Who’s top dog? And who’s…not? The American Kennel Club has just released their list of the most popular dog breeds in America, according to the 2016 AKC registration stats. The top 10 is full of the usual, lovable suspects, from the Labrador retriever to the bulldog. In fact, the Labrador retriever took the most popular spot—for the 26th year in a row! You probably haven’t heard of the bottom of the pack, however. The 11 least popular breeds are:
- Finnish Spitz
- Glen of Imaal Terriers
- Canaan Dogs
- Cesky Terriers
- Cirnechi dell’Etna
- English Foxhounds
- Norwegian Lundehunds
- American Foxhounds
It’s always fun to see the winners, from the classics to the trending. But the breeds at the bottom deserve a little love, too, so let’s take a look at some of these little-known dogs. Their ranking has much more do with being rare than it does with actual popularity. In fact, some of them are new entries to the AKC registry—the Sloughi was only added this year, while the Bergamesco and Cirnechi dell’Etna were added in the last few years.
These breeds fall between 178th and 189th place on the AKC popular dog breeds list…of 189.
This red-gold hunting breed is the national dog of Finland, where it can trace its roots back thousands of years. Energetic, fearless, and friendly, these medium-sized dogs need plenty of exercise and a fenced yard.
Glen of Imaal Terrier
These adorably scruffy dogs were bred in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland to hunt vermin, badgers, and foxes. They’re medium-sized and known to be gentler and a bit calmer than other terriers.
The Canaan dog is rare in the States, but it’s the national dog of Israel, where it originated from the free-ranging village or “pariah” dogs common to the Middle East and many other parts of the world. They sport a signature curly tail and are known for being alert, confident, and somewhat reserved.
Otherwise known as the Bohemian terrier, the Cesky is spirited and smart, and known for being more trainable than your average terrier. And if you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “chess-kee,” which means Czech. (We don’t need to tell you their country of origin!)
An Italian classic, the Cirneco dell’Etna is an ancient hound dog from the island of Sicily. Cirnecos are known for being athletic and hardy, able to navigate rough terrain in pursuit of small prey.
This dog is most known for its incredible dreadlocks, which help keep it warm—and occur naturally! An Italian sheepdog, the Bergamesco is an ancient breed with strong herding instincts.
Pronounced “Sloo-ghee,” the Sloughi is also known as the Arabian greyhound. This rare and elegant sighthound originates from the northern part of Africa, and comes in three different colors and four unique markings. Its loyal to its people, but known to be standoffish with strangers.
Wait, is that a beagle? Nope, but the Harrier is related ancestrally to both the beagle and the English foxhound. Like those hounds, the harrier was bred to hunt, and it retains a strong hunting instinct. Its a social, handsome dog that definitely needs a securely fenced yard.
Not to be confused with its American cousin, the English foxhound is a small, sturdy hunting dog known for its gentle nature and athleticism. This is the breed for runners, too: these foxhounds were bred to run for miles (marathon fox hunts—who knew?)
This clever, nimble little dog is positively dashing. The lundehund is a rare breed with some fascinating quirks, including six toes on each foot and the ability to tip its head backwards until it touches the spine. No, really. It’s one of the qualities that makes them great at hunting puffins in the cold north.
The American foxhound originated in the early American colonies, when English foxhounds were interbred with Irish and French hounds, among others, to better suit the terrain and hunting conditions of the New World.
The Bottom Line
For more photos and an in-depth look at all of the AKC’s dog breeds, check out the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.
These adorable, distinctive breeds are pretty rare, which accounts for their lack of popularity more than anything else, of course. But if you’re lucky enough to come across one of these breeds, who knows? You might just have the perfect new family member on your hands.