10 Awesome Dog Breeds You’ve Never Heard Of—Until Now
Your local dog park plays host to Beagles, Yorkshire Terriers and Golden Retrievers, but have you ever encountered a Berger Picard, Icelandic Sheepdog, or Cane Corso? Meet 10 unique dog breeds from across the globe.
Graceful and deer-like, the Ibizan Hound is distinctive. With amber eyes, large ears, and red and white fur, this Spanish breed boasts two varieties: the smooth, or wiry coat. Originally bred to hunt rabbits, this canine is quiet, and good with kids, but requires a home with high fences. An Ibizan can easily sail over barriers of 5-feet or more.
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Dating back to 600 AD Italy, the Cane Corso (pronounced Connie Corso) descends from Roman war dogs. Its large, athletic build, and strong work ethic made this canine ideal for herding, hunting, and guarding. Almost extinct in the 1980s, the breed is now making a welcome comeback. Suspicious of strangers yet devoted to its master, the Cane Corso requires an experienced dog owner who can handle its protective instincts.
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Small and energetic, the Schipperke (pronounced Skipper-key) is native to Belgium. Adored for its inquisitive personality and beautiful coat, “the little black devil” was a vermin hunter. Today, they’re regarded as happy, loyal companions. Their sassy demeanour and enthusiasm for mischief requires a dedicated owner who will supervise its adventures. Schipperkes are talented escape artists—a well-fenced yard, and on-leash walks are a must.
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Coton de Tulear
Known as the Royal Dog of Madagascar, the Coton de Tulear (pronounced Cu-toe de Too-lay-are) dates back several centuries. Sharing ancestors with the Maltese, and Bichon Frise, this happy-go-lucky pup historically served as a royal pet. Sociable and smart, the Coton often behaves like a little, furry clown. Their bouncy antics, and tireless energy are endearing, but owners must be careful not to fall completely under their Coton’s spell—this fun-loving breed will take advantage of a lenient master.
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Hailing from China, the Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed. An extremely protective, intelligent, and independent dog, he prefers to make his own decisions, and is not easily trained. Walking off-leash, obeying commands, and trusting strangers are challenges with this majestic canine. The Tibetan can be a wonderful pet under the supervision of a knowledgeable, and dedicated owner.
With its tousled appearance, the Berger Picard—star of the movie Because of Winn-Dixie—is often mistaken for a mutt. Don’t let this dog’s low-maintenance look fool you. This canine boasts a proud French pedigree. Traditionally a sheepdog, the Berger Picard (pronounced Bare zhay Peecar) almost disappeared after World War II. Fortunately, breed fanciers are re-establishing its presence not only in France, but worldwide. Quiet, loyal, and athletic, the Berger craves attention and often displays comical behaviour.
With its gold eyes, and soft, chocolate-coloured coat, the Boykin Spaniel could easily be discounted as just a pretty household pet—but this breed is no lap dog. Hard-working and spirited, this spaniel is a seasoned hunting companion. Bred for tracking wild turkeys, the Boykin first appeared in the south-eastern United States during the early 20th century. Recognized as the state dog of South Carolina, the Boykin Spaniel has a friendly personality, and adores children.
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Surprise! The Chinese Crested isn’t from China. Experts believe that this small breed originated in Central America. Used as ratters on ships along Mexico’s coast, the dogs were often traded for goods. Chinese boat crews adored these canines. By the 18th century, people mistakenly thought that this elegant breed was Asian. There are two types of Chinese Crested dogs: the hairless, and powderpuff. A single litter of puppies can produce both varieties.
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Originating in Germany in the mid-1800s, the Leonberger was a favourite of European royals. Strong and imposing, this household guardian closely resembled a lion. Today, its affectionate manner makes him an excellent therapy dog, or children’s companion. But don’t be mislead by his cuddly disposition—prospective owners must train this pet properly. With many Leonbergers weighing over 120-lbs., they naturally believe that they’re the boss.
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Iceland’s native dog is not only unique, but rare. Rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1950s, the Icelandic Sheepdog is slowly increasing in numbers. A natural herder, the breed is alert, intelligent, and enthusiastic. Friendly with other animals, and gentle with children, the Icelandic forms strong bonds with its master. Occasionally, this attachment can cause separation anxiety, and excess barking. With a gentle touch, a skilled owner can teach their Icelandic Sheepdog to be calm in their absence.
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