20 Rare & Exotic Dog Breeds That’ll Blow Your Mind

If you’re a dog lover, you may be accustomed to the usual breeds like the Rottweiler, Labrador Retriever, and the Poodle.

But have you considered getting a dog that’d make neighbors go like “what kinda dog is that?”

Or probably you want to get amazed at checking out dog breeds so different from what you know?

In the article, we bring to you a compilation of some of the rarest and exotic dog breeds—prepare to be amazed.

You may find in one a suitable pet dog—who knows?

Top 20 Rare and Exotic Dog Breeds in the World

1. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Rare and Exotic Dog Breeds – Dandie Dinmont Terrier

This little furball is an old breed, one of the oldest, in fact. The origin is blurry, but there were records of this breed as far back as the 16th century.

Hunting was their original occupation. They weigh 18 to 24 pounds and grow up to 11 inches tall.

Pros

Like other terriers, Dandie is a brave, independent, and intelligent dog. They are withdrawn and may not express themselves with barks, howls, or whines.

If you live in an apartment and don’t want your neighbors complaining about noise, this comes in handy. However, when they bark, it attracts attention.

Self-confidence is another trait this canine possesses. They defend themselves when the need arises.

With those they love, Dandies don’t hold back in their display of affection. 

Cons

A notable challenge is their wariness to strangers. While this may not be a big deal, there’s a need for you to socialize them into being accepting of visitors.

They’re stubborn as well, a trait shared by most Terriers. Training them is a tough job. 

In addition, their size and rareness make them vulnerable to thieves.

Supervise them when they are outdoors and keep them inside when they don’t have to be in the yard.

Also, keep them on a leash outside lest they run off after prey. 

Life Span and Health

Dandies have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. They are prone to illnesses like glaucoma and epilepsy.

2. Leonberger

Leonberger Dog Breed

The Leonberger is a German breed that’s like an elephant in the dog world. They weigh close to 200 pounds with a height of 31 inches. 

Pros

Leon is an intelligent, sensitive, and energetic animal. This dog breed flows with other animals, enjoys the companionship of loved ones, and loves to play.

Gentleness aside, his deep bark and humongous size will make intruders think twice before breaking into your property.

As hard workers, Leons put those pounds and energy to good use. In times past they worked as a farmer, herder and partook in world wars.

Exercise them regularly because of their size and energy. 

Cons

The first challenge is an obvious one: the size. You need to have an environment that can accommodate a big boy like this breed.

Also, because of their size, keep small kids away from them. 

Another issue to deal with involves their less than sanitary lifestyle.

With a tendency to mess around the place, clean freaks will not appreciate having this dog.

It gets worse in a warm climate because they can’t stand the heat. 

Life Span and Health

The Leonberger has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. They may encounter health conditions like obesity and gastric dilatation. 

3. Puli

Puli Dog Breed

What’s the connection between dreadlocks and dogs? You’ve got your answer right here.

The Puli is famous—and exotic—with coat that is arranged like dreadlocks. This Hungarian breed is cute, rare, and fun.

They weigh up to 35 pounds and grow as tall as 17 inches. 

Pros

Energy, affection, self-confidence…these are some descriptive traits of Puli. They aren’t beautiful just because of their coat, but also thanks to their personality.

The Puli loves attention and is a loyal pet. They’re also barkers, making them good watchdogs. 

They like human company so expect them to often stay by your side. Far from being a ‘beauty without brains’, the Puli is an intelligent, hardworking breed. 

Cons

The intelligence, confidence, and energy of a Puli can make her a handful for the inexperienced.

Also, because they are barkers, you have to train them to know when to bark. 

It’s important you establish your authority with them, lest they try to run the household in a subtle manner.

Stubbornness is second nature to them, so obedience training is necessary. 

Life Span and Health

A Puli can live up to 15 years and may suffer from illnesses like cataracts and hip dysplasia. 

4. Portuguese Water Dog

Rare and Exotic: Portuguese Water Dog

The Cao de Agua is a fisherman who worked on Portuguese boats. Now, Portuguese Water Dogs are rare family companions.

They weigh 35 to 60 pounds and grow as tall as 1 foot 11 inches. 

Pros

Want to have some fun? Pottie’s your dog. They’re active, fun, and playful. They also are hardworking, a trait reminiscent of their fishing days.

When their need for exercise is met, the Portuguese Water Dog can thrive in any environment. 

Besides being adaptable, this breed is intelligent and a good swimmer. They’re kid-friendly and get along with other pets.

