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If we walked into a room of dog parents and asked, “Who’s got the most unique pup here?” we’re pretty darn sure that the entire room would raise their hand. The truth is that every dog is special in his or her own way — whether they’re smart, sweet, or strong. Today, though, we’re talking about the dog breeds that have earned the “unique” stamp for a multitude of reasons, ranging from rarity to rich history to downright amazing physical traits.
The Otterhound is an old English dog that was specifically bred to hunt — you guessed it — otters! As such, they have webbed feet and a wiry, waterproof coat that can look endearingly unkempt both wet and dry. Otterhounds are a descendant of the bloodhound and have a long history of being a royal favorite, with notable owners being King Henry VIII, Edward II, and Queen Elizabeth I. With an estimated 600 Otterhounds in the world, they are considered an endangered breed and are identified by the UK Kennel Club as a Vulnerable Native Breed.
Catahoula Cur Leopard Dog
One glance at the Catahoula Leopard Dog and it’s easy to tell that this pooch is a beautiful melting pot of various breeds. It has a spotted, multi-hued, “never sure what you’re gonna get” coat and piercing eyes that come in green, brown, blue, or amber — sometimes with several colors in the same eye. The breed, which is comprised from a mixture of native American dogs, greyhounds, and Spanish mastiffs, originated in Louisiana where it remains the state dog!
Nope, that’s not a shadow heading your way — it’s a Puli dog! With its long, corded hair that sort of resembles a mop, this breed is so unusual, it may even incite a chuckle. The Puli is native to Hungary and is traditionally used to herd sheep. In addition to their notable coat, they’re also known for being strong-willed, confident, intelligent, and eager to take on a guardian role with adults, children, and other animals. It very closely resembles the larger Komondor, which is also a Hungarian herding dog.
The Bergamasco Shepherd is a herding dog as well, but this breed hails from Italy! Like the Puli, its ample coat is definitely its hallmark quality. Instead of cords, though, the Bergamasco Shepherd’s coat is comprised of three different types of hair: a fine and oily undercoat, a long and coarse middle coat, and a wooly outercoat. As the pup gets older, the hairs weave together and become loosely felted. Because they are fiercely loyal to their humans, this breed makes a great guard and companion dog.
Chinese Crested Dog
Now for the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to coats: the Chinese Crested Dog, which (as you probably guessed) comes from China. This hypoallergenic breed is born either hairless or of the “powderpuff” variety, which is denoted by its lightweight, long and feathery coat. According to Wikipedia, “hairlessness is an incomplete dominant trait within a single breed,” so both versions can be born within the same litter. How’s that for unique? The hairless version — denoted by pillow-y tufts of hair at the head, feet, and tails — is probably the more recognizable type of the two, though, and is how the breed got its “crested” moniker.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid, also referred to as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, has even less hair than the Chinese Crested Dog with only a tiny tuft on its head. It is a distant cousin to the graceful greyhound and elegant Whippet, and its stature is very similar. This Peruvian pup has a rich history, as its origins date all the way back to pre-Incan civilization, and it remained popular throughout the Incan empire. Peru formally declared the breed a “National Patrimony” in 2001, which means that it’s now a protected breed in the country.
If the umlaut didn’t give it away, we will! The Löwchen is a German dog breed whose name translates into probably the cutest thing we’ve ever heard: Little Lion Dog. It truly is a small dog, weighing in between eight and 15 pounds, and the fluffy fur around its face gives off some serious lion’s mane vibes. Back in the early ’70s, it was considered one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, and today there are only a few hundred registered worldwide every year. As you can probably tell, it’s a descendent of the same ancient breed that the Bichon Frise and Maltese come from.
With perky ears that are almost the same size as its head, there’s no way you could sneak anything past the Ibizan Hound. As its name indicates, this breed hails from Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands in Spain’s archipelago, where it excels at hunting small prey. It has a long, lean, muscular stature — similar to the Peruvian Hairless Dog mentioned above — and is considered one of the world’s oldest dog breeds with roots stretching back to ancient Egypt.
While the Ibizan Hound is long and lean, the Neapolitan Mastiff… isn’t. That’s exactly what makes this breed so remarkable, though, and we challenge you to look at a picture without being impressed! This breed is notably thick and meaty — they reach up to 150 pounds — with a droopy, wrinkly coat and face that’s equal parts lovable and intimidating. That said, any intruder would be rightly terrified seeing one on the other side of the door. The Neapolitan Mastiff almost went extinct after WWII, but an effort to bolster the population by Italian painter, Piero Scanziani, has proven effective in keeping them around.
Are you the proud parent of the most unique dog? We love all breeds, mutts included! Share a pic with us on Instagram by tagging @gohealthypaws. And if you’d like to join our pack, look into getting a free quote to help protect not just your pup, but your wallet too.