Since most dogs are pets, who spend more time begging for treats, fetching sticks at the park, and sleeping in super weird positions on the couch, they don’t always get much of a chance to show off their innate, secret superpowers. So we’re here to set the record straight and tell you about 7 special breeds of dogs who have unique abilities hidden behind those puppy dog eyes.
1. The Catahoula leopard dog – Superpower: climbing trees
It is thought that this unusual ability evolved not through breeding, but through necessity. Back when dogs were less cared for than they are now, they were often left to their own devices and had to fend for themselves when it came to hunting for food. Because of this, the Catahoula developed a triple-threat of traits to make them super versatile at catching their prey: high intelligence, webbed feet to aid in the water, and the ability to run, or “climb” up the side of a tree.
Once people caught on, these dogs were bred strictly to keep their bloodlines and talents pure and intact. They can also hunt well in packs, which have traditionally made them a very popular hunting dog.
2. Basset hound – Superpower: their giant ears catch scents.
While it is true that basset hounds’ sense of smell is a bit of a superpower all on its own, the way in which its ears contribute to its ability to smell things is pretty unique. Basset hounds hold the record for the world’s longest dog ear, and this helps them smell things better. How? Their super long, floppy ears (combined with their short legs) actually catch the scent of whatever they’re tracking by brushing against the ground, and then wafting the smells up to their noses via the flapping motion they make when they run.
3. Husky – Superpower: strength and stamina
Huskies are the Supermans of the dog world — they were bred to pull dog sleds for extended periods of time and long distances. This means that they are one of the strongest dogs around, and their stamina is unparalleled. They are a tough working dog, and their demanding job requires them to be strong enough to pull their sled and its cargo, over incredible distances and under extreme weather conditions.
4. Pit bull – Superpower: incredible strength
Pit bulls are one of the most misunderstood dogs. They are naturally very gentle and full of love for their owners, and sadly, the ones who are vicious are only that way because their owners have trained them that way (despite this, they are one of the easiest dogs to reform and retrain back into being loving pets). They were (sadly) bred for fighting, and thus are agile, densely packed with muscle, and one of the strongest breeds out there. They are so strong, in fact, that many are trained to participate in weight pulling competitions. The record for the most weight was a pit bull who pulled the weight of a small sedan for over 12 feet!
5. Dachshund – Superpower: badger killers
These little wieners may look harmless and adorable, but it’s even in their name: “Dachs” in German translates to “badger” so they are quite literally “badger hounds.” They were specifically bred to be short, small, and long so that they could more easily fit and maneuver into an underground burrow, and their broader chest helps them to breathe underground. Their large, paddle-like paws help them dig and fit into holes, and their long, pointy, sensitive noses are great for tracking. Badgers are one of the toughest animals around, and the Dachshund was bred specifically to vanquish them.
6. Dalmatians – Superpower: unafraid of fire, friend to horses
There’s a reason that Dalmatians are stereotypically the fireman’s dog — back when firemen used wooden stagecoaches and horses, the dogs were trained to keep pace with the horses, defending them from any other animals who may spook them, clearing the way for the stagecoach, and comforting and distracting the horses when they got near the fire. Horses do spook easily and tend to be afraid of fire. Dalmatians however, are more fearless when it comes to a blaze, so their calm presence next to the horses would calm them down.
7. Shar-pei – Superpower: giving wild boars the slip while hunting
Shar-pei may look like adorably ridiculous piles of furry skin, but did you know they were bred that way on purpose? These dogs originate from China and were originally bred to have prickly hair and loose skin to defend themselves from the wild boar they were trained to hunt. Wild boar are vicious, have very tough skin, and are incredibly large. However, if a boar ever bit and held on to a shar-pei, its incredible amount of loose skin actually enables the dog to rotate its body within its skin, and around towards its attacker to fight and bite back. The wrinkles also protect the dog’s internal organs from any predators; if the dog is ever bitten — the attacker gets a mouthful of bristly hair and skin instead of puncturing an important organ.