Cons

Pottie takes time to mature, this is an attribute with its pros and cons.

On one hand, you keep them as a puppy for some time and get a good laugh watching them play. On the other hand, training is prolonged. 

Without adequate exercise, the Water Dog looks for other unsafe ways to release energy. Endeavor to keep them 

busy and active. 

Life Span and Health

Our Portuguese friend has a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. Some illnesses they are vulnerable to are hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.  

5. Brussels Griffon

Rare and Exotic: Brussels Griffon Dog Breed

From the streets of Belgium comes another exotic dog breed with a knack for hunting rats. They weigh 7 to 12 pounds with a height of 7 to 8 inches. 

Pros

Griffon is like a sensitive guy who doesn’t subscribe to the maxim ‘boys don’t cry’.

They’re friendly, accepting of other animals (except the house mice, of course), and intelligent.

They tend to bond with one person in the house, be it your spouse, child, or even you. 

They’re also full of cheer and ready to display affection. Gotta love this breed for their curiosity, too.

They do well indoors and are not likely to go on a destructive rampage of your property. They love attention as well.

Cons

Sometimes, Griffon gets moody. At such a moment, they withdraw and come across as standoffish. 

Training them is not an easy task too as there’s a good dose of stubbornness beneath that fun face.

They tend to be barkers as well, which makes them good watchdogs but a nuisance. 

Life Span and Health

The Brussel has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, they may suffer from illnesses like hip dysplasia and allergic reactions. 

6. Lancashire Heeler

Lancashire Heeler Dog Breed

Our next exotic breed is the Heeler, a British dog who led livestock to market and hunted rodents. Heelers weigh 13 to 15 pounds and grow up to 12 inches.

Pros

The Heeler is a happy, sweet, and affectionate pet. They do not hesitate to please their masters and are fast learners.

Also, the Heeler can adapt to the indoors but needs regular exercise to keep the energy level balanced. 

Cons

The Heeler is often suspicious of strangers, a trait that’s good for watchdogs but can be a challenge when you want them to socialize. 

If you’re a new pet parent or you have small kids, the Heeler may not be a good fit for you.

Although they are trainable, you need the experience to succeed. The Heeler is better suited for veteran pet parents with grown children. 

They try to herd people as well, an instinct from their days of moving livestock.

It is common to see them pinch people’s ankles to get them to move. This is a habit they have to grow out of. 

Life Span and Health

The Heeler has a life expectancy of 9 to 14 years and can be vulnerable to illnesses like collie eye infections and lens luxation. 

7. Mudi

Mudi Dog Breed

Next on our rare and exotic dog breeds list is the Mudi. They are at risk of going extinct with only a few in existence in Hungary (their place of origin), Finland, and some other countries. 

Pros

Mudi is a versatile dog, a formidable ‘jack of all trades.’ You can find them hunting preys one day and the next, they are in a search and rescue team.

They make good watchdogs as well and were used to herd sheep in their early days. 

Mudi’s beautiful characteristics include happiness, enthusiasm, and a joie de vivre. Their versatility makes them hardworkers, eager to complete a task.

They’ve got the brains too, and are easy to train as they capture lessons and commit them to memory. They make good pets and are loyal to family.

Cons

Mudi has a high need for exercise. This might be a problem if you’re not into early morning jogs and walks.

When you meet this need, rest assured that they won’t get frantic and destructive. 

They also get suspicious of strangers and are barkers, two qualities that make them good at being watchdogs but training is needed to get them to open up to visitors and not be noisy.

Life Span and Health

The Mudi can live up to 14 years. During their lifetime, watch out for medical conditions like hip dysplasia and epilepsy. 

8. Russkiy Toy

Russkiy Toy Dog Breed

The Russkiy Toy, an origin of Russia, is considered one of the smallest dogs in the world. They weigh just 3 to 6 pounds and grow up to 10 inches. 

Pros

Russkiy Toys are playful, intelligent, and agile. They also relate well with people.

Their liveliness is a good cure for moodiness and they’re a cool company on bad days, especially when they curl up on your lap. They like being around family and don’t do well with isolation.

When well trained, they don’t display unnecessary aggression.

They’re not timid either, though they can be a bit reserved around strangers till they get to know them. They make good indoor pets because of their small size. 

Cons

The Russkiy is a barker. This is an advantage as it alerts you of someone approaching but it can be a nuisance too. 

Furthermore, they can develop what is known as a small dog syndrome. This occurs when toy dogs let all the attention gotten for their little size get into their head.

