The 10 Most Unique Dog Breeds, According to Pet Experts
Fancy a dog with a mohawk? Or one that looks like a tiger? These breeds are unique as can be.
Outside of dog breeders and dog show participants, most people only know about a handful of dog breeds—Golden Retrievers, Labs, Yorkies, and Bulldogs, to name some of the most popular. But worldwide, there are 360 officially recognized breeds, many of which are so rare or unusual you may never have seen them. To learn more about these uncommon canines, we spoke to veterinarians and pet experts, who gave us the details on some of the most unique dog breeds out there. Read on to learn what sets these animals apart, and what it might look like to bring them into your family.
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Hungarian Puli Dog
It's no surprise that the Puli dog and its signature dreadlocks make our list of the most unique dogs. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), "the coat's naturally occurring cords are wooly, dense, and weatherproof." Usually, the dogs are black, charcoal, or white, and weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.
"These dogs look like smaller versions of Komondors since they too have long fur that locks and resembles human 'locs,'" notes Courtnye Jackson, a veterinarian and founder of The Pets Digest. "They are from Hungary and are primarily used as herding dogs." For this reason, their fur is there to protect them from the elements. It's also why they're so affectionate, good with people, and easy to train.
"Also known as the Arabian Hound, Gazelle Hound, or Persian Greyhound, [Salukis] are sighthounds (meaning they hunt by sight rather than scent)," says Jackson. "They resemble Greyhounds and are closely related to the Afghan Hound in the U.S., [but] they are bred mainly in the Middle East."
What makes this breed unique, though, are their "gorgeous flowing wisps of hair around the ears and tail," notes Patrik Holmboe, head veterinarian for Cooper Pet Care. He also explains that Salukis were bred for running, so they do require more exercise than other breeds.
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Peruvian Inca Orchid
The breed is commonly known as "the naked dog," says Travis Brorsen, a pet expert for Animal Planet, celebrity dog trainer, host of My Big Fat Pet Makeover, and judge on the Discovery Plus series The Dog Games. "This sighthound originated in Peru and is intelligent as well as affectionate. The Inca is great with families and fun fact—you guessed it, doesn't shed much!" The only instance where you might see some hair on the Peruvian Inca Orchid is on their heads, "where they have a little tuft of fur which resembles a natural mohawk," notes Jackson.
The AKC explains that the breed comes in three sizes, ranging from 10 inches tall to just over two feet. This dog is also agile and alert, but might not do well with other small animals.
Another hairless breed is the Xoloitzcuintle (or Xolos for short), which hails from Mexico. "Evidence of this breed has been found among the ruins of the Mayan and Toltec tribes," shares Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale. "Often called the perro pelón mexicano (Mexican Hairless Dog), dogs of this breed can be born with or without fur, sometimes in the same litter."
With a wrinkled face, athletic body, and speckled skin, this dog is certainly one-of-a-kind. Though you won't have to worry about shedding or grooming, their hairless bodies do require some additional care, "such as winter coats and sunscreens," notes Iram Sharma, a veterinarian and writer at PupVine.
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Named for the Eastern English town from which they come, Bedlington Terriers are agile, athletic, and intelligent sighthounds. They "have a very unique fur and color [and] are gray, blue, or even tan in color," says Erin Mastopietro, CEO of Dope Dog.
Their curly, lamb-like fur is definitely what sets them apart, and it also makes them hypoallergenic, as they don't shed much. In addition, "they can be the perfect cuddly partners since their fur is super soft and thick," notes Mastopietro. Their tasseled ears only add to their teddy bear-like appearance. But you will want to note that Bedlington Terriers' fast-growing fur needs to be clipped every two months and brushed once or twice a week, according to the AKC.
This dog doesn't just have a friendly-looking face; the AKC gives the breed the highest scores for "affectionate with family" and "good with other dogs." Also known as the Dutch Sheep Dog, Schapendoes originated in the Netherlands. In fact, the "does" part of their name means "swamp," as they are "from the marshy parts of Holland," says Brorsen.
This breed is visually unique because it "sports an amazing beard," notes Brorsen. But it's also not very well known. As the AKC explains, "The Schapendoes were everywhere in the Netherlands during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but their numbers dwindled drastically when Border Collies were imported." After WWII, the breed was revived, but many people still haven't heard of them.
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There are several unique aspects of this breed. First, their black-and-brown coats and brindle markings have earned them the nickname "Tiger Dogs," notes Jackson. In addition, she explains that Kai Kens are "one of six protected breeds in Japan" and are considered "national monuments" in the country.
Kai Kens are a rare breed, even in Japan, says the AKC. Though they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they're extremely affectionate and loyal to their owners and are known to be very intelligent.
This lean sighthound is so named because it originated in ancient Egypt. You can even see the Pharaoh Hound depicted on many "decorative friezes … of Egyptian temples dating back to 4400 B.C.," according to the Pharaoh Hound Club of America.
The breed is recognizable for its "sleek frame and huge ears," notes Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, a consulting veterinarian at FiveBarks. She says they usually enjoy good health, but "they have very thin skin and a sparse coat so do not cope well in cold temperatures." Another thing to consider is that, although they are incredibly affectionate, they are still hunting dogs by nature and love to run and require a decent amount of exercise.
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The word "papillon" means butterfly in French, and this breed is so named because their large ears and long hair make them resemble their namesake, explains Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM at PetSmart. "They are known for their intelligence, agility and long average life span of 15-plus years," she says. Bruns adds that Papillons are high-spirited and fun.
What's also interesting about this dog is that they're "one of the oldest toy dog breeds [and] have been depicted in artwork dating to the 16th century," according to PetMD. They're considered a great family pet, but you won't be surprised to know that their long, silky coats require a lot of maintenance.
Doodles in general are probably one of the most common breeds around. Just think about how many Goldendoodles you've probably seen recently. But there are some other Poodle crossbreeds that many people don't even know to exist.
Christos Philippou, an owner and trainer at Delaware K9 Academy, says that from what he sees, "the current craze is certainly the Doodle." Some of the unique Doodles he's worked with include the Great Danoodle, Great Dane and Poodle (pictured above); Saint Berdoodle, Saint Bernard and Poodle; and Schnoodle, Schnauzer and Poodle.
Likewise, Madelyn Harris, a dog expert and writer for Doodle Dog Club, says one of the most unusual breeds she's come across is the Dalmadoodle, a mix of a Dalmation and a Poodle. "They're known for their unique, distinctive appearance, which includes fluffy doodle hair with Dalmatian spots!" she shares.
Though Harris says Dalmadoodles are "the ideal family dog," Philippou cautions that crossbreeding is not always the best option. "These Doodle breeds are often bred with sub-par genetics, causing more serious anxiety issues," he explains. He also says that people turn to Doodles because they're looking for a hypoallergenic dog, but there are plenty of other breeds that are great for allergy sufferers.