There are a huge range of different dog breeds in the world, and sometimes it is hard to believe that they are all the same species of animal when you consider the vast differences in appearance, temperament and size! From the wolf-like huskies that pull sledges for miles across some of the worlds harshest terrains, to the majestic Borzoi that inspire beautiful bronze animal sculpture, to tiny Chihuahuas who became popular with ladies who could carry them around in handbags.
In the UK, the rarest breed is the Otter Hound. You probably have not heard of this breed as it is so rare. Originating in the 12th Century, they are an incredibly old breed, records of these dogs being used as scent hounds can be found dating back to the reign of henry II. They are on the Kennel Clubs vulnerable native species list, and breeders are working together to keep the breed alive.
The name is probably a bit of a clue as to what they were first bred for. Hunting otters was what these dogs excelled at and were primarily bred for, and as otters in the UK neared extinction in the 1970s, otter hunting was banned. Because of this, the dogs fell from popularity as packs of otter hounds were no longer used to hunt the otters.
Despite the fact they are hunting dogs, these dogs make excellent family pets and have fantastic temperaments and are good with children. Waiting lists for a well-bred dog can be quite long due to their scarcity, but as families who own them will tell you, it is worth the wait!