition by the American Kennel Club. As such, the rare breeds that we are going to talk about may or may not be recognized by the AKC.

Regardless, however, they are still recognizable breeds through and through.

7 Rare Dog Breeds

Take a look at our list of seven rare dog breeds! Some of these may be an adorable surprise; some are truly seldom seen!

1. Kai Ken

One of the six native Japanese dog breeds, the Kai Ken is one of the rarest breeds in the world. They have a gorgeous brindle coat and are nicknamed the Tora Dog. Tora means “tiger” in Japanese, an apt nickname thanks to their striped coats. These pups are on the smaller side, only reaching 20 inches at the shoulder at most. They weigh anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds when fully grown, as well.

These dogs are highly athletic in most cases and are very intelligent. They have been devoted family dogs in Japan for centuries and have been a designated national treasure in the country since 1934. The breed itself is protected by law in the country.

2. Australian Kelpie

Kelpies are an incredibly rare dog and hail from the same Pacific part of the world as the Kai Ken. These pups are highly energetic, as well as intelligent, and require a lot of stimulation both mentally and physically. This is due to their roots as herding dogs. While they were originally meant for herding sheep, they’ve become a beloved family dog, making them ideal for herding people, too!

The Australian Kelpie is an example of a rare dog due to their specific needs. Because of their high intelligence and strong work ethic, they aren’t recommended for first-time dog owners or for families with young children. These pups reach 20 inches tall at the shoulder, about the same as the Kai Ken. However, they’re a bit heavier, weighing anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds in most cases.

3. Thai Ridgeback

If you were to see a Thai Ridgeback out and about, you might think that you’re looking at the more common Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, it’s rare to see a Thai Ridgeback anywhere except Thailand, making this pup one of the rarest dogs in the world.

Like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Thai Ridgeback gets its name from the “ridge” of hair on its back that results from hair that grows in the opposite direction of their coat.

The Thai Ridgeback is highly localized and hasn’t made its way out of Thailand for the most part. These independent dogs are very protective of their families, keeping them safe from cobras and other dangers. These dogs can be up to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 35 to 75 pounds.

4. Telomian

The Telomian is quite possibly the rarest dog breed in the world and is native to Malaysia. These dogs resemble the Basenji but are completely unique. Telomians are bred by the indigenous people, the Orang Asli, in Malaysia. They were bred specifically to catch vermin.

What makes these pups unique are the physical traits that they have. The Telomian breed is exceptional at climbing, having been bred to live in stilted homes and hunt the vermin there. They stand nearly 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 18 to 26 pounds.

5. Peruvian Inca Orchid

If you’re looking for a dog that doesn’t have problems with shedding, then you might want to consider the hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid. It’s hard to shed hair when you don’t have any to begin with, after all. These pups come in three different sizes, and range from 10 to 26 inches in height, and can weigh anywhere from eight to 55 pounds.

These canines have delicate skin, being that they’re hairless, and tend to do best indoors. Any time that they’re taken out for a walk during the day, they’ll likely need sunscreen. Because of the amount of care that the Peruvian Inca Orchid needs, on top of its varying temperaments, these pups aren’t recommended for first-time dog owners. They also aren’t recommended for families with young children.

6. Treeing Tennessee Brindle

The first breed on our list that’s from the United States is the Treeing Tennessee Brindle. As the name implies, these pups were originally bred in the Ozarks and the Appalachian Mountains in or around Tennessee. They also have a gorgeous brindle coat that enchants many. These dogs are alert and quick due to their hunting instincts. Treeing Tennessee Brindles are originally hunting dogs that would drive their prey up trees.

These dogs need a lot of activity and need to be walked several times a day. It's also a good idea to play to their strengths and take them out to “hunt” tennis balls! The Treeing Tennessee Brindle reaches about 24 inches in height and can weigh up to 50 pounds.

7. Norwegian Lundehund

Should a Norwegian Lundehund find its way into your lap, you may notice that it has six toes on each paw instead of four. This is because the Lundehund was originally bred to hunt Puffins. Now that they can’t do that, though, they’ve become great family dogs. 

The Norwegian Lundehund is known for being highly energetic and needs to be played with frequently, whether it be with toys or on an agility course. As long as they’ve got outlets for their massive amounts of energy, these pups are calm and relaxing to be around inside the home. They are only about 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds.

A Rare Treat

While you may not ever see any of these breeds in real life, that’s not something to fret too much over. All dogs deserve their time in the spotlight, of course, and the best thing you can do is love the pups that are around you!

Every dog is wonderfully unique and has its own personality. Be sure to treat the pups around you with all of the affection they deserve and shower them with love and treats!


Dog Breeds - Types Of Dogs | American Kennel Club
24 Rare Dog Breeds You Probably Don’t Know About | Readers Digest
20 of the World's Rarest Dog Breeds | Outside Online