The most English dog breeds
Over the years, countless things have become iconic symbols of English culture, such as cups of tea, fish and chips and the Royal Family to name a few. Even some dog breeds are heavily ingrained into English culture.
Numerous members of our English dog selection were bred for specific working purposes, such as hunting, extermination, retrieving and racing. Nowadays, many dogs do still continue these job roles, but most are just kept as furry friends.
England is the home to many dif-fur-ent dog breeds, here, we’re rounding up our list of some of the most English dogs there are.
Possibly the most English of the lot, the Bulldog is a breed that has been an iconic symbol of England throughout history. Muscly and stocky with incredible strength, the Bulldog’s heritage lies in the fighting sport of bull-baiting.
As a flat-faced breed, the Bulldog has immense strength in their jaw, which is why they were commonly used for this sport. However, once the sport became illegal, breeders wanted to sustain the distinctive appearance of the Bulldog, along with their stamina and strength.
Breeding continued and evolved, eventually creating the affectionate, patient and gentle breed we know and love today. Bulldogs were also bred with terriers for varying reasons, creating breeds such as the Bull Terrier, which we’ll get to later on in our roundup.
Courage, strength and stamina are traits attributed to the Bulldog, all associated with the phrase ‘British Bulldog spirit’, to convey a tenacious, strong spirit displayed in war propaganda. By the time World War II came around, the Bulldog was an unquestionable symbol of English bravery and determination, all in line with Winston Churchill’s time as the famous wartime Prime Minister.
These hefty pups are docile and love nothing more than to lounge out on the sofa all day, and we’re not lying when we say all day. Bulldogs can be incredibly lazy. Convincing them to go for a walk may be a struggle.
Life span: 8-10 years
Temperament: Lazy, loving, brave
There is no mistaking a Bull Terrier walking down the street with its unique appearance, pointy ears, triangular eyes and an elongated head, which is often described as being ‘egg-shaped’. A very comedic breed, the Bull Terrier is cheeky, mischievous but most importantly, lovable.
Sharing their ancestry with the Bulldog, the Bull Terrier is another cheery breed despite initially having a violent past. Once bull-baiting became illegal, underground dogfighting sadly became the brutal entertainment of choice.
The hefty, lazy Bulldog was considered much too slow to provide any kind of spectacle for a crowd, so they were consequently bred with Terriers. Combining the strength of a Bulldog with the feistiness of a Terrier provided a perfect dog to supply a gruesome performance.
Eventually, lovers of dogfighting could not evade the law any longer and it was banned (and rightly so!). This meant that our beloved Bull Terrier had no purpose anymore.
Thankfully, the ‘bull and terrier’ mix went on to become popular with gentry in the 1800s where they began perfecting their appearance and eliminating their aggressive nature.
It’s im-paw-tent to point out that prior to this, there was no breeding standard like there is now, just a desire for a strong, brave dog that would not surrender a fight.
Eventually, these mixes split into separate divisions, primarily the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Also a breed that descended from England, notably the county of Staffordshire, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a pretty much identical origin story to the Bull Terrier, and is a beloved breed across England.
Life span: 10-14 years
Temperament: Cheerful, cheeky, playful
Old English Sheepdog
Now this is a pooch with an unmistakable appearance. A long shaggy coat and a playful, cheery demeanour, the Old English Sheepdog worked to help drive cattle and sheep to the market.
This means that they technically aren’t really even sheepdogs! They also aren’t even really that ‘old’ as their name would suggest, dating back to the late 1700s, which is actually quite a modern pooch in the canine world.
So far, the name of the Old English Sheepdog has been pretty untrue of the breed, so you would like to think that the ‘English’ part of their name is correct. Their origin story is actually slightly ambiguous, but we do know they originated from counties in the Southwest of England such as Devon, Somerset and Cornwall.
It’s also theorised they descend from multiple dog breeds, such as the Smithfield and Bearded Collie.
The Old English Sheepdog is entrenched into English society, being quite a famous, recognisable icon of pup-ular culture.
Probably most recognised as the mascot of the Dulux paint company, but also featuring many a time on children’s TV, films, and the beloved pet of Beatles icon Paul McCartney, who even wrote a song about his Old English Sheepdog Martha!
Life span: 10-12 years
Temperament: Comical, cheerful, intelligent
Fiery and full of life, the clue is completely in the name of where the Yorkshire Terrier originated from. Lovingly nicknamed as the ‘Yorkie’, this breed traces right back to the 1800s, rooted in the English county of Yorkshire and even Lancashire.
Their story starts during the Industrial Revolution, where Scottish workers relocated to Yorkshire for factory and coal mining work, bringing a whole bunch of terriers with them.
The tiny toy terrier we know today most likely evolved through mixes of the Clydesdale Terrier, Paisley Terrier, Skye Terrier and the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier.
Due to their small size, the Yorkie got the job of a ratter, which is a dog bred to seek out rodents and kill them. This was incredibly helpful to eliminate vermin in Yorkshires mines, mills and factories as rats were rife in these working areas.
Nowadays, Yorkshire Terriers are posh pooches with a big bravado, it appears that they forget they are the tiniest of the toy dog breeds. Despite their confident nature, they are incredibly affectionate and loving.
Life span: 13-16 years
Temperament: Fiery, comedic, affectionate
The history of the English Foxhound is completely rooted in England, dating right back to the medieval era where members of the aristocracy would take packs of hounds into the forests to hunt deer.
By the time the Middle Ages had rolled around, the deer population had started to decline, so the upper-class gentlemen began hunting foxes instead.
