20 Popular English Dog Breeds

Many popular dog breeds have their origins in the United Kingdom — specifically in England. Bulldogs, beagles, and golden retrievers are just three out of the many English dogs that are favorite pets. Several of the English dog breeds were developed for their working skills. This included hunting, retrieving, and pest extermination. These English breeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as they were bred to excel at their intended jobs. Their temperaments also vary, with some typically being quite active and athletic and others being much calmer.

Here are 20 popular dog breeds that have English roots.

1. Bulldog

Bulldogs can be traced back all the way to the 13th century in England. Thanks to their powerful physique, they were used for the blood sport of bullbaiting—in which a pack of dogs would fight a staked bull. Once this sport was banned in the 1800s, bulldogs were used for illegal dog fighting. The breed also was crossed with other terriers. Breeders have since refined the dog’s appearance, making it squatter with a flatter face and more wrinkles than its ancestors.

2. Beagle

In the 1500s, English hunters had both large hounds for deer and small hounds for rabbits. Beagles descended from those small hounds. And by the 1800s these small hounds were being bred not only for their hunting prowess but also their desirable friendly appearance. English breeders preferred a larger variety to hunt foxes while Americans developed a slightly smaller beagle to hunt rabbits. There are still two size varieties recognized today.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire terrier has its roots in the English counties Yorkshire and Lancashire, dating back to the 1800s. It’s thought to be a mix of some terrier breeds from Scotland, including the Skye and Dandie Dinmont. It also might have some Maltese in it. Early Yorkies were used as rodent exterminators, especially in textile mills and coal mines. But they quickly won the hearts of the elite as well, becoming desirable lapdogs.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

In the 17th century, King Charles I and Charles II both were fond of a small type of spaniel with a black-and-tan coat. This spaniel remained popular with British aristocrats into the 19th century when it was crossed with small Asian dog breeds, giving it a flatter face and domed skull. Then, in the 1920s, breeders attempted to recreate the original version of the little spaniel based on old portraits of the dogs in English manors, resulting in the Cavalier.

5. English Springer Spaniel

For centuries in England, both “cocker” and “springer” spaniels (early versions of today’s spaniel breeds) could be born in the same litter. The springers were larger dogs, used to flush or “spring” birds and other game from their hiding spots for hunters. In the 1800s, breed standards developed for several spaniel types, and by 1902 the English springer spaniel was officially recognized in England. Today’s breed still retains that exceptional hunting ability.

6. Bullmastiff

In the 1800s, poachers were targeting the country estates of English aristocrats. In response, a huge, athletic, and courageous dog was developed that could catch and pin down any invading poacher. This dog was a mix of bulldogs and mastiffs—hence the name bullmastiff. It was large enough to be intimidating yet smart and loyal enough to follow commands. Bullmastiffs today still can be skeptical of strangers.

7. English Cocker Spaniel

The earliest English cocker spaniels were born into the same litters as the larger springer spaniels. This smaller type specialized in hunting woodcock, hence its name. As spaniel breeds became solidified in the 19th century, the breed standard developed for the English cocker. Then, in the early 20th century, American breeders developed an even smaller cocker spaniel with a smaller head and more prominently domed skull.

8. Airedale Terrier

Airedale terriers can trace their roots to Aire Valley in Northern England. In the 1800s, factory and mill workers bred these large terriers to be smart, tough, and fearless hunting dogs. The otterhound, multiple terrier types, and potentially setters, retrievers, and herders all went into the Airedale’s makeup. This created a versatile dog that was good with game on land and in water.

9. Whippet

During the 1800s, coal miners in England wanted to take part in hunting and dog racing. However, they couldn’t afford to keep large dogs like the greyhound. So they bred a smaller dog that was just as good of an athlete and hunter. It’s likely they crossed greyhounds with small but fast terriers, resulting in the swift little whippet. The modern version is still lightning fast and has a strong prey drive.

