There are an estimated 9 million dog owners in the UK. This figure is rising year on year as new generations become dog parents and our canine companions become our surrogate children.
Over the years, the list of most popular dog breeds has fluctuated, with new breeds emerging and taking pole position. However there are some breeds that have maintained their ranking and remain amongst the most popular breeds owned in the UK.
Here’s a list of the top 10 most popular dog breeds based on The Kennel Club registration in 2016.
10. Border Terrier
In 10th place is the Border Terrier , part of the KC’s Terrier Group. Boasting a rustic, working appearance, the breed is easily identifiable and held in high esteem. First developed in the early 18th century in the Cheviot Hills, the Border Terrier was primarily bred for the purpose of flushing out and killing foxes that were attacking the farmer’s livestock. Highly valued for its willingness and stamina, the Border Terrier rose to tremendous popularity in the century, also hunting otters, badgers and vermin.
The Border’s wiry double coat is commonly coloured wheaten, blue, tan, grizzle, red and white, which may have aided the breed’s camouflage in the outland terrains of the border. The Border Terrier is an affectionate, loyal and mannered breed, displaying a relaxed temperament that makes for an ideal companion. Compatible with children and other house pets as well as being a practical size, it is unsurprising that this breed appears on the popularity list.
9. Miniature Schnauzer
In ninth place is the Miniature Schnauzer. The miniature schnauzer is a robust, sturdily built terrier of nearly square proportion. It was developed as a ratter and is quick and tough. Its gait displays good reach and drive. Its coat is double, with a close undercoat, and hard, wiry, outer coat which is longer on the legs, muzzle and eyebrows. Its facial furnishings add to its keen expression.
The miniature schnauzer deserves its place as one of the most popular terrier pets. It is playful, inquisitive, alert, spunky and companionable. It is a well-mannered house dog that also enjoys being in the middle of activities. It is less domineering than the larger schnauzers and less dog-aggressive than most terriers. It is also better with other animals than most terriers, although it will gladly give chase. It is clever and can be stubborn, but it is generally biddable. It enjoys children. Some may bark a lot.
8. Golden Retriever
In eighth place is the Golden Retriever.Lower in the list than some might have assumed, the Golden Retriever is widely considered one of the most popular breeds, not only as a companionable house dog but in obedience, service and therapy. Believed to have been developed by Lord Tweedmouth in the late 1800s, the Golden Retriever has its roots in the Scottish Highlands where it was selectively bred for the purposes of hunting, tracking and retrieving upland game, as its name would suggest.
Easily identifiable for its wavy golden coat, the Retriever is medium-sized with a straight muzzle, large brown eyes, feathering on ears, back of legs, underside of tail and front of neck. Highly trainable, the breed is the ideal choice for the modern family, being devoted to children and demonstrating love, loyalty and affection. Like the Labrador Retriever, the breed’s natural love of people is showcased at every opportunity.
7. German Shepherd Dog
In seventh place is the German Shepherd Dog, a member of the Herding Group.
Despite falling fourth on the list, the German Shepherd – otherwise known as the Alsatian – is arguably the most popular breed worldwide. Founded in 1899, the Shepherd was primarily bred as a versatile working dog, developed to be fearless and agile for the purposes of military and police work. The German Shepherd retained its concrete reputation across Europe and the United States following its wide usage during World War I.
Athletically built to change direction at full speed, the appearance of the German Shepherd reflects its versatile working capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, a socialised and consistently trained German Shepherd will not display undue aggression. Instead, a Shepherd will demonstrate a calm and gentle manner – having an enormous capacity for love, loyalty and affection. Inherently able-minded and intelligent, the Shepherd can be trained to a very good degree and is known for being incredibly devoted to children.
In sixth place is the Bulldog, which is included in the Utility Group. Less of a lap dog, more of a fully-fledged canine side-kick, the Bulldog is just behind its smaller counterpart on the list of popular breeds. Commonly entitled the National Dog of Great Britain, the breed features in various patriotic pictorials – for this reason alone, the Bulldog simply had to appear on the list! Once the so-called sport of bull and badger baiting was finally dispensed with in 1850, the Bulldog grew in popularity as a fearless yet increasingly placid companion dog, hence its positioning on the list.
Bearing in mind its early sporting heritage, the appearance of the Bulldog is somewhat intimidating, however such is not a fair reflection of its nature. The breed possesses an easy and affectionate temperament, is protective of children and its home, and is a great lover of people. The appearance of the Bulldog is distinctive and clearly desirable. Anyone wanting a dog with an outwardly fierce appearance but a mellow interior should seriously consider buying a Bulldog.
