Skip to main content

The Top 10 Rarest Dog Breeds

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree from UNC Charlotte. He has 15+ years of experience with dogs and various pets.

From the Otterhound to the Chinook, this article ranks the 10 rarest dog breeds in the world!

From the Otterhound to the Chinook, this article ranks the 10 rarest dog breeds in the world!

What Is the Rarest Dog Breed in the World?

Throughout the world, there exists a wide array of dog breeds with personalities, temperaments, and traits that are extremely diverse and multifaceted. While some of these breeds are quite popular (and common) among dog lovers, others are extremely rare and difficult to acquire. From the Otterhound to the Chinook, this work examines (and ranks) the 10 rarest dog breeds known to currently exist worldwide. It provides a brief analysis of each dog’s traits and characteristics, along with an estimated figure for its current population numbers. Did your favorite breed make our final 10 below? Read on to find out!

The World's Rarest Dogs Ranked

  • Stabyhoun
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Azawakh
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Thai Ridgeback
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • Mudi
  • Chinook
  • Otterhound
  • New Guinea Singing Dog
Stabyhoun.

Stabyhoun.

10. Stabyhoun

  • Average Weight: 40 to 60 pounds (male and female)
  • Average Height: 19 to 21 inches (male and female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 3,500 to 6,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

The beautiful Stabyhoun is a medium-sized dog breed that was first developed in the Netherlands during the 1800s. Although originally bred for the purpose of hunting foxes and small game, the Stabyhoun’s role in the modern age has changed dramatically, as they are now favored for companionship roles within the home. Classified as an extremely loving and responsive breed, the dog is renowned for their tremendous intelligence, affectionate demeanor, and overall gentleness. Taken together, the Stabyhoun is well-suited for family-based environments, as they tend to thrive in homes with children (including toddlers).

How Rare is the Stabyhoun?

In spite of their gentle and affectionate nature, the Stabyhoun is characterized as a rare breed in the realm of canines. Current estimates suggest that only 3,500 to 6,000 Stabyhoun dogs exist worldwide (as of 2022). Of these, only 300 are currently registered in all of North America. The cause for these low figures remains disputed by dog experts; however, it has been theorized that cross-breeding and replacement by other breeds were the chief culprits to the dog’s rapid decline in popularity. As of today, a number of local and international breeders have begun the painstaking process of saving the Stabyhoun from extinction. Only time will tell if these efforts will be effective in the long-term.

Lagotto Romagnolo.

Lagotto Romagnolo.

9. Lagotto Romagnolo

  • Average Weight: 28.5 to 35 pounds (male); 24 to 31 pounds (female)
  • Average Height: 17 to 19 inches (male); 16 to 18 inches (female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 2,000 to 3,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 15 to 17 years

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small to medium-sized dog breed that was first developed in Italy during ancient times. Also known as the “duck dog,” the Lagotto Romagnolo was originally bred for the purpose of hunting and retrieving waterfowl around the marshlands of Romagna (hence its name). In the modern era, the dog continues to fulfill this hunting role, but is also utilized by owners for their companionship qualities. Often described as one of the most affectionate and lovable breeds around, the Lagotto Romagnolo is incredibly intelligent, aware of their surroundings, and energetic. This makes them a great addition to a variety of homes, including sportsmen and more active households capable of providing their new pet with lots of exercise and attention on a daily basis.

How Rare is the Lagotto Romagnolo?

Despite its lovable personality, the Lagotto Romagnolo is exceptionally rare in the realm of canines. As of March 2022, it is estimated that only 2,000 to 3,000 Lagotto Romagnolos exist worldwide. Of these numbers, only 500 are currently registered in the United States. Experts believe that continuous cross-breeding of the dog with other retriever breeds is what caused these low population figures, as greed and a desire to optimize the Lagotto Romagnolo’s hunting abilities was prioritized over breed preservation. In fact, the dog almost went extinct during the 1970s, but was later revived by international organizations and breeders hoping to maintain its presence on the world stage. To date, it remains unclear whether current population numbers will continue to rise or fall in the years ahead (akc.org).

Azawakh.

Azawakh.

