Over the centuries, people have bred dogs to be companions, workers, cuddlers, lap dogs and pets. The companion dog as “created” by humans are in fact the most diverse land animals in terms of physical appearance. You know that Labrador Retrievers are squarely-built short-haired water-lovers and Dachshunds are short, squat, little badger fighters – and there are many rare dogs whose form and function come from many corners of the world. Here is our first top ten list of rare dog breeds.
The Portuguese Podengo dog breed are friendly, hardy and intelligent companions. They are very active and usually good with children and other animals especially when socialized from an early age. Keen hunting dogs, the Podengo has an affinity for game regardless of size. Typically, the dogs hunt in a pack with their handler following. When game is found, they kill and retrieve it, or flush it towards the hunter to be shot. Reports say the breed are enthusiastic, trainable dogs, which makes sense given their heritage. This led them to star in a number of movies in the 1990s and 2000s, including Dante’s Peak, Three Wishes, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Zeus and Roxanne, Secondhand Lions, Can of Worms and Soccer Dog: The Movie. There are actually three size variations – in their native language they are small ( Podengo Portugueso Pequeno), medium (Médio) and large (Grande, pictured above, Photo by Elektra96) and two coat varieties, smooth and wirehaired (pictured below).
If you thought this was a Great Pyrenese, you would not be the only one mistaken – they look quite similar. It too was bred for use as a livestock guard dog. Pronounced chew-votch, this dog breed was part of the ancient shepherd military system and did their service on mountain meadows with their shepherd companions. According to the time honored shepherd’s tradition, he is always bred in white to be discernible from the beasts of the night. He is boundlessly loyal and stout hearted. He resists every enemy – bears and wolves included. (Photo by Elektra96)
It is believed that the Swedish Vallhund distinguished itself during the age of Vikings, more than 1,000 years ago. Not surprisingly, its known as the “Viking dog,” bred to herd cattle, catch vermin (such as rats), and guard the home. They are a clownish type dog and can be a show-off at times. The Swedish vallhund is responsive and even-tempered with most people, but they can be wary of strangers and should be properly socialized and trained as a puppy as to avoid over-protective behavior as an adult. The Vallhund can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. (Photo by Elektra96)
The Mudi is a rare herding dog breed from Hungary. The breed has a thick, curly coat and smooth face. While they are still rare in the US, the Mudi dogs are gaining popularity with their versatile, energetic attitudes. It is closely related to the Puli and Pumi, from which it was separated in the 1930s. Today, the Mudi is bred for work, companionship, and show. They continue to be used in herding, as well as participating in a variety of dog sports.
Historically bred to fight alongside the Romans wearing body armor and blades so that they could run under and disembowel enemy horses, the Neopolitan Mastiff was almost extinct at the end of WWII. After an Italian painter set up a kennel to protect the enormous pups and bred them with English Mastiffs to diversify the bloodline, the Neopolitan Mastiff has evolved as a breed and one even appeared as Hagrid’s pet dog, Fang, in the Harry Potter movies. They are fearsome looking, although in reality highly intelligent and loyal – a combination that likely got one the role in another movie, American Gangster, the companion to Italian Mafia Boss Dominic Cattano.
The Kishu Inu sometimes called Kishu Ken or just Kishu, is a breed of dog developed in Japan, named after the region, and bred there for thousands of years. It is descended from ancient medium-sized breeds. This breed is similar to the Hokkaido, Shikoku and the Kai. The Japanese originally used this breed of dog for boar and deer hunting. Like the Shiba Inu, they are often quiet. Kishu will stalk prey quietly rather than bark. (Photo by Elektra96)
Its native name is Kelb tal-Fenek, and its native home is Malta. A popular myth holds that the breed is descended from the Tesem, one of the ancient Egyptian hunting dogs – it sure does look like the dog paintings found on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. The myth says that the Pharaoh Hound was brought to Malta by the Phoenicians, and it has existed there for more than 2,000 years. (Photo by Elektra96)
There are only three existing Ridgeback breed dogs left – the Thai, the Rhodesian, and a breed from Viet Nam called the Phu Quoc Ridgeback. The Thai Ridgeback rare dog breed has reproduced in Thailand almost exclusively by natural selection until the very recent past. The domesticated population is quite small. Like all three breeds, the Thai Ridgeback has a line of hair growing in the opposite direction along the spine. Because of prior geographic isolation and lack of human contact, the Thai Ridgeback remains independent minded and much of the original natural instinct and drives remain intact, particularly prey drive.
The Pachón Navarro
With a nose like the double barrels of a shotgun, the Pachón Navarro is an extremely rare dog breed, a Spanish hunting dog, that was once believed to have superior sniffing skills. Now breeders know that the Pachón Navarro’s nose is just cosmetically different, they don’t offer any advantage over a regular dog nose.
The Azawakh is a sighthound that is very rare outside of it’s West African homeland. Known for its agile and feline-like gait, the Azawakh are timid by nature, but gentle and affectionate once they get to know you. It is used for hunting gazelles and other fleet animals of the African deserts. (Photo by Elektra96)
Rare Dog Breeds First Edition
We called this our “first” list because the more we got into looking at rare dog breeds, the more we found! Do you have a favourite breed you’d like to share? Add to the comments below and we’ll include in our next list.