March 23rd is a doggone good day! That’s because it’s National Puppy Day. And who doesn’t like a puppy? Golden retrievers, Labs, German shepherds... They’re all cute! But to celebrate the day, we’re taking a look at some unique dog breeds with extra-special abilites and features.
You could say the puli (say "poo-lee") looks a lot more like a mop than a dog! This canine has rope-like cords of fur that can reach all the way down to the ground. Originally, the puli was a sheepdog from Hungary that helped to herd livestock. Its fur came in handy by protecting the dog from predators like wolves. If an enemy attacked the puli, it got a mouthful of those furry cords rather than harming the dog.
This pooch is pretty much hair-free, but some Peruvian Inca Orchids may have short hair on the top of their heads, as well as on their feet and the tip of their tails. This breed is so rare that there are only about 1,000 that exist in the world. At one time, it was a popular dog in the Incan Empire in Peru beginning in the 1400s. Incan royalty even used the dogs to warm their beds for them before they went to sleep.
Most dogs have four toes per foot, but this canine usually has six — four that point forward and two that face inward like our thumbs! Originally from Norway, this breed was used to hunt puffins and their eggs, which were an important food source for farmers on the island. Thanks to those extra toes, the Lundehund could scale slippery rocks and cliffs to scoop up eggs from puffin nests. Even today, the Lundehund can climb just about anywhere. It also has another unique feature: it can close its ears to keep dirt and water out of them. This comes in especially handy when the dog is digging holes.
A Catahoula Cur with "cracked" eyes. (Wikimedia/Sasquatchcatahoula/CC BY-SA)
Climbing trees probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a pet pooch. But the Catahoula Cur is able to do just that! Some call these canines “cat dogs” because of this ability to scramble up a tree. This dog originated in Louisiana and was used by people to hunt wild boar. This breed has another unusual feature: its eyes. Sometimes its eyes are each a different colour. Or it may have what’s called “cracked” eyes, which means that there are two different colours within the same eye.
The loose, wrinkly skin of shar-pei (say "shar-pay") puppies makes them look too cute for words. By the time it’s an adult, however, the wrinkles are found only around the dog’s head, neck, and shoulders. The shar-pei originates from China, and it’s believed the breed was originally used for hunting and guarding livestock. Those wrinkles were helpful in protecting the dog from other creatures. If it was attacked, the enemy would only get a hold of skin. Then the shar-pei could twist around and bite its attacker back.