8. Azawakh

  • Average Weight: 44 to 55 pounds (male); 33 to 44 pounds (female)
  • Average Height: 25 to 29 inches (male); 23.5 to 27.5 inches (female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: Less than 2,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

The beautiful Azawakh is a tall and elegant dog that was first developed in Africa during ancient times. First developed by breeders for the purpose of guarding livestock and tracking small game, the Azawakh’s role in the modern-era has changed significantly, as they are now favored by owners for their companionship qualities. Often described by experts as being one of the most loyal and affectionate breeds in the world, the dog is renowned for its independence, friendliness, and remarkable intelligence. They are well-suited for a variety of homes, including families with children due to their desire for lots of attention.

How Rare is the Azawakh?

In spite of its loving nature, the Azwakh is an exceptionally rare dog breed worldwide. As of 2022, it is currently estimated that less than 2,000 Azawakh are currently in existence. Experts believe that the dog’s low population numbers are due to a variety of African laws (particularly in West Saharan nations) that prohibited the exportation of the breed outside the continent until the 1980s. As such, the demand for these remarkable dogs steadily declined, resulting in their low population today. Due to its extreme rarity, the Azawakh is also one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, with puppies going for as much as $9,500 to $10,000 each (thus, adding to its declining popularity). Without intervention by breeders and international organizations, the Azawakh may face extinction in the years to come.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Pethelpful

Norwegian Lundehund.

Norwegian Lundehund.

7. Norwegian Lundehund

  • Average Weight: 20 to 30 pounds (male and female)
  • Average Height: 13 to 15 inches (male); 12 to 14 inches (female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: Less than 1,400 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

The Norwegian Lundehund is an extremely small and petite dog breed that was first developed in Norway during the 1500s. First developed by breeders for the purpose of puffin hunting, the Norwegian Lundehund is now favored by owners for its friendly disposition, making it an ideal pet for companionship. Often characterized by experts as one of the most loyal, energetic, and alert dog breeds in the world, the Norwegian Lundehund is well-suited for a variety of owners (despite their stubbornness, independent-minds, and somewhat manipulative temperament). This includes hunters, sportsmen, and family-based homes with children.

How Rare is the Norwegian Lundehund?

As of March 2022, it is currently estimated that only 1,400 Norwegian Lundehunds exist in the world. Of these, approximately 600 dogs are believed to reside in Norway, with another 350 that are believed to reside in the United States. As such, this is an exceptionally difficult breed to acquire. Experts cite a number of reasons for their low population numbers. Starting in the 20th Century, Norway imposed a number of taxes on Lundehunds, making it nearly impossible for owners to keep them. Likewise, widespread inbreeding (caused by careless owners) is believed to have also contributed to their rarity, as the practice resulted in low fertility for the dog, shorter lifespans, as well as high puppy mortality rates. Although efforts are currently underway to save the Norwegian Lundehund, it is believed that the breed will be on the brink of extinction within the next decade.

Thai Ridgeback.

Thai Ridgeback.

6. Thai Ridgeback

  • Average Weight: 35 to 75 pounds (male and female)
  • Average Height: 20 to 24 inches (male and female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 1,100+ worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

The Thai Ridgeback is a medium-sized dog that was first developed in Thailand in the 1600s. Originally developed by breeders for the purpose of hunting small vermin and the protection of owners, the Thai Ridgeback continues to fulfill much of this role in the modern era as they continue to be utilized for protection and work-dog purposes. Often characterized by dog experts as one of the most loyal and agile breeds in the world, the dog is renowned for its reserved and suspicious nature. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals seeking a breed for watchdog purposes, or for those seeking a good hunting companion.

How Rare is the Thai Ridgeback?

The Thai Ridgeback continues to be an extraordinarily rare breed worldwide. As of 2022, it is currently estimated that fewer than 100 Thai Ridgebacks exist in the United States. In Thailand, this number isn’t much higher, with an estimated 1,000 dogs in existence. This places the animal alongside the pika and mountain gorilla in terms of its overall population numbers (worldwide). Thankfully, greater recognition of the Thai Ridgeback’s downward spiral towards extinction has garnered a tremendous amount of attention in recent years, prompting local and international agencies to establish programs aimed at replenishing the dog’s numbers before it is too late. As such, the Thai Ridgeback is expected to make a slow comeback in the years ahead.

