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Unique Dog Breeds: Completely Out of the Ordinary Canines

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We know what most dog breeds are with little trouble. Walking down the street, we pick them out. That’s a Border Collie. And, of course, who doesn’t recognize a Pug? The most popular breeds blend into the crowd. We know them and expect to see them out for walks and playing in the local dog park. But now and then, we see something different. A dog catches our attention because it looks…well, not quite like a dog! Something stands out about their coat, their shape, or their face. We start wondering, “What kind of dog is that?” These unique dog breeds aren’t common, and they pique our interest. We’ve put together some of these stand-out canines to introduce you to some of the unique – and interesting – dog breeds out there.

Dog Breeds of the World

Pinning down the exact number of dog breeds in the world gets tricky. Mostly because every group keeps a different list. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists a total of 340 known breeds, 197 officially recognized. In the United Kingdom, the Kennel Club recognizes 211 breeds. And the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) – the largest dog organization in the world? They recognize 354 breeds. Clearly, the odds that you’ve seen EVERY dog is pretty slim. And some of those pups are rarer than others.

And some of the rarest breeds? Also happen to cost the most. (Which doesn’t help with repopulation) As fanciers encourage notice of their favorite dogs, they do the best they can to revive certain lines. It’s a plan that’s worked in the past when dogs have found themselves on the brink of extinction. And some of the unique dog breeds you may see out today are hoping for that same miracle.

Locating Unique Dog Breeds

Once you lose your heart to a unique dog breed, tracking them down can get challenging. They’re often wonderful pups, working well with families. However, they have low popularity. Rescue groups may not be available due to how rare they are. You may have to search to find a breeder – even OUTSIDE the country. Most unique dog breeds come from Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Always check for the reputation of the breeder FIRST. The odds aren’t high that you’ll find a unique dog breed at a puppy mill (they’re too rare), but it’s important to remain cautious. You should get to see both parents and hear about their health history. Even if you have to start with conversations via Skype or Zoom, make sure you feel comfortable. After all, you CAN use the Kennel Club and FCI to help you find appropriate kennels overseas.

Concerns with Unique Dog Breeds

Before you go scrambling for your passport, make sure you do your homework. While gorgeous to look upon, these pups often have specific needs. Herding breeds share similar characteristics – no matter HOW they look. And if you’re not prepared with plenty of room for your spectacular new pup to run around? That isn’t fair. You’ll have gone to the trouble of purchasing an expensive plane ticket (and all of the extra paperwork) to make your new canine companion miserable.

Also, due to the small genetic populations of these rare dogs, you need to stay on top of health concerns. As groups work to revive the breed, they often encounter health issues. You’ll want to make sure you know ALL of the potential problems. And it wouldn’t hurt to make sure you have pet insurance on hand.

Unique Dog Breeds

These pups? They stand out in a crowd. When you take your walks or visit the dog park, you’re sure to draw attention. And most people will wonder if your furry friend is real! These unique dog breeds encourage everyone to come over and ask questions. People will want to know what kind of dog you have, where they came from, and what they’re like. And since you did all of your homework before you brought them home, you’ll have the answers. As an owner, you’ll also serve as a breed ambassador, which is an important job. Who knows – you may encourage someone else to bring one of these pups into the area!

Bedlington Terrier

That’s right: it’s a dog that looks like an adorable lamb! The Bedlington Terrier stands out from other dogs with a curly white coat and an arched back. And while this unique dog breed makes people do a double-take when they’re out on a leash, they originally worked as hunters in 19th-century England. One of the fastest members of the Terrier Group, they took on everything from rats to badgers and even the occasional otter! Those soft white curls protected them from inclement weather while they were on the hunt. Later down the road, owners figured out subtle grooming turned these dogs into bounding lambs. And now they happily cuddle with their owners and work as watchdogs around the house.


