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Top Exotic Dog Breeds

At A Glance

Dogs can be exotic too. There are some breeds that are indigenous to certain regions and cannot be found elsewhere.

Some of the breeds have even come close to extinction. Only a handful survive today. Azawakh, Shar Pei, Xoloitzcuintle, etc. are some of these exotic dog breeds.

Last Updated on: Aug 11, 2022

What image does the phrase “exotic animal” conjure in your mind? Do you think of the gigantic land snails from Africa? Or, perhaps you imagine an armadillo snoozing in the deserts of South America.

While you might never associate the term with dogs, you’d be surprised to know that there are many breeds that are atypical to the regions they live in and are very rare!

Today, we introduce you to the interesting world of exotic dogs and what they’re like.

Azawakh dog


Hailing from the Niger basin in Western Africa, Azawakh is an ancient sighthound that cohabited with nomadic tribes living in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Tall, slender, and fiercely loyal, these dogs are exceptional hunters, specializing in tearing down upon gazelles with lightning speed and precision.

The one thing that makes Azawakhs so unique is the fact that they rely on their sight for pursuing their prey more than any other sense. Their athletic body, framed by elegant and long legs also makes them quite a sight to behold. Those legs also help them run at 64 km per hour!

Although independent and headstrong, Azawakhs are intelligent dogs with a keen understanding of emotions that bond very closely with their owners. Sadly, the breed almost kissed extinction in recent years, but some still survive as proud and protective pets.

If you come across an Azawakh somewhere, we’re sure you’d never forget them.


One of the rarest breeds on this list, a Catalburun is one of the only three dog breeds in the world that possesses a split nose. In fact, they’re so rare that less than 300 of them are in existence today! These spectacularly peculiar-faced dogs originate from Mersin in Turkey and are well-known for their undying loyalty to their owners.

Although calm and composed, Catalburuns have strong preying instincts and make for deft companions for hunters. They’re untrusting of strangers and can get aggressive if provoked. But at the same time, they make for guard dogs par excellence.

Fun Fact: Do you know that Catalburuns are exclusive to Turkey and there are hardly any of these dogs living outside the country?

Leonberger dog


Magnificent — that’s the only word which aptly describes Leonbergers. A truly regal breed, these dogs happen to be a cross between Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and Pyrenese Mountain Dogs. Although gigantic in size, these dogs are very playful and quite gentle.

They love to spend time with their families, are great with children, and are fond of strangers too. But don’t let their amiable nature fool you, Leonbergers also score brownie points as guard dogs. They’re smart as a whip and there’s no fooling around with Leonbergers.

These dogs are known for their prowess at pulling carts (no surprises there, these dogs are huge in size). But they’re also very fond of running with their humans or beside a bike. They excel at agility training too. In short, they’re quite an astounding breed to have as a pet.

Lowchen dog


Lovingly called the “Little Lion”, Löwchen is a breed of companion dog that shares its bloodline with that of the Maltese and Bichon Frise. Although small in size, these dogs are quite fierce and brave when it comes to their personalities. A breed popular across the countries of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, and even Russia — these dogs cut quite a pretty picture because of their unique coat of fur and size.

Playful and protective yet affectionate, Löwchens get along very well with kids and therefore make commendable family pets. But these dogs are quite “talkative” and love to express themselves by barking, sometimes a lot!

Löwchens are a highly adaptable breed and do very well for apartment living because they’re petit.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff

Gigantic and grand — that’s the Neapolitan Mastiff for you. You’d hardly come across a dog that is as big and antique-looking as this burly breed. Why? Because they’re ancient and go all the way back to 700 BC!

Because of their intimidating appearance, Neapolitan Mastiffs were often deployed in gladiator arenas in Rome. No wonder that in recent years they make for watchdogs that could send just about anybody running for their life! That said, these dogs are affectionate and staunchly loyal towards their families.

Even though not overwhelmingly playful, they enjoy being outdoors. But these dogs do not fare well in hot temperatures.

Sadly, due to their physique and related health issues, most do not live past the age of 6 or 7 years.

Portuguese water dog

Portuguese Water Dog

Often nicknamed the Portie, Portuguese Water Dogs are the ultimate “fisher dogs” out there. Originating from the coasts of Portugal, these mid-sized dogs have an athletic build and highly energetic personalities.

Covered in a coat of short and curly fur, these hardy dogs accompanied their seafaring comrades from the Atlantic to the shores of Iceland on many trips. That’s how they gained their badge of honor as hardworking and capable canine companions.

They love to please their masters and are extremely easy to train. They’re also quite affectionate and great with children — a combination that makes them commendable family pets.

Exotic and precious, they were once adjudged to be the rarest breed of dogs known to us. Even though quite a few survive today, these dogs are still hard to find.

Shar Pei Dog

Shar Pei

Shar-Pei is an ancient breed that originated during the Han dynasty’s rule in Southern China. With deep-set eyes almost hidden in the folds of its gigantic wrinkled face, the Shar-Pei is a highly unusual dog that truly defines the phrase one of a kind. These dogs are so wrinkled, you could mistake them for a dog that is really, really old.

Skeptical of strangers but devoted to its family, Shar Peis will protect you with their lives if the situation arises. These dogs are quite independent and equally headstrong. So they need ample training to remain as domesticated pets.

Xoloitzcuintle dog


The canine cousin of the Sphinx cat, Xoloitzcuintle is a breed of hairless dogs from Mexico, dating back to more than 3000 years. Historically considered to be a protector of mankind, the Xolo is said to have guarded their owners’ homes against the evil eye.

Urban legends aside, this breed is a champion watchdog and extremely loyal companion.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Aztecs named these dogs after their dog-headed deity Xolotl?


These breeds of dogs might be among the rarest ones known to us, but one glance at history will tell you that all of them are unique in their own ways. While you may not have the luxury of keeping one as a family pet, you can always take pride in knowing interesting facts about them.

We hope this article has satiated your curiosity and that you’ll keep visiting our website for more amazing content!


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Paul Andrews

Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.