It’s tough to say exactly how many dog breeds are in existence today - the World Canine Organization estimates about 339 breeds, but that does not include several well-known, yet unofficial breeds, including the goldendoodle. Each dog breed was bred for a specific purpose, thus resulting in such a wide diversity of dogs.
The following are seven rare breeds you’ve almost certainly never heard of:
Neapolitan Mastiff - Otherwise recognized as Hagrid’s dog Fang in the Harry Potter universe, the Neapolitan mastiff is a loyal working dog that can reach a whopping 150 pounds! Although they can be wary around strangers, these dogs are loving and gentle around those they are familiar with.
Norwegian Lundehund - The lundehund is an incredibly unique breed in that it is the only one bred specifically for puffin-hunting. They are originally from Norway’s Vaeroy Island and grow to be between 20-30 pounds. They can live up to 15 years and make for athletic companions.
New Guinea Singing Dog - This breed was originally considered a wild dog but was eventually domesticated and can now be considered a beloved family pet. It gets its name from its unique vocalization, which is not unlike singing.
Bedlington Terrier - The Bedlington terrier is an odd-looking dog, but it is nevertheless quite cuddly and gentle. They are good watchdogs and can run at very fast speeds, given their efficient body shape. They are incredibly athletic and have vast amounts of energy.
Chinook - There’s a pretty good reason you’ve never heard of the Chinook dog; it was once nearing extinction, and is currently one of the rarest breeds in existence today, according to the American Kennel Club. The Chinook was originally bred as an especially strong sled dog. They are great family dogs and wonderful with children.
Catalburun - The bizarre features of this dog are largely the result of inbreeding due to their rarity. Bred for hunting in Turkey, they are one of the only breeds in the world to feature a split nose and suspended ears.
Stabyhoun - This breed comes from the Netherlands and was originally bred to hunt vermin and protect land. They are very obedient, gentle and patient. There are currently fewer than 4,000 of these dogs in existence.