It’s difficult to pin a number on the amount of dog breeds that exist around the globe today. From the miniature but mighty Chihuahua to the big softie Golden Retriever, there are plenty breeds to choose from when seeking the perfect canine companion. However, no matter how many mutts you think you recognise, there are some lesser-known doggies which you may have never even heard of.
In this article, Petplan explore five of the rarest breeds of dog around the world, featuring an Italian-born truffle hunter and Hungary’s own pedigree sheep-dog. Have a read below and see how many of these fascinating breeds you recognise…
1. Norwegian Lundehund
Dating back to the Ice Age, the Norwegian Lundehund is recognised as one of the rarest dogs on the planet due to its unique characteristics which aren’t shared by any other breed. Originating from the islands off the Norwegian coast, this crimson-coated canine was developed to hunt Puffin birds along the coastal cliffs. Due to its unusual hunting environment, the agile Norwegian Lundehund evolved to develop the perfect traits for scaling rocky cliffs: six toes on each front paw, adjustable ears and a neck so flexible that it can crane backwards to touch the spine.
Figure 1: Rover
The endangered Spitz species neared extinction during World War II, but was miraculously recovered by Norwegian breeders and thankfully remains in small numbers today. Known for its fun-loving nature and affectionate personality, the Norwegian Lundehund would be a perfect pet for active families.
2. Lagotto Romagnolo
Often mistaken as a poodle-cross, the curly-coated Lagotto Romagnolo is actually the world’s oldest water retriever. Born in Romagna during the Medieval Times, the Lagotto was traditionally used as a working dog to heartily fetch ducks from the Italian marshlands. With its woolly waterproof covering, muscular build and sharp sense of smell, it’s no wonder this breed assisted duck-hunting explorations for centuries. However, the resourceful retriever turned its nose to hunting truffles in recent years and is now the only dog breed recognised for the job.
Figure 2: Select A Dog Breed
The ancient breed was on the brink of extinction in the 70s, but was revived by a dedicated Italian breeding group who were committed to sharing its specialities outside of Italy. Playful in nature and easy to train, the Lagotto is keen to spend time with its owners and go on walking adventures. Though be aware that this breed’s idea of a casual walk is an energetic expedition, keen to sniff the ground in search for truffle treasure or splash in any puddle they might find.
Azawakhs, loyal and passionately protective in nature, are perceived as the most unusual sighthound - the breed of hunting dogs that discover its prey with sight over scent. This elegant and long-legged breed was created in the Sahel region of Africa, where it became trained to guard nomad’s tepees in desert conditions.
Sharing similar characteristics to the Saluki breed, the Azawakh was often called ‘idii n’ illeli’ by its nomad owners, which translates to ‘sighthound of the free people’. The fawn-coated, calming canine was brought to America during the 80s and added to the American Kennel Club’s Foundation in 1997.
Figure 3: Vet Street
Uniquely compared to being more like a cat than a dog, Azawakhs have an independent character and can be severely shy around strangers. However, in the company of an attentive owner, this breed can strongly overcome their reserved side become comforting companions.
The British Otterhound is currently the UK’s most Vulnerable Native Breed, with a mere 24 puppies born in the country last year. Recognised for its marvellous mane of hair and entertaining essence, the hound is officially rarer than the white rhino, with less than 1,000 dogs around the world. Believed to have developed in The Borders during the Medieval Age, the Otterhound was bred to protect the fishing industry from pesky otters, as its name suggests. However, after otter-hunting was banned within the UK, the specialist breed almost disappeared and is still highly endangered today.
Figure 4: Mirror Online
Like his close relative, The Bloodhound, this friendly breed demonstrates great determination, particularly when it’s got its eye on tasty treats. Appreciated for its sensitive and calm nature, the Otterhound would make a lovely companion for a solo owner, who also likes to seek out new and exciting scenery. Though, it’s worth noting that patience is required for this mutt, as it’s a messy muncher and loves to play in muddy conditions.
Pronounced ‘moody’, this Hungarian-born breed is quite the opposite of its name, known for its upbeat and highly-active nature. With less than a thousand in existence, the Mudi breed is rarely spotted outside of its Eastern European homeland. Pointy-eared with a wavy-haired coat, the unique canine is believed to have originated in the 1800s and naturally developed from crosses between the well-known Pumi and Puli breeds. Encompassing a high-intellect and swift stride, Mudis are often used to herd sheep and cattle, and are additionally praised for making effective watch dogs.
Figure 5: Mother Nature Network
With bounds of energy and an innate desire to explore, Mudis are the perfect partner for those who enjoy the great outdoors and getting active. However, the Hungarian sheepdog also craves affectionate downtime just as much, keen to cuddle up to its owner and lap up the one-on-one attention.