Top 10 Rare Dog Breeds in the U.S. – Dogster


Have you ever thought about sharing your life with a rare breed of dog? There are 200 different breeds of dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club and each breed is unique. To determine how popular or rare a dog breed is, look at the American Kennel Club records for the number of a certain dog breed registered in the country. The fewer dogs who are registered, the rarer that breed is considered to be. The list is updated every year.

The top 10 rare dog breeds

  1. English Foxhound: A large hound developed to hunt in packs. These dogs retain strong hunting instincts. This is No. 199 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    English Foxhound
    The rarest breed in the U.S., the English Foxhound is pictured here from the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Show. This is a large-sized breed, weighing 60 to 75 pounds and a member of the Hound Group. © Kayla Bertagnolli
  2. Norwegian Lundehund: A small Spitz breed from Norway, who was developed to hunt puffin. This unique breed has six toes and a neck that can bend backwards. This is No. 198 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Norwegian Lundehund
    Coming in as the second rarest dog breed in the U.S., Norwegian Lundehunds love attention and typically excel at sporting events. They are a small dog, weighing 20 to 30 pounds and belong to the Non-Sporting Group. © CaptureLight/Getty Images
  3. Sloughi: This primitive sighthound is from North African Deserts. The breed is bred to run and requires a lot of exercise. These dogs tend to be wary of strangers. This is No. 197 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Rare dog breed, Sloughi
    A member of the Hound Group, the Sloughi looks similar to dogs seen in ancient Egyptian art and weighs around 35 to 50 pounds. © Ullis Sundell
  4. American Foxhound: A tall and gentle social hound that needs lots of exercise and outlets for their drive to hunt. This is No. 196 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    American Foxhound
    The state dog of Virginia, American Foxhounds can have a single-minded prey drive, weigh from 60 to 70 pounds and are members of the Hound Group. © DevidDO | Getty Images
  5. Belgian Laekenois (Lack–in–wah): With a rough coat, these dogs are active herding dogs who are very protective of their families. This is No. 195 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Belgian Laekenois
    The Belgian Laekenois was recognized by the AKC in 2020 and is a member of the Herding Group. They weigh from 55 to 65 pounds. © Shutterstock
  6. Azawakh: This tall, lean dog breed is a West African sighthound that has higher than average energy levels, playfulness and mental stimulation needs. This is No. 194 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    rare dog breed
    Part of Hound Group, the Azawakh is a medium-sized rare dog breed, weighing between 33 and 55 pounds. © animalinfo/Getty Images
  7. Harrier: A friendly medium sized hound. These dogs date back to medieval England where they were used to hunt hare. These active hounds maintain a strong prey drive. This is No. 193 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Harriers, medium-sized members of the Hounds Group, weigh from 45 to 60 pounds and have thick necks and long tails with a dense, short coat. © Nicki1982/Getty Images
  8. Sussex Spaniel: Affectionate, loyal and cheerful, the Sussex Spaniel is long and low to the ground with a deep chest. This is No. 198 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Sussex Spaniel
    Members of the Sporting Group, Sussex Spaniels are independent, clever and hard workers. These low-built spaniels weigh 35 to 45 pounds. © Kayla Bertagnolli, as captured at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  9. Cesky Terrier (chess-kee): From the Czech Republic, these terriers have silky wavy fur, and in addition to a strong hunting drive make great family pets. This is No. 191 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Cesky Terrier
    Short yet muscular, Cesky Terriers are among the most cat-friendly dogs. Part of the Terrier Group, they only weigh 14 to 24 pounds. © Tierfotoagentur | Alamy Stock Photo
  10. Pyrenean Shepherd: These playful and energetic herding dogs have a scruffy medium- length coat. These interactive dogs love to play and excel at sports. This is No. 190 on the AKC’s most popular dog list.
    Pyrenean Shepherds are fast. Can you keep up? They are members of the Herding Group, weighing 15 to 30 pounds. © Amanda Labadie.

Where can I find rare dog breeders?

The American Kennel Club maintains a directory of breed clubs around the country. These breed clubs have volunteers who will answer questions you might have about these dogs and where you can find reputable breeders. The AKC directory of upcoming events is a great resource to locate dog shows in your area and meet handlers and breeders, and meet the rare breed in person.

Why should I get a rare dog breed?

When looking to add a dog to your family, research different breeds of dogs, their size, temperament and what they were originally bred to do. Don’t limit your research to breeds you have met before, or that you see in your neighborhood. Just because a dog is common, it doesn’t mean he will necessarily be a good match for your home and lifestyle.

One of the benefits of having a rare breed can be the chance to find a dog who will be the ideal fit for your family.

You are also playing a part in preserving the history and legacy of that breed. Rare breeds are at risk of disappearing if people don’t continue preserving them. Another benefit of sharing your life with a rare breed is that people involved with rare breeds tend to be extremely passionate about their breeds and are excited to connect and meet-up with other people involved in their breed. This can give you a built-in community of friends and support when you bring a rare dog home.


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