With 190 recognized dog breeds, it can be difficult to learn about them all. While the United States is filled with Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs, two of the most popular dog breeds in the country, there are many other breeds that go relatively unnoticed. If it weren’t for their enthusiasts, we might not even see as many as we do. But just because they’re less popular, doesn’t mean these dogs have nothing to offer. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The rarest dog breeds in the United States are actually some of the most exciting!
The English Foxhound is an old breed, recognized by the AKC in 1909, used most notably for hunting in large packs for fox. In appearance, the breed is much stouter than its American counterpart, but should not be heavy. English Foxhounds are active, loyal, and gentle companions.
The Harrier, recognized back in 1885, is an old, reliable hunting breed from England. Bred to hunt in packs for rabbits and hare, they possess all of the required attributes of a scenting pack hound. Sturdily built with large bones, full of strength, and well balanced, Harriers can work tirelessly in all terrain. They are outgoing and friendly, fairly active, and easygoing companions.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small Spitz breed that originally comes from remote islands in Norway. Bred to hunt puffins on steep, vertical cliffs, the Lundehund is equipped with six toes on each foot and elongated rear foot pads. These dogs are alert and energetic, small and mighty, and make excellent hiking companions.
The American Foxhound is leaner than its English cousin, and was bred in the United States to hunt foxes and other game. They are scenting pack hounds, bred to run effortlessly for many hours during their chase. Although easygoing, the breed is stubborn and independent and requires a significant amount of exercise in order to be kept happy and healthy.
Amiable and boisterous, the Otterhound is a large hunting breed originating from England. As its name suggests, the breed was developed for otter hunting. Because its quarry was found on land and in water, it differs from other hounds with its rough, double coat and webbed feet. Strong in body and mind, the Otterhound is an inquisitive breed with an exceptionally powerful nose.
The Cesky Terrier, true to its terrier heritage, is feisty and tenacious in its work. Bred to hunt in packs, they are slightly more sociable and trainable than your typical terrier. Adventurous and clever, they make great companions for those ready to provide them with adequate physical and mental exercise.
The Finnish Spitz was originally bred for hunting small game and birds in Finland. True to its Spitz heritage, the breed is lively, courageous, and friendly. The dogs carry themselves boldly, showing off their stunning red color and confident personality. Although small, they are very active and athletic dogs that need ample exercise.
The Chinook is a devoted family dog, originally bred in the United States for drafting and sled dog racing. Athletic and sturdy, the breed combines strength and agility for both activities. Patient, intelligent, and willing to please, the Chinook makes an excellent family dog and is known for his affinity to children.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a vibrant athlete and vigilant herding dog of all kinds of livestock. They are enthusiastic and mischievous dogs, both in work and play. The coat varies from smooth to long, but the quality is more important than abundance. The Pyrenean Shepherd is playful with his family, though wary of strangers, and does best in a very active home.
The Skye Terrier is canny, courageous, and good-tempered. Agile and strong, this terrier is a breed with elegance and dignity. The breed is loyal and devoted to its family, although sometimes stubborn. Bred for hunting foxes along the Isle of Skye of Scotland, they are stronger than their size makes them appear.
The Bergamasco is a unique breed easily recognized by its coat. With three types of hair, the coat forms flocks of hair weaved together, giving it a felted look. The Bergamasco is an ancient sheepdog breed, originating in Persia's harsh mountain climates, where his coat protected him from the environment. Independent yet sociable, the Bergamasco is an intelligent dog that requires regular exercise if he is to be a family pet.
Header photo courtesy of Tom Walker, AKC Breeder of Merit