11 Rare Dog Breeds You've Never Heard Of, But Will Soon

Sleek sighthounds, two breeds with hairless varieties and a fun-loving Dutch Retriever are among the rising stars of the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class.

The dog breeds in this class are gaining popularity and could become fully recognized by the AKC once they reach the threshold number of registrations needed. We’ll introduce you to all 11 of the breeds in the gallery below. Get to know them now, so you can say you knew them when!

Breeds to Watch: AKC's Miscellaneous Class 2015

American Hairless Terrier Standing in Grass

Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

American Hairless Terrier

He may not have a fur coat, but the American Hairless Terrier looks striking and is smoothly muscular. He can be found in a variety of colors and is known for the curious, alert expression on his face. The breed maintains the hunting instinct passed down from his vermin-hunting ancestors — but because he lacks a coat, he isn’t suitable for hunting. Many of these dogs aim to please, and though they can make good watchdogs, they also tend to be affectionate and playful.


Alice van Kempen, Animal Photography


The exotic-looking, intelligent Azawakh is a sighthound from Africa with a generally aloof and quiet personality. Like other sighthounds, this dog hunts primarily using sight and speed. This rare breed usually enjoys being in the company of her people but doesn’t tend to seek out a lot of affection. She has a protective streak and may bark at strangers, and comes in many shades, including fawn, sand, brindle, white, black, gray, blue, grizzle and brown.

Belgian Laekenois dog breed

Tim Hagendoorn, Animal Photography

Belgian Laekenois

The Belgian Laekenois is the oldest and rarest of the four Belgian herding breeds — including the better-known Belgian Malinois, often the breed of choice for law enforcement — but is the only one not yet fully recognized by the AKC. The wiry-haired dog has an inquisitive expression and can be good with kids, especially if he’s raised with them or lives in a family with older kids who treat him with respect. If you have an active lifestyle, the Laekenois might be the dog for you.

Dogo Argentino in Grass

Ron Willbie, Animal Photography

Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino, also known as the Argentine Mastiff, is a big, strong guardian who needs an experienced owner to firmly guide her. She can be both gentle and fierce, and needs a job to do — she’s not content to just sit around. She also needs early socialization. Many are territorial and protective by nature, and need a high fence to keep them in their own yards. Despite her fierce personality, the Dogo generally has a penchant for being close to or touching her people.

Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen Dog Sitting on Floor

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen

Typically happy, independent and outgoing, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen is not that much larger than his fully recognized cousin, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen: The PBGV stands 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder, the GBGV, 15.5 to 18 inches. They were bred together until the 1970s, and then split into two breeds. This rough-coated scenthound is a prized hunter in his homeland of France.

Two Kooikerhondje Dogs on Leash

Peter Smith, Animal Photography

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje tends to be a smart, fun-loving and active dog who’s happy to kick back and relax with you, too. A small Dutch Retriever with a beautiful red-and-white coat, he has a long, bushy tail and usually weighs only 20 to 30 pounds. He's generally happy to be around his people but can be a clever guy who might run circles around a novice dog owner. This can be a great breed for someone who’s interested in being very involved with training a dog and doing activities with him.

Norrbottenspets Dog Side View

Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography


Many of the medium-size Norwegian hunting dogs are attentive and keen. They have the ability to hold prey at bay and then call to a hunter with high-pitched vocalizations. The breed was thought to be extinct but survived in the northern parts of Finland and Sweden. The Norrbottenspets shouldn’t be left off-leash in an area that’s not fenced in because of his strong prey drive. Still, a well-socialized Norrbottenspets can be a kind and affectionate companion who may live well into his teen years.

Peruvian Inca Orchid dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Peruvian Inca Orchid

The Peruvian Inca Orchid, nicknamed the PIO, is ranked by the AKC as the 166th most popular dog breed. People often think the hairless version has a higher body temperature than other dogs, but according to the AKC, the dog actually just feels warmer to the touch, because there’s no coat between you and the dog’s skin. Of course, no coat can leave her cold, so she’ll probably need a sweater or jacket when temps drop. This charming yet reserved pooch is usually best handled by an experienced owner. We love how PIO fans refer to the small patch of hair on her otherwise-hairless head as the “kiss spot!”

Portuguese Podengo Medio Side View

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Portuguese Podengo

Though the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno was recently fully recognized by the AKC, his Grande and Medio cousins are listed in the Miscellaneous Class. Another hunting dog, the Podengo is known for jumping straight up when he sees his prey. Because of that, you’ll need a tall fence for your yard if you bring one into your family. The Grande weighs 44 to 66 pounds and is rarely seen in the U.S. The Medio ranges from 35 to 45 pounds. At any size, the Podengo tends to be an athlete who might enjoy agility and tracking.

Two Pumi Dogs in Grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography


The Pumi is a Hungarian herding breed that’s so closely related to the Puli and the Mudi that the breed can sometimes be born in each other’s litters, according to the Pumi's parent club. (The world’s best-known Puli may be Beast, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife's dog.) The typically energetic and lively Pumi has a combination of wavy and curly hair, and comes in black, white, gray and several shades of fawn. She wears a whimsical expression and usually likes being active.

Sloughi dog breed

Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography


Like a tall drink of water, the graceful and elegant Sloughi is a sighthound with speed and agility. He’s been known to take off after small animals, so he must always be walked on a leash. Even if he gets along with small pets in his home, he has a tendency to forget that when he sees them running around outside. He generally bonds quickly with his family and will keep them on their toes.

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