8 of the World’s Most Unusual Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds capture our attention not because of their intelligence or achievements, but because of their unique appearance! We describe the world’s most unusual dog breeds below.

May 10, 2024By Lisa Szymanski
worlds most unusual dog breeds

Have you heard of a dog that looks like a lamb, or how about a completely hairless breed dating as far back as the Aztecs? The unique dogs that I’m going to describe in this guide are not legends of the past, but unusual breeds that are also lovable pets. Some of them require a fair amount of grooming, while others have extremely high energy, requiring more than a daily walk to keep under control. From leopard dogs to living mops, let’s get started.

1. Puli

black white and brown color puli dogs in snow
The dense, dreaded coat of the Puli makes this breed stand out.

The Puli is a herding breed brought to Hungary in the 13th century. To help them tolerate the icy winters and hot summers of the plains, they were bred with a rather unique coat that looks like dreadlocks! The hair consists of tightly wound cords with a woolly texture, providing weatherproofing. Despite their abundance of hair, the Puli is an energetic and lightweight dog, weighing around 30 lbs and measuring up to 17 inches. Surprisingly, these small dogs need lots of things to do to control their energy levels and keep them stimulated. Bred to work farms, you’ll need to invest in activities such as agility, obedience, and playtime with their favorite dog toys to keep them happy.

2. Bedlington Terrier

bedlington terrier
Fluffy and affectionate, Bedlington terriers are truly unique.

Fluffy heads and ears, an arched back, and a narrow muzzle give the Bedlington terrier a very unusual appearance. The first time I saw this dog, I mistook it for a lamb! These English dogs are energetic and fairly intelligent, so they respond very well to being taught tricks and obedience. More families are interested in these slim dogs because of their odd appearance and lively nature.But before you bring this fluffy terrier home, be prepared for an active lifestyle. These sheep-like dogs require attention and a fair amount of daily exercise to prevent destructive behaviors such as digging and excessive barking. They’re also very loving but can be combative because of their strong will. In terms of grooming, they benefit from a routine trim at the parlor, but their no-shedding coat makes it easy to keep your house clean.

3. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula leopard dog standing near water
These spotted dogs are popular on farms.

We’re all familiar with the majestic African leopard, but a leopard dog? The Catahoula Leopard Dog is described as a working breed from Louisiana and is easily distinguished by its patchy or spotted coat. What is most unusual about this breed is their webbed feet, which help these dogs move through swamps and muddy areas. These spotted dogs are very active and should only be considered if you already have an active lifestyle. Astonishingly, some Catahoula dogs can match the speed of a greyhound, but on average, they can run up to 28 km/h. Despite being farm dogs, their clever nature, dedication, and loyalty make them a wonderful family pet.

4. Chinese Crested

chinese crested puppy
The Chinese crested dog has hair on certain parts of their body.

The Chinese crested is one odd-looking dog that definitely appeals to pet parents who want an exotic fur companion. This breed is predominantly hairless, with the only flowing fur located on their ears and around their heads, feet, and tails. These slim dogs are only 13 inches in height and generally easy to care for, just remember to keep them warm in the winter. Chinese crested are sociable and very affectionate dogs. They are loyal companions and great for someone who wants a small yet loving dog that will stay by their side. Despite their low-exercise needs, you’ll need to pay close attention to their skin. Protect them from sunburn in the summer and brush the hair on their ears and tails to avoid matting.

5. Xoloitzcuintle

xoloitzcuintle wearing brown collar lying in field
What big ears you have! The Xoloitzcuintle has one of the most difficult dog names to pronounce.

If you ever pictured a hairless yet regal-looking dog, it would have to be the Xoloitzcuintle or Mexican Hairless Dog. Xoloitzcuintles are connected to the Aztecs, who believed that these dogs guided souls that drifted through the underworld. This very rare breed might appear intimidating, but they’re very loyal. They are wary of strangers and need time to feel safe around new people and other pets. These hairless dogs are excellent runners and require daily walks and runs to stay mentally and physically stimulated. Much like the Chinese crested, they too require constant skin care. Prepare to apply sunscreen to their bodies when they’re exposed to sunlight, and they must be bathed with a special shampoo to prevent infections.

6. Azawakh

Azawakhs standing before a red wall
The Azawakh was bred for agility and survival.

Among the most unique dog breeds in the world is the Azawakh, a slim dog that stems from West Africa. Also known as sighthounds, these slender dogs were meant to watch livestock and hunt for their handlers across the desert. Similar in appearance to a greyhound, these dogs move quickly, and their tall, slim bodies help them reach incredible speeds. An interesting fact about this breed is that only around 1000 dogs are left in the world, which also makes them very expensive. Azawakhs are unsuitable as family pets because they’re independent and require constant socialization and exercise to remain happy and healthy.

7. Otterhound

otterhound dogs sitting in garden
Otterhounds simply love water and were bred for hunting purposes.

As the name suggests, these long-haired dogs were bred to hunt otters as food when marine life became scarce in the 1300s. They have large webs between their toes to help them swim. If you want an otterhound, these dogs love to swim, so you’ll probably be spending time at the beach or around a pool. They have a wavy and waterproof coat that certainly helps them to dry quickly after swimming. These large hounds are rare, but their calm, sensitive, and curious personalities make them a family favorite. If you want a terrier-looking dog with a sweet temperament to suit an active lifestyle, then the otterhound could be the dog for you.

8. Skye Terrier

skye terrier standing on gray slabs
Sadly, Skye terriers are on the verge of extinction.

The Skye terrier has the most exquisite coat, and combined with their friendliness, they are simply adorable dogs. This small terrier is only 10 inches tall but their coats can grow extremely long and should be consistently brushed and trimmed. They are considered endangered, with approximately 30 or fewer puppies born in the UK annually. While they have an affectionate nature, the breed’s decline could be due to more popular small breeds, such as pugs, being more favorable.

The world’s most unusual dog breeds might not be the most popular choice of pet, but each dog was bred to serve a specific purpose. From slender Azawakhs meant to hunt and survive desert conditions to otterhounds that would catch food for their handlers, these dogs shouldn’t be discounted. If you’re looking for an unusual dog breed to bring home, learn about their health, grooming, and exercise requirements before you make a decision.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.