Popular English Dog Types

Updated on April 16, 2023

Cups of tea, fish and chips, and the Royal Family are just a few of the many things that have become universal emblems of English culture throughout the years. Some canine breeds are also deeply embedded in English tradition.

Some of the English dogs in our collection were developed for activities including hunting, pest control, retrieving, and racing. Despite the fact that many dogs no longer do these tasks, they are nonetheless often kept as pets.

It’s no secret that England is home to a wide variety of dog breeds; here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most quintessentially British canines.


Of all dog breeds, the Bulldog has come to represent England as a symbol more than any other in popular culture. The Bulldog’s ancestry is in the bloodsport of bull-baiting, which accounts for the breed’s stocky build and incredible strength.

The Bulldog’s flat face and powerful jaws made it a popular breed for bull baiting. Once dogfighting was outlawed, however, breeders became interested in maintaining the Bulldog’s unique appearance and robust physical characteristics.

The breed we know and love today is the result of continued breeding efforts that refined the original stock. For various reasons, bulldogs were also crossed with terriers to produce breeds like the Bull Terrier, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

The British Bulldog is a symbol of courage, strength, and stamina, and the phrase “British Bulldog spirit” was popularised during World War I to describe the dogged determination and resolve of the British people. By the time World War II had begun, Winston Churchill’s famous tenure as Prime Minister had made the Bulldog an indisputable symbol of English bravery and determination.

We’re not exaggerating when we say these large dogs are perfectly content to spend the entire day dozing off on the couch. Bulldogs are notoriously sluggish, and are widely regarded as one of the most sluggish canine breeds. It could be difficult to persuade them to take a stroll.


  • Height: 30-45cm
  • Weight: 18-25kg
  • Life span: 8-10 years
  • Temperament: Lazy, loving, brave


A Bull Terrier can be easily identified on the street thanks to its distinct appearance, which includes elongated body proportions, triangle eyes, and sharp ears. The Bull Terrier is a particularly funny dog because of its naughty, mischievous, yet ultimately endearing personality.

The Bull Terrier, like its more popular relative the Bulldog, may trace its origins back to the pit bull. Sad to say, after bull-baiting was outlawed, the violent sport of choice was underground dogfighting.

The slow and sluggish Bulldog was bred with the more energetic and entertaining Terrier because of this perception. In order to create the ideal dog for providing a bloody performance, we crossed a Bulldog with a Terrier.

A time came when dogfighting fans could no longer evade the law, and the activity was finally outlawed where it belonged. Therefore, our beloved Bull Terrier was rendered useless.

Fortunately, the ‘bull and terrier’ mix gained popularity among the aristocracy in the 1800s, and from then on, efforts were made to improve the dog’s appearance and tame its aggressive tendencies.

It’s worth noting that prior to this, there wasn’t a set standard for breeding dogs; rather, people just wanted a canine companion that was fearless in battle.

These mutts eventually branched off into distinct breeds, the most notable of which are the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Terrier. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, like the Bull Terrier, is a popular dog in England and is thought to have originated in that country’s Staffordshire region.


  • Height: 45-55cm
  • Weight: 20-35kg
  • Life span: 10-14 years
  • Temperament: Cheerful, cheeky, playful


A dog with such a distinct appearance could not be mistaken for any other. The Old English Sheepdog was bred for its long shaggy hair and cheerful disposition, which it put to use herding livestock to the market.

So, by definition, they can’t even be called sheepdogs! They originated in the late 1700s, making them a relative newcomer to the canine world despite the antiquity of their name.

You’d want to believe that the “English” element of the Old English Sheepdog’s name is accurate, despite the fact that the word itself has proven to be quite misleading. The specifics of their ancestry are murky, but we do know that they came from areas in the Southwest of England, such Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall.

Multiple dog breeds, including the Smithfield and the Bearded Collie, are suspected as potential ancestors.

There is no denying the Old English Sheepdog’s iconic status in English culture.

Aside from being the Dulux paint company mascot, the Old English Sheepdog Martha has also been featured in numerous children’s television shows and films, and was even the beloved pet of Beatles icon Paul McCartney, who penned a song about his dog.


  • Height: 55-65cm
  • Weight: 30-45kg
  • Life span: 10-12 years
  • Temperament: Comical, cheerful, intelligent


The root of the Yorkshire Terrier’s vivacious temperament is implicit in the dog’s name. The origins of the dog now affectionately known as the “Yorkie” may be traced all the way back to the 1800s to the English counties of Yorkshire and even Lancashire.

The history of Yorkshire terriers begins during the Industrial Revolution, when many Scotsmen moved to the region in search of industrial and coal mining jobs.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the modern miniature toy terrier originated from a combination of the Clydesdale Terrier, the Paisley Terrier, the Skye Terrier, and the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier.

The Yorkie’s diminutive stature made them ideal for the role of ratter, a dog whose purpose is to actively seek out and kill mice. As rats were common in Yorkshire’s mines, mills, and factories, this was a huge help in getting rid of the pests.

These days, Yorkshire Terriers are the aristocrats of the toy dog world, acting as if they are bigger and more confident than they actually are. Despite their self-assured demeanour, they have a soft spot for those they care about.


  • Height: 20-23cm
  • Weight: 1-3kg
  • Life span: 13-16 years
  • Temperament: Fiery, comedic, affectionate


In the Middle Ages, the English aristocracy would accompany packs of hounds into the woods in search of game, and this is where the English Foxhound got its start.

When the Middle Ages arrived, the deer population had already begun to fall, so the nobility took to hunting foxes instead.

The nobility recognised that a fox-hunting hound needed to excel in both scenting and stamina, and so they set about breeding dogs to achieve the perfect balance between the two. The English Foxhound originated during this time.

