The United Kingdom was essential in creating many of the dog breeds that we know and love around the world. That doesn't mean that those breeds are still popular in the area. For an empire that at one time spanned the globe, they are sure to have a wide variety of top dog breeds in the UK.
All potential pet parents have different criteria that they look for in a new canine companion. Whether you are looking for a cuddle bug that will snuggle with you on the couch or a watch dog that will protect your home and family, you'll find a breed on this list that fits your needs.
While not all breeds on here are totally British Isles, they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many in the United Kingdom and around the world. You are sure to find your new favorite breed here. After all, 65 million people can't be wrong!
Just because these are the best dog breeds in the UK, doesn't mean that you can't adopt one of these pups if you live in another country.
35 Top Dog Breeds in the UK
1. Labrador Retriever
These canines are a top favorite for many countries in the world. Their friendly, outgoing attitude makes them great for families with members of all ages. Intelligent and easy to train, Labrador Retrievers make excellent work dogs, show dogs, and play dogs. Make sure obedience training begins early as they are so goofy they could easily hurt someone.
2. Cocker Spaniel
Considered by some to be grouchy and mean, the Cocker Spaniel is actually friendly and gentle if you get yours from a reputable breeder. These top dog breeds in the UK have beautiful, silky coats that make them a favorite to those willing to put the time and energy into grooming. These top dogs love playtime and walks. They come in a variety of colors.
3. French Bulldog
Although the “Frenchie” can be independent and stubborn, they still make great pets. As a companion dog, these fur-babies are loveable, silly, and devoted. They love to please, so when training starts early, it is quite effective. Their small size and short coats make maintenance a breeze.
Cheerful and curious, people just can't get tired of having Pugs around. Their amiable attitude keeps them valued by many people. They are even-tempered, predictable, and trainable. What some people find annoying in this pooch, you may find adorable – they snore and snort. In this breed, care must be taken to avoid overheating.
5. English Bulldog
If you are a couch potato, this is your dog. These four-legged friends want nothing more than to lie about and eat. In fact, care must be taken or they can become overweight. If you don’t mind snoring, snorting, and farting, the English Bulldog may be just your speed. This former bull baiting breed is now calm and lazy.
6. German Shepherd
Whether it is in the police force or in your yard, German Shepherds are wildly popular. Serious-minded and easy to train, these top dog breeds in the UK perform all sorts of services for people. This attitude also makes them excellent guard dogs. These canines can be destructive if bored. Make sure they are always kept busy with work or play.
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7. Golden Retriever
One of the most popular breeds in the United States as well, Golden Retrievers have an irresistible personality. More devoted than your best friend, the Golden Retriever wants nothing more than to please its human. With great stamina, they can hunt all day, play all day, or be your exercise buddy.
While these little hot dogs are not known to do well with children, that doesn't mean that your family can't successfully own on. As long as your little humans are taught not to tease a dog or bother it while it is eating, these little guys could work for you. They are energetic and need play time, walks, and chew toys.
9. Miniature Schnauzer
Rugged and muscular, these pooches may be a “toy” breed, but they can still hold their own. Another bonus is that they shed little and are considered hypoallergenic. Their coat still requires a lot of grooming if you don't keep it clipped short. While not aggressive, Miniature Schnauzers do not get along well with kids or other animals.
10. Border Terrier
These four-legged family members do best in the country. They love to dig, bark, and chase. Loving and high-energy, the Border Terrier gets along with most humans; however, they do like to be the only dog on the ranch. Known escape artist, if you want to keep this breed fenced in town, it better be secure and sturdy.
11. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Bred to be an aggressive fighting dog, these canines are safe if you get them from a reputable breeder, and you train them properly. They are difficult to train and need a strong trainer versed in pack-leader and socialization training. If you can do this, then you have a fearless, loyal, and easy to care for pet.
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12. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
With its adorable face and almost constant wagging tail, this fur-baby walks its way into the heart of thousands of citizens in the United Kingdom. Sensitive and loving, the Cavalier doesn’t do well with alone time. Owners must be patient and use reward-based training.
Intelligent and intuitive, the Poodle is not the snooty airhead that many mistake it for. If you are not keen on the grooming needed for their traditional hair-do, their hair can be kept clipped short. While calm and quiet indoors, these top dog breeds in the UK have plenty of stamina and energy for outdoor playtime and sports.
This well-muscled breed is intimidating to look at, but a joy to interact with. Loving and affectionate, they do well in families that are active and playful. They do not do well in climate extremes, so they need to be an “inside” dog. You can still take them for walks or jogs when weather permits.
The Chihuahua really has gotten a bad reputation in recent years, but this is due to unsafe breeding practices. If you are looking for a “purse” dog, then this is the one. They are easy to groom and keep clean, and they have a small, portable physique. That physique also makes it so these little dogs do not do well in climate extremes and temperature changes.
16. Shhi Tzu
A little dog that doesn't fit the hyper dog stereotype, the Shi Tzu is a popular little pooch. With tons of personality, this fur-baby is loving, affectionate, and entertaining. These dogs are difficult to housebreak, so you may want to use puppy pee pads. Due to its smashed face, they should never get heated or winded – they could easily die.
