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Some dog breeds are in danger of going extinct because they are so rare

Dog breeding is a very taxing enterprise that sometimes becomes unethical. But dog breeding was originally done so that dogs can assist humans in their different jobs. The earliest evidence of dog breeding traces back to 9,000 years ago and indicates that the first selectively bred dogs were hunting dogs and sled dogs from Siberia.

Today, terriers do less hunting of rabbits and rodents, German shepherds barely shepherd livestock. But these breeds remain popular. They are relatively easy to care for and there are plenty of breeders who raise them. Unfortunately for some dog breeds, breeding is not so easy. Environmental conditions, limited breeding, and exclusive ownership drive some breeds to extreme rarity, pushing them to the edge of extinction.

Rarest dog breeds that could go extinct

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The following are some of the world’s rarest dog breeds that could soon cease to exist, based on the past registrations in different Kennel Clubs in the U.S. and the U.K.

Tibetan Mastiff

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Rarest dog breeds, Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff was originally bred in the cold environment of Tibet’s mountains. A stocky breed, the Tibetan Mastiff, also known as the Tibetan mountain dog or the Himalayan mountain dog, thrives in the elevated region of the Himalayas. Its large body and double coat protect it from the cold climate and will not do well in temperate or humid regions where it could overheat. Tibetan Mastiffs are banned or restricted in parts of the United States, and in Australia, France, Malaysia, and the Maldives.


Norwegian Lundehund

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Rarest dog breeds, Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small hunting dog originally bred in Norway to assist people in hunting for puffins, which typically nest and lay eggs in inaccessible places such as caves and cliffs. Also known as puffin dogs, the breed was nearly brought to extinction in the 1960s but preservation efforts prevented it. Since there was very little access to a diverse gene pool to breed enough healthy puffin dogs, breeders began cross-breeding to address population bottleneck and health problems in the dog breed.


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Rarest dog breeds, Foxhound

The foxhound is a large hunting dog originally purposed for hunting foxes and small game. Its incredible hounding instinct make it a reliable companion for fox hunting. In 2005, there were only 44 registrations of foxhounds in North America. This number has not imrproved in recent years: From 2017 to 2021, there were no registrations for foxhounds in the Kennel Club. Only 1 registration was recorded in 2022.



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Rarest dog breeds, harrier

This scent hound’s history can be traced all the way back to the 13th century. As its name suggests, it was originally bred to hunt hares. “The last century has seen a huge fall in the number of Harrier packs,” writes the Kennel Club. “Although still rare as family companions, the Harrier is affectionate and smart, but of course needs an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise.” The Harrier is just as rare as the foxhound these days. No registrations for the foxhound were recorded from 2017 to 2019, but there were 12 in 2020, 38 in 2021, and 9 in 2022, according to the Kennel Club.



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rarest dog breeds, Otterhound

The Otterhound is a fascinating and unique breed of dog with a rich history. Known for its distinctive shaggy coat and webbed feet, the Otterhound was originally bred in England for a specific purpose: otter hunting. This large and sturdy hound possesses a keen sense of smell and incredible endurance, making it a skilled tracker and swimmer. With its friendly and affectionate nature, the Otterhound is also a wonderful companion, although it requires an active lifestyle and plenty of exercise to thrive. There were only 30 registrations for the otterhound in 2022, fewer than the 42 in 2021.



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Rarest dog breeds, bloodhound

The bloodhound is a staple in movies, especially in scenes that depict the dogs tracking a human. The bloodhound is an ancient breed, having been bred in Britain since the 1300s. Sadly, it is not a popular dog breed. In 2021, only 19 registrations were recorded for the breed, according to the Kennel Club.


Sussex Spaniel

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Rarest dog breeds, Spaniel (Sussex)

The Sussex Spaniel is the rarest of all spaniel breeds but has a very rich history, according to the Kennel Club. "A founding pillar of the breed was Mr A E Fuller of Rosehill Park, near Hastings in Sussex and he developed a spaniel for working in the dense cover of his local terrain and so the Sussex is low to the ground and powerfully built with a thick protective skin to get through the densest of undergrowth," writes the Club.


"When Mr Fuller died in 1847, his dogs were sold and the breed became scarce. Fortunately, despite several periods of threatened extinction, the breed has made progress both in type and numbers in recent years."

In 2019, there were 52 registrations for the Sussex Spaniel in the U.K., but this is dwarfed in comparison to the French Bulldog, which had 33,661 registrations in the same year.

Skye Terrier

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Rarest dog breeds, Skye Terrier


Another storied breed, the Skye terrier was a favorite dog of Queen Victoria. The monarch acquired one in 1842. In 2022, the Kennel Club recorded 71 registrations for the Skye Terrier. The Skye terrier enjoys a pampered life indoors and prefers not to be an outdoor dog. Its long coat of fur needs regular combing, while the areas around the eyes and ears need particular attention and frequent cleaning and trimming. For its size, the Skye Terrier is a high-maintenance dog but quite affectionate and protective of its owners.

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