Unusual Dog Breeds – A Top 10


Unusual Dog Breeds – A Top 10

Image by David Owsiany cc4.0

Golden retriever. Labrador retriever. Bulldog. Poodle. German shepherd. These are some of the most popular dog breeds in many parts of the world. If you want to be the owner of one of them, go ahead. You won’t have a hard time getting them or learning about them. If, however, you would rather go with a less popular breed, or one that isn’t the same as everyone else’s in your neighborhood or at the dog park, there are more than a hundred others to choose from, including some you might not have heard of before. Here are ten of the world’s most unusual dog breeds.

1. Azawakh

Photo by Pat028 cc3.0

The Azawakh is a large sighthound from West Africa, where it was originally raised to protect nomad desert camps and livestock, as well as to hunt wild boar, hare and antelope. Like the Saluki, it is slender, long-legged and deep-chested, with its bones showing through its skin and muscles. It is, however, even more slender than the Saluki, with shorter ears, a thin tail and a shorter coat. In fact, it almost has no hair on its belly, which makes it easy to groom.

Another good thing about the Azawakh? It is a breed that rarely has health problems, probably because it was bred to survive in harsh conditions. It heals quickly from injuries, too.

If you are a runner, the Azawakh is an ideal companion since it has a lot of endurance. It doesn’t mind running in hot weather at all, even in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).

If you aren’t a runner, you might want to consider another dog breed, since the Azawakh requires a lot of exercise. If restless, it might end up digging holes in your yard. Also, the Azawakh is a social animal, having originally been raised in packs, so it needs a firm pack leader — you. If not trained properly, the Azawakh won’t listen to you at all and can even become aggressive. If trained well, however, it serves as a friendly and loyal companion, as well as an excellent guard dog.

2. Peruvian Inca Orchid

Peruvian Inca Orchid
hairless peruvian dog with a moheican by ollie harridge cc2.0

Many people consider the Peruvian Inca Orchid an ugly dog breed, making one wonder why it is likened to an orchid. It is a proud breed, however, dating back to the time of the Incan empire. It is even depicted on some ancient pots.

The Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in two types — hairless and coated. It also comes in three sizes — small, medium and large — and in various colors. It is not recommended for beginning dog owners because it is lively and protective. It is also not recommended for those with other small pets since the Peruvian Inca Orchid might consider these as prey.

Because of its coat (or lack thereof), the Peruvian Inca Orchid cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat. Its skin also tends to get dry so it needs a moisturizer, as well as a sunscreen when spending time outdoors on hot days.

3. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog – Red Leopard with white by Britta Weißenborn cc3.0

The Catahoula Leopard dog is the State Dog of Louisiana, rarely seen in other places. It gets its name from its spotted or splashed coat, though it can also appear pure white or gray. This unusual dog breed can also have strange eyes. Some of them can have different colored eyes — one blue and one brown, for example — while others can have “cracked” eyes, which look like they have two different colors.

Catahoula Leopard dogs are loving companions and are especially protective of the children they are raised with, which they consider their pack. They are, however, wary of strangers, children included. They crave daily interaction and when left alone or tied to a kennel, become shy or aggressive. They also need daily exercise and especially love to run free.

4. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

A pair of Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs by Margo Peron

At first glance, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, also known as the Czechoslovakian Vlcak, looks very much like a wolf and that comes as no surprise since this breed originally started out as a cross between the German shepherd and the Carpathian wolf. It is a relatively new breed, only gaining recognition in the 1980s, which is one reason why it is not very common.

In spite of its wolf-like appearance and the fact that it was once used as a military attack dog, the Czechoslovakian Vlcak is a loyal and playful companion. It can be trusted with children but is wary of strangers and other pets. Because of its playful nature and good amount of stamina, it requires a lot of exercise and a lot of space. One thing it does not need? A bath, since it sheds dirt on its own.

5. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto im Winter. Image by Hofec

A hypoallergenic breed like the Lagotto Romagnolo is rare, but that’s not what makes this dog breed unusual. Instead, what makes it unusual is that it is trained to hunt for truffles, a task hogs were originally used for.

Because of this, the Lagotto Romagnolo has to be given not just exercise but tasks to accomplish, such as objects to find and fetch, trails to smell and animals to hunt. When working, it is devoted to its task, rarely distracted by other things, and persistent until it accomplishes it. It is easy to train and loyal to its owner.

While it does not shed, the dense coat of the Lagotto Romagnolo, designed to protect it from thorns while hunting truffles, needs regular care. If you have a garden, you’ll have to keep this pooch away from it as well, or fence in your flowers, because it naturally loves to dig.

6. Thai Ridgeback

Black female Thai Ridgeback, 7 months old by SvennoFischer cc3.0

Until recently, the Thai Ridgeback was practically unknown outside of Thailand. It gets its name from the ridge of hair on its back, which stands out because it grows in the opposite direction of the rest of its hair. It is one of only three dog breeds to have this unusual trait.

The Thai Ridgeback is more of a guard dog but can be trained to be a loving companion. It is difficult to train, though, and when not properly trained, can become either shy or aggressive.

7. Bedlington Terrier

Image by David Owsiany cc4.0

Nope, this isn’t a lamb. It’s a dog, the Bedlington terrier to be specific. It isn’t as meek as a lamb, either. In fact, it has a tendency to be stubborn, especially when it senses that its owner is passive, and it will fight back when threatened.

When trained firmly, the Bedlington terrier is cheerful, loving and loyal. It is so devoted, in fact, that it gets jealous of other dogs. It is naturally a good swimmer and a fast runner, though it can be lazy. It also has a tendency to bark continuously, like the firing of a machine gun.

8. Mudi


The Mudi may look hard to groom with its dense wavy or curly coat, but that’s actually not the case. In fact, unlike its better known cousins, the Puli and the Pumi, it only requires a bit of brushing every now and then to remove its dead hair.

This dog breed from Hungary needs a lot of exercise, and it likes to play games. While rare, those who have owned a Mudi say that this dog breed is beyond compare, being intelligent, loving, friendly and brave enough to take on any threat. In fact, its only fault is that it tends to bark a lot, which can be curbed at an early age.

9. Xoloitzcuintli

Photo taken by Amanda L. Dellario, August 2006. cc3.0

Now, that’s a handful, isn’t it? The Xoloitzcuintli — Xolo for short — or Mexican Hairless dog, is one of the world’s oldest breeds, found in the tombs of the Mayans and Aztecs. It is also one of the rarest. It is a healthy breed, having been developed for centuries, though it is not suited to the cold, and can live long — over 20 years as some claim.

Xolos come in two types — coated and hairless, and three sizes — toy, miniature and standard. They are easy to train, intelligent, loving, alert and athletic. They are naturally wary of strangers but will not attack them unless threatened. Young Xolos have a lot of energy and so need a lot of exercise, but they tend to calm down as they get older.

10. Norwegian Lundehund

Norsk lundehund by Andrva cc3.0

This unusual dog breed is loving and friendly, never aggressive. It is easy to groom, though it sheds heavily, and greatly enjoys lots of play.

What makes it among the world’s most unusual dog breeds? For one, the Norwegian Lundehund was originally trained to hunt puffins and their eggs. It also has six toes on each foot — an adaptation to climbing steep paths in search of puffins — and can keep its ears completely shut to prevent water from getting in when swimming. Even more unusual? The Norwegian Lundehund can bend its head backward and bend its legs horizontally toward its body just like we move our arms.

What do you know?

Think you remember what you’ve read? Try out the Unusual Dog Breeds Quiz!


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