5 Rare American Dog Breeds That Were Developed in America


Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Are You Looking for a Rare Dog Breed?

All of the rare dog breeds on this list are North American. Some of them are popular in some places (the Plott Hound is the state dog of North Carolina) but remain few in numbers in other parts of the United States. Others, like the Mi-Ki, will probably become more popular as their reputation spreads and more breeders become available around the country. Are you looking for a rare dog breed?

Rare American Dog Breeds

  1. Mi-Ki
  2. Klee-Kai
  3. Chinook
  4. The American Alsatian
  5. Plott Hound

1. Mi-Ki

The rare Mi-Ki (pronounced me-kay) is a product of someone thinking “there are a lot of great dog breeds from other countries, maybe I can put a few of them together and come up with a great American toy breed”. Unfortunately, she did not keep good records of her project so although this little dog has Papillion, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Japanese Chin, and maybe even Yorkie ancestors, no one is sure which dogs were involved.

The Mi-Ki is a toy; they only stand about 25 cm (10 inches) and weigh less than 5 kilos (11 pounds). Some of them have long coats, some of them short, but all of them must have large feathered ears. There are fawns, browns, and even grayish-blues available, and the dogs are bred to be the type that does not shed (much).

Like Chins and Maltese, these dogs are great in apartments. They need a walk every day, like most dogs, but since they are so small do not require much exercise. Mi-Ki owners say that they do not bark much, like the Chin, and are clean and quiet like a cat.

Just like any of the little breeds that were used to establish the Mi-Ki, they are prone to dental problems. They need to have their teeth brushed daily and may develop periodontal disease while still young. There are not really enough dogs around yet to know what other diseases may be a problem.

They have a good life expectancy, maybe 13–15 years.

2. Klee-Kai

The Alaskan Klee-Kai is a rare little dog that was developed to look like a miniature version of a Siberian Husky. Alaskan Huskies were bred with American Eskimos and Schipperkes to be small, miniature, or toy, so anyone looking for one of these rare dogs can find one in the right size.

The small (or standard) dogs weigh about 10 kilos (22 pounds), the miniature about 7 kilos (15 pounds) and the toys under 4.5 kilos (less than 10 pounds).

Despite their small size, this dog is not ideal for an apartment or small space. They shed a lot, need plenty of exercise, a yard to play in, and good socialization. Like a Siberian Husky, they will chew, roam, and dig if not walked every day. They also act like Siberians around cats and other pets, so they have to be watched constantly.

They are best for a family looking for a Siberian that needs less exercise than the full-sized dog.

Since there are only about 1500 Klee-Kais around I was not able to find out much on health problems or life expectancy. One source listed 14 as a lifespan, which may be true.

3. Chinook

The Chinook is a rare sled dog breed from New England, and the official state dog of New Hampshire. The dog is bigger than most Siberian Huskies but smaller than most Alaskan Malamutes, weighing about 25–40 kilos (55–90 pounds) and standing about 65 cm (25 inches) at the shoulders.

They are reddish-honey color and do not look much like the Arctic breeds. Since they were developed in New Hampshire using Siberian Huskies and a Mastiff male, however, that is easy to understand! The breeder also used German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Sheepdogs, and maybe some others to produce the foundation stock of this breed.

They had almost died out by 1981 and even now only about 100 puppies are born every year.

Most Chinooks kept nowadays are companion dogs but they are great at sports like skijoring and hiking/packing. Owners report that they are easy to train and do well in obedience and agility competitions.

Chinooks do have some problems with hip dysplasia, like many big dogs, and some also suffer from epilepsy and inhalant allergies. They probably live 11 or 12 years, but estimates of their average life span range from 10 to 15.

4. The American Alsatian

This American dog breed is being developed to resemble the prehistoric Dire Wolf. The breed has only been around since the 1980s and has been produced using Alaskan Malamutes, Anatolian Shepherds, German Shepherds, English Mastiffs, and Great Pyrenees.

With that kind of breeding stock involved, the result is obviously a big dog. Males are usually at least 90 pounds but they are usually even larger. They are thick like Dire Wolves, have a dark muzzle, big feet, and a wolf-like bushy tail with erect ears.

Besides selecting dogs who do not bark much and are calm with a low working drive, the American Alsatian breeders have been focusing on health issues and life spans. Every breeder is required to x-ray the hips and elbows of breeding stock for OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America) evaluation.

Dogs must also be seen by a veterinarian to evaluate their heart, eyes, and skin. Any dog with limping or seizures is also removed from the breeding program, but this, of course, depends on the breeder's honesty.

Breeders have been selecting dogs for longevity but this is hard to do. By selecting the healthiest dogs for their program, the average lifespan is now reported to be about 12–14 years, and they hope that by selecting dogs as healthy as wolves to reach an average of 20.

