18 Rare Dog Breeds From The AKC’s Most Popular Breed List

Rare Dog Breed Collage.
Image Credit: FurBallFun.

Most of us are familiar with popular dog breeds like the Golden Retriever and the Bulldog, which are celebrated for their affability and charming quirks. But beyond these canine celebrities, there’s a whole world of rare and unique dog breeds that many have never heard of.

These lesser-known breeds might not grace as many homes, but they offer a wealth of unique traits and histories that are as fascinating as their more famous counterparts. For those looking to bring a new puppy into their home, or simply to expand their knowledge of man’s best friend, these rare breeds present a treasure trove of untapped canine delight.

Today, we’ll explore 20 of these rare gems from the American Kennel Club’s extensive breed list. Let’s dive into the details of each breed and discover their special characteristics and the roles they’ve traditionally held.

Azawakh

Beautiful azawakh dog running
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Elegance in Speed

The Azawakh, ranked #196 on the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breed list, is not just fast but also strikingly elegant. Originating from West Africa, this sighthound is known for its aloof temperament and can often stand 24 to 29 inches at the shoulder, weighing between 33 and 55 pounds. Its endurance and speed make it a rare but noble sight in the U.S., with a history deeply rooted in Saharan survival.

Norwegian Lundehund

Typical Norwegian Lundehund
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A Breed with Unique Abilities

The Norwegian Lundehund, sitting at #198 on the AKC list, is famed for its flexibility and six toes on each foot, features that helped it excel in hunting seabirds in Norway’s harsh terrains. This small dog typically weighs around 20 to 30 pounds. Its quirky physical traits make it a unique pet and a fascinating topic for dog enthusiasts.

OtterHound

Otterhound dog running.
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An Aquatic Hunter

Known for its strong swimming ability, at #189 the Otterhound has a rough, waterproof coat and webbed feet. This large breed, weighing 80 to 115 pounds, has a booming bark and a friendly personality, perfect for active families who enjoy outdoor adventures.

Sloughi

A Sloughi (Arabian greyhound) runs
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The Arabian Greyhound

Prized for its incredible speed and grace, the Sloughi is a medium to large dog, often weighing 35 to 50 pounds. Ranked #200, this breed is a rare sight in the U.S., it’s sleek body and reserved nature are trademarks of its Bedouin heritage, making it a distinguished member of the sighthound family.

Cesky Terrier

Cesky Dog sitting in Grass
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A Czech Hunter’s Pride

Developed in Czechoslovakia for hunting, the Cesky Terrier (#192) is small but hardy, with a silky, wavy coat and a gentle disposition. It’s an excellent companion animal, known for being less yappy than other terrier breeds, which can make it a good choice for families.

Kuvasz

Hungarian Kuvasz dog in the park
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Hungary’s Guardian

The majestic Kuvasz #173 on the list, is a large, white shepherd dog with a history of serving as a royal guard dog in Hungary. It is known for its loyalty and protective instincts, weighing in at 70 to 115 pounds, making it a formidable family protector.

Bergamasco Sheepdog

Joyous young female Bergamasco 
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The Wooly Shepherd

With its distinctive “flocked” coat, the Bergamasco Sheepdog (#188) from Italy is a medium-sized herding dog, intelligent and patient, ideal for families with children. Its unique coat helps protect it from harsh weather, making it a robust companion.

Norwegian Buhund

A picture of a white Norwegian Buhund
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Cheerful Herder of Norway

This spitz-type dog is medium-sized, typically weighing 31 to 40 pounds, and is known for its cheerful and energetic personality. The Buhund (#175) is used as both a herder and a watchdog, demonstrating versatility and a keen intelligence.

Ibizan Hound

Ibizan Hound Dog jumps through the sand dunes
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Graceful Hunter of Spain

The Ibizan Hound, ranked #166, is a tall, slender breed typically standing 22.5 to 27.5 inches tall and known for its elegant appearance and agile movements. This breed has a clownish energy and is very affectionate with family members.

Harrier

Beagle Harrier dog on the grass
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Compact English Hunter

The Harrier (#190), a medium-sized hound, is known for its strength and endurance in hunting. It is similar in appearance to the English Foxhound but smaller, standing 19 to 21 inches tall and often described as a more manageable alternative.

Spanish Water Dog

Happy spanish water dog
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Versatile Worker

The Spanish Water Dog (#144) is medium-sized, curly-coated, and excels in herding and water retrieval tasks. Its waterproof wooly coat is hypoallergenic, making it a good option for some allergy sufferers.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff on a meadow
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Italy’s Majestic Guardian

The Neapolitan Mastiff (#118) is massive, typically weighing 110 to 150 pounds, known for its loose, wrinkled skin and protective nature. This breed is an imposing guardian but is also gentle and loyal to its family.

Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphund Dog
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Friendly Reindeer Herder

This breed from the Arctic regions of Finland is known for its good nature and adaptability, typically weighing 33 to 53 pounds. The Finnish Lapphund (#135) has a thick, double coat that makes it well-suited for cold climates and active outdoor adventures.

Bracco Italiano

Beautiful Bracco Italiano
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Italian Hunting Elegance

The Bracco Italiano (#152) is known for its dignified appearance and strong hunting abilities. This large breed stands 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder and has a distinctive droopy face that adds to its charm.

Lancashire Heeler

A closeup shot of a cute Lancashire
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Energetic British Cattle Herder

Small but mighty, the Lancashire Heeler (#147) is typically under 15 inches in height but is known for its agility and herding capability. It’s a robust and friendly breed that excels in dog sports and is often used as a therapy dog due to its adaptable and outgoing nature.

American English Coonhound

A cute American English Coonhound
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America’s Speedy Hunter

This breed is known for its speed and loud voice. Ranked #178 on the AKC’s most popular dog breed list, the American Coonhound is a medium to large dog, typically weighing 45 to 65 pounds, and excels in hunting raccoons and other large game. Its endurance and friendly temperament make it a great companion for active households.

Tibetan Mastiff

Dog breed Tibetan mastiff
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Protector of the Himalayas

At #143 the Tibetan Mastiff is known for its noble and imposing presence. This breed can weigh anywhere from 70 to 150 pounds and is covered with a thick, weather-resistant coat. Historically used to protect sheep from predators, it is independent and protective, making it a diligent watchdog.

Komondor

Komondor (Hungarian sheepdog)
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Hungarian Guard Dog

The Komondor is famous for its distinctive long, corded coat which resembles dreadlocks. This large breed, ranked #180, typically weighs between 80 to 100 pounds and is an effective livestock guardian. The coat serves as protection against extreme weather and predators, making it a rugged and resilient breed.

Discovering Canine Gems

Two Mastiffs portrait
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

These unique dog breeds from the AKC’s list not only bring diversity to the canine world but also offer special attributes that may be perfectly suited for your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a loyal guardian, a competent herder, or a regal companion, these rare breeds could provide the perfect match for your family’s needs. Their intriguing histories and distinctive characteristics make them stand out in the dog world, providing rich companionship and endless topics for fascinating dog-lover conversations.

Corey Turner
Corey Turner, owner of FurBallFun.com, draws on a lifelong love for dogs and extensive pet ownership to offer a unique perspective in the pet industry. With a successful background in project management, he excels in critical analysis, precise attention to detail, and quality assurance. This expertise allows him to effectively differentiate true value from marketing hype in the pet sector. Corey’s contributions have been featured in various publications including Rockery Press Guide Books and WealthofGeeks.com. During his free time, he enjoys disc golfing, rock climbing, and bonding with his cherished FurBall friend, Harvey.