Dog Breeds with Cult Followings

One of the things I learned in rescue is that there are some really awesome, lesser-known dog breeds out there. Whenever we’d post one of these dogs, we’d get a slew of really good applications from people who love those breeds. They may come into rescue, but they don’t last long – they are simply that popular with the cognoscenti.

Flat-coated retrievers

These dogs are athletic, obedient, friendly and loving. I don’t know why more people haven’t heard of them, because they are wonderful family dogs, and have sweet, gentle temperaments. They are so eager to please that they can accurately be described as solicitous of their humans. We’ve placed many a flat-coated retriever in first-time owners’ homes where the adopter has told us that they felt like the dog was helping them to make the right pet-related choices. Also, they are just beautiful dogs, with intelligent faces and glossy coats that actually aren’t any more high-maintenance than any other typical dog breed.

A picture of a flat coated retriever.
Look at that face. Look at that face.
Photo credit: Dave and Lynn Slater via Wikimedia Commons

Yellow dogs

What on earth is a yellow dog? Well, broadly, yellow dogs are naturally selected dogs. They are what happens when nature takes its course rather than humans intervening in the breeding process. The type of yellow dogs you are most likely to see in the U.S. is the Carolina dog, also known (misleadingly IMHO) as the American Dingo. However, you can see some version of yellow dogs in countries all over the world. They are good-looking dogs – they look kind of like shepherds, but are typically a biscuit or buff color, and they have larger triangular ears that give them a slightly comical look from some angles. Yellow dogs are smart, independent and loyal beyond description. When they join a human family, they commit fully and will make themselves useful by taking on helpful roles – these are dogs who earn their keep. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are still in touch with their dog side – they typically have high prey drives and can dispatch small animals with great efficiency. They need a fair amount of exercise and cherish outdoor time.  They also need socialization because they do have a tendency to be independent, but if you can give them the exercise and training early on, you’ve got a gem of a dog.

A picture of two yellow dogs.
They kinda look like shepherds, but with sort of silly ears. They are NOT silly dogs, though. Photo credit: Noloha via Wikimedia Commons

Black and Tan Coonhounds

I could rhapsodize about coonhounds for hours (and actually have, now that I think of it), but it’s not an enthusiasm that everyone shares, EXCEPT when it comes to black and tans. Like most hounds, they are emotionally sensitive, infinitely sweet, and world-class cuddlers. Unlike some of the other hounds, though, they are much more attentive, and easier to train inside. (Outside, though, the hound switch sometimes flips on and they need a lot more guidance.) But boy oh boy, you will have a hard time finding a dog who looks at you with as much love and admiration as a black and tan. They are truly pure of heart, and their priorities are so very simple: they like to love you, snuggle, sniff things, sleep, eat, and occasionally sound off at 2:00 AM until you break them of that habit. (It’s not really their fault, though. They were originally bred to hunt raccoons, and raccoons are most active at night, so it is their first instinct to be alert at night.) They also get along stupendously well with other dogs.

A photo of a black and tan coonhound.
Look at the sensitivity and caring on that face. This dog is a romantic poet in hound form.
Photo credit: Scraig via Wikimedia Commons


Papillons are not what you expect, not at all. They look so fragile, and physically they often are, but put them in a group of other dogs and you are extremely likely to find this “butterfly” dog becoming the leader with seemingly no effort. Anyone can tell you about how cute these dogs are – it’s almost preposterous how many attributes they possess on the cuteness checklist. Those feathery ears alone – unbelievable. But I digress. What Papillon owners will tell you, though, is how incredibly smart their dogs are, and how much dignity they have. It’s true. These cuties love being companions, but they are self-possessed in a way that other toy dogs aren’t. They are really good watchdogs because they will bark to let you know that there is something going on outside you need to know about. (They are not good guard dogs, though.) They need to be well-socialized in their youth or they can develop bad habits, like bossy or aggressive behavior around other dogs (seriously).

A photo of a papillon.
Truth in advertising: Papillon means butterfly in French because of those amazing ears. Look at this dog’s expression. You can see immense intelligence and confidence if you can manage to get past the staggering cuteness.
Photo credit: Jen Smith via Wikimedia Commons

What about you, readers? Do you have a dog who might fall into the category of “cult” dog? Any observations on the breeds that I’ve mentioned?

By Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is

16 replies on “Dog Breeds with Cult Followings”

Anyone familiar with the Japanese Chin? I accidentally acquired a Chin rescue and what a treat. These little dogs are special. Very loving, intelligent with a clownish personality that is so endearing. They are not big outside dogs, but good for apartment dwellers, elderly and families without kids. I’m an empty nester and this dog is just what I need. They are easy to train, can be trained to a litter box, love to play and go on walks. I would suggest getting two if they would be alone quite a bit. After having boxers and retrievers all my life, this dog is a joy.

Japanese Chin! Japanese Chin! Our rescue has had to place one of these dogs, and they are just gems. We didn’t even have to write a detailed Petfinder description, we just basically wrote, “Japanese Chin! Japanese Chin!” and we got the best applicants ever. He was adopted by a young retired couple who dote on him. I envy you!!!!!

P.S. Normally we give dogs clever names for Petfinder, but for this dog we didn’t even bother. His name was originally “Happy” and we changed it to…drumroll please…”Lappy.”
P.P.S. Your dog is really cute. Did I mention that I envy you?

As much as I love Corgis and German Shepherds, I have a soft, squishy spot for…mutts. That dog whose ancestry is, basically, “he’s a dog, his parents were both dogs, and he’s a good boy yes he is”.

More specifically, there’s a non-AKC-registered breed called the Tamaskan, and they are gorgeous, sweet dogs — they basically look like wolves, but act like the average lazy domesticated dog. One acts as the “live mascot” for the university here, and he’s the most spoiled dog ever — his “job” is to be at a few football games and run across the endzones during timeouts, and he is paid in treats. By all accounts, he loves his job.

Yeah, me too! If only there were more reputable breeders. The closest to me was a dressed-up puppy mill that got shut down for falsifying records (lots of sick puppies were being sold, one of the “mama” dogs had hip dysplasia but was almost constantly pregnant, some of the puppies didn’t have the parentage claimed, etc).

BUT, look at this guy.

I have chihuahuas, and I’ve discovered there are two kinds of people: people who have chihuahuas, and people who think chihuahua owners are insane.

In my defense, I don’t dress them up. Except that one time with the shark costume. And they don’t get carried around in bags. They have dignity, apparently.

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