Canines come in all shapes, colors and sizes (truly), but we tend to run into the same breeds over and over. This list covers many rare dog breeds that are either hard to find outside of their native homelands or have spent decades making comebacks from population decline. Either way, get ready to meet some adorable breeds—and read some intriguing backstories.
The Kai Ken (also called Tiger Dog for the distinct brindle markings on its coat) is believed to be the most ancient and rare dog breed in Japan. They originated from wild mountain dogs in the remote district of Kai and have been used as hunting dogs for most of their history. The breed hadn’t been recognized in Japan until 1931 and was unknown in the USA until the early 1990’s. In 1934 the Kai Ken was awarded a national treasure status in Japan and is now protected by the law.
Being a hunting breed, the Kais are very intelligent, athletic, healthy and independent. They housebreak easily and are fairly easy to train, although they do require a firm hand and good socialization since very birth. They make good inside-house dogs, happy to live in an apartment as long as they are getting enough walks in the park. However, the Kais need to be kept on a leash – otherwise their strong hunting instincts will take over and lead them off on a chase of prey.