Have You Heard Of These 15 Rare Dog Breeds?

Chinook Dog Breed
Photo: Getty/John Moore / Staff

In the 1980s, the Chinook dog breed faced extinction. The equally sturdy and speedy breed had originated in New Hampshire less than 100 years prior, and yet by 1965 the Guinness Book of World Records listed the Chinook as the "rarest dog in the world." By 1981, the population had dwindled down to just 11 breedable dogs total. That is, until the Chinook breeders stepped in. The rare breed's numbers are into the hundreds now, and the Chinook was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2013. But it's not the only dog that's come back from the brink of oblivion. Many of these rare dog breeds have seen their populations dwindle to abysmal numbers due to everything from international war to industrial evolution. Luckily, the hard work of breed clubs (and in some cases, benevolent aristocrats!) has paid off and preserved these unique dog breeds for generations of dog lovers to come.


Harrier Dog Breed
Getty/NBC / Contributor

Nope, that's not a beagle! Or a foxhound. (Though they are a close relative!) According to the American Kennel Club, this English hunting breed should be smaller than an English foxhound and stockier than a beagle.

Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean Shepherd Dog Breed
Getty/Arco Petra

This hard-working herding breed can be either "smooth-faced" or "rough-faced," depending on the coat. Both result in a charmingly shaggy appearance worthy of the big screen.


Otterhound Dog Breed
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According to the AKC, this breed is "more rare than the Giant Panda and is one of the most endangered dog breeds in the world."

Cane Corso

Cane Corso Dog Breed
Getty/Julien F. Marquis / EyeEm

Although this breed's lineage dates back centuries, the first Corso pup arrived in America in 1988.

Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo Dog Breed
Getty/Anita Kot

Not to be mistaken for a doodle at the local dog park, this rare, truffle-hunting breed hails from Italy.


Chinook Dog Breed
Getty/John Moore / Staff

Nobody loves a comeback story more than the Chinook, which is now the official state dog of New Hampshire.

Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier Dog Breed
Getty/USA Network / Contributor

Standing less than a foot tall and sporting a sassy hairdo, this breed may be rare but it's certainly unforgettable.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
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With a charmingly whimsical name and looks to match, this previously declining breed can attribute its revival to the hard work of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club.


Borzoi Dog Breed

Reminiscent of both the wolfhound and the greyhound, this regal Russian breed can run up to 40 miles per hour.


Azawakh Dog Breeds
Getty/Yannis Karantonis / 500px

The AKC notes that, though this ancient breed sports a rather skeletal look, they're incredibly sturdy and skilled in a variety of roles.

Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund
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The Norwegian Lundehund came in very last in the AKC's 2021 ranking of breed popularity. But don't let their last-place position fool you: the rare breed makes for a perky, loyal friend.

Berger Picard

Berger Picard Dog Breed

You may know this endearingly scruffy breed from its lead role in the movie adaptation of the book, Because of Winn Dixie. The film provided a welcome boost to the breed, which has worked its way back from near extinction.

Cirneco dell'Etna

Cirneco dell'Etna Dog Breed
Getty/Jamie McCarthy / Staff

Ranked 183 out of 197 on the AKC's most popular list, this ancient sighthound was saved by Dr. Maurizio Migneco, a veterinarian who wrote about the breed's decline. A Sicilian aristocrat, Baroness Agata Paternó Castello, took notice and worked over the next 26 years to restore the Cirneco's population.

Cesky Terrier

Cesky Terrier Dog Breeds
Getty/Matthew Eisman / Contributor

The AKC estimates there are only 600 Cesky terriers living in the U.S.; a shame, given their mellow, family-friendly nature.

Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen

Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
Getty/Auscape / Contributor

If the name sounds like a mish-mash of other breeds... well, that's for good reason. It roughly translates to "large, low, shaggy dog of the Vendée." (And explains the names and looks of those more familiar breeds, like basset hound or the Brussels griffon!)

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  1. American Kennel Club. Meet the rare and versatile Chinook.

  2. Chinook Club of America Inc. History of the Chinook breed.

  3. American Kennel Club. Harrier dog breed information.

  4. American Kennel Club. Otterhound dog breed information.

  5. American Kennel Club. Cane Corso dog breed information.

  6. American Kennel Club. Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed information.

  7. American Kennel Club. Borzoi dog breed information.

  8. American Kennel Club. Azawakh - dog breed information.

  9. American Kennel Club. Most popular dog breeds of 2021. 

  10. American Kennel Club. Cirneco dell’Etna dog breed information. 

  11. American Kennel Club. Cesky Terrier dog breed information.

  12. American Kennel Club. Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen - dog breed information.

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