Man’s best friend has evolved alongside his two-legged companions through the years. Many dogs were specifically bred to suit human purposes, such as animal herding, personal protection or tracking. However, in the modern world, the need for hunter pals and herding companions has lessened in many corners of the globe. Unfortunately, this leaves many dog breeds without a proper job and declining in popularity among those looking for a domestic companion or yard dog.
The American Kennel Club maintains a list of the most popular dog breeds among the 190 it recognizes. Of those, faithful companions like the Labrador retriever, golden retrievers, German shepherds and bulldogs top the list. At the bottom of the ranking are many breeds few people likely realize exist. These rare dogs are some of the most unusual breeds and typically served very specific roles in years past. Many would face extinction without the attention of dedicated breeders.
A Norwegian buhund is type of spitz dog native to Norway. Historically, the dog was used to herd sheep and cattle and serve as a protector on a farm. They are a medium-sized canine with a dense fur coat able to withstand the cold weather of their native land. The coat can range in color from light to dark. For the family, the Norwegian buhund can serve as a good watch dog but needs lots of exercise to burn off excess energy.
While many other retriever types top the list of most popular dogs, the curly-coated retriever nears the bottom. Much as it names implies, this a retriever breed with a tight, curly coat. It was originally bred as a dog for water bird hunting. It is the tallest retriever and among the oldest. The curly-coat retriever loves to play and exercise due to its former hunt companion status but can also be a calm house dog.
Picture a small terrier with a beatnik haircut and you have the Skye Terrier. Native to the United Kingdom island of Skye, the dog was once favored among the country’s elite, including royalty, but now is considered one of the most endangered dogs in the U.K. In fact, it could disappear completely in the future. While the Skye Terrier enjoys daily outings, it prefers to live indoors as a house pet.
Another spitz breed declining in popularity, the Finnish lapphund is native to Finland and most popular in its home country. Originally a reindeer herder, the dog is now a happy house pet in Finland and is a favored family animal. It is a good watch dog and capable of competing in various canine sports.
Named due to a belief it is an ancient Egyptian hunting dog, many scientists believe the Pharaoh hound is a slightly more modern breed. It serves as the national dog of Malta and was traditionally used to hunt in rocky areas. The hound combines the thin frame of a greyhound with a chiseled head and muscular frame and is still used to hunt. It is also a close relation of several other rare dogs.
The Canaan dog belongs to a breed of dog known as the pariah that has lived in the Middle East for millennia. Sometimes considered sacred animal, the Canaan is a guard and herd dog historically. Fur color and patterns vary, but the dog is primitive looking — or more closely resembles wild canines. Perfect as a guard dog, the Canaan loves its family but is wary of strangers at all times. Lots of energy means the Canaan craves a good walk and sporting activities.
Polish lowland sheepdogs
As its name implies, the Polish lowland sheepdog is native to Poland and has lived their for several hundred years as a herding dog. Some canines were later transported to Scotland where they were crossbred with local dogs to create several Scottish herding dogs still in existence. The dogs are able to live in a variety of conditions, including as house dogs in apartments.
Another entry for the spitz breeds, the Finnish spitz is native to Finland and was historically used to hunt game ranging from animals the size of rats to bears. Still largely used as a hunting dog in Finland, the animal’s ancestors could date back over 8,000 years. The dog has two coats, an undercoat and an outer coat of guard hairs that require regular trimming for show. The Finnish spitz averages about 25 pounds in weight and around 18 inches in height at the withers — the space in between the shoulder blades.
American English coonhounds
The American English coonhound is a redtick dog descended from foxhounds. It made its appearance in the southern United States and was recognized as a formal breed in 1905. A hunting dog, the coonhound tracked raccoons in the darkness and foxes by day. Color variations can include bluetick and tricolored coats.
The Chinook is a very rare type of sled dog that was first bred in the state of New Hampshire in the 1900s. It originally descended from a crossbreeding of huskies with Mastiff-type dogs. Subsequent breedings included German Shepherds and other canines suited to arctic climates. The Chinook grows up to 27 inches to the withers and can weigh up to 90 pounds. It remains the state dog of New Hampshire where it is largely enjoyed as a family pet.
