Breeds you didn't know existed from 15 Dog Breeds You Didn’t Know Existed Until Now

15 Dog Breeds You Didn’t Know Existed Until Now

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Breeds you didn't know existed

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Breeds you didn't know existed

These lesser-known breeds from around the world were developed for specialized purposes, giving them unique names, traits and appearances that differ from more popular American dogs.

1. Anatolian shepherd dog

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1. Anatolian shepherd dog

Though it has hazy definition from other varieties of Turkish dogs such as the Kangal, Anatolian shepherds have been a distinct, American Kennel Club-recognized breed in the United States since 1996. Anatolians were bred in Turkey as flock guardian dogs capable of fending off bears and wolves. They made their way to the U.S. in the 1970s after Navy Lieutenant Robert Ballard brought back a pair after being stationed in Turkey.

2. Beauceron

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2. Beauceron

This large French sheepdog might remind most folks of a Doberman pinscher, and that's because it's one of the breeds used to create its more common German counterpart. With the mind of a herder and the build of a bodyguard, Beaucerons were used to protect flocks and herds from wolves and evolved to do a variety of jobs for the police and military, such as landmine detection and trench warfare in World War I.

3. Bergamasco

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3. Bergamasco

Like the Puli or the Komondor, the Bergamasco is most famous for its distinct hair. In fact, this dog has three different hair textures, with the hair on its body and legs naturally forming loose mats, or “flocks” of flat woven hair, which protect these Alpine mountain dogs from the cold and from harm. Because of this, a Bergamascos don't shed, don't need to be brushed and only need to be bathed more than two or three times a year, according to the American Kennel Club.

4. Canaan dog

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4. Canaan dog

The national dog of Israel, the Canaan dog was only domesticated in the 1930s and still retains the keen senses it required for survival in the desert. Their strong sense of hearing and smell make them great watchdogs and useful for police and military work like sentry duty and mine detection. An ancient breed, they're thought to be depicted in Egyptian tomb drawings and used as herding dogs in Biblical times.

5. Coton de Tulear

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5. Coton de Tulear

While this dog might resemble other fluffy, white companion dogs from around the world, it has unique origins. It's name in French means cotton of Tulear, a city in the African island nation of Madagascar. Nicknamed “the Royal Dog of Madagascar,” these dogs were beloved as sweet, charming and human-like in their personalities by Malagasy nobels until they were exported to the wider world in the 1960s by French visitors.

6. Dandie Dinmont terrier

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6. Dandie Dinmont terrier

Named after a fictional character in a Walter Scott novel, these small dogs have big hair and big personalities, making them true dandies of the dog world. Originally bred as sturdy exterminators for farms, they have deep barks that don't match their appearance and have whimsical color categories for their coats: pepper and mustard. Their fancy, fine features and big, expressive eyes endeared them to people like French king Louis Philippe, who owned two.

7. Kooikerhondje

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7. Kooikerhondje

While its name might be daunting, the kooikerhondje (koi-ker-hond-yuh), meaning "small decoy dog," is simply an energetic Dutch duck hunting dog with large, black-tipped ears. Many paintings of nobility by Dutch masters feature this breed, and it's famous for saving the life of William of Orange in 1572, when his kooikerhondje alerted him to a Spanish attack.

8. Lagotto Romagnolo

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8. Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo, whose name means “lake dog of Romagna," is famously bred for a very specific task: truffle hunting. With high endurance, a keen sense of smell and strong retrieving instinct, this whiskery, expressive teddy bear of a dog can earn its owners big bucks rooting out the expensive fungus. According to the AKC, it's the only recognized dog breed specifically made for truffle hunting.

9. Mudi

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9. Mudi

There are only a few thousand dogs of this rare breed, which was created as a Hungarian farm dog for herding animals, exterminating pests and protecting the family. The mudi and other Hungarian breeds were almost wiped out during World War II. Typically all black, their curly coats also come in merle, yellow, brown and white.

10. Norwegian Lundehund

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10. Norwegian Lundehund

These springy, petite dogs were bred specifically for puffin hunting on the Norwegian island of Vaeroy, where the bird meat was one of the only food sources to sustain locals through the winter. This breed is fantastically flexible; it's able to fold its ears closed, forward and backward; can crane its head back all the way until it touches its spine; and can extend its legs to the side fully perpendicular to its body. While the typical dog has five toes, the Norwegian Lundehund has six.

11. Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

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11. Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

As its name would suggest, the red-and-white Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever was bred in Nova Scotia to toll, or lure in waterfowl by prancing along the shoreline until curious ducks moved close enough to be within shooting range. Hunters picked up on this behavior from foxes, and thus bred their dogs to have fox-like red coats and to mimic this trick.

12. Otterhound

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12. Otterhound

Like its name suggests, the Otterhound was bred in England specifically for hunting otters. Now a rare breed after the banning of otter hunting, these pups have dense, waterproof hair and big, webbed feet for maximum swimming efficiency and an especially keen sense of smell to be able to follow an animal's trail underwater. Otterhounds first made their way to the U.S. in 1903.

13. Rhodesian ridgeback

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13. Rhodesian ridgeback

It shouldn't be surprising that a dog originally bred to hunt lions is among the most athletic in the world. Named for the stripe of backward-growing hair on its back, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was created in South Africa as a mix between local wild dogs and European breeds, including Greyhounds and terriers, according to the AKC. With the decline in the popularity of big game hunting, they proved to be devoted pets.

14. Skye Terrier

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14. Skye Terrier

While they have similar builds and coats to their cousin the Scottish terrier, the Skye terrier, hailing from the Scottish Isle of Skye, have distinctive, fantastical ears and facial hair that makes it look like they're peeking through a curtain. Originally bred as fox and badger exterminators, they became adored by British nobility, including Queen Victoria. A statue of her beloved Skye named Islay sits outside the the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, Australia.

15. Sloughi

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15. Sloughi

Described as the “Arabian Greyhound,” the sloughi (pronounced SLOO-ghee) was developed in North Africa to chase both small and large game such as jackals and wild pigs across rough desert terrain. According to the AKC, these elegant hounds were the companions of Egyptian nobles and Berber kings. Want to meet pets that are more adventurous than you?