25 of the Rarest Dog Breeds

While almost 200 dog breeds are now recognised by the American Kennel Club, some of our four-legged friends are less common than others.

Brandi Hunter, Vice Predident of PR and Communications at AKC, told Newsweek there are often specific reasons for endangered breeds' declining popularity.

"Like clothing trends and baby names, dog breeds go in and out of style. It's also likely that pop culture plays a large role in preferences.

"Sometimes, a decline in popularity has to do with the purpose for which the breed was created. When that job is no longer needed, the number for the breed goes down.

"For example, Otterhounds, which as their name suggests, were bred to hunt otters while it was popular in England, declined significantly when otter hunting was banned in 1978."

But, she said, rare breeds can make for great pets.

"For people looking for a breed that will stand out in a crowd or want to help preserve a breed that's on the decline, a rare breed may be a great fit.

"The owner of a rare breed has a responsibility to inform anyone interested in their breed to spread awareness and help the breed grow."

Take a look at some of the rarest dog breeds in the United States.

Azawakh

AZAWAKH
Young Azawakh galloping towards the camera on the beach. The Azawakh is a tall and elegant West African sighthound animalinfo/Getty Images

There are a growing number of devotees of the rare Azawakh, a tall and elegant West African sighthound with a fine coat available in a variety of colors.

The AKC website states: "Befitting its heritage, the Azawakh excels as a companion, guardian and a lure courser in the United States."

Bedlington Terrier

BEDLINGTON TERRIER
A bedlington terrier puppy posing with lolling tongue. These cute and cuddly dogs bred originally for hard labor down mine shafts, are relatively rare in most countries outside the UK SergeyTikhomirov/Getty Images

These cute and cuddly dogs bred originally for hard labor down mine shafts, are relatively rare in most countries outside the U.K.

The AKC describes Bedlington Terriers as "genial housemates, alert watchdogs, versatile athletes, and irresistibly cuddly TV-time companions."

Biewer Terrier

Biewer Terrier
The Biewer Terrier rare dog breed was only officially recognized by the AKC in January 2021 olchanskiy/Getty Images

The Biewer Terrier, which was only officially recognized by the AKC in January 2021, is an elegant, long-haired, black, white and tan colored toy terrier.

These rare purebred dogs are known for their friendly, playful and energetic qualities, making them excellent pets for young families.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula Leopard is a versatile working dog blending power with agility and endurance Eudyptula/Getty Images

The Catahoula Leopard is a versatile working dog blending power with agility and endurance.

This rare breed, with origins traced to Spanish settler pups and Native American dogs, is distinguished by its gorgeous tan leopard-like spotting on its shorthair coat.

Cesky Terrier

Cesky Terriers
Cesky Terriers pictured at international dog show Crufts. Margaret Foxmoore/American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association

Czech Republic's national dog is an intelligent and curious indoor companion for children that also enjoys long longs outside.

The short-legged and handsome Cesky Terrier is relatively rare, with the AKC suggesting less than 600 dogs currently exist in the U.S.

Chinook

CHINOOK
The Chinook is a muscular working dog and devoted family pet developed in the U.S. for drafting and sled dog racing in the 20th century American Kennel Club

The Chinook is a muscular working dog and devoted family pet developed in the U.S. for drafting and sled dog racing in the 20th century.

Guinness World Records listed the Chinook as the rarest dog breed in 1965, with only 125 known specimens.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Tiny Dandie Dinmont Terrier running towards the camera in a field. The unique-looking Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a tough but dignified little exterminator LourdesPhotography/Getty Images

The unique-looking Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a tough and dignified little exterminator bred for the demands of farm life, but they will be equally at home in urban environments.

Despite the Dandie Dinmont's small stature, this extremely rare breed of dog is blessed by its huge personality.

English Foxhound

English Foxhound
The English Foxhound is one of America's rarest dog. breeds acceptfoto/Getty Images

Although this pack-oriented dog breed is gentle and sociable, English Foxhounds are rarely found in family homes because of their strong vestigial instincts.

As a result, prospective owners of one of America's rarest dogs should realise these hunters require plenty of exercise and attention.

Estrela Mountain Dog

Estrela Mountain Dog
This large breed of dog named after the Estrela Mountains is believed to be extremely rare outside of Portugal slowmotiongli/Getty Images

The Estrela Mountain Dog is recognised as both an excellent guardian and a wonderful companion for all ages.

This large breed of dog named after Portugal's Estrela Mountains is believed to be extremely rare outside of this country.

Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz
The lively Finnish Spitz, is a ginger-furred, fox-faced breed of hunting hound PavelRodimov/Getty Images

The lively Finnish Spitz, is a ginger-furred, fox-faced breed of hunting hound dubbed the "Barking Bird Dog."

Although the breed is popular in parts of Scandinavia, the Finnish Spitz remains relatively uncommon in the U.S, with the AKC ranking the breed among the country's rarest.

Hovawart

Hovawart
The Hovawart is quite rare in the U.S, but the heavy-boned breed remains popular in Germany. Sandra Dombrovsky/Getty Images

The Hovawart is an alert and large working dog kind, with a steady disposition and protective instinct.

