When someone says "dog," a mental picture pops into your head.
You'll likely think of a Poodle, a German Shepherd, a Labrador Retriever, Beagle, or any of the dozens of breeds you know personally or have seen in movies or on TV.
However, there are breeds of dogs out there you may have never heard of, or even seen a picture of. Here are eight of the more unusual dog breeds, listed alphabetically:
This tall, slender dog is from African desert regions. They're extremely loyal, and so thoroughly attach with their families that it's best for them to be placed with a permanent family at a young age. These protective dogs make great indoor pets, but should have at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If they're very lean—almost bony—they're in optimal health.
It's believed that Beramascos originated from shepherding dogs that lived in Persia, and are known for their unique matted coats. As puppies, they have soft, short hair. The mats begin to appear between seven months and a year old, and will reach the ground within five years. Despite their appearance, once the coat has come in fully these dogs require less grooming than most. A bath one to three times a year is sufficient. Their coats should be kept long to keep them warm during harsh winters and protected from the sun in summer months.
Çatalburuns are a Turkish breed, prized as hunting dogs. These dogs are a pointer breed, and look much like other pointers except for a unique trait: their noses are split from top to bottom. Many feel they have the best sense of smell among the pointers, perhaps because of the split nose. They're seldom seen outside of Turkey.
The Chinese Crested is a small, slender dog that was originally bred to be a companion to invalids. The most common variety is the Hairless, with silky hair on its head, tail and feet. There's also a Powderpuff variety, which has a full coat of fur. Both the Hairless and the Powderpuff can appear in the same litter. The Hairless variety needs to be bathed at least every other week, and also needs to be groomed to keep the skin healthy, as they can develop a type of canine acne.
The Norwegian Lundehund is another hunting dog. This dog has a collection of characteristics that makes him unique. He has at least six toes on each foot, to make it easier to hold onto slippery rocks. He can close off his ear canal to protect his inner ear from dirt and moisture. His neck is jointed so he can bend his head backwards and touch his forehead to his back. And his shoulders are jointed in such a way he can splay his legs straight out to the sides. All these traits make him a terrific hunter on cliffs, slippery rocks and in difficult passageways.
Depictions of the Pharaoh Hound can be found in ancient Egyptian artifacts dating back to 4400 B.C., making them one of the oldest known breeds of domesticated dog. Perhaps as remarkable as the age of the breed itself is the fact that these dogs have remained unchanged for more than 5,000 years.
Pulis look like walking dust mops. These long-haired dogs have fur that grows in coils that reach the ground by the time they're 5-years-old. Owners do not have to braid or otherwise form the coils, but they do need to make sure the coils are separated so that air can get to the skin. Though they take no longer to bathe than any other long-haired dog, drying can take hours. Fortunately, they do not need to be bathed often.
The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queent-lee) is also known as a Mexican Hairless. Archaeologists believe these dogs came to the New World across the Bering landmass, some 12,000 years ago. They get their name from the Aztec language: "Xolotl," the Aztec god of fire and escort of the dead to the underworld; and "itzcuintli," the Aztec word for dog. They're unusual looking with their mostly hairless body, long slender tail, squinty eyes and large ears. They're affectionate with their families, enjoy company, and make good watchdogs.
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.