Check out our gallery to learn more about these fascinating breeds and tell us in the comments below which newcomer you’ll be rooting for on Thanksgiving Day!
We bet you just did a double take! Meet the Bergamasco, a sheep-herding breed named for its hometown of Bergamo, Italy. These dogs tend to be alert and protective — no doubt thanks to the herding work they've been developed to do — and can make excellent watchdogs. So what's with the matted coat? It helps protect them somewhat from bad weather and any predators they drive off while defending their flock.
Berger Picard (Herding)
Another sheepdog in competition, the Berger Picard is thought to be the oldest of the French sheepdog breeds, making her first appearance at a French dog show in 1863. Many Picards are comical, observant and confident — so it's not surprising that the producers of the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie chose one of these dogs to be its canine star.
"Boerboel" is the Afrikaans word for "farmer's dog," and that's exactly what this breed was born to do. Dutch settlers in South Africa developed this Mastiff breed in the 17th century to protect their families, farms and livestock from predators including baboons and leopards. These typically protective and territorial dogs are known for their blocky heads, muscular bodies and a signature Mastiff feature: the wrinkled forehead.
Cirneco dell’Etna (Hound)
You've never seen this beautiful sighthound before, have you? The Cirneco dell’Etna, sometimes called the Sicilian Greyhound, tends to be an alert companion boasting the heart of a true hunter. Many will happily chase furry animals in the yard — or even clear an inadequate fence to do so; many also excel at dog sports like agility and lure coursing.
Lagotto Romagnolo (Sporting)
Any self-professed foodie who happens to live in a region blessed with truffles might want to keep a Lagotto Romagnolo around! She's an Italian breed created for hunting the tasty (and very expensive) treats. These dogs are beloved for their usually energetic and affectionate personalities — not to mention their thick, curly coat that, surprisingly, doesn't shed much. If you aren't able to take your Lagotto truffle hunting, she may enjoy a comparable activity like nose work or tracking.
Miniature American Shepherd (Herding)
The Miniature American Shepherd may stand only 13 to 18 inches tall, but don't let that fool you. This generally intelligent and good-natured dog can be very versatile, whether she's a working herding dog or an active family companion. Her medium-length double coat may be solid in color or merled, with or without white and/or tan markings, according to the American Kennel Club's breed standard.
Spanish Water Dog (Herding)
In their home country of Spain, these curly-coated herding dogs are called the "Perro de Agua Español," which, as it happens, translates literally to "Spanish Water Dog". Little is known of the breed's origins, but they've long worked as herding dogs for livestock like goats, sheep and cattle. Those who lived on boats or in fishing villages also did retrieving work as part of the crew. As you would imagine, today's Spanish Water Dogs who live as companions typically enjoy swimming, dock diving and just generally playing in water.