19 Endearing English Dogs That Could Be Your Next Best Mate

English dogs

When we think about England, the things that come to mind are the royal family, Big Ben, the London Eye, and lots of great bands and actors — but let’s talk about the fabulous dogs that were first bred in England.

Many of the canines that originated in England were created to hunt or to fight. Fortunately, they live lives of leisure now and don’t have to participate in blood sports.

Most of these English dog breeds are so energetic! They must have bred exuberance into hunting dogs.

The Brits love their dogs, and the first officially recognized dog show was at New Cornmarket in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1859. The first US dog show was in Chicago in 1874.

The early dog shows were organized by hunters who wanted to show off their canines. The first American Kennel Club (AKC) took place shortly after in 1877.

English Breed Dogs

Let’s take a look at the adorable English dog breeds.

1. Corgi 

english breed dogs
GROUPHerding
DOG’s SIZE10-12 inches
WEIGHT26-38 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort hair — Pembroke are black and tan, fawn, red, sable; Cardigan Welsh are black; white; sable and white; brindle, merle, and white; gray and white; liver and white; red, merle, and white; sable, merle and white; white merle
TEMPERAMENTAffectionate, playful, friendly
ACTIVITY LEVEL Energetic
SHEDDING FACTORWeekly brushing
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-13 years

Corgis received royal approval from Queen Elizabeth. The Corgi is affectionate, playful, alert, friendly, intelligent, very trainable, good with dogs and kids, and needs mental stimulus.

Corgis are barkers. These little cuties are somehow able to move cattle by barking and nipping at the cows’ heels (cute imagery).

Corgis are fast and graceful. ‘Kergie’ means dog in ancient Celtic. Historians think that ancient Corgis were brought to the UK from Central Europe and to Wales by the Celts when they migrated to Britain 3,000 years ago.

Fun fact: Cardigans Corgis have tails, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis don’t.

2. English Cocker Spaniels 

english dogs
GROUPSporting
DOG’s SIZE15-17 inches tall
WEIGHT26-34 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort, dense coat needs to be brushed weekly to avoid mats and tangles.
TEMPERAMENTThe AKC calls them merry
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot excessively except shedding season
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-14 years

The English cocker spaniel makes a delightful pet. They are good with kids and dogs, friendly, affectionate, playful, very trainable, and need stimulation. As hunting dogs, they were bred to be very responsive to their humans. They are active in the field and calm at home.

The English created their spaniels centuries ago. The English cocker spaniel was bred for hunting woodcock. According to the AKC, “Spaniel” comes from the word Spanish, and “cocker” comes from the word woodcock, the adorable bird that the Brits and English cocker spaniel hunted.

3. Bull Terrier

english dog breed
GROUPTerrier
DOG’s SIZE21-22 inches tall
WEIGHT50-75 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort fur in black brindle; black, brindle, and white; black, tan, and white; brindle, brindle, and white; red; red and white; white; white and black brindle; white and brindle; white and red; white, black, and tan; fawn; fawn and white; fawn smut; fawn, smut, and white; red smut; red, smut, and white; white and fawn; white, fawn, and smut; white, red, and smut
TEMPERAMENTPlayful
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORMinimal maintenance
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-13 years

The unique-looking bull terrier has a comical appearance with their egg head. Famous bull terriers include Bullseye, the Target dog, and Spuds MacKenzie from the old Bud Light commercials.

Bull terriers are fun and enjoy attention and playing. The AKC says they are mischievous, charming, affectionate, friendly, stubborn, and energetic.

Bull terriers were originally bred from bulldogs and terriers for dog fighting. In the 13th century, they were bull baiting, where bulldogs fought a staked bull, and spectators bet on who would win. When bull baiting was outlawed, bull terriers were forced into dogfighting.

Thankfully, dogfighting also became illegal. Their third career was much more pleasant — being a companion to young gentlemen.

4. Yorkshire Terrier

english dog
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE7-8 inches
WEIGHT7 pounds
FUR AND COLORSilky log coat in blue and gold, blue and tan, black and tan, black and gold
TEMPERAMENTFriendly
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORTheir hair is like human hair
LIFE EXPECTANCY1-15 years

The Yorkshire terrier is good with children and dogs, affectionate, playful, friendly, protective, trainable, energetic, and smart. They are barkers and need mental stimulation. Their silky hair is like human hair, so it needs daily brushing if kept long.

Some people have their Yorkies clipped into a shorter hairdo. They are elegant (although their ancestors were working class) and hypoallergenic.

These pups from Yorkshire were used as mousers ridding textile mills and coal mines of rodents. Not such an elegant job. It’s believed that Scots brought them when they moved to England. There are several types of Yorkies, including black, parti, and hybrids.

