10 British dog breeds everyone should own (at least one at some point in life)

  • British people are potty about their dogs. And twas every thus. More than 30 dog breeds originated in Britain, often those used in hunting and sport from centuries ago. The British dog breeds were developed as man’s best friend from the miners to the aristocracy, resulting in fabulous variety from across the country.

    Historically, Brits have long cherished pets. The Royal Family through the ages has adored dogs, from Queen Elizabeth II’s Corgis to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Dogs in Victorian times were seen to embody the virtues of humanity, being loyal and brave. They were used by the working classes to help with farmwork, guard homes and estates, as well as for sport. And so, dog breeding has been part of British culture for centuries, creating some of the most famous and wonderful breeds in the world. Call us biased, but we think every cynophile (canine lover) should own one of these British dog breeds at least once in their life.

    1o of the best British dog breeds

    Border collie: British dog breeds

    Border Collie

    Part of Britain it comes from: the Borders

    Why you should have a Border Collie: this workaholic dog bred for herding sheep is at his happiest when he ’s busy. Super-intelligent – arguably the top of the smartest dog breeds – they are brilliant for those who enjoy obedience or agility classes as they love to work and learn. Plus, they’re great for teaching tricks to wow your friends. As this is a breed that is designed to work, they are best suited to a knowledgable home that can keep them busy, challenged and active.

    English Springer Spaniel

    English Springer Spaniel

    Part of Britain it comes from: England

    Why you should have an English Springer Spaniel: this happy-go-lucky dog is affectionate, loyal and makes a wonderful family pet as they typically get on well with anyone, other pets, kids and people. Bred as a working dog, they are extremely enthusiastic and tend to have high energy levels so are best suited to those who will be able to give them all the exercise they need.

    British Bulldog

    English Bulldog

    Part of Britain it comes from: England

    Why you should have a bulldog: with its origins in 13th-century bull-baiting (hence the name), these powerful dogs have been used over the centuries in various vicious sports, such as illegal dog fighting, due to their strong and impressive physique. However, they have also come to symbolise courage – the British Bulldog spirit – and were a feature on World War I propaganda posters. And of course this was exacerbated when the next wartime prime minister Winston Churchill resembled one. Despite their fighting past, the bulldog is typically of gentle disposition, a canine couch potato who makes an excellent family pet.

    Three corgis: one of the British dog breeds


    Part of Britain it comes from: Pembrokeshire, Wales

    Why you should have a corgi: what breed could be more British than the one favoured by the late Queen? A lovely family dog as they are loyal and affectionate with plenty of character and get-up-and-go, as well as having the royal touch. They have an interesting heritage – a practical dog originally bred to herd cattle (as well as sheep and horses), they also have connections to the world of magic as with their short legs, tiny stature and pointy ears they have an elf-like quality to them.

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in garden

    Cavalier King Charles

    Part of Britain it comes from: England

    Why you should have a Cavalier King Charles: how appropriate to have a British breed sharing its name with the reigning monarch. In fact, the Cavalier goes back to the 17th century and the days of King Charles I and II, who loved this small spaniel breed, and it remained popular with the aristocracy featuring in many paintings of social scenes. A toy spaniel who fits in well to a family home.

    staffordshire bull terrier dog

    Staffordshire Bull Terrier

    Part of Britain it comes from: Staffordshire, England

    Why you should have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier: created by mixing bulldogs and small terriers, these stocky, intelligent and characterful dogs date back to the early 19th century, when they were bred for various now-illegal sports such as bull-baiting and dog-fighting. Perhaps due to their violent past and similar name to some prohibited dangerous dogs, Staffies often get bad press, but with a good upbringing, they are naturally sweet, affectionate and loyal dogs that respond beautifully to training. They love to be part of the family, and are friendly and fun.

    Old English Sheepdog lying down

    Old English Sheepdog

    Part of Britain it comes from: the west country, England

    Why you should have an Old English Sheepdog: The jury is out on whether the name is a touch confusing, as there are older breeds, and this one might not truly have originated in England, making it neither particularly old nor quintessentially English. It was also just as likely to herd cattle as sheep – or even pull a cart! But an Old English Sheepdog type does appear in a Gainsborough painting in the 18th century, and it owes its descent to British pastoral-type dogs, such as bearded collies.

    The wonderful shaggy dog we know today is a large, athletic breed, which needs regular grooming and plenty of exercise. They are typically a great family dog, being friendly, they enjoy human company, are smart and trainable, and double up as an excellent guard dog due to their size and stature.

    Jack Russell terrier, one of Britain's best breeds of dog

    Jack Russell

    Part of Britain it comes from: Devon, England

    Why you should have a Jack Russell: the Reverend John Russell developed what came to be known as the Parson Russell Terrier (featured in the main image) and the shorter-legged Jack Russell in the early 19th century. They were bred to hunt foxes, and the modern dog is a highly intelligent, extremely busy and charmingly boisterous breed. They are typically affectionate and good with children, but love a good yap!

    Bull Mastiff

    Bull Mastiff

    Part of Britain it comes from: England

    Why you should have a Bull Mastiff: this tough-looking dog was developed to help gamekeepers protect the estates of the English aristocracy from the invasion of poachers. Large, brave and athletic, the Bull Mastiff may be powerful and intimidating in appearance, but he is usually calm, easy-going and companionable.

    Whippets: British dog breeds


    Part of Britain it comes from: Midlands and the north of England

    Why you should have a whippet: because you want one of the fastest dog breeds! They are intelligent, fun, sociable, low-maintenance, and while they love to sprint, they also love a good kip. They were developed by the coal miners in 19th century England who wanted to participate in dog racing and hunting (rabbits, typically) but weren’t well-heeled enough to own a greyhound (which requires more kennel space), and so bred what is now established as the smaller whippet from greyhounds and, most likely, some terrier blood. However, some experts believe the whippet is simply descended from diminutive greyhounds, with perhaps a tiny amount of cross-breeding in its heritage to give it gameness and tenacity.

    You may also enjoy reading…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...