Nicknamed the “Poor Man's Greyhound”, the Whippet is not just for the racetrack. The racetrack does, however, lend to its calm personality, its friendliness, and its tolerance of others. These top dog breeds in the UK have a high prey drive and a high jumping ability. They need a tall, sturdy fence to stay safe.
18. Hungarian Vizsla
A “dog's dog”, the Vizsla loves to bark, chew, dig, and run. They need plenty of exercise and do better living in the country. A pointer and a retriever, they are a great companion for the person who likes to hunt. They are friendly with everyone, and the more friends that play with them, the less likely they are to chew everything.
19. West Highland Terrier
A native to Scotland, this white fur-ball is still a favorite in the UK. Confident and independent, the “Westie” had what it took to be a ratter. Today, they are still used to hunt pest, but more often than not, they are a four-legged family member for the modern family. Just make sure you have the energy to keep up with their energy.
While they are independent and hard-headed, this American breed is a favorite around the world. Loving and friendly, they do well in homes where they have to meet a lot of new people – think the weekend Bar-B-Que house. They are scent hounds, and once they are on the trail, they don't quit. They need a good fence and leash to avoid running off.
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21. Lhasa Apso
Originally a breed from Tibet, the Lhasa Apso has found its way into many homes in the United Kingdom. These canines are dignified and aloof and don't do well with kids, strangers, or other pets. Used as guards in monasteries, they love to sound the alarm by barking. They will need training to curb nuisance barking.
22. Border Collie
A favorite in dog shows and ranches, the Border Collie is an expert in agility and performance. Intelligent and easy to train, these four-legged friends are great for the first-time dog owner. These top dog breeds in the UK are so bonded with humans that they get depressed if left alone too much. This can lead to health and behavioral issues.
23. Boston Terrier
While these terriers aren't as excitable as some other terrier breeds, they can still get pretty rowdy. Gentle and well-mannered, these pooches are pretty easygoing. One exception is with small children. They can get snappy and do better in homes with older children.
24. Dogue de Bordeaux
Before you take the “DDB” home, you need to decide if you are willing to put in hours and hours of socialization, pack-leader, and obedience training. If you are, then you will be rewarded with a massive dog that is loyal, brave, and confident. While these top dog breeds in the UK are loving with family, they are not good with strangers or other pets.
25. Chinese Shar-Pei
All cute and wrinkly as a puppy, potential owners need to remind themselves that this canine will eventually outgrow most of those wrinkles. What you are left with is a good size dog that is not very affectionate, and can be aggressive. The Shar-Pei is described by many as “cat like” in attitude. One main strong point is that they are calm and low-energy.
This breed exudes confidence and strength, and that is what makes it a popular breed. Intelligent and focused, they make excellent service dogs. With people, the Rottweiler is surprisingly friendly and social; however, they usually don't like other animals. It is important for a dog of this size and strength to view all humans as the alphas.
27. German Short Haired Pointer
This all-purpose hunting dog was created in by crossing German Pointers, with Spanish Pointers, and English Foxhounds. It is still popular in the country that contributed some DNA to its making. Friendly and smart, with a pleasing nature, they are still favorites in hunting. Now they use these assets in the show ring as well.
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28. Bull Terrier
If you were around in the 1980's, you would immediately recognize this breed as “Spuds McKenzie“, the Bud Light dog. Many people wrongly state that this mascot was a Pitbull, but in fact, it was a full bred Bull Terrier. This breed was bred to be family and companion dogs and usually are not aggressive at all. They are great for first time dog owners.
29. Flat Coated Retriever
Once known as the “Wavy Coated Retriever“, this gun dog excels at water sports. These fur-babies are happiest in homes where they can make regular trips to the swimming hole. They have a lot of energy and happiness and need companionship and playtimes to be the best dog they can be.
30. Tibetan Terrier
Thought to bring luck, this breed was never sold, only given as gifts. In the United Kingdom, some people still appreciate the true gift they are. These little pups love to bark and will need training to avoid nuisance barking. Unlike other small dogs, these top dog breeds in the UK are not fragile and can withstand hot and cold temperatures. Friendly and affectionate, they love everyone.
31. Doberman Pinscher
While most dogs in the Mastiff family are hulking, drooling monsters, the “Dobie” is sleek and graceful. Their reputation as a fierce guard dog is enough to deter most trespassers and robbers. They are intelligent and easy to train, but these top dog breeds in the UK still have a reserved demeanor. They do better in homes with adults only.
Large and energetic, these four-legged family members are not keen on apartment life. They are sensitive to their humans and do not tolerate being alone or harsh training. Reward based training works best with They love to chase things and just wander around, so a firm leash and a tall fence are needed.
Originally guard dogs for coaches, the Dalmatian is still used today as a guard dog, a service dog, a performer, and a companion. Dalmatians can have aggressive qualities, but from a reputable breeder, they are stable and outgoing. You should only allow a fully trained and socialized “Dal” around children and other animals.
Regal and elegant white dogs, the Maltese is a favorite for many occasions. Their agility and trainability make them a popular show dog. These top dog breeds in the UK are very friendly and outgoing, but they are very fragile. This means they are not recommended around other dogs and children.
A true lapdog, the “Pom” has low energy and small size. Their greatest trait, in my opinion, is that they are not known to be chewers. Your shoes, books, and socks are safe with this pup. They are jealous creatures and do not like sharing time with children or other pets. If left alone too long, they can be destructive and loud.