Many of these unusual breeds of dog have nearly died out or grown less popular through time.
With the decline of reindeer herding and puffin hunting over the past century, some dog breeds are struggling to find their purpose in the world
The American Kennel Club recognizes 190 dog breeds, with the family-friendly Labrador retriever ever-present at the top of their most-popular list, along with German Shepherd dogs and golden retrievers. But though humans have been breeding dogs for thousands of years, usually for precise purposes, many breeds have nearly become extinct or grown significantly less popular through time.
Though everyone loves a Lab, we like to root for the underdog, too. Here are some of the least common dog breeds, according to the AKC’s ranking.
This dog was bred to hunt puffin birds on the remote arctic isles of Norway. To reach in the crevices where puffins nest, they are very flexible with a great range of motion in their joints. They have six toes on each foot. The breed nearly became extinct in the 1940s-1960s; there are now about 1,400 in the world. Today, puffin hunting is illegal in most places.
Though these dogs are social and gentle with children and other animals, they are rarely seen as house pets because their relentless pursuit of, well, pursuit. They are pack hounds with great stamina, bred for fox hunts.
Photo: Mick Atkins / Shutterstock
This ancient breed, also called the “Arabian Greyhound,” was bred to hunt a variety of game such as hare, fox, jackal, gazelle, and wild pigs in the deserts of North Africa. A classy, graceful dog, the Sloughi (SLOO-ghee) is devoted to its owner and aloof with strangers.
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