Welcome to Part Two of our rare breed list! Let's get right into it!
The Otterhound is a heavy breed developed in England to hunt Otters (an activity that has since been made illegal). They weigh between 80 to 115lbs (smaller or larger would be a fault against the breed standard), they live an average of 10-13 years, and can be as tall as 27 inches at the withers. These are affectionate hunters with lovable and energetic attitudes are extremely agile swimmers and can swim for hours at a time thanks to their webbed feet, paddle tails, and large lung capacity. They also have waterproof coats!
Otterhounds are extremely rare, and thus are quite difficult to find. This is partly due to them not having a need to fulfill. As a sport dog, there aren’t many opportunities for the breed to be utilized outside of their intended sport of taking down otters. They were bred specifically to hunt river otters when English riversides were overrun with otters that would deplete the fish that local families needed to survive. But once otters were less of a concern, and people had increased access to other food sources, the use of Otterhounds went from necessity to sport. Eventually the populations of river otters were so low that hunting them became illegal. With the dwindling river otters and the laws protecting them, came less of a reason to produce these highly niched dogs. They are now one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, with an estimate global population of less than 400 individuals.
Something that may further be to blame for their scarcity is their temperament. While they are fun and affectionate with family, they are also known to be quite difficult to train. They were specifically bred to be independent minded so that they could hunt river otters without the assistance or direction of their owners. Because of this, Otterhounds tend to have a mind of their own and not really care about the desires of the owner. They are also active, once spending hours at a time hunting the otters, they are unsuited to a slow homelife. This breed needs a job. They more activity you can provide, the better. Some fanciers have been known to spend up to 4 hours playing fetch with their Otterhound, throwing toys into swimming pools for the dog to leap into and retrieve. Unfortunately, this is not a level of involvement and exercise most homes can offer.
If you do decide to peruse Otterhound ownership, here are a few ground rules that may help you have a good outcome!
1. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Take your Otterhound jogging if it isn’t too hot, swimming every chance you get, hiking, biking, etc. Expending the energy outside of the home will help them be more content inside the home. You want to exercise them at least 45 minutes a day, and if you are relying on walks for a bulk of the exercise you should shoot for at least 7 miles per week.
2. Grooming is important, but not at all difficult for this breed! Brush twice a week, and make sure you thoroughly brush that undercoat. The outer coat is very rough so is unlikely to tangle, but if left unbrushed for more than a week you are likely to get really awful matting in the under coat. The spots that you’ll want to be sure never to miss are the belly, the underarms, inner legs, and the head (especially behind the ears). Be sure to clean the ears at each brushing to prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause ear infections. A drying ear wipe (often containing alcohol) can work wonders. Best tools are a slicker brush and a steel comb.
3. Start training at a very young age. Their willfulness can be a challenge, but stick with it and be consistent. This will have a lasting impact into adulthood and make obedience just a little less arduous.
The Xoloitzcuintli (sho-lo-eats-Queen-tlee), also called the Xolo (sho-lo) or Mexican Hairless Dog, is a fascinating dog from – as you might have guessed – Mexico! The name comes from the ancient Aztec god, Xolotl, and these dogs were believed to be a gift from him to the Aztec people.
The breed comes in 3 recognized sizes in the Unites States; Toy (height at the withers being over 10 inches but not exceeding 14 inches), Miniature (height at the withers being over 14 inches but not exceeding 18 inches), and Standard (height at the withers being over 18 inches but not exceeding 23 inches. Dogs under 10 inches and over 23 inches break the breed standard and cannot be shown and shouldn’t be bred.
Despite the common English name, Xolos come in two coat types; hairless and coated! You’re more likely to see the hairless variety, but more and more breeders are including the coated variety in their breeding programs.
The temperament is playful and affectionate with family and close friends, but often aloof with strangers. The smaller varieties make excellent watchdogs as they will alert you to anything on your property that shouldn’t be there, and the larger variety make incredible guardians and do have the ability to protect the household. The breed is very intelligent, inquisitive, and energetic. When young, they can be rather boisterous, but as adults they are frequently remarked on for being calm and dignified.
Something that is rather unique about the Xolo is that unlike most breeds it was largely developed by natural selection over thousands of years and was not intentionally created with the guidance of humans. For this reason, they are generally extremely healthy. At most, the common issues are dental and skin blemishes. Dental hygiene is important to keep their oral health as good as possible, and proper bathing (and moisturizing for the hairless variety) is important for skin health. Additionally, poor breeding often contributes to poor skin. Be sure to only purchase a Xolo from an ethical breeder who focuses on producing well-bred puppies!
Grooming is a breeze with this breed. Give a thorough bath once every 3-4 weeks. Many enthusiasts of the breed highly recommend hydrating the Xolo’s skin with baby oil or a non-scented hypoallergenic lotion, and applying sunscreen when you plant to have the dog outdoors. In cold and windy climates (including our South Carolina winters) utilize coats when outdoors so the skin doesn’t get damages by the cold.
The Xiasi comes from the Guizhou Province in China, and you’re very unlikely to ever see one in person! This breed was developed as a watchdog and a hunting companion. It is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, with numbers of purebred Xiasi dogs numbering around 270. It is only recognized by Chinese kennel clubs and while a few members of the breed do exist in America, they are unlikely to ever be recognized by American kennel clubs.
The Xiasi is a medium sized dog, typically in white or cream, with wavy wiry hair and ideally a pink nose. The coat comes in a variety of lengths, and the breed can tolerate both heat and cold. They are fast runners and have remarkable endurance, which comes in handy when they are utilized for their intended purpose in the Chinese mountains. They are excellent hunters, and extremely loyal companions to their families. They are known for being extremely obedient and easy to train, and typically have a kind disposition when meeting friendly strangers.
Genetic testing has revealed that the Xiasi as a breed has very low genetic diversity, which is not all that surprising given the small geographical region to which it is confined. Concerns from the breed’s enthusiasts have been growing over this issue, and fear that it could spell doom for the breed is on the rise. There are plans to outcross to other closely related breeds, such as the Tibetan Mastiff, in an attempt to import new genetics into the breed, but these plans are in their infancy. Only time will tell if the breed will be saved or not. But despite its rarity, they aren’t untouchable. You can indeed acquire one. It would just take lots of patience and up to $900,000.
Also from China, the Chongqing Dog is an ancient Chinese Mastiff once used for hunting and guarding but now almost exclusively utilized as guardian companions in China. This breed is solidly built, completely fearless, and very intimidating. Weighing up to 55lbs, it has a reputation for being ruthless against intruders and not-so-kind to animals that may wander onto the property where it lives. This dog has a very high prey drive.
They are very outgoing and affectionate with their family, and love adventure. They are also famously known for adoring children, making them popular in family homes. They are also willing to risk their lives to protect the children, which is another reason why they are so beloved. Very faithful to its family, the devotion of a Chongqing Dog is said to be unparalleled among the Chinese breeds (all of which are generally thought to be very loyal).
Likely owed to their fearlessness and muscular build, when utilized for hunting these dogs often do so alone (pack hunting is occasionally implemented, however). They can hunt and take down – with ease – badgers, foxes, goats, deer, boar, and even bears. And they are healthy, typically living up to 15 years.
If you want a Chongqing Dog, it isn’t going to be easy but it’s certainly not impossible. Importing can be tricky, as China is protective of the breed. If you find a Chinese broker, they can sometimes help you in acquiring a puppy.
We hope you are enjoying these rare breed posts! Don’t feel left out, cat people – we’ve got our eyes on you for next time!