Peruvian Inca Orchid.

Peruvian Inca Orchid.

5. Peruvian Inca Orchid

  • Average Weight: 8.5 to 17.5 pounds (small); 17.5 to 26.5 pounds (medium); 26.5 to 55 pounds (large)
  • Average Height: 9.75 to 15.75 inches (small); 15.75 to 19.75 inches (medium); 19.75 to 25.75 inches (large)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: Less than 1,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a sighthound that was first developed in Peru during ancient times. Originally developed by breeders for the purpose of religious and medicinal duties, this rare breed (which is now recognized as the official dog of Peru) is now utilized by owners for the purpose of companionship in the home. Often classified by experts as one of the most affectionate, loyal, and noble-minded dogs in the world, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is an extremely loving, sweet, and protective breed and makes for an excellent addition to nearly any home (as long as they receive lots of love and attention from their owners). Due to crossbreeding practices, they come in three separate sizes, including small, medium, and large.

How Rare is the Peruvian Inca Orchid?

Although current population numbers are difficult to determine (with accuracy), it is currently estimated that approximately 1,000 Peruvian Inca Orchid dogs exist worldwide. It remains unclear why the dog’s population numbers are so low; however, experts hypothesize that the Peruvian Inca Orchid’s hairless qualities were once viewed as undesirable, causing its overall numbers to plummet due to a lack of demand. Recent attempts by the Peruvian government, however, have helped to increase the dog’s overall popularity (especially in Peru). As such, experts are hopeful that the breed will make a comeback in the years that lie ahead.

Mudi.

Mudi.

4. Mudi

  • Average Weight: 18 to 29 pounds (male and female
  • Average Height: 15 to 18.5 inches (male and female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: Less than 1,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The Mudi is a small to medium-sized dog breed that originated in Hungary during the 1800s. Originally developed by breeders for the purpose of farm work (i.e. guarding livestock), the Mudi continues to fulfill this role in the modern era, but is occasionally utilized by owners for the purpose of dog shows (and trials) as well as companionship. Often characterized by experts as an incredibly loyal and active breed, the Mudi is exceptionally intelligent, and possesses an obedient and industrious spirit that is rarely matched in the canine world. As such, they are a favorite of farmers, dog show enthusiasts, and families with children.

How Rare is the Mudi?

As an exceptionally rare breed, it is currently estimated that less than a thousand Mudi exist worldwide. Of these, most are believed to reside in Hungry, followed by Finland, the rest of Europe, and the United States. It remains unclear why the Mudi’s population numbers have taken such a drastic plunge in recent decades; however, a number of experts theorize that the dog’s low numbers may have resulted from its replacement by Komondor and Puli working dogs (as favorites of herdsmen and farmers) during the 1900s. Likewise, the Second World War also devastated the Mudi and nearly resulted in their extinction altogether. Fortunately, a number of conservation groups and individuals have attempted to stabilize the Mudi’s population figures in recent decades. Nevertheless, it remains unclear if their efforts will have a meaningful impact in the years that lie ahead as high prices for Mudi puppies (due to their rarity) threaten to plunge the breed into greater obscurity.

Chinook.

Chinook.

3. Chinook

  • Average Weight: 55 to 90 pounds (male); 50 to 65 pounds (female)
  • Average Height: 24 to 26 inches (male); 22 to 24 inches (female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 800 to 1,000 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

The lovable Chinook is a medium-sized dog breed that was first developed in the state of New Hampshire during the early 1900s. Although originally developed by breeders for the purpose of drafting and sled-dog racing, the Chinook’s role in the modern-era has changed significantly as they are now utilized (primarily) for their companionship qualities. Often described by experts as being extremely calm, patient, and devoted to their owners, the Chinook is renowned for their intelligence, trainability, obedience, and incredible power. They are well-suited for a variety of households and roles, including homes with children, search-and-rescue work, and farmers (due to their ability to naturally herd livestock).

How Rare is the Chinook?

