Breed Tips

Top 10 Rarest Dog Breeds You May Not Know Exist

The world of dogs is incredibly diverse, with hundreds of recognized breeds showcasing a wide array of sizes, personalities, and physical traits. But while breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers enjoy widespread popularity, there are some truly unique and rare dog breeds out there that you may never have heard of. Let's dive into the top 10 and explore their fascinating histories.

10. Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund
  • Average Weight: 13 to 15 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 12 to 16 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 1200 to 1400 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 5 to 10 years

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small, agile dog from Norway that boasts incredible flexibility. They can bend their heads backward to touch their spines, rotate their forelegs at 90-degree angles, and have six toes on each foot! Originally used to hunt puffins, their rarity stems from a decline in traditional hunting methods and an outbreak of canine distemper that nearly decimated the breed.

9.  Stabyhoun

Stabyhoun
  • Average Weight: 40 to 60 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 19 to 21 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 3500 to 6000 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

From the Netherlands, the Stabyhouns is a medium-sized dog bred for versatility. Initially used for hunting, they've transitioned into gentle, affectionate companions. However, their numbers remain low due to cross-breeding and the popularity of other breeds.

8. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Average Weight: 30 to 35 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 16 to 20 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 2000 to 3000 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 15 to 17 years

This curly-coated Italian breed, also known as the "truffle dog," is a skilled hunter with a keen sense of smell. They almost vanished in the 1970s due to attempts to enhance their hunting abilities through cross-breeding. Thankfully, dedicated breeders have preserved the Lagotto Romagnolo.

7. Azawakh 

  • Average Weight: 45 to 50 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 25 to 30 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 1500 to 2000 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The elegant Azawakh originates from West Africa, where they were prized as guardians and hunting companions. This loyal and affectionate breed is rare due to strict export restrictions and their high cost. These dogs can cost as much as $10,000.

6. Thai Ridgeback

  • Average Weight: 35 to 70 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 20 to 25 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 1000-1100 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

This Thai Ridgeback gets its name from the distinctive ridge of hair running down its spine in the opposite direction of the rest of its coat. The rarity of this breed comes from their origin which dates back to the isolated islands of Eastern Thailand, an area that made transport difficult and limited breeding opportunities.

5. Otterhound

Otterhound
  • Average Weight: 80 to 120 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 25 to 28 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 500 to 600 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

A large, shaggy breed from England, the Otterhound is an exceptional water dog. They are incredibly rare, with only a few litters born each year, putting them in danger of extinction.

4. Mudi

Mudi
  • Average Weight: 20 to 30 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 15 to 18 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 800 to 1000 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The Mudi is a hardworking Hungarian breed known for its intelligence and versatility. Originally bred to assist farmers with their work, their numbers dwindled after World War II and due to the popularity of other herding breeds.

3. Chinook

  • Average Weight: 55 to 80 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 22 to 26 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 700 to 800 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Developed in New Hampshire for sled racing and drafting, the Chinook is a powerful and athletic breed. They nearly went extinct in the 1980s with their population dropping to 28 dogs, but have since seen a resurgence.

2. Peruvian Inca Orchid

  • Average Weight: 8 to 18 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 10 to 25 inches (male and female) (small to large)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 500 to 600 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The Peruvian Inca Orchid from Peru has a long history dating back thousands of years. Once used for their warmth and believed to have medicinal properties, they faced a decline in popularity due to their unusual appearance.

1. Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

  • Average Weight: 10 to 50 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 10 to 25 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 600 to 800 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

With a history spanning over 3,000 years, the Xoloitzcuintli was considered sacred by the Aztecs. They almost disappeared in the 1950s but have since made a comeback thanks to dedicated breeding efforts.

Bonus – The Rarest – New Guinea Singing Dog

New Guinea Singing Dog
  • Average Weight: 20 to 30 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 12 to 18 inches (male and female)

  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 150 to 200 worldwide

  • Life Expectancy: 15 to 20 years

Holding the title of arguably the most unique dog breed is the New Guinea Singing dog . Native to the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea, these wild canines are known for their distinctive vocalizations. Their "songs" feature complex harmonies and high-pitched howls that resemble whales or even human singing. With less than 200 remaining, mostly in captivity, the New Guinea Singing Dog is a living testament to the fascinating and endangered biodiversity of our planet.

The Most Expensive Dog Breed

While rare breeds can fetch high prices, the most expensive dog breed in the world is the Tibetan Mastiff. Known for their immense size and lion-like manes, these majestic guardians originated in the Himalayan mountains. In 2014, a red Tibetan Mastiff puppy sold for a staggering $1.5 million in China! Their high price tag is due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Rarity: Tibetan Mastiffs are relatively uncommon outside of their native region.

  • Prestige: Their historical significance and imposing appearance make them a symbol of status for some buyers.

  • Size and Maintenance: Their sheer size means greater expenses for food, vet care, and even living space.

Expert Insights From Spot

Looking at pet insurance claims offers a fascinating glimpse into dog breed popularity. Spot's data, covering pets insured since 2019, reflects this. Breeds like the Lagotto Romagnolo (86 insured), Chinook (11 insured), Thai Ridgeback (10 insured), and Mudi (8 insured) appear with some regularity. However, rarity is also evident. Breeds like the Azawakh and Otterhound have less than 5 insured pets with Spot, even though we cover pets across the U.S. and Canada. For breeds like the Lundehund and Xoloitzcuintli, Spot hasn't yet insured any dogs, highlighting the extreme rarity of these breeds.

The Importance of Preservation

These rare dog breeds are a testament to the incredible diversity of the canine world. By understanding the factors contributing to their rarity, we can appreciate their unique qualities and support efforts to ensure their continued existence for future generations to enjoy.

How Spot Pet Insurance Can Help


Pet insurance can be particularly important when you have a rare dog breed because these unique breeds often come with specialized health needs and potential genetic predispositions. Spot Pet Insurance can help provide pet parents with additional financial support, helping ensure that your pet can receive the veterinary care they need without you having to worry so much about the cost. Spot plans offer accident-only or accident and illness coverage, and you can receive up to 90% cash back on eligible vet bills, and for an additional fee, can also receive preventive care.

Preventive care can cover the cost of routine veterinary services like annual wellness exams, vaccines, dental cleanings and other services. With a Spot plan, you can focus on providing the best possible care for your rare canine companion and enjoy peace of mind knowing that the cost of unexpected injuries or illness won't break the bank. Get a quote today!

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