A medium-sized dog, the Pyrenean Shepherd calls the mountainous areas of southern France and northern Spain home. Often used as herding dog, the shepherd is the smallest herding dog found in those regions. A high-energy animal, the Pyrenean likes to work and play and is very protective of children. A perfect lifelong companion for a family, the Pyrenean is very well suited to training.
The Bergamasco sheepdog presents a very unique coat due to its origin in the Italian Alps. A cold weather hunting dog, the Bergamasco shepherd has a felted coat with three different layers — a wooly outercoat, a midcoat of long hair and a fine undercoat. These hairs layer together into tufts that look like ruffles across the body. A dedicated companion, the Bergamasco is also capable of competition in dog shows. A fun fact about the Bergamasco is that it shares a common ancestor, the European herding dog, with various other breeds including the ever-popular German Shepherd.
Dandie dinmont terriers
The first unusual dog native to Scotland, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier certainly looks as “dandy” as the name implies. First bred around 1600, the dog was used as a hunting animal in its home country. The dog is typically eight to eleven inches tall and weighs 18 to 24 pounds on average. It is noted for a fun little “topknot,” or tuft of hair on the top of the head. The Dandie makes a fine companion for adults or families with older children or cats.
Another hound on the list, the Harrier is a more classic hunting dog in appearance and is often referred to as a bigger version of the beagle. A native of the United Kingdom, the harrier is related to the English foxhound but is a smaller option. It was first recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1885. It is a packdog that finds a human pack a perfectly suitable option but be prepared to invest time in keeping the Harrier healthy. The dog requires a nice, long walk daily or would love to tag along on a run. Left alone without regular exercise, the pooch will become hyper, so it requires an active family.
The unusual dog with the most unusual name, the Cirneco dell’Etna greatly resembles the Pharaoh hounds of Malta. Found on the island of Sicily in Italy, the dog is also a favorite for hunting rabbits on harsh terrain. The canine is also noted for the ability to stay out on the trail for extended time periods without needing food or water. Average height for the Cirneco dell’Etna is between 17 and 20 inches, and the average weight is around 23 pounds.
The Cesky is a terribly fancy terrier native to Czechoslovakia. It was first bred in 1948 from a Scottish and Sealyham terrier. The plan was to create a dog for hunting in the Bohemian forest. The Cesky is now one of the top six rare breeds in the world. A small dog, the Cesky became a favorite among terrier enthusiasts in the United States after it was first imported in the 1980s. By 1988, the Cesky Terrier Club of America had launched, and the AKC recognized the breed in 2004.
Another dog native to the United Kingdom, the Otterhound is a hunting dog who belongs to the scent hound class. The breed developed in the northwest section of England in the mid-1800s. Otterhounds are a large dog with a big head bred specifically for hunting. A strong body coupled with the ability to cover great distances made it perfect for long days in the field or the water. Unique features, such as webbed feet, make them a perfect water companion. Capable of tracking for nearly three days, the dogs are non-stop when investigating scent. Less than 600 otterhounds are believed to be in existence as of 2019.
A second hound native to America on the list is the American foxhound, the parent dog of the also rare coonhound. The American foxhound is a hunting dog that relies on scent to track other animals. It is believed to date back to the 1600s when several hunting dogs were transported to colonial America and later crossbred with other hounds. The American variation of the foxhound is slightly taller than its United Kingdom relation at approximately 23 inches in average height. Weight averages are between 55 and 71 pounds. Obedience training is recommended with the foxhound. It loves children and other animals so can be an ideal family pet.
While the Sloughi is a North African breed of dog, it favors its other Mediterranean cousins, like the Pharaoh hound and the Cirneco dell’Etna. It is most commonly found in the area of Morocco and is a sight hound. It was primarily used for hunting historically but also serves admirably as a guard dog, much like its canine friends in nearby countries. The Sloughi bonds greatly with its owner and family and appreciates a sensitive master.