5. Plott Hound

Despite having been declared the North Carolina state dog, the Plott Hound has been able to remain quite rare outside of his home state. They were originally bred for hunting boar in Germany but in North Carolina, they are usually used as coonhounds.

Plott Hounds are muscular but not that big. Males can weigh up to about 35 kilos (75 pounds) but they may be as small as 20 kilos (45 pounds). They are usually brindle, with a short coat.

They are not usually considered good apartment or city pets but are great in a rural setting where they can hunt, act as a watch dog, and serve as a family companion. They are loud barkers and are known to tree cats, as would be expected with a coonhound.

The only serious health problem of the Plott Hound is bloat. They live about 12 years.

Finding That Rare American Dog

All rare dog breeds are expensive and difficult to obtain. If you are not willing to look for a dog at your local humane society or find a purebred through Petfinder.com, you should at least be willing to drive to the breeder's facility and evaluate the puppies before making your selection.

If you are not willing to go to another state or region to look at a litter of puppies, choose something closer. Do not traumatize a new puppy by shipping him across the country in an airplane.

Finding a puppy for sale at a pet shop is not a solution, If the pet shop is willing to sell to anyone with the money they are marketing puppies from a puppy mill, and your rare dog might come with all too common behavioral problems, including an inability to learn housetraining.

There may not even be a rare American dog breed you are interested in, but keep looking—there is a good dog out there for almost everybody.

© 2013 Dr Mark

Paul on June 16, 2020:

You forgot the Black Mouth Cur.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 21, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by, Habee. I was actually thinking of replacing the Plott Hound with the Silken Windhound, but except for your part of the country they are a really rare dog. I´d love to see them in action.

The American Alsatian is made up of a lot of short-lived breeds, but they are working on that issue, so I hope they provide a good big-dog alternative.

Holle Abee from Georgia on March 21, 2013:

Interesting hub! Plotts used to be used for bear hunting in the mountains of North Georgia. That American Alsatian is gorgeous! Voted up!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 18, 2013:

Hi Theophanes! I am more a fan of the American Alsatian, but a state dog! Pretty neat.

Thanks for coming by and commenting.

Theophanes Avery from New England on March 18, 2013:

Wow, I had no idea my home state even had a state dog... and a sled dog at that. Very neat. Only have heard of one of these dog breeds before. Very interesting article. Voted up!


Celebrating All-American Dog Breeds

While many of the dog breeds we know and enjoy today originated in other countries, there are a number of AKC registered breeds which were developed on American soil, and each has its own unique history and heritage:

  • Alaskan Malamute – The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, was named after the native Innuit tribe called Mahlemuts, who settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in the upper western part of Alaska. The Mahlemuts are believed to have developed the breed to pull sleds and serve as a pack animal. The Alaskan Malamute is the native Alaskan Arctic breed, cousin to the Samoyed of Russia, Siberian Husky (Kolyma River Region), and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador. Originally bred to be a freighting dog, this breed’s strength is second to none. They offered service to the Eskimos by delivering mail and other goods. The Malamute has also played significant roles in history. When the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic began, the Malamute came to the aid of such notable explorers as Peary, Cook, MacMillian and Byrd. Alaskan Malamutes are athletic dogs who love the outdoors, but can also thrive as house pets. The Alaskan Malamute was recognized for AKC registration in 1935.

  • American Eskimo Dog – Contrary to popular belief, the American Eskimo Dog is not descended from working sled dogs. The “Eskie,” as it is nicknamed, originated in the Spitz family of dogs, also known as the Nordic breeds. In the past, it was called the American Spitz. During the 19th century, in this country, Eskie’s were most commonly found in communities with German immigrants. Later in that century, the Eskie became a popular dog for use in traveling circuses throughout the U.S. Thanks in part to the breed’s agility and eye-catching snowy-white coat, the dog was used for many acts, including those that involved tightrope walking. The AKC first registered this breed in the Non-Sporting group in 1995.

  • American Foxhound – Since hunting was an integral part of life in colonial America, the American Foxhound was developed as a scent hound from strains of foxhounds imported from England, Ireland, and France as early as 1650. In fact, most of the early leaders of the American colonies were lovers of the chase. George Washington maintained a large pack of hounds at Mount Vernon. He took great pride in his hounds, and continually sought to improve them. In 1770, he imported a number of hounds from England, and in 1785, the Frenchman, LaFayette, shipped him a number of French foxhounds. These Virginia hounds were the founders of today’s American Foxhound. This energetic and easy-to-train breed was first registered by the AKC in the Hound group in 1886.

