How Rare Is That Doggy In The Window – Rare Dog Breeds

Saluki dog

Humans have always had dogs as companions, although they would have originally been hunting partners or working dogs, and the word ‘pet’ wasn’t widely used until around the 16th century. Fast forward to today and it feels like you can’t leave your house without tripping over a dog in a jumper and matching bandana; in 2021 the pet dog population in the UK was estimated at 13 million, and in the last year alone internet searches for ‘puppies’ have risen by 30%.

Like hemlines and haircuts, certain dog breeds come in and out of fashion; the good old Labrador Retriever has managed to keep the top spot for a while, fighting off (not literally) the French Bulldog and the Cocker Spaniel, along with the Cockerpoo and his many hybrid friends.

The popularity of dog breeds can be influenced by many things; the ‘Dalmatian Effect’ is the name given to the increase in demand for Dalmatian puppies after the release of the Disney films in both 1961 and 1996. The same happened with Siberian Huskies after the TV show Game of Thrones became popular in 2011.

But what about the not-so-popular breeds? What about all the beautiful, rare dog breeds out there that nobody gets to see? Here at The Insurance Emporium, we love our dogs, every single one of them, so we thought we’d shine the spotlight on some of the rarer breeds for a change.

Komondor (Hungarian sheepdog) posing in the park


Aka, the Hungarian Sheepdog, aka, the Mop Dog. With their fluffy white dreadlocks, this unusual-looking dog could easily be mistaken for a giant floor mop or a massive bale of hay, but they were originally bred in Hungary to protect sheep from predators and while it might look like the worst they could do is lick a predator to death, they are surprisingly agile and aggressive.

Their long, thick coats protect them from attacks from wolves, as well as extreme weather, but they also enable them to stay camouflaged in the middle of a flock of sheep. They have the heaviest coat of any dog, which coupled with their love for swimming means it’s a big commitment taking them anywhere near water!

There is a waiting list for these dogs because there are so few registered.

Dog portrait of Lagotto Romagnolo


While this might sound like something you’d order in an Italian restaurant, this little cutie is actually quite impressive under that poodle-like, teddy bear exterior, known for their brilliant sniffing skills, they are traditionally used for hunting ducks in marshland but nowadays they are recognised as the best dogs to hunt for truffles.

Similar in appearance to a poodle cross, such as a labradoodle, they love a good walk, like to splash in puddles and are smart and easy to train, so what’s not to like? They almost went extinct in the 1970s but were luckily saved.

If you’re a fan of Crufts you’ll probably have watched as Orca, a four-year-old Lagotto Romagnolo with a tail that never seemed to stop wagging, took home the coveted Best in Show.

Otterhound standing in field with paws on fence


The British Otterhound was originally bred for hunting otters, to protect the medieval fishing industry (they can take on an otter weighing up to 35lbs!) But they nearly disappeared once otter hunting became illegal. It’s one of the rarest dog breeds in the UK, according to Kennel Club figures; with only 7 being registered in 2020, although that figure increased to 30 in 2022.

They are extremely affectionate and boisterous and love being in and around water, however, if you are even the tiniest bit houseproud, these shaggy little fellows aren’t for you; they shed quite a bit, leave muddy pawprints everywhere and are not very good at keeping their beards clean after eating and drinking, rather like some humans we know!

Bloodhound dog sleeping on the floor indoors, close-up


Often associated with Sherlock Holmes, these dogs are known as the ‘Sleuth Hound’ because of their amazing tracking skills; they can track and follow a scent that is 300 hours old! It’s thought they were originally bred by Belgian monks, but they were first recorded in the UK in the 13th century; they were thought to have been used to track Robert the Bruce and William Wallace when they escaped from their captors.

As deer hunting declined, so did their numbers and it was only the effort of some enthusiasts, who imported them from abroad, that saved them; although with only 34 dogs registered in 2022, they’re still a vulnerable breed. These dogs are gentle giants; known for charming habits such as snoring and slobbering, they are also highly sensitive with selective hearing, so can be tricky to train; basically like a big furry toddler!

Harris, Scottish Deerhound, in the office.


Another rare hunting dog breed is the Deerhound, commonly referred to as a Scottish Deerhound, which is often described as tall, graceful and hairy, which pretty much makes them the supermodel of the doggy world.

They have been around since the 3rd century; Sir Walter Scott owned one and Queen Victoria had a whole pack of them. Trivia fans out there might also be interested to know that there was a Deerhound in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as Sirius Black’s Animagus.

They are extremely friendly dogs, and here at The Insurance Emporium we can definitely vouch for that; we have our very own Deerhound, Harris, who pops in to see us on a regular basis!


Many of these beautiful rare dog breeds are at risk because people just don’t know they exist or, sadly because they’ve fallen out of fashion. Many rare dog breeds declined in number during the First and Second World Wars, particularly the larger breeds as they were difficult to feed, and many were destroyed.

But as any dog owner knows, owning a dog can bring a lot of pleasure, and can even provide health benefits, but often people opt for a breed they’ve heard of without exploring any of the other 200 breeds that are recognised in the UK. There really is a dog for everyone, you just need to do a bit of research beforehand. It’s also worth taking a look at dog insurance; with five different policies to choose from, you’re sure to find one that suits you and your dog, however rare they are, leaving you free to enjoy the woof with the smooth and enjoy your adventures together!

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