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Bergamasco Sheepdog

“Is your hair natural?” Believe it or not, the flocks of the Bergamasco Sheepdog are 100% natural. Three different textures of their felt-like hair weave together, creating the flocks. Serving as herding dogs in the Italian Alps, the thick hair protected them from the icy winter conditions. They also have LONG eyelashes that kept the hair out of their eyes AND served as tinting to prevent snow blindness. And while all of those flocks look intimidating, they’re a cinch to take care of. Bergamascos don’t shed! (Talk about a unique dog breed) They remain loyal to their owners, staying close to their families. But they’re also friendly and enjoy meeting new people.


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Berger Picard

Fans of Because of Winn-Dixie already know the Berger Picard. But to most people? This unique sheepdog looks like a loveable mixed breed. Pronounced “Bare zhay Peecar,” the beautiful Berger comes from France – and almost vanished following World War II. They returned throughout the world through the work of breed fanciers (and the movie didn’t hurt, either). They stood watch over their flocks in the French countryside, the wiry coat keeping them safe and dry. Bergers need room to run and burn off their energy, and you’ll love their playful antics. When settled at home, though, they love nothing more than snuggling beside you.


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Cesky Terrier

Not many dogs have the honor of getting to serve as the national dog of a country. But Cesky Terriers? They’re the National Dog of the Czech Republic. You’ll even find them on postage stamps! In the U.S., though, there are only about 600 dogs in the entire country. So if you happen to stumble upon one, you’ll definitely consider them a unique dog breed. Related to both the Sealyham and Scottish Terriers, they have full heads of hair that extend past their eyes and down to their flowing mustaches. It’s a regal look that stands out in a crowd. With the expected Terrier energy, they LOVE to play. But they also adore their owners and stick close to the people they love.


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Hungary produced many unique dog breeds developed for herding, including the Pumi. But the Mudi stands out with its beautiful array of fluffy hair. These energetic pups come in multiple colors, and they take their jobs seriously. Now that herding isn’t as prominent, Mudis have switched over to working search-and-rescue! Unhappily, while stunning to look upon and loving, their numbers are dropping. Throughout the world, only a few thousand remain. Mudi fanciers are working hard to rescue the breed by encouraging people to learn more about these historic dogs.


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Taking a Saluki out in public catches attention. However, it’s usually because people think the poor thing is starved! These tall, sleek dogs take the sighthound plan and carve it even thinner. But they ARE meant to be that thin. In Egypt, the Pharaohs bred Salukis to hunt, and they needed a lean profile to run as fast as possible. These dogs were SO adept, they were often mummified with the Pharaoh out of honor. Today, their furry ears and sleek profile draw people’s attention. They ARE every bit as fast as they were in their ancient past, though. You’ll want to work on recall training if you plan to remove the leash.


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Occasionally referred to as “little black devils,” Schipperkes are unique dog breeds that remind people of tiny black bears. And they have the personalities to back it up! In the 1800s, Schipperkes worked as guard dogs on barges and canals throughout Belgium. They used their boundless energy to hunt for vermin between the boats. And their bark? It drew attention from everywhere. They’ve retained those qualities today, making them loyal guardians of the home. And while it’s important NOT to let them off-leash (they’re FAST), you’ll find yourself the center of attention when people catch sight of that fluffy black coat.


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Swedish Vallhund

At first glance, people think Swedish Vallhunds are an unusual mix of Corgi. Then they stop and look again. The original “Viking Dog,” Vallhunds DO have short legs and long bodies, but that’s where the similarity ends. The National Dog of Sweden, they trace their ancestry back to the NINTH century! You’ll find them in multiple colors, as well as with different lengths of the tail. Some have bobtails (no tails), while others have a tail that curls over their backs. They herded cattle, hunted down vermin, and guarded the home. And with so many jobs in their past, they’re comfortable doing anything you ask today. They’re lovable little dogs who aim to please.


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Rare Canine Jewels

Everyone has their favorite dog breeds. And some people? They have tastes that run to unique dog breeds. This is why you may see different canine characters when you’re out and about. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about these new pups and where they come from around the world. Especially as many of them are so rare.