  • American Water Spaniel – The exact origins of the American Water Spaniel are not clear, however, it is principally in the Midwest that the present-day specimen evolved. In fact, the American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin. Developed as a cold water duck dog, the American Water Spaniel was used through the 19th and 20th centuries as a retriever of wildfowl, a flusher and retriever of upland game of fur and feather and as a personal family companion. Thought to be a mixture of the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-Coated Retriever, he is known for his thick, wavy coat that protects it against water and weather. The virtue of this sporting breed — its ability to swiftly, efficiently, and merrily retrieve game — has long been appreciated in the United States. This affectionate and easily trainable sporting breed was first registered with the AKC in the Sporting Group in 1940.

  • American Staffordshire Terrier – The American Staffordshire Terrier or “AmStaff” is considered an “all-American” dog. It has been developed since the early 1800’s as a result of crosses between the bulldogs of that time and game terriers and was known in America as early as 1870 under the names Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier, and Yankee Terrier. This type of dog was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers, and was used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship. A number of the early ancestors were also developed for the “sport” of dog fighting. This now illegal activity is, unfortunately, more often cited as the early purpose of the dogs rather than the general farm work. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1936 as a member of the Terrier group. In 1972, the name “American Staffordshire Terrier” came into use because American breeders had developed a type that is heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England, and the addition of “American” to the AKC registration helped distinguish the two.

  • Australian Shepherd – Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd did not originate in Australia. Its ancestors actually came from the Basque region of the Pyrennes between Spain and France. In the late 1800’s, Basque sheep herders began emigrating to the United States and Australia, bringing with them this “little blue dog.” The Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherds, Pastor Dogs, Bob-Tails, Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds and California Shepherds. The Aussie rose rapidly in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War II, becoming known to the general public via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television. Their inherent versatility and trainability made them useful on American farms and ranches. Today, these attentive, loyal dogs work in many capacities such as service, therapy, drug detection, and search and rescue. The AKC began registering the Australian Shepherd in 1991.

  • Black and Tan Coonhound – An American hound bred specifically to hunt, the Black and Tan Coonhound of today picks up his trail and then “barks up” the moment his prey is treed. This breed is a powerful and agile dog with the courage and stamina enabling him to hunt deer, bear, and mountain lion. The Black and Tan in all probability descended from the Talbot Hound which was known in England during the 11th Century, then down through the Bloodhound and Foxhound via this country’s own Virginia Foxhound, frequently referred to as “the black-and-tan.” The black and tan strain was carefully developed over a period of years and was first registered as the Black and Tan Coonhound by the AKC in the Hound group in 1945.

  • Boston Terrier – Known as the “American gentleman” because of his calm disposition and formal black and white “tuxedo” markings, the Boston Terrier is one of America’s native breeds. Developed in Boston, MA as his name suggests, he is a product of the English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. In 1889, a group of fanciers in Boston began showing the early ancestors of today’s Boston Terrier. When these dogs were first shown, they were often called Round Heads or Bull Terriers before their name was changed to Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier is a member of the non-sporting group and was first registered by the AKC in 1893.

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – This true American breed is thought to have originated from two puppies that were rescued from an English shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland, however, no complete and authentic record of his development exists. In the late 1800s, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was renowned for its ability to retrieve hundreds of waterfowl a day from the icy waters of the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake coat, which is very dense and has an oily texture, allows the dog to easily deal with extreme weather conditions. This slightly wavy coat sheds profusely in the spring and requires daily brushing. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a member of the Sporting group and was first registered with the AKC in 1878.

  • Cocker Spaniel – Spaniels in America can be traced back to 1620 and the landing of the Mayflower. In those early days, the Spaniels were divided into two varieties, land and water spaniels. Both varieties had the same bloodlines and could be found in the same litters. A weight limit of 28 pounds was the dividing line between the heavier field spaniels and the smaller, more compact cockers. The name cocker came about because the dogs were being used for woodcock shooting. The Cocker Spaniel has been exhibited in the United States since the early 1800s. The first Cocker Spaniel was registered with the AKC in 1878. The Cocker that evolved in the United States is somewhat different from the breed we now call the English Cocker Spaniel. The AKC separated registration of the two breeds in 1946.

  • Plott – In 1750, two young brothers left Germany and emigrated to America with three brindle and two buckskin Hanoverian Hounds. One of the boys, Johannes Georg Plott, settled in Bute County, North Carolina and later in Lincoln County where he raised his family and bred his dogs. His son continued the breeding program. For the next seven generations (over 200 years), the Plott’s were known as mountain men who used the family dogs to hunt. As Plott men built homes and raised families all over the Smoky Mountains, their dogs became known by their family name and were referred to as the Plott’s. As the fame of the Plott Hounds spread, coon hunters began to take an interest in those with treeing instinct. The Plott came to be classified as a coonhound, yet the Plott’s traditional work is to track and bring to bay or tree big game such as bear, boar, and mountain lion. Many Plotts today are still performing their original function. The official state dog of North Carolina, the Plott is a member of AKC’s Miscellaneous Class.

