Top 5 British Dog Breeds

Some of the most popular British dog breeds include the Corgi, Border Collie, British Bulldog, Old English Sheepdog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Feb 16, 2024By Tanya Taylor
top british dog breeds

If there’s one thing the British love more than a cup of tea, it’s their pet dogs. Dogs are a massive part of British culture, and the UK has some of the finest working dogs and terriers. If you’re a dog lover, you should own a British breed at least once. If you want some ideas about which one to choose, take a look at my list of the top 5 British dog breeds.

1. Corgi

Photo Credit: Alvan Nee on Unsplash

Height: 10 - 12 inches

Weight: 24 - 28 pounds

Size: Small

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 11 -13 years

The Corgi is one of the most iconic British dogs due to being the breed of choice for the late Queen Elizabeth II. This cute, foxy-looking hound comes from Pembrokeshire in Wales and dates back to the 11th century. There are two types of Welsh Corgi, the Pembroke and Cardigan.

Corgis are working dogs and were originally herders, and despite their small size, they fearlessly herded cows by nipping at their feet. They also acted as rat catchers, and alert and companion dogs on the farm. These short-legged, dwarf-like dogs often have a stumpy tail, big, pointy ears and a black, tan, red, sable or fawn and white coat.

Corgis are loyal, affectionate, and incredibly intelligent but independent and strong-willed. They need an experienced owner and lots of training and socializing as puppies. Corgis are full of character and love being with people, but they can be destructive if you leave them alone for long periods. They aren’t suitable for families with small children because they can be nippy.

2. Border Collie

border collie
Photo Credit: Lukas Ruzicka on Unsplash

Height: 18 - 22 inches

Weight: 20 - 55 pounds

Size: Medium

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 12 - 15 years

The Border Collie is the next on our top British dog breeds list. This agile hound comes from the Scottish borders and has been man's best friend since the 17th century. They are working herd dogs and excel at herding sheep and agility. As well as being the elite athletes of the canine world, they are also one of the smartest and most obedient breeds.

Border Collies usually have a medium rough coat and come in many colors, but the most common is black and white. They are athletic and muscular, pumped with energy and need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. These dogs are loyal, dependable, super fast learners and one of the fastest, most agile and balanced dog breeds.

In the world of working canines, Collies are workaholics. They need constant activity, lots of exercise and space to run around and are ideal for active families. They’re loyal family dogs but aren’t good with small children and can be nippy due to their herding instinct.

3. British Bulldog

british bulldog
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Height: 14 - 15 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Size: Medium

Exercise Level: Low

Lifespan: 8 - 10 years

The British Bulldog is probably the most distinguished British breed, which dates back to the 13th century. Despite their calm and gentle nature, these canines were fighting dogs and used for bull baiting. They were also the “face” of Britain during the Second World War and appeared in propaganda.

These distinctive dogs are short and stocky with flat faces, upshot jaws, big eyes, and folds of loose skin on their head and body. They have a smooth, short, glossy coat which comes in brindle, fawn, fallow and red, with or without white. They are sweet, loyal characters who love being at home with their owners. But they can be stubborn. British bulldogs are fairly inactive but enjoy regular short walks and playing tug.

Unfortunately, due to intensive inbreeding, British Bulldogs often have respiratory problems and can't breathe properly. They’re not suited to hot climates because they overheat and can't swim, so aren't the best dog breed for the water.

4. Old English Sheepdog

old english sheepdog
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Height: 21 inches and above

Weight: 60 - 100 pounds

Size: Large

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 10 - 12 years

The Old English Sheepdog is a massive, fluffy hound from South West England. They are herding dogs and protect the sheep from large predators like wolves. Farmers also used them to drive cattle to market, which gave them their distinctive amble.

Old English Sheepdogs look like colossal cuddly teddy bears, but under that shaggy coat and calm demeanor is a muscular, intelligent, working dog. They are one of only several dog breeds with double coats. Old English Sheepdogs need intensive grooming and come in shades of black, brown, gray and blue with or without white.

Old English Sheepdogs are ideal for families because they’re great with kids and make excellent guard dogs. They’re quick learners, and early training is essential due to their size. They can also be aggressive with other dogs, so early socializing is another must. Old English Sheepdogs are strong-willed and aren’t suitable for inexperienced owners. They like to be busy and mentally stimulated, or they will become destructive, so they suit active families.

5. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

staffordshire bull terrier
Photo Credit: Amy Starr on Unsplash

Height: 14 - 16 inches

Weight: 24 - 30 pounds

Size: Medium

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 12 - 14 years

The last, and by no means least, entry on our list of top British dogs is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Affectionately known as the Staffy, this is a recent breed from the early 19th century. They are a cross between bulldogs and terriers, and traditional uses include bull baiting and dog fighting.

Unfortunately, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are still used for illegal dog fighting and in the wrong hands, they can be aggressive. But, despite their bad reputation, they're unbelievably sweet and affectionate and known as nanny dogs because they’re so good with children. Overall, they are a hugely misunderstood breed.

Staffies are high-energy and need lots of stimulation and exercise to keep destructive tendencies at bay. They are loyal, obedient, people pleasers and love being with the family. But they can be overprotective, so you must socialize them from a young age.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.