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Unusual Dog Breeds

Pet expert Marc Morrone reviews unusual dog breeds you may not have heard of before. Find out which are best suited to you and your lifestyle.
The Martha Stewart Show, February 2007

Puli

  • A very old Hungarian breed dating back to the Middle Ages, it was most likely brought to Hungary by the Magyars.
  • Nomadic Hungarian shepherds valued the Puli so highly that they would pay an entire year's salary for one.
  • Is probably one of the direct ancestors of the poodle; to this day, there are a few standard poodles that have corded coats.
  • Breed almost died out in World War II but was revived by group of hobbyists.
  • Friendly and intelligent, they make great pets for people who have time to attend to their high-maintenance coats.
  • The plural of Puli is Pulik.
  • Sheds, but not as much as other breeds.

Basenji

  • It's among the oldest and most primitive breeds, native to the African continent. Diagrams of dogs that look like Basenjis have been found in Egyptian pyramids.
  • One of the most unusual facts is that, like wolves and another primitive dog called a dingo, females only come into heat once a year, unlike all other domestic breeds that come into heat twice a year.
  • Plus on top of all this, like wolves, they rarely bark, preferring to whine and make a strange yodeling sound.
  • Like cats, they go to great lengths to avoid getting wet.
  • They also climb fences.
  • Developed in Africa for hunting. (Its ability to be silent helped in a successful hunt.)
  • Imported to the U.S. from Africa about 60 years ago by Henry Trefflich, the world's most renowned animal dealer. Just about every Basenji in this country can trace some of its lineage to one of the dogs imported by Henry Trefflich.
  • Despite their odd origins and roots, they adapt just as well to living in homes and apartments.
  • Intelligent, fast, loving, and attentive toward children.
  • Best for people who like an athletic, active dog requiring little space.
  • Doesn't shed.

Schipperke

  • Diminutive of the black sheepdog.
  • Bred to be a barge dog to work the canals of Belgium since the 1800s.
  • Had three jobs: to warn the barge captain when people were approaching, to keep the barge free of vermin, and to nip the horses' heels that towed the barges to keep them moving.
  • An all-purpose dog that likes to have a job to do.
  • Has been called the "best house dog"; it has strong herding, hunting, and watching instincts.
  • As a pet, it is a great watchdog.
  • High energy, but they adapt very well to household living.
  • Clean and neat, they make perfect pets for those people who want a big dog in a small package.
  • Sheds.

Leonberger

  • Among the breeds that were used to create the Leonberger were the St. Bernard and the Newfoundland.
  • Gentle giants that can get to well over 100 pounds.
  • Relatively new in the U.S. and not yet recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, though they will be very soon.
  • Affectionate, they love everyone, are good with kids, are devoted to owners, and want to be with them as much as possible.
  • Loyal, gentle, serious, intelligent, and energetic.
  • Demanding of its owner's time and likes companionship of other animals.
  • More agile than many other giant breeds.
  • Because of its large size, love of muddy water, and amount of attention and exercise it needs, it isn't often found in urban areas or large towns.
  • Long fur sheds heavily.
  • Lives eight to nine years.

Special Thanks
Marc Morrone, pet expert
Parrots of the World