Did you know there are more breeds of dog than almost any other animal in the world? It probably comes as no surprise. Dogs have been humankind's greatest companions for over 12,000 years now. In that time, nearly every country and culture in the world has raised a unique pup to call their own. No wonder it's estimated that, including cross-breeds, there are around 500 dog breeds in the world today. Add to that breeds no longer around, and that number would be significantly bigger!
On a genetic level, all dogs are still very similar, yet they take many incredible forms. From ear shape to tail length, every dog breed is a perfectly unique package of love and friendship. Some, however, stand out above all. Let's take a look at five fascinating dog breeds that are unlike any other!
Judging by the look of a Bergamasco Shepherd, you'd think they were long overdue for a trip to the groomer's. In fact, the breed's iconic matted coat is perfect for keeping it snug and safe while looking after livestock, and is easier to maintain than you'd think. Even better, it's hypoallergenic!
Nobody really knows the origins of Bergamasco, the shaggiest dog breed in the world. Today, they are found most commonly in Italy, where only around 100 are registered each year. It takes around six years for them to grow a full coat, which covers their entire body. Fortunately, they also grow extremely long eyelashes to keep it out of their eyes. We can't imagine the trouble they'd get into without them!
Source: Paradais Sphynx
Peruvian Hairless Dog
Fascinating to look at, incredibly clever, and filled with personality, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is a celebrated symbol of Peru. For good reason too. The fact they were painted onto pots dating back nearly 1300 years suggests they've been beloved as a breed much longer than many of their modern-day friends!
Though they may not look it, the breed is incredibly affectionate towards the humans and other dogs they love. Since their bald bodies radiate a lot of heat, they are known for jumping into their human's bed at night to act like a hot water bottle, or even provide warmth as a means of pain management. In return, Peruvian Hairless Dogs loved to be moisturised, especially around the ears.
Ever met a little pup who thinks its the biggest, toughest dog in the whole park, if not the whole world? Imagine a whole breed with that personality, and you'll soon understand what makes the Brussels Griffon such a standout. Full of spunk and curiosity, these dogs don't think small. If anything, they probably believe the world was made bigger simply to give them a challenge worthy of their ability!
While their self-importance can make them a challenging breed, they are an extremely affectionate dog breed that bonds quickly with humans and other animals alike.
Fun fact: the Brussels Griffon's ability to make human-like expressions was the inspirations for the Ewoks in Star Wars.
On first inspection, the Norwegian Lundehund probably doesn't look particularly fascinating. Look closer though, and you'll spot several features that combine to create one very special dog.
The most obvious is that all Lundehunds have six toes on each foot (you can see one of the extra two easily in the photo above). That's because they were bred to hunt puffins, which nest on cliffs and in caves only the best climbers can access. Other features that give the breed the flexibility required for such a job are its ability to completely control their ears - which can actually be folded shut - to turn their forelegs to 90 degrees like human arms, and to bend their head backwards along their own spine!
These days, the Lundehund's ability to track down nesting birds is used to search for and relocate birds at Norway's Tromsø airport so they don't fly into planes.
Source: Fugzu / Flickr
Basenji have all the traits of an ancient hunting dog. Their red coats allowed them to move unseen across the African savanna. They're athletic, curious, and confidently trot around in a way that tends to remind people of happy little horses. Yet if a Basenji opens its mouth, you'll quickly discover why they are so distinct.
You see, instead of barking, this amazing breed yodels! It's a truly beautiful sound that they can maintain for quite some time, making it seem like they're singing. Fortunately, Basenji kept as pets are often compared to cats, as they tend to spend their time quietly grooming in the company of loved ones rather than putting on a concert for the neighbours.
How many of these quirky, adorable pups did you already know existed? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to tell us which fascinating breed is your favourite!