They then act like spoilt brats. To prevent this, train them with the same firmness you’d train a big dog.

Life Span and Health

Russkiy Toys have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and are vulnerable to illnesses like allergies and patellar luxation. 

9.  Slovensky Cuvac

Slovensky Cuvac Dog Breed

Originating from Slovakia, the Cuvac is a big breed that, frankly, can look intimidating.

They were saved from extinction by Dr. Anthony Hruza in the 1960s. They weigh 66 to 99 pounds and grow up to 28 inches. 

Pros

The Cuvac is a confident, happy dog who is comfortable being in a big crowd.

They show strong loyalty to family and are protective, the attributes of a good guard dog. 

They are intelligent as well and are capable of remembering what they learned. To their family members, they show tenderness. 

Cons

Wariness towards strangers is a trait that makes the Cuvac a good guard dog. However, it becomes a challenge when you have visitors over.

You have to train your Cuvac to be familiar with strangers in order to avoid unforeseen aggression. 

This breed is also independent and stubborn. Training them is a challenge you can only take on with experience, firmness, and confidence.

Your Cuvac should see you as the leader of the ‘pack’. 

Life Span and Health

The Cuvac has a life expectancy of 13 to 18 years and can suffer from illnesses like hip dysplasia and bloating. 

10. Löwchen

Lowchen Dog Breed

Like the Russkiy, Löwchen is a toy breed. Their origin, like that of the Dandie, is unclear. They weigh 9 to 18 pounds and grow as tall as 14 inches.

Pros

Despite being known as a ‘lion dog’, the Löwchen is not wild with people.

They do not hold back in showing affection to family and would even be concerned over their well-being.

They are active as well as lively. What they lack in height and weight, they make up in fearlessness. A Löwchen doesn’t get intimidated by other dogs. 

In addition, they do not make training difficult for their owners. There are some challenges you may face, but overall it doesn’t take much to put them in good shape.

They love exercise and make good indoor pets. They also bark when in the face of someone or something strange. This makes them competent watchdogs.

Cons

Their need for regular exercise may be a challenge if you’re one who’d rather curl up in your bed and read a novel all day.

With strangers, your Löwchen may be shy. Proper training can help him be less reticent towards visitors. 

Digging and separation anxiety are some other difficulties you would encounter with a Löwchen.

The former is hard to break, the latter makes them unfit for busy office workers who go out in the morning and come back at sunset.

Life Span and Health

The Löwchen has a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years and can be vulnerable to illnesses like cataracts and patellar luxation. 

11. Azawakh

Azawakh is an exotic dog breed

Azawakh is a sighthound, and here are a few things to know about sighthounds: they are hunters, and they got speed.

Coming from the Sahel regions of Africa, the Azawakh is a rare dog breed popular for its long legs and elegance. They weigh 33 to 55 pounds and grow up to 27 inches. 

Pros

This regal dog acts like a Saharan royal both in physique, gait, and personality.

They are unlikely to goof around or act clownish around people but have a strong loyalty that makes up for their lack of playfulness.

They stand ready to protect their family from intruders. If a guard dog is your preferred option, consider getting an Azawakh.

They’re less likely to embarrass you outside, which is an added bonus. 

They adapt well to indoor living but need regular exercise.

Cons

Keep small pets like cats and squirrels away from the Azawakh, or the story may not end well for your other furries.

Their tendency to take off after any moving object means they must be kept guarded at all times.

Put them on a leash when outside and have a fence they can’t jump over, else you’d have a case of ‘missing dog’ in your hand. 

Also, the Azawakh’s pride and independence would be tasking for an inexperienced owner. You need to be firm and skilled to train them.

However, being firm doesn’t mean you have to be harsh. Your dog won’t respond well to that. 

Life Span and Health

The Azawakh has a life expectancy of 33 to 55 pounds and is vulnerable to illnesses like bloating. Left unchecked, it leads to gastric torsion. 

12. Borzoi

Exotic Dog Breed – Borzoi

The Borzoi is a hunting rare dog breed from Russia. They have also been companions for the royal class in Europe. They weigh 55 to 105 pounds and can grow up to 32 inches. 

Pros

Like the Azawakh, the Borzoi is graced with elegance. If the doggy world had fashion shows, the Borzoi would be a model.

Little wonder royals of old loved having them as companions. With their intelligence, calmness, and easy demeanor, they’ve got royal potentials. 

With strangers, they are either reserved or amiable. However, unlike the other sighthound on this list, the Borzoi is not aloof. They prefer the indoors but require exercise.

