There are hundreds of dog breeds in the world. Some, like the golden retriever, we know well and love well too. Others exist in small numbers or specific places and are quite the novelty. These unusual dogs have unconventional appearances and abilities, and we guarantee they'll elicit wows from you.
That's quite a mouthful, hey? This rare wrinkly breed is named after the dog-headed Aztec god of lightning and fire, Xolotl. The Ancient people of Mexico saw these dogs as integral to transitioning to the afterlife. When someone passed away, a Xolo—pronounced sholo—was sacrificed too. Xolos come in hairless and coated varieties and are available in three general sizes. A big part of Mexican heritage and culture, Xolos are featured in Frida Kahlo's paintings, Diego Rivera's murals, and the animated film Coco.
With provenance involving giant breeds such as St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, this large breed is most at home in rural areas. Hailing from Germany and bred for royals, Leonbergers are loyal, love a good mud splash, and live up to nine years. Don't let their 100-pound size put you off—these doggies should do just fine with kids. They have impressive double coats and kind faces.
Ooh, la la! The Saluki is elegance and taste, beauty and grace. But, nope, it's not Miss United States. This breed comes from Asia and the Middle East and has been around for thousands of years. Also known as the Persian greyhound, Salukis have long snouts and long hairy ears. They're the supermodels of the dog world—they're tall, skinny, and have to work out a lot.
Basenjis are as old as Methuselah and appear in Babylonian and Mesopotamian artifacts. This ancient African breed is small to medium-sized, intelligent, and quiet. It yodels rather than barks and has a remarkably twisty tail to match its unusual vocalizations. The basenji has a low tolerance for boredom, thoroughly grooms itself, and never smells terrible.
Pulis are like a six-year-old's drawing come to life—they're so cute it defies belief. This Hungarian breed goes back to the Middle Ages and may be a poodle ancestor. It is the smallest of the three dreadlocked breeds and could very well have died out during the Second World War. Its almost-impenetrable coat protects it from bad weather and animals that would harm it. Pulis make good sheepdogs and are affectionate to boot.
The Chinese Crested is another hairless dog breed that inspires mixed reactions. It's not actually from China but used to kill rats on Chinese ships. You may have seen this mostly furless toy dog in various live-action movies—it has long-haired fur on its ankles, tail, and head which looks, dare we say it, chic. Cruella de Vil's pet happens to be a Chinese Crested, which may have something to do with the breed unfairly being named the ugliest dog in the world on more than one occasion. The furry variety of this dog is referred to as a powder puff.
Chinese Shar-Peis were bred to protect, so they're not the most towards strangers. A mass of wrinkles, this breed is all about those rolls and folds of skin. Shar-Peis also have unique blue-black tongues, just like their closest relative, the bite-prone Chow Chow. War in China almost led to the Shar-Pei's extinction.
This breed has a long distinct profile and egg-shaped head and was bred to be a fighting dog. The bull terrier's familiarity among the masses is down to yet another character in a famous animated movie. The sadistic villain, Sid, in Toy Story had a manic bull terrier by the name of Scud who haunted the nightmares of scores of children. But despite being on Dangerous Breed lists and banned in some countries, the bull terrier can be a loyal sweetie if it's socialized and trained early.
This energetic puffin-hunting dog breed has some extraordinary features, including six fully-functioning toes per foot, extra paw pads, and a head that can tilt so far back it could almost be mistaken for an upside-down owl noggin. The Norwegian Lundehund can also seal its ear canals to prevent water and dirt from getting inside and is short a tooth on the sides of its mouth. Extremely rare, this breed also almost became extinct in the mid-1900s.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the Bedlington terrier from the North East of England for a lamb or even a camel, but it's shaggy and the opposite of a timid sheep. A favorite among some Romany groups, this small breed is a good protection dog, swimmer, and even better hunter. You may also remember this dog from races or dog sports shows. Bedlington terriers are right at home in the snow.
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