Spotlight on Underdogs: 24 Least Popular Dog Breeds in the US

Irish Wolfhounds

When it comes to dogs, certain breeds get overlooked for a variety of reasons. Some demand constant attention, others bark too much, and a few are too big for smaller living situations. From those overly needy for affection to ones labeled aggressive, these unpopular breeds challenge conventional preferences, embodying unique traits that contribute to their less-popular status in the hearts of American dog lovers.

1. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound dog breed
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The regal Afghan Hound, draped in flowing locks, faces a hairy conundrum — it sheds, a lot. Despite its aristocratic appearance, the constant hair all over the house, the car, and your clothes can deter prospective owners. Maintenance becomes a considerable commitment, steering some away in favor of breeds with less extravagant grooming needs.

2. Pit Bull

Pitbull dog breed
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The pit bull, often misunderstood due to a history marred by irresponsible ownership, was once selectively bred for dog fighting. While modern pit bulls can be affectionate and loyal, their historical reputation lingers. This misperception leads to unjust biases, impacting their popularity as potential family pets despite their ability to be gentle.

3. Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested Dog Breed
Image Credit: Tommy Gildseth – Own work, CC BY 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Chinese Crested, an exotic and typically hairless breed, craves attention like an A-list celebrity. Its desire for constant companionship can be endearing, but some people might find the neediness overwhelming. This quest for around-the-clock affection can make the Chinese Crested less prevalent among those seeking a more autonomous dog breed.

4. Dachshund

Dachshund Dog Breed
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With its elongated body and charming personality, the Dachshund can sometimes surprise people with a bit of aggression. While not a universal trait, the feisty nature of some Dachshunds may catch owners off guard. This tendency, albeit not a defining characteristic, may play a role in whether people choose to own the breed.

5. Ibizan Hound

Ibizan Hound Dog Breed
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The Ibizan Hound might be considered unpopular due to its relatively rare presence in many regions, resulting in limited exposure. Plus, every household might not be able to keep up with their specific exercise and mental stimulation needs. In general, they have a lower popularity compared to more mainstream dog breeds.

6. Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz dog breed
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The Finnish Spitz, known for its fox-like appearance and spirited temperament, possesses a “go rogue” streak that might not mesh with family life, particularly those with children. While self-reliance is a commendable trait, it can make the breed less popular among those seeking a more interactive and child-friendly pet for their household.

7. Chow Chow

Chow Chow dog breed
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Known for its distinctive lion-like mane and aloof demeanor, the Chow Chow is an independent breed. Unfortunately, their reserved disposition might not align with those desiring a more affectionate and outgoing pet. This wouldn’t be the choice for individuals seeking a highly social and interactive dog.

8. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound dog breed
Image Credit: Tommy, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The Irish Wolfhound may be considered unpopular due to its large size and specific needs, requiring ample space and resources. Their relatively short lifespan compared to smaller breeds could discourage some people who are looking for longer companionship. Additionally, they might be considered too docile for someone who wants a more active or protective canine.

9. Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin dog breed
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The charming Japanese Chin, with its silky coat and captivating expression, faces popularity problems because of its sensitivity to children's unpredictable behavior. While affectionate, their preference for a calm environment makes them less ideal for households with boisterous kids.

10. Komondor

Komondor dog breed
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The Komondor is distinct, recognized for its corded coat that resembles locs. Their fur requires meticulous care, and the profuse shedding can be a turnoff for those looking for a more low-maintenance pet.

11. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso dog breed
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Some people may find the Lhasa Apso’s independent and stubborn nature challenging to train, leading to frustration. Additionally, their tendency to be vocal and alert often results in excessive barking, which contributes to the perception of annoyance in certain situations.

12. American Foxhound

American Foxhound dog breed
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One of the reasons why American Foxhounds are not very popular is that they are not well-suited for urban environments. They require a lot of space and exercise, and they tend to chase after other animals and make loud noises. Also, they’re not easy to train or housebreak, as they have a headstrong and self-sufficient personality.

13. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound dog breed
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Norwegian Elkhounds are not very common as pets because they have some traits that make them challenging to own. They are bred to hunt large game, which means they have a lot of energy, a loud bark, and a strong prey drive. They also need consistent training and socialization, as they can be reserved and obstinate.

14. Otterhound

Otterhound dog breed
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The Otterhound sheds a lot, especially during the spring and fall months when it changes its undercoat. It has a thick and shaggy double coat that requires regular brushing and combing to prevent mats and tangles. In essence, an Otterhound's upkeep is particular and not for the faint of heart.

15. Pekingese

Pekingese dog breed
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The Pekingese might be considered unpopular due to its distinct appearance, characterized by a flat face, large eyes, and an abundant, flowing coat, which requires regular grooming. They also have relatively low energy levels and suffer from various health problems. Moreover, the Pekingese can be aggressive and possessive of its owner, making it hard to train and socialize.

16. Dalmatian

Dalmatian dog breed
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These dogs are famous for their spots and their role in movies, but they’re also high-energy, hyperactive, and destructive. They need a lot of exercise and stimulation, or they may become bored and restless. They also have genetic problems, such as deafness, urinary stones, and skin allergies.

17. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dog
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The strong Rhodesian Ridgeback, known for its unique back “ridge,” may become aggressive if not socialized early. Despite their natural loyalty and affection, a lack of early socialization might affect their behavior. This aspect influences the breed’s popularity among those looking for a well-behaved and predictable dog.

18. Saluki

Saluki dog breed
Image Credit: r. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Saluki isn’t at the top of the list for pet owners for a few reasons. It has some drawbacks that make it hard to care for. The Saluki is a very energetic breed, and sometimes it’s a little too self-reliant. It needs a lot of exercise and grooming and may also suffer in cold or humid climates. The Saluki has a strong hunting instinct and may not get along well with other animals or children.

19. Neapolitan Mastiff

Neopolitan Mastiff dog breed
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The Neapolitan Mastiff is unpopular because it is drooly, messy, and smelly. It has a reputation for large globs of spit swinging from its mouth, constant snoring, and passing gas a lot. All of these things are deal breakers for some owners. It also faces issues like hip dysplasia and eye infections quite regularly, which require frequent vet visits and medical care.

20. Xoloitzcuintli

Xoloitzcuintli dog breed
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The Xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican Hairless Dog, is sweet, but it’s needy and clingy. It has smooth and delicate skin that needs protection from the sun, cold, and rain, which is too high maintenance for many people. It also suffers from separation anxiety and may bark excessively or chew on things.

21. Bloodhound

Bloodhound dog breed
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These dogs are famous for their scent-tracking abilities, but they are also stubborn, slobbery, and loud. They can be difficult to train and control, and they may wander off or follow their nose. They’re also prone to health problems such as ear infections, bloat, and skin issues.

22. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog breed
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Newfies aren’t necessarily unpopular — they’re just huge and hard to accommodate because of their size. They need a ton of food available as they gain 100 pounds in the first year! While their friendly nature is undeniable, their substantial size might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those in cozier living spaces.

23. Shar-Pei

Shar-pei dog breed
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The Shar-Pei is probably the wrinkliest dog breed I’ve ever seen. It has so many wrinkles that it can cause skin infections and eye problems. It also has a dominant and independent personality that makes it challenging in terms of obedience training. The Shar-Pei can be aloof and aggressive towards strangers and other dogs.

24. Borzoi

Borzoi dog breed
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The Borzoi is a very tall and slender Russian hunting dog breed. It can be timid and sensitive and may not be very affectionate or playful, at least in the beginning. Their specific exercise needs, including the requirement for ample room to run, could also be a factor influencing the breed’s popularity among those with more constrained living environments.