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10 Less Common Dog Breeds

(Monday, March 10, 2014)

You may have never seen these breeds in person, but they have existed in their home countries for hundreds of years. Although they’re less common, these dogs can still make excellent workers and pets. Take a look at these 10 rare AKC-recognized breeds:

American Foxhound
The American Foxhound is one of America’s native breeds as well as one of our rarest. The breed was originally used for foxhunting, but with the declining popularity of that sport, the American Foxhound has become more and more rare. The breed is a great pet for those in rural areas or on farms as they love to run. Hounds raised in the home tend to be mild tempered and easy going, getting along with children and most other pets. The Foxhound’s short coat is very easy to care for and comes in a variety of striking colors.

Learn more about the American Foxhound.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was originally bred to hunt otters and badger. Today the hunting qualities of the Dandie are not required, but his other qualities make him an excellent house dog. He is intelligent, enjoys children, and makes an excellent guard. He has a will of his own and will sometimes obey a command reluctantly, with a look of "I'll do it, but please don't make me." The breed also has a very interesting appearance, with its fluffy head of hair, large soulful eyes, long and low body, and tail curved like a sword.

Learn more about the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

English Toy Spaniel
Although the English Toy Spaniel looks similar to the more popular Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they are different breeds. Still, the English Toy Spaniel is a lovely Toy breed with a merry and affectionate personality.The breed is a good family companion and plays well with children. Their small size makes them ideal for an apartment. The breed even still has some hunting instinct and can be a fine small hunting spaniel.

Learn more about the English Toy Spaniel.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a native of Switzerland and the smallest of the four tri-colored Swiss Mountain Dogs, which also include the Appenzeller Sennenhund, Bernese Mountain Dog and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog are far more popular in the United States. Although used as a herding and general all-purpose dog in Switzerland, Entles also excel at competitive sports and are willing and enthusiastic partners in any athletic canine activity chosen by their master. The breed is medium-sized, compact and strongly muscled. Entles are an active, high energy and physical breed, with a smooth, short coat that requires minimal upkeep.

Learn more about the Entlebucher Mountain Dog.

Irish Red & White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter has been around in Ireland since the 17th century, and is actually thought to be the older of the two Irish Setters. However, the breed’s solid red cousin became overwhelmingly popular, and the two breeds were bred separately, leading to the near extinction of the Red & White by the end of the 19th century. A group of breeders began to revive the breed in the 1920s, and in the 1940s, they were starting to appear more frequently in Ireland. Irish Red and White Setters have kind and friendly attitudes make them great family dogs. Compared to the Irish Setter, they need less brushing and trimming since they do not have as much coat as their cousins.

Learn more about the Irish Red & White Setter.

Norwegian Lundehund
The Norwegian Lundehund is a breed with several unique characteristics in combination not found in any other dog like six toes on each foot, prick ears that fold closed, forward or backward at will, and the ability to tip the head backward until it touches the back bone. These characteristics all helped the breed perform its job as a Puffin hunter. When the Puffin bird became a protected species in the 1800's, the dogs were no longer useful to the farmers and breed numbers dwindled. The breed was saved from near extinction after World War II through the friendship of two concerned Norwegians, but even today the numbers are limited. Today, the Lundehund’s charming personality, even temperament and small size make them the breed ideal, easy-to-live-with pet.

Learn more about the Norwegian Lundehund.

Otterhound
The Otterhound is a large breed of dog that was developed in England to hunt otter, which preyed on the fish in the country’s rivers and streams. The Otterhound became less populous when otter hunting was banned, and ended up never growing to wide popularity in the United States. The Otterhound has a striking shaggy coat and is unfailingly devoted to its master and family, and is amiable and even-tempered.

Learn more about the Otterhound.

Pyrenean Shepherd
The breed originated in the French Pyrenees Mountains as a sheep herding dog, working alongside the Great Pyrenees who were used to guard the flocks. The breed used to cover 25 miles a day doing chores with the shepherd or farmer and it was said that just two Pyrenean Shepherds were enough to manage a flock of 1000 sheep. Owners can choose from two coat types -- Rough-Faced and Smooth-Faced. The Pyrenean Shepherd has a very lively, cheerful disposition, and is a superb canine athlete who excels at agility and other dog sports. As a companion, he is very active and enthusiastic and insists upon being involved in the day's activities whatever they may be. The Pyr Shep coat does not require much maintenance beyond a thorough brushing every few weeks.

Learn more about the Pyrenean Shepherd.

Sussex Spaniel
The Sussex Spaniel originated in the 18th century in the county of Sussex, England, where it was used as a field dog. At that time, the custom of hunting on foot made the Sussex a popular hunting companion and very useful in flushing and retrieving upland game. The breed has not been imported to any great extent to the United States though, probably due to the difference in terrain and the fact that the breed doesn’t hunt as quickly as other breeds popular in the US. Despite its somber and serious expression, the Sussex is friendly, with a cheerful and tractable disposition. They enjoy walks with their families and are good with children and other dogs.

Learn more about the Sussex Spaniel.

Xoloitzcuintli
The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee), or "Xolo," is an ancient, natural breed from Mexico. One of the world's oldest and rarest breeds, the Xolo can justly be called the first dog of the Americas. The Xoloitzcuintli was first AKC-registered from 1887 until 1959 as the Mexican Hairless, but efforts to establish the Xolo as a purebred met with little success since no large scale breeding programs existed to promote good quality. Interest waned and in April 1959, the AKC voted to drop the Mexican Hairless from registration. Today’s Xolo re-entered the AKC in 2011. The breed comes in three sizes - toy, miniature and standard – and can be hairless or coated. The breed also has a very interesting history. With a reputation as a healer, the breed and its warm skin is often put to use in remote Mexican and Central American villages to ward off and cure ailments like rheumatism, asthma, toothache and insomnia.

Learn more about the Xoloitzcuintli.

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