The world is full of dogs! At latest count, the Kennel Club recognise 218 breeds, whilst the American Kennel Club recognise 195 – but they’re also not the same! For example, the Thai Ridgeback appears for the AKC but not the Kennel Club! Whilst the Akita (not the Japanese Akita) by Kennel Club standards is just an Akita whilst in America by AKC standards it’s an American Akita! Though, a lot of British breeders still call it an American Akita for simplicity of reference.
Still! Not to get distracted, the point is, there’s a lot of dogs, and some are a lot more known than others, and are far more recognisable! But other’s, their owners (if their lucky enough!) get a lot of “What is he/she?” – I get it with Indie, (though he’s a cross, so more acceptable I suppose!) and half the time I’m tempted to just be a smart arse and go “He’s a dog” and walk off.
I wanted to share a few unusual ones that you’ve probably never heard of, and a few curious facts about them! I will say, I’m totally enchanted with a couple (and have added them to my list of dogs I want to own, which is constantly growing, and getting rather out of hand.) and one in particular has gotten me totally mesmerised and in absolute wonder about what on earth happened in their history!!
So, with no further ado, here’s my list of 9 breeds you have probably never heard of, recognised by both AKC and/or the Kennel Club!
1 – Glen of Imaal Terrier
An unheard of breed originating in county Wicklow, Ireland! Originally, they were used as badger hunters, and – curiously – as a ‘turnspit’ in a kitchen… running small hamster style wheels to keep a meat spit turning. They’re smart too! Though, they are a typical terrier in the fact they’re not always that friendly with other dogs.
They’re a sturdy, scruffy little breed that definitely enjoy their work. They’re suspected to come from similar heritage to the Kerry Blue, Wheaten and Irish terriers.
2 – Yakutian Laika
You would be forgiven to think that the Yakutian Laika is a border collie cross husky (the image right at the top is a Yakutian too!) – but they are genuinely their own breed – though it can be said that they are definitely something similar in their original use…They’re a highly versatile breed known for herding, hunting, sled-work and being a great family dog!
Reportedly, these thrived in the 1800’s, originating in Russian Siberia. They were an incredibly valuable asset to their owners, and stuck to them like glue – but it was incredibly important that these dogs were also considered family. Consequently, they’re awesome with children too, very gentle, placid and understanding. They don’t like being alone though, so make sure to get more than one of these fluffy Russian love-bugs!
3 – Kai Ken
One of the six Japanese breeds – but definitely one of the lesser-known! The Kai Ken comes in three brindle varieties – black brindle, brindle and red brindle – or if you take the direct translations from Japanese (which is so damn cute!) Black Tiger, Middle Tiger and Red Tiger respectively!
They’re a middle size between the Shiba Inu & the Akita Inu – and were used for a multipurpose hunter which is where their brindle colouring really benefited them as they blend wonderfully into a Japanese forest.
Kai Ken are considered rare even in Japan – and like most of their Japanese originating breed buddies, they are exceptionally clean by nature, somewhat aloof, but unerringly loyal. Though, their high prey drive is an accepted quality that can make them tough to the owner. I have to say? I love the Japanese breeds as a whole, (not just because Indie is a little bit Akita Inu) and think they’re very undervalued! I’d love to see more of them, personally. These dogs, nicknamed Tiger Dogs in Japan, definitely deserve a little more love.
4 – Sloughi
In 2018, the Sloughi was classified as the Least Popular Breed by the AKC – this arabian greyhound was rumoured to be introduced to europe by the berber cavalry who accompanied hannibal –Yep. They’re neighbours both geographically and breeding wise to the Azawakh and the Saluki!
They were bred for hunting (like most sighthounds!) and coursed hares, foxes, jackals, gazelle & wild pigs – so naturally, they have a really high prey drive.