Much like its American cousin, the English foxhound is also declining in popularity. It is also a scent hound that chases foxes by scent. The foxhound is a pack dog that is happiest with other animals or a pack of humans, such as a family or other family pets. The English foxhound was first bred in the late 1500s for sport. As other wild animal populations dwindled, the idea was to start hunting foxes for amusement. A new dog was needed to assist with the pursuit, and the English foxhound was bred. Its decline is likely fueled by the ever-changing concepts of sports.
Spitzes and hounds dominate the most unusual dogs ranking, and the last entry is fittingly a spitz. The Norwegian lundehund is a dog native to Norway where it was used to hunt puffins, a type of bird, and their eggs. Unique biological features, such as additional flexibility and the presence of six toes instead of four, made the lundehund perfect for accessing bird’s nests in remote locations. The Lundehund is several centuries old but almost went extinct in the 1900s. Luckily, some dogs remained on remote fishing islands and started to be bred. The dog was first entered into the AKC non-hunting group in 2008.
Cat & Rescuer Become Globe Trotting Companions on This Adorable Instagram Page
There’s an interesting phenomenon in the animal kingdom which animal rescue people are known to talk about from time to time. It’s the fact that even wild animals, when in danger, trapped, or starving- will sometimes allow human rescuers to approach them and offer no resistance as the rescuers place straps and harnesses around the troubled creature.
Of course, anyone who has rescued an animal is likely to tell you that their furry beneficiary formed a fast and tight bond with them. Another interesting phenomenon is the fact than many animal rescuers report that their animals express gratitude toward them- as well as a high degree of trust- rarely found among animals of any kind.
This is especially true of cats and dogs who are particularly well adapted to be amenable to human beings. So when Mike Usher discovered an orphaned cat, trapped in the wall of his elderly uncle’s home- he promptly rescued the animal and began taking care of her.
Mike said, “I didn’t know how long she had been in there. My uncle had been in the hospital for a number of weeks, and Gracie- that’s what I’ve named her- was very thin and frail when she let me pull her out of the wall.”
Mike nursed Gracie back to health and she was at full strength in just a few days. After that, she would not leave her rescuer’s side for a moment- not even long enough for him to go to the bathroom. But this created a bit of a problem for Mike, who is a photojournalist and has to frequently travel for work.
He was getting ready to go out on assignment, but Gracie would not be content to stay at home. When Mike tried to leave she would mew furiously, and scratch at the door and windows. That’s when Mike decided to try an experiment. He went back inside, scooped her up, put her on his shoulder and began walking around the yard to test Gracie’s ability to trust him.
Before long, he was jogging under low trees and weaving between branches. All the while, Gracie clung to him, gently, without clawing his head or neck. That’s when Mike knew that he and Gracie were about to become a team.
Since then, the man and cat duo have been traveling the world, documenting Gracie’s travels as she braves everything the road throws at them. Their exploits are recorded on the Instagram page called Gracie Goes Adventuring. In this wildly popular photo/video log, the two explore beaches, woodlands, and even the waters together.
In the photos and short clips, we see Gracie get a bit nervous at times when Mike wades into the water with her on his shoulder. But it’s clear that she trusts her human implicitly, and follows him through thicket and brush, swimming, climbing, exploring and napping furiously.
While all cats crave adventure, few will experience the scope of sights, smells, and exotic napping locations that Gracie enjoys as a result of her alliance with her globe-trotting rescuer. They truly are a sight to behold.
4-Year-Old Girl Nurses Baby Squirrel Back to Health After Deforestation
Squirrels are one of nature’s most charming and amiable creatures. Despite their hilarious demeanors and their winsome mannerisms, most people regard them as nothing more than wild, rat-like creatures to be avoided. While they may not be tamable, once in a while, we hear a story that seems to confirm that even squirrels can appreciate warmth and kindness- especially when it comes from a child. They are, after all, mammals just like us.
