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15 Dog breeds you've probably never heard of

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Up-and-coming dog breeds

Few people would be perplexed if you told them that you are the proud pet parent of a Poodle, German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever, since these breeds are common household pups. But what if you shared that your canine of choice is a Berger Picard, Bolognese, Jindo or Lagotto Romagnolo? These lesser-known dogs are listed in the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service Breeds category. Your friends may have not heard of the following canines, but they are up-and-coming dog breeds that are seeing an increase in popularity in the U.S.

Eurasier dog

Photo credit: Daniela Duncan/Moment/Getty Images

1. Barbet

The curly-coated Barbet is a rare canine breed boasting a friendly, people-pleasing personality. Also called a French water dog, this fun-loving canine may just jump in your tub when it wants some water action. Barbet advocates are currently working hard on increasing the pup’s American population.

2. Berger Picard

A loyal canine with a daily craving for lots of exercise, the handsome Berger Picard is perfect for owners who want their dog to be an integral part of the family.

3. Boerboel

This confident, muscular dog is a force to be reckoned with if you’re a threat to its family. The Boerboel is a large, heavy Mastiff-type breed that serves as a working dog but has an affectionate affinity for its “pack” members.

4. Bolognese

If a lapdog is pulling your heartstrings, the toy-sized Bolognese may be the dog for you. Playful and happy, this cuddly white fluffball adores human companionship, and it does well in small dwellings as long as it gets a daily walk.

5. Dogo Argentino

Known as the Argentinian Mastiff, the Dogo Argentino is a devoted dog that quickly steps into a protective role when it comes to its family pack. A strong-willed canine, this muscular pup needs a firm leader who will train it and enforce clear rules.

6. Eurasier

The Eurasier is an affectionate, irresistibly cuddly dog that bonds deeply with its family. An excellent companion dog, this tenderhearted canine needs daily exercise to keep it healthy and happy.

7. Hovawart

An outstanding watchdog, the Hovawart is also a loving, good-natured family pet. This handsome pup does well indoors if sufficiently exercised and tends to be territorial outdoors, opting to stay close to home rather than wander off.

8. Jindo

The intelligent, Spitz-type Jindo was originally bred centuries ago in southwest Korea as a hunting dog and is protected today as a national monument. This loyal pup enjoys being near and dear to its family when inside but loves to roam outdoors, following its prey drive.

9. Kai Ken

Also called a Tiger Dog, the Kai Ken is a rare dog from Japan that tends to be a courageous hunter and loyal family dog. The Kai is also an excellent swimmer and has been known to cross rivers when pursuing prey.

10. Karelian Bear Dog

Whether you plan on hunting bears or simply want an intelligent, energetic companion to take on daily runs, the Karelian Bear Dog is a powerful pup with a strong and loyal nature. If you’re new to owning a dog, this dominant-personality canine is not for you.

11. Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo has a keen sense of smell and is used to hunt for truffles (the mushroom variety) and for other search activities. Because this curly-coated pup is highly intelligent, be sure to give it ample brain stimulation, along with daily exercise, to keep it from finding things on its own to chew up or destroy.

12. Rat Terrier

If you’re looking for a feisty, energetic pet pal, the Rat Terrier will keep you busy and delightfully engaged. Affectionate yet hardy, this playful pup is as quick to stay close to your kid as it is to work hard as a hunter or farm dog.

13. Schapendoes

Also referred to as a Dutch Sheepdog, the Schapendoes is a breed of dog originating from the Netherlands. High-spirited, it was raised for herding or farm-dog work, but this energetic canine is also a good candidate for agility training and other dog sporting events.

14. Thai Ridgeback

Similar to the Rhodesian Ridgeback with its distinctive ridge of coarse hair going down its back, the muscular and agile Thai Ridgeback is an ancient breed of dog from Thailand that is gaining in popularity in the U.S. As a bonus, this pup sheds little and can be tolerated by people who are allergic to dogs.

15. Tosa

A dog breed with Japanese origins, the Tosa was bred as a fighting dog. Today, this powerful canine is banned from many countries, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Malta and the United Kingdom, due to it being a danger to people. Advocates of the Tosa are working hard to change this pup’s reputation, since not all of these dogs are bred specifically to be aggressive.

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