"Unrecognized and Rare Breeds" refers to all breeds which are not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and which do not belong to a general kennel club designation such as the Herding Group, Hound Group, etc.. They are also referred to as “emerging breeds” by some international associations.

There are several reasons why a breed is not recognized by kennel clubs such as the AKC. Worldwide, there are hundreds of dog breeds, some of ancient origin and some relatively recent. Many rare breeds may exist only in tiny populations in the isolated regions where they were first developed. Some of these breeds may eventually disappear if they aren't properly documented and developed under the auspices of the AKC or another kennel club.

The preservation of a rare breed depends on the integrity of their pedigree and ownership records. Many dog fanciers see AKC recognition as necessary for breed development. Before a breed is recognized, the AKC registers 200 dogs of that breed in what is known as the Foundation Stock Service Program. After the breed is recognized, only dogs which have descended from the foundation stock, can be registered with the AKC.

The American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) allows the registration of rare breeds which are not AKC-recognized.