This brings us to the story of Jessica Franklin, a four-year-old from South Carolina who was caught on camera playing mommy to a lost baby squirrel. According to folks from the neighborhood, a nearby grove was recently leveled in order to make way for a new shopping center that was going in. For several days, the animal inhabitants from the grove had been seen streaming across people’s yards, apparently in search of a new place to call home.
So it wouldn’t have been a surprise to find neighborhood children chasing the animals or watching them. But what did catch Jessica’s mother by surprise was to find her young daughter developing a very close bond with one of these little wild creatures.
In the viral video, the mother approaches Jessica from behind. The little girl is singing, facing a sun-drenched window, back to the camera. Then we peak over the little girl’s shoulder and find that she is gently cradling a baby squirrel in her hand. She stroked the little creature’s head and neck while singing what sounded like a country song to the animal. Jessica’s mother, not wanting to disturb the adorable scene, did not say anything or intervene.
According to the parents, Jessica later said that she had found the squirrel cold and alone in the morning behind their house in the back yard. She said she knew that it was too young to be away from its family and that it would not be able to find food on its own.
Jessica ran inside and retrieved some spinach and carrot pieces for the animal, coaxed it into her hands and immediately assumed the role of mother for the lost little thing.
Jessica’s parents chose to do the graceful thing and allowed their daughter to build a little shelter for the squirrel in their garage. This contained a bed, a food dish, and had a flap door that allowed the squirrel- which Jessica named Stuart- to escape the wind and cold.
Every day for two weeks, four-year-old Jessica dutifully fed Stuart. Before long the little tree squirrel became strong enough and confident enough to strike out on its own. Jessica’s parents had explained to her that squirrels are wild and that eventually Stuart would go looking for nuts and be free.
So on the morning Jessica found Stuart gone, she knew that it was because he was healthy and strong. Jessica’s mother said her daughter only cried a little bit and said she was glad Stuart was happy.
Devastating Hurricane Dorian Leaves a Young Pup Buried Under the Rubble
Storms are very scary things. They are loud, destructive, dangerous, and, sometimes, deadly. Hurricane Dorian- said to be the worst tropical storm to hit the Bahamas- is no exception. The Category 5 storm has ripped its way through many homes and lives. So far, there have been a minimum of 60 confirmed deaths.
Unfortunately, the number of missing people is an entirely different matter. People are not the only beings to go missing, though, due to storms. Pets often suffer as well. Can you imagine experiencing such devastation- possibly losing your home and belongings, maybe being separated from loved ones, and losing a beloved pet?
Thankfully, just as people have been dedicated to finding humans, others have been dedicated to finding pets. The Big Dog Ranch Rescue from Loxahatchee Groves in Florida has been working in concert with the Bahamas Humane Society, and has been specifically focused on locating and rescuing dogs.
At this time, at least 139 dogs have been rescued, transported, and given life saving care. While they could have stopped at such a large number, they went even farther. To make sure not one furry life was lost due to lack of effort, the Big Dog Ranch Rescue put new technology to work in the form of a drone.
This drone has the ability to penetrate the upper layers and see what lies underneath thanks to infrared detection, and that is exactly what it did. A month after the terrifying storm hit, the Big Dog Ranch Rescue was able to rescue a one year old pup that had been trapped under the heavy debris for all of that time.
Trapped underneath a collapsed building for such a long period of time would seem hopeless to most, but this brave pup clung to life with nothing but rainwater to drink. When rescuers saved him, he was unable to walk, but that did not keep his sweet tail from wagging joyously at the sight of his heroes. Just like the story told, he was named “Miracle” and is on his way to a full recovery. When he is fully recuperated, he will be eligible for adoption.
Rescuing both human and four-legged survivors is important, and those dedicated souls continuously working to do so are well worth the admiration. Though you may be unable to physical assist in any search or recovery, you may consider donating resources to these causes. Survivors- whether human or animal- need assistance and supplies, so if you can spare anything, even small amounts can make a difference. The shelters housing survivors can always use
Additionally, bear in mind that these rescued dogs and other animals will be looking for loving homes. If you or someone you know feel you can provide such a home, reach out to the Big Dog Ranch Rescue about how you might go about adopting one.
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