Excellent scenting and stamina are essential traits for a fox-hunting hound, so the gentry began breeding dogs to create the ideal mix of all these attributes. This was the start of the English Foxhound.
Over the years, the English Foxhound has stayed pretty much the same in both looks and temperament. Extremely high energy and sociable, this breed requires a lot of exercise and very much still has a pack mentality, so will thrive from having another furry friend to run alongside.
Due to their intense energy levels they never really became a pup-ular choice of pet, mainly just used for hunting purposes, which makes them quite a rare breed today.
Life span: 10-13 years
Temperament: Energetic, sociable, curious
English Springer Spaniel
The lovable English Springer Spaniel has remained an extremely beloved breed in England for several years. Their origins are very much rooted in England too, always being relentless workers that would do anything to please their owners on a hunt.
When thinking of a spaniel, our first thoughts probably either go to a Springer or Cocker Spaniel, which are both very similar. Surprisingly, this similarity is because once upon a time these two breeds came from the same litter.
Smaller pups in the litter would be used to hunt woodcock, whereas the larger ones would be used to ‘spring’ birds out of hiding for hunters to locate.
After years of selectively breeding spaniels, we begin to get distinctive breeds, with the ones used to ‘spring’ birds becoming the cherished English Springer Spaniel that we know today.
Springers have become a favourite dog breed in England, which is no surprise due to their people-loving personality. They’re also intelligent balls of energy, making them great to train. A perfect day for this breed is a lot of exercise followed by lounging on the sofa with their family.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Loving, lively, sociable
English Cocker Spaniel
As we know, Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels were once the same, until breeders in Britain began creating divisions of dif-fur-ent spaniels.
Gaining their name from their job role, to hunt and flush woodcock, the English Cocker Spaniel is another one of England’s most loved dog breeds, becoming a furry family member for many.
A combination of a cheerful, even temperament and a beautiful appearance explain why English Cocker Spaniels have countless fans, not even just in England but around the world too.
An owner that can provide the Cocker Spaniel with plenty of exercise, affection and care will reap all the benefits this wonderful breed has to offer.
The English Cocker Spaniel will charm you with puppy dog eyes and an incessant desire to please you.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Intelligent, affectionate, active
A specific, detailed backstory for the Clumber Spaniel is unknown, but we do know the breed developed in England and rose to pup-ularity amongst the people of England too. Heavy and plodding, but incredibly loving, the Clumber Spaniel is the largest of all the spaniel types.
It’s theorised that the French Duc de Noailles needed to protect his treasured group of spaniels from the dangers of the French Revolution, so they were sent to the Duke of Newcastle.
This is where the Clumber Spaniel can be traced back to, the breed being developed and named by the Duke who resided in Clumber Park.
The Clumber Spaniel also became a fashionable choice for British royalty, maintaining a prime position in the English aristocracy.
Displaying a calm, gentle demeanour, this breed fits in well to a family life. Alongside this, they’re excellent working dogs, not to be misjudged by their slow speed. With a ferociously keen sense of smell, the Clumber Spaniel makes an excellent bird dog with outstanding strength and stamina.
Life span: 10-12 years
Temperament: Calm, loyal, loving
Airedale Terriers are dignified, dramatic and the largest of all the terriers, so it’s no wonder that they’re labelled the ‘king of terriers’.
Named after the Aire Valley in the north of England, the Airedale Terrier is a multitalented breed, both a determined worker and a fantastic furry friend for many.
A dog of the working-class during the Industrial Revolution, the Airedale Terrier was bred to be a versatile working dog perfect for hunting both on land and in water, predominantly the River Aire.
The English Black and Tan Terrier, now extinct, was crossed with an Otterhound to create an early form of the Airedale Terrier we know today.
Don’t think that the Airedale Terrier’s talents are limited to just hunting though, they’re also great sporting, farming and family dogs. At one point they were even employed for law enforcement roles until the German Shepherd took over.
Life span: 10-14 years
Temperament: Strong-willed, loyal, sociable
Dating back to Victorian England, hardworking coal miners were partial to hunting and racing sports.
Predominantly, Greyhounds were the breed that fulfilled these roles, but many miners didn’t have the funds to afford this breed, which is why the Whippet emerged – a dog that was much smaller in size but just as quick on the racing track.
Slinky, sleek and swift, the Whippet has been nicknamed both the ‘snap dog’ and the ‘poor man’s racehorse’. However, this breed is by no means a shoddy version of the Greyhound, they can reach just as high speeds.
Whippets are sweet, mild and make a great pooch to keep as a pet. The breed is very pup-ular today, due to their amiable, even temperament and stylish appearance.
Don’t be fooled however by their gentle nature and calm personality, if the Whippet spots something worth chasing, they’ll dart off in the blink of an eye.
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Calm, gentle, affectionate
Although the Corgi originates from Wales, we had to include it on our list of the most English pooches due to the Corgi’s strong association with the Queen.
The Queen is truly iconic to England, becoming a symbol of England herself, making her pets just as pup-ular too.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Corgi are actually two separate breeds, with the Queen being a huge fan of the former.
Lively and lovable, the Corgi makes a great pet. However, don’t be deceived by their regal status, Corgis are also known to be excellent workers, often identified as heelers. Due to their small build that’s very low to the floor, the Corgi can nip at the heels of cattle as a herding method.
Although they aren’t technically English, many would view the Corgi as one of the most English of the lot!
Life span: 12-15 years
Temperament: Energetic, playful, confident
Countless other dogs have their origins rooted in England, this selection is just a few of the ones that have made an impact on English history all the way up to now.
Not only are these dogs all iconic to England and its culture, but they all carry unique traits that will quickly make you fall in love with the breed.