Cons

Remember what we said about sighthounds? They apply to the Borzoi. However, with proper training, your dog can live in the same space as cats and squirrels.

He’s not going to give you that same respect outside though. If he sees prey, he would go after it. 

Also, while the Borzoi is kid-friendly, you need to consider their size if you have small children to prevent accidents. 

Another challenge worth noting is that the Borzoi is not easy to train, gentleness notwithstanding. 

Life Span and Health

The Borzoi has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and may suffer from medical conditions like bloating and progressive retinal atrophy. 

13. Neopolitan Mastiff

Rare Dog Breed – Neapolitan Mastiff

If you want to draw the attention of others with a lumbering, wrinkly dog, here’s the Neopolitan Mastiff to help you achieve that. They weigh 150 to 200 pounds and grow up to 31 inches.

Pros

Neo—a fond nickname—is an affectionate dog who’s ever ready for a cuddle. Their frightening look masks the soft teddy bear within.

Not given to unnecessary aggression, they don’t go on the offensive except when provoked or threatened.

Even with other animals, they remain peaceful.

They love the company of people and would rather be found close to you on the couch than dig a hole in the yard. In addition, they make good guardians.

Cons

Their size makes them unfit for people living in a cramped space or those with small kids.

Also, while they’d accept a stranger who’s with you, they are not given to friendly gestures with people they don’t know. This has its pros and cons.

Neo would be a bit difficult to train due to their size and stubbornness, so it is important to start training them as puppies. 

Finally, they have unlikable habits: farting, drooling, grunting, etc. If you love a clean space, avoid them. 

Life Span and Health

The Neopolitan Mastiff has a life expectancy of 8 to 10. During that time, they may face health issues like hip dysplasia and cherry eye. 

14. Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier – Rare Dog Breed

An English breed with a cute physical appearance, the Bedlington Terrier is pleasing to the eyes and a good choice if you’re big on the cute factor. They weigh 17 to 23 pounds and grow up to 16 inches. 

Pros

Bedlington isn’t just a pretty dog, she’s got the brains to complement that. Intelligence and a strong sense of intuition are two admirable traits of this terrier.

If your Bedlington growls continuously at a particular person, take note of that. 

An entertaining dog who’s comfortable in the spotlight, the Bedlington is a delight for families and visitors alike.

Don’t mistake their soft looks and playfulness for a soft heart though. The Bedlington is a terrier, and will not back down from a fight.

The good news is, they hardly initiate one. 

Cons

Like many other breeds, the Bedlington has a stubborn side. Nevertheless, with firm, consistent training, this can be overcome.

Also, their tendency to fight if provoked means you should be careful about their interactions with other dogs.

They have hunting instincts as well. Keep them in a fenced yard to avoid them getting on a chase with a passing animal. They’ve got enough speed to disappear if that happens.

Life Span and Health

Bedlington has a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years and is prone to illnesses like retinal dysplasia and patellar luxation. 

15. Bouvier des Flandres

Exotic Dog Breeds – Bouvier des Flandres

From European farmlands comes a herder, guardian, farmer, and companion.

The Bouvier comes from Flandres and the name means ‘cow herder of Flandres’. They weigh 70 to 100 pounds and grow up to 26 inches tall. 

Pros

As a result of their root, Bouviers are strong, agile with and ability to endure.

They derive joy when they are with loved ones and would rest in the love and affection of their families. 

A Bouvier would not hesitate to protect you, your family, and your property.

However, they do not get aggressive except when they feel the need to be. Another good news is, they adapt to any living condition. 

Cons

Are you nitpicky and concerned about a clean environment? Does cleaning up after someone irks you? Then don’t get a Bouvier.

Not only do you have to keep getting rid of mud and dirt from your house, but they also require constant grooming. 

They get stubborn and are independent too which makes them difficult to train, especially for a new pet parent. If you are inexperienced, you may need to sit this breed out. 

Life Span and Health

The Bouvier has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and can suffer from illnesses like gastric torsion and epilepsy. 

16. Otterhound

Exotic Dog Breeds – Otterhound

As you can guess, Otterhound had the main aim of hunting otter. They’re very rare and uncommon, making them among the exotic dog breeds on our list.

They weigh about 80 to 115 pounds and can grow up to 27 inches.

Pros

The Otterhound is a big bundle of energy and enthusiasm. They are friendly, devoted, and are accepting of strangers.

They express joy without reserve, so expect a warm welcome from them after a long day.