  • Toy Fox Terrier – The Toy Fox Terrier was developed by breeding small Smooth Fox Terriers with several toy breeds including the Chihuahua and Manchester Terrier. Today, the Toy Fox Terrier is a well-balanced toy dog of athletic appearance displaying grace and agility in equal measure with strength and stamina. Truly a toy and a terrier, both have influenced his personality and character. As a terrier, the Toy Fox Terrier possesses keen intelligence, courage, and animation. As a toy, he is diminutive, and devoted with an endless abiding love for his master. One of the newest additions to the AKC registry, the Toy Fox Terrier was first recognized in January, 2003.


5 Rare American Dog Breeds That Were Developed in America - pets

Definitely one of the rarest American puppies, they were recognized by the AKC in 2010! There’s a record of only 600 of them alive in the world today. These American puppies are so rare that the Guinness Book of World Records awarded them the rarest dog three times since 1965. At one time only 125 Chinooks existed. Developed in the 1900’s, they are great with children and consider to be intelligent and calm canines.

The American Eskimo

These American puppies are either all white or white and biscuit colored and they’re members of the spitz dog family. Despite its name, however, they have absolutely no traces to the Eskimo culture. They were developed in the United States and used to travel in circuses during the latter part of the 19th century. Sometimes being confused with the Samoyed, these fluffy fellows have a thick double coat, distinctly pointy ears, and a curly tail, coming in 3 different sizes. They are a really new breed, only being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1994.

The Plott

Named after a German immigrant family that moved to America, this brindle colored hound dog is currently the official state dog of North Carolina. These American puppies held the job of bringing bears and boars to bays and trees. They clearly are courageous canines! They too, like the American Eskimo, are a new breed, only being recognized by the AKC in 2006.

The American Leopard Hound

Unlike the other American puppies we’ve highlighted today, the American Leopard Hound hasn’t been recognized by the AKC. They are, however, considered to be one of the oldest tree dog breeds. They have been traced back to dogs brought to the New World by Spanish conquistadors. They are highly intelligent, possessing extremely strong tracking sensibilities. They can track all types of prey to include bears, raccoons, cougars, squirrels, and bobcats for miles. They are considered to be laid-back and somewhat standoffish.

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle, also known as the Cur, was founded in the 1960’s by Rev. Earl Phillips. These high-energy American puppies have evolved from treeing dogs primarily from the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain regions. Their treeing abilities are unmatched, as they were bred to do it for hours! The Treeing Tennessee Brindle is still relatively rare and has been recorded in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service since 1995.


5 American Dog Breeds

The Chinook

Definitely one of the rarest American puppies, they were recognized by the AKC in 2010! There’s a record of only 600 of them alive in the world today. These American puppies are so rare that the Guinness Book of World Records awarded them the rarest dog three times since 1965. At one time only 125 Chinooks existed. Developed in the 1900’s, they are great with children and consider to be intelligent and calm canines.

The American Eskimo

These American puppies are either all white or white and biscuit colored and they’re members of the spitz dog family. Despite its name, however, they have absolutely no traces to the Eskimo culture. They were developed in the United States and used to travel in circuses during the latter part of the 19th century. Sometimes being confused with the Samoyed, these fluffy fellows have a thick double coat, distinctly pointy ears, and a curly tail, coming in 3 different sizes. They are a really new breed, only being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1994.

The Plott

Named after a German immigrant family that moved to America, this brindle colored hound dog is currently the official state dog of North Carolina. These American puppies held the job of bringing bears and boars to bays and trees. They clearly are courageous canines! They too, like the American Eskimo, are a new breed, only being recognized by the AKC in 2006.

The American Leopard Hound

Unlike the other American puppies we’ve highlighted today, the American Leopard Hound hasn’t been recognized by the AKC. They are, however, considered to be one of the oldest tree dog breeds. They have been traced back to dogs brought to the New World by Spanish conquistadors. They are highly intelligent, possessing extremely strong tracking sensibilities. They can track all types of prey to include bears, raccoons, cougars, squirrels, and bobcats for miles. They are considered to be laid-back and somewhat standoffish.

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle, also known as the Cur, was founded in the 1960’s by Rev. Earl Phillips. These high-energy American puppies have evolved from treeing dogs primarily from the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain regions. Their treeing abilities are unmatched, as they were bred to do it for hours! The Treeing Tennessee Brindle is still relatively rare and has been recorded in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service since 1995.


Watch the video: 15 Rarest Dog Breeds in the World


Previous Article

Cats sleeping on their back

Next Article

Global Pet Expo 2018: Dessert Toys are a Temptingly Sweet Collection by fouFIT

Video, Sitemap-Video, Sitemap-Videos