We all know about Labradors, German shorthairs, and coonhounds, but the world of dog breeds is deeper than you might have expected
We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous Labrador Retriever, the lovable Yorkshire Terrier, and the intelligent Border Collie. Even less popular dog breeds can become well-known due to roles in films and books, such as the Dalmatian or even the Irish Setter.
But that’s just scratching the surface of the vast world of dog breeds, which originated in corners all around the world to fulfill specific needs and purposes. Think you know them all? How about these obscure breeds?
The Azawakh is a sighthound from the African continent, originating in West Africa in present-day Mali. Its long, sinewy build immediately gives away its primary purpose: speed. Like all sighthounds, it is built for the pursuit of game.
While the Azawakh is an old breed in its native Africa, it was only recently recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2019. AKC recognition means it is now eligible to compete in conformation shows as well as dog sports such as agility and obedience in the U.S.
The Azawakh is a tall dog, typically standing around 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder. However, its slim build means that the tall frame typically only weighs around 40-50 pounds.
As a pet, the Azawakh can make a great companion provided that its energy needs are met on a daily basis. Owners report that they tend to form a strong bond with one person, which can be very effective in training but more difficult if the whole family wants to get involved with dog activities or sports.
The Azawakh’s short coat is extremely low-maintenance and doesn’t have any grooming needs beyond occasional bathing and checking for seeds or ticks after a run through tall grass.
The Brandlbracke, or Austrian Black and Tan Hound, is a devoted hunting dog from the scent hound family. As its name suggests, it is a black dog with tan markings that hails from Austria. It is used by hunters for tracking wounded game after a hunt, as well as for finding game during a driven hunt and moving the animal toward the waiting hunters. Like all scent hounds, it is well-known for baying or “giving voice” when on an animal scent.
It is a medium-sized hound, standing about 19-21 inches tall at the shoulder. The Brandlbracke has been recognized by the FCI since 1954, but it is not currently recognized by the AKC. In fact, it is rare to find a Brandlbracke outside of Austria or Germany.
These dogs are primarily used in hunting capacities, although they can make excellent companions, provided that they have sufficient opportunities to use their brains and bodies to perform a task. Prospective owners should consider that these dogs are independent hunters and loud by nature, so living within the confines of the city may lead to frustration for both the dog and the owner.
The Lagotto Romagnolo, or Romagna Water Dog, was originally developed as a hunting dog for the marshes of Italy. Now, it finds work as a specialized truffle-finding dog, using its keen sense of smell and excellent searching abilities to find prized fungus for its handler.
It is a medium-sized dog, standing at about 17-18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing around 30 pounds.
Owners overwhelmingly remark on the breed’s friendly disposition and playfulness. They make excellent companions provided that they are regularly exercised and included in family activities.
The Lagotto Romagnolo bears a striking similarity to a Labradoodle due to its tight, curly coat and general resemblance to a plush toy. For those in the market for such a hybrid dog, it’s worth considering one of the water dog breeds such as the Lagotto Romagnolo as an alternative, purebred dog.
The tight, curly coat of the Lagotto Romagnolo only sheds minimally, though it does require trimming and grooming to prevent mats.