The Chinook is an exceptionally rare dog breed (despite the fact that it is both lovable and extremely versatile). According to a 2013 study by the American Kennel Club, there are approximately 813 Chinook dogs registered with their organization, with only 100 new puppies born annually (worldwide). During the 1980s, the Chinook had even earned the title of “world’s rarest dog breed” by the Guinness Book of World Records, as only 28 dogs were known to exist around the globe. To save the dog from total extinction, three separate breeders divided the remaining dogs for the purpose of replenishing their numbers before it was too late. Their efforts proved to be successful in the long-term, as the breed’s numbers have experienced a steady rise in recent years. This is due, in part, to extremely careful breeding practices and efforts on behalf of modern-day breeders. Nevertheless, a tremendous amount of work remains in order for the animal’s numbers to continue growing. As such, it remains unclear what the future holds for the Chinook.

Otterhound.

Otterhound.

2. Otterhound

  • Average Weight: 115 pounds (male); 80 pounds (female)
  • Average Height: 27 inches (male); 24 inches (female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 600+
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

The Otterhound is a relatively large dog breed that was first developed in England during the Medieval period. Originally developed by breeders for the purpose of hunting otters (as its name implies), the Otterhound continues to fulfill this hunting role in the modern era and is a favorite of both hunters and sportsmen alike due to their acute sense of smell, love for swimming, and muscular form. Often classified by dog experts as being one of the most even-tempered, amiable, and boisterous breeds in the world, the Otterhound is well-suited for a variety of living arrangements, including family-based homes with children. Due to their larger size, however, they are generally not recommended for homes with toddlers.

How Rare is the Otterhound?

As of March 2022, it is currently estimated that approximately 600 Otterhounds exist worldwide. This includes approximately 350 to 500 dogs that are believed to reside in the United States. This places them alongside the vaquita and Sunda tiger in terms of their overall rarity. Unfortunately, this appears to be a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future, as experts believe that only 4 to 7 litters are born each year in the United States. If this is the case, population numbers will likely reach a critical stage in the years to come.

New Guinea Singing Dog.

New Guinea Singing Dog.

1. New Guinea Singing Dog

  • Average Weight: 20 to 31 pounds (male and female)
  • Average Height: 12 to 18 inches (male and female)
  • Estimated Number of Dogs: 200 to 250 worldwide
  • Life Expectancy: 15 to 20 years

Topping our list of rarest dog breeds is the New Guinea Singing Dog. Classified as a medium-sized dog native to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the New Guinea Singing Dog originated as a free-roaming breed that is believed to have resided on the island for thousands of years. It later gained worldwide fame following its discovery by scientists in the 1900s. Renowned for their ability to change the pitch of their howl (similar to “singing”), this rare breed has undergone a number of domestication attempts over the last century with varying degrees of success. Described by experts as being excellent hunters, extremely intelligent, and stubborn (to a fault), the New Guinea Singing Dog possesses a strong prey drive and level of aggression that is difficult to tame. As such, they are not recommended for novice owners or family-based environments, as they require both a firm and patient owner who is capable of showing them a great deal of attention.

How Rare is the New Guinea Singing Dog?

The New Guinea Singing Dog is a critically endangered dog breed with only about 200 dogs in captivity at this time. Of these, the majority live in both conservation centers or zoos for protective purposes as they are usually not suited for the average pet owner. In the wild, however, their numbers are far fewer, with only 15 wild dogs observed in New Guinea since 2016. Although a number of attempts have been made by local and international agencies to increase the dog’s overall numbers, the high costs associated with owning this dog (and its need for specific owners) has made these efforts extremely difficult to maintain in the long-term. As such, it is likely that the New Guinea Singing Dog will remain the world’s rarest dog breed for years to come.

Works Cited

Articles/Books:

  • American Kennel Club. The New Complete Dog Book, 22nd Edition. Mount Joy, Pennsylvania: Fox Chapel Publishing, 2017.
  • Coile, Caroline. The Dog Breed Bible: Descriptions and Photos of Every Breed Recognized by the AKC. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2007.
  • Schuler, Elizabeth Meriwether. Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Dogs. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, Incorporated, 1980.
  • Slawson, Larry. “The Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds.” PetHelpful.com. 2019.
  • Slawson, Larry. “The Top 10 Longest-Living Dog Breeds.” PetHelpful.com. 2020.

Images/Photographs:

  • Pixabay Commons.
  • Unsplash Commons.
  • Wikimedia Commons.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Larry Slawson

Related Articles