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Unique Breeds

A basenji (right) plays tug at a local dog park.

America has a love affair with two types of animals: dogs and cats. They’re cute and cuddly, keep you company and make you smile.

Often, we tend to gravitate to certain breeds of our furry friends. The labrador retriever, for example, was the top American Kennel Club (AKC) registered dog for 2001, 2006, 2010, and 2011. If you're looking for a dog or cat that's just a little out of the ordinary, there are many unusual alternatives to the more common breeds that also make great companions.

On the feline side, there's the Japanese bobtail. Known primarily for its distinctive, rabbit-like tail, the Japanese bobtail is also one of the friendliest breeds of cats. Bobtails are good with children and easily adjust to new animals (including dogs). Moreover, this breed of cat is calm during travel, very talkative and friendly to humans, and loves to ride on shoulders. This breed is also perfect for the more energetic pet owners because of its extreme livelihood and talkativeness.    

More commonly known among the unusual cats is the sphynx, the cat made famous for its role as the bald cat of the Austin Powers movies. Despite its seemingly aloof nature, the sphynx is known for its desire to be the center of attention and for its love of human contact. When a sphynx wants your attention, it will do what it takes to get it. The abundance of energy this animal has only seems to bolster the number of circus acts this animal will do for love. However, this love does come at a small price. Because of the lack of essential oils, which are normally absorbed through the hair of most cats, the sphynx needs to be regularly bathed and have its ears cleaned. 

The Scottish fold, another unique cat breed, has distinctive creased ears that will make most people want one of their own. These lovable creatures can adapt to almost any home situation — from a home with multiple children to a home with dogs to the quiet one-room apartment. They don't panic from a change in their environment and get along with most other pets. These cats are sweet from the inside out.

On the canine side, one fun breed is the basenji. Looking like a cross between a shiba inu and a beagle, the outward appearance of the basenji doesn’t seem that unusual. The quirk that makes this breed stand out is its bark, or rather, lack of one. The basenji is known as an excellent hunting dog, as well as house pet because of its affectionate and energetic nature — though it is famously aloof around strangers.

The Chinese crested stands apart because of its gray skin and long white hair. Both varieties of this dog (hairless and powderpuff) are recommended by the AKC for those of us with allergies, and it is known for being a very happy and friendly dog.

Last but not least, we have the Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog, also known as the Catahoula Cur. Aside from its distinctive spots, the Catahoula doesn’t appear to have any other unique traits — unless you see it near a tree. You guessed it, this dog is known for its ability to climb trees. It’s no surprise then that the dog is known as an excellent hunting companion. And like its hunting counterpart the basenji, these dogs also make excellent house dogs. It also has a very fierce instinct to protect, which makes for an excellent guard dog. But be warned, the Catahoula does need a great deal of exercise and can be very dominant. So it's not recommended for first-time dog owners.  

Remember, before acquiring a new pet, do your research!

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