As I’m sure you’re already aware, we absolutely love our furry canine friends here at Hungry Pets. Dogs are wonderful, loyal companions and are an ideal addition to virtually any home. There are many breeds of dogs that we’re all familiar with, but some are definitely rarer than others. Everyone can recognize a gorgeous Labrador Retriever or a handsome Boxer. However, you might not be aware of the Otterhound breed or the massive Tibetan Mastiff. We don’t even blame you; did you know that there are over 300 species of canines in the world?
Here is our list of the rarest and most unusual domesticated dog breeds. Some species, as you’ll see, have been kept as pets for over 900 years. Others are specific to a particular area in the world and have been working dogs since ancient times. Nevertheless, they all have one thing in common: they are truly remarkable dogs!
The Otterhound is undoubtedly a rare breed, with only 1000 left in the world. They were originally bred in Britain as hunting dogs and were used primarily to retrieve (as you might guess) otters. Although the Otterhound species can only be traced back to the 1800s, it’s been speculated that this breed has been in use since the Medieval period. They are large, extremely intelligent dogs and generally have a lifespan of 10-12 years. They are also known for having a distinctive and deep bark.
In 1978, due to rapid decrease in populations, the Otterhound was classified as a protected species in Britain. Given that otter hunting has been banned in the UK, Otterhounds continue to be few in number. In 2011, there were only 15 Otterhounds registered as born in that year. For this reason, the Otterhound is tragically at the risk of extinction.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is a beautiful and very large breed, originating from Tibet in Eastern Asia. The Tibetan Mastiff is extremely rare and has been known to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single puppy. In fact, a puppy from this species was sold for £1.2million in China this year. This was the most expensive price that anyone has ever paid for a dog.
Tibetan Mastiffs have been bred since ancient times and were traditionally used as flock guardians. Their imposing and powerful frames made them ideal for protecting sheep from wolves and leopards.
While the Tibetan Mastiff has been domesticated for some time now, it goes without saying that they don’t belong in traditional home units. They can be somewhat territorial and are prone to acting out against strangers. Additionally, they need lots of exercise and prefer to sleep most of the day.
3. Norwegian Lundehund
As the name suggests, this small dog originates from Norway and is a wonderfully loyal and energetic breed. However, the most distinctive feature of this dog is its unusual body and features. The Norwegian Lundehund has six toes and can bend their head backwards along their spine. Their flexibility makes them perfect dogs for getting in and out of small spaces; which is why they’ve traditionally been used for hunting puffins.
The Norwegian Lundehund is an incredibly rare breed. In the 1960’s, there were only 6 Lundehunds left in Norway alone. This has meant that inbreeding has been a significant problem for the breed, and much care has been taken to increase the population. Today, there are around 1500-2000 Norwegian Lundehunds left in the world.
Overall, this is a very friendly and lovable breed. Norwegian Lundehunds get along very well with humans and are notably curious; they love going for walks and are extremely responsive to training. Nevertheless, Lundehunds were bred for hunting so they can’t generally be let off their leash while outside.
4. Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington Terrier is a very unique dog, especially in terms of appearance and form. They are commonly compared to sheep due to their wooly coat and long-shaped faces. Furthermore, they originate from Northumberland (England) and were used primarily as hunting dogs and pets during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Bedlington Terriers are wonderfully social animals and were used as companion dogs for miners in England during the 19th Century. They were trained to hunt vermin and were known for being durable and fast.
In terms of rarity, Bedlington Terriers are relatively few in number. Only 400 of these dogs are registered as born every year. Combined with their unusual and distinctive ‘look’, they can be somewhat expensive and difficult to come by. On the plus side, Bedlington Terriers get on well with other dogs and are well suited to living with humans. They love going for walks and have a seemingly endless amount of energy.
5. Catahoula Leopard Dog
While many of the dogs on this list originate from Europe, the Catahoula Leopard Dog is said to hail from Louisiana, USA. They are thought to be the first dog actively bred in America. As the name would suggest, the Catahoula is notable for its ‘leopard’ like coat and distinctive colorful markings. This is an independent and territorial dog; one which thrives in small family units but is uncomfortable with strangers. For this reason, they require a lot of attention and stimulation.
In the past, Catahoula Leopard dogs have been used for hunting a variety of animals, from squirrels to black bears. Given that they are incredibly strong and agile dogs, they have also been used more recently to herd cattle in New Zealand.
Overall, however, this still remains a very rare breed. It remains unclear about how many Catahoula leopard dogs are left but you will need to visit a specialist breeder if you are interested in adopting one.
The Five Rarest Dog Breeds: a summary
There you have it – some of the rarest and most unusual domesticated dogs left in the world. We simply love canines and we are passionate about ensuring that these breeds don’t die out from extinction. The more awareness raised, the better.