The Otterhound is outdoorsy and loves a space to play around.

They do well with kids too, though you should supervise their interactions with small children due to their size. They equally flow with other animals.

Cons

The first challenge, of course, is the size factor. Obviously, if you live in an apartment, it is best if you avoid this breed.

Then there’s their energy to consider. Otterhounds require high exercise and you should meet up with them to avoid them going frantic on your property.

The next challenge is their stubbornness in training. While you should not be harsh towards them, you need to be firm. Big dogs shouldn’t do without training. 

Life Span and Health

The Otterhound has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. They are vulnerable to illnesses like hip dysplasia and bloating. 

17. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard – Rare Dog Breed

Catahoula originated in Louisiana and is a unique, uncommon breed with a peculiar look. They weigh 50 to 95 pounds and grow up to 26 inches.

Pros

Similar to Bedlington, Catahoula is intuitive and will get uncomfortable when suspicious of someone. This comes in handy if you need a pet with good judgment.

They are also intelligent, hardworking, independent, and protective.

Catahoula lives an active life and loves to be busy. His work ethic is admirable, as well as his zeal for activity. Laziness is not a part of the Catahoula.

Cons

The Catahoula’s stubbornness makes him unfit for new pet parents. Experience is needed to train this breed. However, do not get abusive or they would rebel. 

Furthermore, they require a high level of exercise, like an hour per day. If you can’t keep up with that, you would have problems with the Catahoula. 

Also, note that they should not be left alone. Busy people should reconsider getting a Catahoula as a pet because they like company and suffer in isolation.

Life Span and Health

The Catahoula has a life span of 10 to 14 years and is vulnerable to illnesses like hip dysplasia and deafness.

18. Saluki

Rare and Exotic Dog Breeds – Saluki

The Saluki is one of the oldest breeds. They weigh 35 to 70 pounds and grow up to 28 inches tall.

Pros

The Saluki is fast, strong, graceful, and lovely to the eyes. They’re selective in who they become friends with but are devoted once they see you as one.

They are equally quiet and will not disturb your peaceful afternoon with incessant barking. 

Also, they adapt to different living conditions. They can stay outdoors just as they can lounge on your sofa in the living room. 

Cons

Like other sighthounds, the Saluki is a hunter and can’t resist running after a moving car or animal. Putting up a high fence is a good preventive measure. 

Another challenge is their stubbornness. While they’re not so hard to train, they are independent and may want to do things their own way. 

Life Span and Health

The Saluki has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. They are vulnerable to illnesses like cardiomyopathy and hypothyroidism. 

19. Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dog – Exotic Breed

A fierce hunter right from time, the Karelian Bear Dog originated in Finland. They weigh 44 to 50 pounds and grow up to 24 inches.

Pros

The Karelian Bear Dog is a brave, confident, and ever-moving breed that also loves human company.

These qualities, along with intelligence, made them good hunters. They’re energetic and are a good fit for active people.

Karelian loves the outdoors and requires a large space to move around. They are good watchdogs, using the old skill of alerting hunters to alert their owners.

Cons

If you’re a busy person who lives in an apartment and/or has never owned a dog before, you shouldn’t consider the Karelian Bear Dog.

Also, if you’re not one who exercises a lot, look for another breed.

Another challenge is the Karelian’s hunting instinct. Thus, they do not flow well with other animals and may even be aggressive.

The best option is to have them as a lone pet. You need to equally have a fenced yard to prevent them from running after prey. 

Life Span and Health

The Karelian Bear Dog has a life span of 10 to 13 years. They are vulnerable to medical conditions like hip dysplasia and eye issues. 

20. New Guinea Singing Dog

New Guinea Singing Dog – Rare Breed

Our last exotic breed is a special one. From Papua New Guinea, the Singing Dog got the name from his remarkable ability to howl in a musical manner. Sadly, they face extinction.

They weigh 18 to 30 pounds and grow up to 15 inches.

Pros

The Singing Dog is capable of showing affection and loyalty to its owner after proper training. It can survive in a cold environment.

Cons

The Singing Dog is not recommended as a good pet due to its wild nature. They are often preserved in zoos.

Life Span and Health

The Singing Dog has a life span of 16 to 19 years. No health examination has been done on this breed.

Wrap Up

Finding a rare exotic dog breeds that’s fit for you shouldn’t be difficult with this list if that’s your aim.

Generally, what any dog requires are firm training, love, companionship, and regular exercise.

We hope you get the pet of your dreams.

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