The Hovawart is quite rare in the U.S, but the heavy-boned breed remains popular in Germany.

Kai Ken

KAI KEN
The Kai Ken is considered a rare breed—even in Japan Nilnate Nilprasit/Getty Images

This medium-sized dog is believed to be one of the purest and most ancient dog breeds of Japan and was traditionally used to hunt game in its native mountains.

The Kai Ken is considered a rare breed even in Japan and the dogs are consequently extremely uncommon in the U.S.

Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo
The curly-coated Lagotto Romagnolo is the world’s oldest water retriever Sigena Semmling/Getty Images

Occasionally confused as a poodle-cross, the curly-coated Lagotto Romagnolo is the world's oldest water retriever.

While the Lagotto Romagnolo is a rare breed in the U.S, the dogs are more common in their origin country of Italy, where they are used to hunt for truffles.

Mudi

MUDI
The Mudi breed is rarely spotted outside of its Eastern European homeland vauvau/Getty Images

This Hungarian-born dog breed (pronounced 'moody') is actually well known for its upbeat and highly active nature.

The Mudi breed is rarely spotted outside of its Eastern European homeland and there are thought to be fewer than a thousand of these friendly dogs left.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje almost become extinct after World War II American Kennel Club

These endearing dogs herald from the Netherlands, with the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is best known for its duck hunting ability.

This rarest of breeds almost become extinct after World War II, however, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is making a comeback with the help of breed enthusiasts.

Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund
The Norwegian Lundehund is now recognised as one of the world's rarest breeds CaptureLight/Getty Images

Originating in the Ice Age, the Norwegian Lundehund is now recognised as one of the world's rarest breeds.

Because the Norwegian Lundehund was developed to hunt puffins along precarious cliffs, these most agile hounds evolved to evolved unique traits for scaling rocky cliffs: six toes on each front paw, remarkably adjustable ears, and a neck sufficiently flexible to crane backwards and touch its spine.

Otterhound

OTTERHOUND
The extremely rare Otterhound breed was first documented in medieval England IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

This extremely rare Otterhound breed was first documented in medieval England but was only recognized in the 19th century.

As their name suggests, these dogs were original popular due to their excellence at hunting otters, but today these scarce shaggy-coated four-legged friends make extremely affectionate family pets.

Peruvian Inca Orchid

PERUVIAN INCA ORCHID
The AKC recognises the Peruvian Inca Orchid as rare Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is an agile, lively and intelligent sighthound originating from the mountains of South America.

The AKC recognises this breed, known to have a small patch of hair on their otherwise bald crown as the "kiss spot", as rare.

Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean Shepherd
Pyrenean Shepherd are categorised as endangered Klaus Feurich/Getty Images

The Pyrenean Shepherd is a hard-working herder breed descended from ancient sheepdogs of the rugged French Pyrenees.

These affectionate, active and endearing dogs are categorised as endangered.

Sloughi

Sloughi
The Sloughi is one the rarest dog breed in the U.S. slowmotiongli/Getty Images

The Sloughi is dubbed the "Arabian Greyhound," due to this lithe and speedy coursing hound developed to hunt game in North African deserts.

The Sloughi is one the rarest dog breed in the U.S. and while they are a little aloof to strangers, this breed is loyal, loving and gentle to its families.

Stabyhoun

Stabyhoun
Originating from the Netherlands, the Stabyhoun is one of the world's rarest dog breeds Jessica Loijens/Getty Images

The Stabyhoun is an intelligent, responsive and affectionate mix of a soft-mouthed retriever and a pointer.

This beautiful breed originating from the Netherlands is one of the world's rarest because these family dogs only left their home country in recent decades.

Swedish Vallhund

Swedish Vallhund
The rare Swedish Vallhund's easy-going nature makes the breed a wonderful addition to any family CaptureLight/Getty Images

The Swedish Vallhund is an intelligent and energetic herder breed boasting a thick furry coat and lust for life.

Although these dogs once accompanied Viking longships, the rare Swedish Vallhund's easy-going nature makes the breed a wonderful addition to any family.

Telomian

The Telomian, with its wedge-shaped head, pert ears and cute curly tail, is an unusual addition to this list, as it is not recognized as a breed by the AKC.

However, the Telomian is a breed until relatively recently found only in isolated villages near the Telom River in Malay Peninsula rainforests.

Thai Ridgeback

Thai Ridgeback
The Thai Ridgeback was until recently almost unknown outside of its native country DevidDO/Getty Images

The Thai Ridgeback is an agile and active dog breed boasting impressive jumping abilities.

Perhaps best distinguished for their ridge of hair running along their spine, this loyal breed was until recently almost unknown outside of its native Thailand.

Xoloitzcuintli

The Xoloitzcuintli was the favoured dog of ancient Aztec, while they are today a loving companion and vigilant watchdog for all the family.

These purebred dogs, sometimes dubbed Mexican Hairless dogs, are known to be fairly rare.

Xoloitzcuintli
The Xoloitzcuintli was the favoured dog of ancient Aztec and the breed is today recognized as fairly rare alkir/Getty Images

Correction 8/5/21, 5:32 p.m. ET: This article was updated with a correct image of a Cesky Terrier.