5. English Springer Spaniel
In fifth place is the English Springer Spaniel, part of the KC ’s Gundog Group.Larger than its cousin the Cocker Spaniel, the English Springer is a strong competitor in the popularity contest. Deriving its name from its early usage as a game flusher, ‘springing’ furred and feathered game from the bush in order for the hunter to shoot it, the breed is revered for its ability to work tirelessly in a variety of working fulfillments. Having retained its popularity as a companion dog since its early prevalence in the Renaissance, the English Springer Spaniel is often described as the ideal family dog.
The coat of the English Springer Spaniel is typically wavy and feathered, common in colours of white and liver, usually with black, liver or tan markings. The breed possesses an amiable and relaxed temperament, displaying affection and loyalty towards its family and engaging well with children. Owners have described the Springer Spaniel as being ‘full of life and character,’ and making a great addition to active family life.
In fourth place is the Pug, a member of the Toy Group. This entry might come as a surprise to some. Much conjecture surrounds the ancestry and origin of the Pug, although it was made popular during the Victorian period when it was commonly observed atop private carriages. As a breed, it has boasted many notable admirers throughout history, including Napoleon’s wife – Josephine, Queen Victoria, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The breed boasts several distinctive features, including a broad, flat and pronounced muzzle, prominent eyes, low-set, triangular ears and a short tail, arching over the back. The Pug is a suitable and delightful breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner wanting a lap dog, due to its calm and amiable temperament and its compact proportions. Animated and spirited, a Pug is guaranteed to liven up any home setting – perhaps accounting for its popularity!
3. French Bulldog
In third place is the French bulldog, which is included in the Utility Group. Another close contender, the French Bulldog is the eighth most popular breed choice in the UK – up four places from last year. Contrary to popular belief, the French Bulldog hails from Nottingham, England, where it was the breed choice of lace makers and craftsmen in the city. Popular amongst the artistic and eccentric of Parisian city dwellers also, the French Bulldog grew in favour, retaining its name on its return to England, as well as its concrete reputation.
A compact dog of reduced proportions, the French Bulldog possesses a steady and easy temperament, despite its bullish appearance. A popular lap dog and ladies’ companion, the Bulldog is well suited to the home setting, being compatible with both children and other house pets. Time has proven the popularity of this breed, which is unlikely to ever go out of favour.
2. Cocker Spaniel
In second place is the Cocker Spaniel, a member of the Gun Dog Group. Taking second position is this versatile hunting gun-dog. The Cocker Spaniel was prominent during the Tudor reign of Henry VIII and proved a favourite in the royal courts of the 16th and 17th centuries. Until 1990, the breed was considered the most popular as registered by the American Kennel Club, however it now ranks 25th.
Characterised by an arched head, low-set ears, ovular eyes and a soft, wavy coat in colour deviations of solid black, red or liver, the Cocker Spaniel is a highly attractive breed and is considered the original family companion, proceeding the Labrador and Golden Retriever as the dog most compatible with children, other pets and domestic living. The breed experienced a resurgence in popularity following the acquisition of a black Cocker Spaniel, named Lupo, by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge before Christmas of last year.
1. Labrador Retriever
In first place is the Labrador retriever, a friendly and active member of the Gundog Group. The KC (UK) recognized the breed in 1903. The Labrador retriever, the most popular dog breed in the United Kingdom, comes in three colors: yellow, black, and chocolate. Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular dog breeds out there today.
The fact the Labrador Retriever takes pole position is probably not surprising. Described as ‘the best all-round dog’ by the Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever has enjoyed great popularity throughout its existence, both as a domestic pet and service dog. This traditional working animal was originally utilised off the coast of Labrador and neighbouring Newfoundland in Canada, helping Portuguese fishermen to trawl, retrieve fish and retract the nets. The modern Labrador was developed in 19th century England and was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1903.
Typically a proportioned and sprightly-looking breed, the Labrador Retriever boasts strong legs, a broad head, medium-sized pendant ears, and wide-set eyes. Today, the Labrador is observed in hunting, tracking, retrieving, military and police work, search and rescue, competitive obedience, agility and as a guide dog to the blind. Highly valued for being inherently gentle, affectionate and obedient, the Labrador is well suited to the home setting and is neither unduly shy nor aggressive. The Labrador is a great lover of people, perhaps why people are a great lover of it!