10. Bull Terrier

Bull terriers share the same ancestors as today’s bulldogs. In the 1800s, bulldogs were being crossed with terrier breeds to create strong and spirited fighters (with the terriers providing their fiery demeanor). The bull terrier arose from these crosses and was used in illegal dog fighting. However, it also became a popular companion animal, leading breeders to soften its looks and sweeten its temperament.

11. Golden Retriever

One of the top three most popular dogs in the United States, the golden retriever was bred in England during the 1800s to serve as a hunting dog used to retrieve birds and other game. But today, these friendly, lovable, and smart dogs are most likely to retrieve a well-worn tennis ball, as they excel at fetch. Goldens make wonderful family dogs and they are quite protective of their humans.

12. Old English Sheepdog

These famously shaggy dogs were originally breed centuries ago to drive sheep and cattle to market, and even occasionally used to pull carts. Old English Sheepdogs are sturdy, muscular dogs that also make fine guard dogs and are affectionate, loyal family pets. They requite significant daily exercise and daily grooming, however, so can be considered a high-maintenance breed.

13. Border Collie

Considered to be one of the most intelligent of dog breeds, the border collie was developed along the border of England and Scotland for use in herding sheep. Their ancestry likely dates back centuries to dogs brought to Great Britain by the Romans, but today, they are a very high-energy, super-smart, and affectionate breed that requires significant exercise every day, along with plenty of daily training, playtime, and interactions with their humans.

14. Greyhound

The ancestry of the greyhound dates back to ancient Egypt, but it was in medieval England that the breed was developed into the speedy racer we know today. The fastest breed of dog, greyhounds can run at over 40 mph. This made them ideal for use as hunting dogs that pursued rabbits and other fast-running prey, but also for use as racing dogs. Today, they are mostly valued as gentle, loyal, and affectionate family pets.

15. Jack Russell Terrier

Developed by Rev. John Russell in the early 1800s for use in hunting foxes, the Jack Russell terrier is a descendant of fox terriers and other small-to-medium terrier breeds. It is a very intelligent, highly active, and somewhat rowdy breed that requires significant exercise and activity every day to prevent unwanted barking or other undesirable behaviors. Jack Russells are very affectionate and good with children.

16. Bloodhound

The bloodhound likely originated in Europe during the 700s and was brought to England in the 11th century, where it was bred extensively for use in hunting deer and wild boar. However, the breed’s exceptional scent-tracking ability makes them very useful for tracking escaped convicts, lost children or hikers, and for search-and-rescue work. They are easy-going, affectionate family pets, as well.

17. English Pointer

An ancient breed with unclear origins, pointers were eventually brought to England in the early 1700s, where they were bred extensively for use as hunting dogs. Their specialty is pointing to indicate the presence of game birds, such as pheasants or quail. Fast, agile, and athletic dogs, they are good companions to joggers or runners, and they are also very friendly family dogs that generally get along well with everyone.

18. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Created by mixing bulldogs and small terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers originated in England during the early 1800s. They were bred to be used for bull-baiting and dog-fighting, blood sports which were officially outlawed in England in the 1830s. Despite their rough past, Staffies today are sweet-natured, affectionate dogs that are devoted to their families and are easy to train.

19. English Foxhound

English foxhounds trace their ancestry back to the 1600s in England, where large stag-hunting dogs were crossed with greyhounds to create a smaller scent-hound for use in hunting foxes. Packs of these dogs accompanied hunters on horseback while flushing out and chasing down foxes. While they are gentle dogs, they are not exceptional family pets, as their drive to track down prey by scent is very strong.

20. Wire Fox Terrier

Wire fox terriers trace their histories back to the late 1700s, when the breed was created by mixing other terriers to produce a wire-haired dog that excelled at hunting foxes. They also make excellent mousers and ratters, and have a high prey drive. These fiesty, playful, and lovable dogs make good household pets as long as they get plenty of exercise and attention. They are very intelligent, but can be stubborn.

Published On: May 26th, 2023Categories: Dog News