With better knowledge of unique and rare dogs? We may prevent some of the best canines from disappearing.

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria grew up in a pet-friendly household. On weekends, the family made trips to zoos and aquariums in the area. So it wasn’t a surprise when she gravitated toward a career with animals.

After six years working among the background operations at the Philadelphia Zoo, she gained a unique insight into the veterinary world. The vet staff provided her first lessons in terminology, the identification of medical equipment, and glimpses of radiographs (x-rays). She also enjoyed plenty of opportunities to talk with everyone, including the veterinary technicians. And they offered an alternative for someone NOT interested in surgical pathways: Namely, their course of study.

Andria enrolled at Harcum College. Philadelphia boasts two programs for vet techs, but only Harcum works with the Ryan Veterinary Hospital and New Bolton Center (University of Pennsylvania’s small and large animal facilities, respectively). Harcum’s vet tech students receive six months of hands-on teaching and experience alongside Penn’s vet students.

With the opportunities and connections available with one of the top veterinary schools, the decision was easy for her to make.

New Bolton Center: Large Animal Medicine
Andria ended up trudging through snow up to the knee and shivering in subzero temperatures during her winter semester, but she wasn’t disappointed with her choice. New Bolton provided a thorough grounding in large animal medicine. A horse-lover as a child, the experience renewed those old emotions.

And a few memories stood out and remained to this day:

  • Standing alongside a Clydesdale and feeling TINY
  • Holding the reins of a horse galloping at top speed on a treadmill
  • Nursing tiny foals through the first days of their life

Ryan Veterinary Hospital: Small Animal Medicine
Veterinary students can legally work at a practice while studying. Andria took advantage of the opportunity, gaining “real life” experience while attending class. It provided a slight advantage when she entered her three months at the small animal hospital.

However, as Ryan Veterinary Hospital offers treatments unique to the veterinary community, she continued to gain valuable experience. For instance, she spent a day working alongside their Chemo Team. The positivity of everyone she encountered – staff, clients, and patients alike – left a lasting impression.

Additional standout moments included:

  • An afternoon spent with the head of the feline kidney transplant program
  • A day serving as the anesthesia technician in their new radiation unit
  • Recognizing a radiograph of a giant elephant shrew (applying her previous zoo knowledge)

Emergency/ICU Veterinary Technician
Accompanying her Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology, Andria received a passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The two led to her certification/license as a veterinary technician – first in Pennsylvania (CVT) and later in Virginia (LVT).

Emergency medicine appealed to her from the beginning. The flux of ailments, injuries, and even species kept her mind sharp at all times. The knowledge required to handle cats, dogs, exotics, and even wildlife is highest in an ICU setting. When a vet tech never knows the patient’s stability coming back to the treatment area, skills and the ability to respond in an instant always stay in peak shape.

With treatments evolving at a constant basis, Andria sought out the best Continuing Education opportunities. She attended the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (IVECCS) Conference whenever possible. This allowed her to discuss the latest wound treatments, medications, and advancements in diet formulations.

Cardiology Veterinary Technician
With the increased knowledge and experience, Andria noticed gaps in her abilities. Her grasp of cardiology remained at the basic level. She wanted to boost her skills and understanding as much as possible, improving her patient care. When an opportunity within the practice arose to move into the cardiology department, she accepted.

She sharpened her ability to read ECGs, recognizing arrhythmias of every type. Speaking with the cardiologist, she learned to read echocardiograms, picking out the most common disease processes. And, courtesy of her position in the department, she took in everything she could regarding the grain-free diet concern.

And throughout her ten-year career, she built her store of client interactions. She learned stories of heartbreak and hope. In the middle of the night, she shared touching and humorous conversations. Every moment taught her to engage with people. And the skill blended into her writing ability, capturing the interest of pet-lovers everywhere.

Check out Andria’s LinkedIn here

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