5 – Mudi
A curly coated hungarian farm dog! This tenacious little herder is resilient despite its petite stature, athletic and agile, they are known to herd cattle as well as sheep – which is pretty impressive! As a breed, they were finally recognised as their own breed in 1936 and are mostly still found in their home country of Hungary. They almost disappeared (like so many others on this list!) through the second world war. Repopulation began in the 60’s.
Did you know, they’re the only herding breed that shows the Merle colouration in a healthy dog – as well as white colouration. Curious, huh?
6 – Pyrenean Mastiff
There is a difference between these and the Great Pyrenees and different to a pyrenean shepherd. For one, these gentle giants have had zero, yes, zero registered puppies in the UK in the last 18 months… that’s sad! These dogs have been in a very slow incline since the 1970s when 100 were found, narrowed to the 30 closest to the breed standard and bred once more by some passionate enthusiasts.
But these working dogs are a 3000-year-old breed – astonishing! They have a deep history in Europe (surprisingly) and were once used to fend of wolves, bears and people from their flock – impressive! But it does explain their size when some of them have been known to reach over 100kg – definitely not a small commitment – but an adorable floofy one!
7 – Hovawart
I think you’d be very much forgiven in thinking these regal looking animals are actually a labrador crossed with a bernese mountain dog (who are likely more common, in the UK at least!) but they’re not! Nor are the blonde ones a Golden Retriever! Or the black ones a flatcoat.
These fabulous looking dogs are livestock guardians, bred to work and guard. They’re also incredibly sensitive dogs, and it makes them wonderfully adapted to work as therapy dogs. Dog only knows, but if I were down? Their fluffy faces would definitely bring a smile to my face!
They originate from a cross between Leonbergers, Newfoundlands and German Shepherds! Can you see it? I think they’re gorgeous! And am stunned why only 31 of these gorgeous dogs were registered by the Kennel Club in 2019! Astonishing, huh?
8 – Chinook
In 1965 these were the worlds rarest dogs. These gorgeous sled dogs were eclipsed by Seppala Huskies after the Serum run (Go watch Togo, if you haven’t. It’s so good!!) of 1925 – but these are part mastiff, part husky, and named after the lead sled dog of Arthur Treadwell Walden’s team – and all Chinooks can trace their lineage to this one awesome dog!
They’re super friendly, and smart too! They’re a lot less mouthy than a husky and they’re typically low prey drive and definitely a dog I’m looking at for my ever-growing queue of dogs to get after Indie!
9 – Norweigian Lundehund
A Puffin hunter! This brave, robust little dog was bred to go down almost sheer cliffs, and rummage around in the crevices of these cliffs for Puffins, which were a staple of the diets of the locals of Vaeroy, Norway.
But that isn’t the most fascinating thing about these dogs… they’re freakily well adapted for climbing those sheer rockfaces – because they have at least SIX TOES!! And extra pads for grip!! They are also able to stretch their arms extra-wide, and able to bend a super flexible neck back to almost touch their spine! Fascinating, huh?! I’m totally bewitched by these little freaks of nature, who defy gravity, and are anomalous to the scientific classification of mammals!! It’s so damn cool! Go little Puffin Hunter, Go!
Though – to be fair – puffin hunting is now illegal, but they are being used to collect seagull eggs at airports!
And that’s the list!
Ugh! They’re cute!! I’ve fallen in love. How many have you added to your list of “Want to Own”-s? I think I’ve done three! Haha. Interesting stuff, huh? There are so many breeds out there that I haven’t even heard of, and I’ve so enjoyed researching even just these nine!
What about you? Did you learn anything? Did you know any of them or all of them? Let me know! Or maybe you are super privileged to own one of these awesome dogs? Why not share the link and show off your unusual woof!
Thank you so much to Estrella Polar Pyrenean Mastiffs for agreeing to share their picture of the GORGEOUS Nova (Belia Nova de Monte Sano) So very grateful for your assistance!
And to Rachel Strand at @northandcedar on Insta for her wonderful shots of Scout & Indy the Chinooks!