14 Dog Breeds You’ve Never Heard For Pet Lovers

14 Dog Breeds You’ve Never Heard For Pet Lovers

Are you familiar with the Italian Bergamasco, the patient sheepdog pictured here? Or the powerful hunting dog, the Dogo Argentino?

These are just two of the fourteen dogs who are hoping to become fully recognized by the American Kennel Club in the next few years. Before the AKC fully recognizes a breed, the dog and its parent club must go through an application stage called the Miscellaneous Class. The requirements are daunting. The parent club has to submit a detailed breed history, various photographs of the puppies and dogs, and strict breeding and judging standards. But for these devoted breed proponents, the payoff is worth the effort. Full recognition gives their dogs the opportunity to compete at the AKC dog shows and be in competition to win the coveted Best in Show prize. For now these breeds are working toward the date when the 14-member AKC Board of Directors vote to award them full recognition. You may not know these dogs today, but there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing their names in the coming years.

2 If you’re looking for a loyal sighthound with a protective streak, then the svelte, elegant Azawakh may be your match. The aloof breed hails from the Sahel region of Africa, a desert area that encompasses parts of Mali and Niger, including a region called the Azawakh Valley. There, the Azawakh protected the nomadic Touareg people and guarded their tents; he also played a role in hare, antelope and wild boar hunting. Because the Azawakh is so devoted to his people, he might bark at strangers, and he requires extensive socialization in puppyhood so he can adapt to new situations later in life. Since he has thin skin and not much body fat, the Azawakh would not do well in extremely cold or wet conditions — he’ll thrive in a home with abundant exercise and a comfortable place to rest.
3 The rough-coated Belgian Laekenois is the rarest of the four Belgian herding breeds, and the only one without full AKC recognition. He’s an alert, medium-sized dog with prick ears and a square body, plus a tousled coat that gives him something of a boyish charm. The Laekenois has a protective personality, and might be possessive of his favorite family members, so early socialization is key. Thanks to his impressive herding heritage, he must be taught not to chase or nip at the heels of children or other animals. Watch closely, and you might see him move in a curve instead of a straight line, like he’s circling a flock — this is also a quirky feature of his herding past

3 . The Bergamasco’s stunning coat looks like it requires expensive professional grooming, but don’t be fooled — her hair is much easier to care for than you think. The Bergamasco’s corded or matted fur is actually a combination of three different types of dog hair — confusingly called dog hair, goat hair and wool — that weld together into mats. That long mop of hair protects her eyes from the sun and her skin from mosquito bites. Grooming this dog might seem like a daunting task, but her hair care is relatively simple. Just remember to clean her face after meals to prevent a wet wool odor, and maintain the natural oils in her coat by not using shampoo to bathe her. Appearances aside, the Italian Bergamasco is a patient sheepdog who excels at obedience, hiking and even therapy visits with hospital children or people with disabilities

4. Weighing in at 145 to 155 lbs., the Boerboel is one of the most athletic breeds in the mastiff category. This is a very dominant dog, so the breed is best for people who have large-dog experience. In her homeland of South Africa, the Boerboel worked as a farm dog, aggressively guarding her land, herd and human family. The breed arrived in the United States in the early 1980s. With her short wash-and-wear coat, the Boerboel requires only basic grooming. Due to her guard dog instincts, it’s critical that these canines are introduced to new sights, sounds, people and situations as early and as often as possible.