Both the appearance and personality of the English Foxhound have remained mostly unchanged over time. This breed is high-spirited and friendly, but it needs a lot of activity and still very much has a pack mentality, so it does best when it has a canine companion to play with.

Due to their high levels of activity, they were never a pup-ular choice of pet but were instead mostly employed for hunting, making them a very rare breed today.


  • Height: 60-70cm
  • Weight: 25-35kg
  • Life span: 10-13 years
  • Temperament: Energetic, sociable, curious


There has been no decline in the English Springer Spaniel’s popularity, and the breed is still well cherished there. They have a long history in England and are known for their loyalty to their owners and their willingness to do everything for them during a hunt.

Both the Springer and the Cocker Spaniel come to mind when we think of a spaniel because of their similarities. The surprising likeness between these two breeds is due to the fact that they once shared a litter.

The woodcock would be hunted with the smaller puppies, while the larger ones would be employed to “spring” the birds out of concealment so that the hunters could find them.

Years of selective breeding have resulted in various varieties of spaniels, such as the beloved English Springer Spaniel, whose ancestors were originally bred to “spring” birds.

With their kind nature, it’s little wonder that Springers have grown so popular in England. In addition to being high-energy, high-intelligence balls of fun, they’re also easy to instruct. This breed enjoys a good workout followed by a day of couch time with the family.


  • Height: 48-53cm
  • Weight: 18-25kg
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Temperament: Loving, lively, sociable


We all know that the Cocker Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel used to be the same breed, but that they were split apart by British breeders into two distinct subtypes.

The English Cocker Spaniel, so called because of its original purpose in life (to hunt and flush woodcock), is another popular breed of dog in England.

English Cocker Spaniels are admired not just in England but all around the world by their many fans due to their gorgeous beauty and calm, friendly demeanour.

The benefits of owning a Cocker Spaniel are only fully realised in the hands of an owner who can provide their dog enough of exercise, attention, and affection.

Puppy dog eyes and an unquenchable desire to please are the keys to winning over your heart with an English Cocker Spaniel.


  • Height: 38-43cm
  • Weight: 10-16kg
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, affectionate, active


The origins of the Clumber Spaniel are shrouded in mystery, but it is known that the breed originated in England and gained widespread popularity there. The largest of the spaniel breeds, the Clumber Spaniel is slow and lumbering but very affectionate.

It is speculated that the French Duc de Noailles brought his prized bunch of spaniels to the Duke of Newcastle in order to safeguard them from the horrors of the French Revolution.

Here is where the Clumber Spaniel originated; the Duke of Clumber Park was responsible for developing the breed and giving it its name.

The Clumber Spaniel was also a popular option for British royalty, and it continued to have a prominent place among the English nobility for some time.

This breed’s placid, mild nature makes it a good match for domestic life. Despite their seeming slowness, they make for great working dogs. The Clumber Spaniel has an incredible nose and is a powerful, hardy bird dog.


  • Height: 43-51cm
  • Weight: 25-40kg
  • Life span: 10-12 years
  • Temperament: Calm, loyal, loving


The Airedale Terrier deserves the title of “king of terriers” because this breed is the most impressive in size and stature.

The Airedale Terrier, a hardworking breed named for the Aire Valley in northern England, is also a wonderful pet for many people.

The Airedale Terrier was raised to be a multifaceted working dog, adept at hunting on land and in water, especially the River Aire, by the working class during the Industrial Revolution.

An early variety of the Airedale Terrier we know today was created by crossing an English Black and Tan Terrier, which is now extinct, with an Otterhound.

Do not limit the Airedale Terrier’s abilities to hunting; they make excellent sporting, farming, and household dogs as well. In fact, before the German Shepherd came along, they were commonly used by the police.


  • Height: 55-60cm
  • Weight: 18-30kg
  • Life span: 10-14 years
  • Temperament: Strong-willed, loyal, sociable


Coal miners in Victorian era England enjoyed hunting and horse racing.

While Greyhounds were traditionally used for these purposes, their high cost made them out of reach for many miners. As a result, the smaller but no less speedy Whippet breed arose.

The Whippet has been dubbed the “snap dog” and the “poor man’s racehorse” due to its slick appearance and lightning-fast speed. In contrast to popular belief, this breed is not a watered-down version of the Greyhound and is capable of speeds comparable to the original.

Whippets are ideal companion animals since they are gentle and friendly. The breed’s modern popularity can be attributed to the general positive reception of these dogs.

Even while Whippets are known for being calm and kind, you shouldn’t underestimate their speed and eagerness to chase for a tasty treat.


  • Height: 46-56cm
  • Weight: 9-20kg
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Temperament: Calm, gentle, affectionate


The Victorian age coal miners of England also had a passion for horse racing and hunting.

This task was historically performed by Greyhounds; however, because to their exorbitant price, many miners were unable to afford one. The smaller yet still quick Whippet breed developed for this reason.

The Whippet’s sleek appearance and incredible speed have earned it the nicknames “snap dog” and “poor man’s racehorse.” It’s a common misconception that this breed is a slower version of the Greyhound, but in reality, they may match the speed of the original.

Whippets make wonderful pets since they are calm and sociable. The modern dog’s popularity can be traced back to the breed’s universally favourable reaction.

Whippets have a reputation for being friendly and quiet, but you shouldn’t discount their speed or enthusiasm to rush for a reward.


  • Height: 25-30cm
  • Weight: 10-15kg
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Temperament: Energetic, playful, confident

There are countless other dog breeds of English ancestry; the ones listed here are just a small sample of those that have made significant contributions to England’s history and culture.

All of these dogs are instantly recognisable symbols of England and British culture, and each has its own special qualities that will make you want one as a pet.







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