Two other terriers famously from England are the cuddly Manchester terrier and the Jack Russell terrier. According to the AKC, the Manchester terrier chased mice in textile mills. Jack Russell terriers, bred by Reverend John Russell, were trained to hunt foxes and have a high prey drive.

5. English Springer Spaniel

british dog breeds
GROUPSporting
DOG’s SIZE19-20 inches tall
WEIGHT40-50 pounds
FUR AND COLORDouble coat in black and white; black, white, and tan; liver and white; liver, white, and tan; white and liver; white and black; red and white; orange and white; lemon and white
TEMPERAMENTFriendly
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORModerate
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-14 years

The lovable English Springer spaniel is affectionate, good with dogs and kids, friendly, playful, trainable, energetic, and needs mental stimulation. The AKC describes English springer spaniels as “mannerly pets during the week and trusty hunting buddies on the weekend.” Springer spaniels were originally bred as hunting dogs that flushed birds out of hiding.

When the gun was invented, the springers pivoted from catch-and-kill assassins to locate and retrieve bird hunters. There are different spaniel breeds.

Springer and Cocker Spaniels used to be born in the same litter, so they were classified as the same breed as the English cocker spaniel for a while. Later, they were separated into two breeds.

6. Airedale Terrier

english dog breeds
GROUPTerrier
DOG’s SIZE23 inches
WEIGHT50-70 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort, wiry coat in black and tan, grizzle and tan
TEMPERAMENTFriendly
ACTIVITY LEVELModerate
SHEDDING FACTORMinimal
LIFE EXPECTANCY11-14 years

Airedale terriers are friendly, courageous, clever, and protective. They make great family dogs. The Airedale terrier is the largest of the terriers. The AKC calls them King of the Terriers. Airedale terriers were originally bred in Aire Valley in Northern England, which was a major manufacturing center before the beginning of the 20th century.

Airdales originated in the mid-1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the valley’s factory hands and mill workers first bred Airedales to keep ducks and rats away. They were bred from the Otterhound, the English Black and Tan Terrier (now extinct), and a dash of Irish Terrier and Bedlington Terrier.

According to the AKC, some setters, retrievers, and herding dogs may have also been mixed in. Airedales were dependable messengers, guard dogs, and sentries in WWI. They are also police/bobby dogs. In America, Airedales hunted game birds, otters, waterfowl, and big animals.

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

british dogs
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE12-13 inches
WEIGHT13-18 pounds
FUR AND COLORWavy, silky coat, medium length coat in blenheim, black and tan, black and white, ruby
TEMPERAMENTEven-tempered
ACTIVITY LEVELNormal, not too energetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot too much, brush regularly
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-15 years

Cavs are gentle, affectionate, graceful, good with kids and dogs, friendly, athletic, and very trainable. They are happy to play and also content to just hang out.

In the 17th century, King Charles I and his son, King Charles II, loved the black and tan toy spaniels. According to the AKC, toy Spaniels were popular with British aristocrats into the early 19th century (due to their small size), and some bred red and whites at Blenheim Palace. Now they have a new King Charles to boost their street cred.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Cavs were bred with Pugs and Japanese Chin, and the breeds had a flatter face and domed skull. In the 1920s, a wealthy American offered a cash prize to British Breeders to recreate Blenheim Spaniels, and the original variety returned.

8. Norwich Terrier

english dogs breeds
GROUPTerrier
DOG’s SIZE10 inches
WEIGHT12 pounds
FUR AND COLORWiry, short double coat in black and tan, grizzle, red, wheaten
TEMPERAMENTCheerful
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNeeds regular grooming
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-15 years

Norwich terriers are alert, loyal, affectionate, inquisitive, friendly, good with kids, protective, playful, need mental stimulation, and bark. These little cuties were courageous and hardy ratters and also part of fox-hunting packs.

In the 1870s and 1880s, many Cambridge University undergraduates bought cuddly Norwiches, entering into dog ownership to protect them from dorm rodents.

The difference between the Norwich terrier and the Norfolk Terrier is the Norfolk has shaggy hair, and the Norwich has a combination of wiry and soft hair.

Other brave terriers include Wire fox terriers bred for hunting foxes, Bedlington terriers that hunted vermin like Norwich terriers did, and Staffordshire bull terriers. The Staffordshire bull terrier was bred to attack bulls and then other dogs. They are stigmatized because of bully breed histories, but now they are just affectionate dogs transformed from fighters to lovers.

Some say the Bedlington terrier came from gypsies.

9. Bulldog

english Bulldog
GROUPNon-sporting
DOG’s SIZE14-15 inches tall
WEIGHT40-50 pound
FUR AND COLORShort coat in fawn; fawn and white; fawn, brindle, and white; red; red and white; red brindle; red, brindle, and white; white; fawn and brindle; fallow
TEMPERAMENTDocile
ACTIVITY LEVELCalm
SHEDDING FACTORNeeds to be brushed a few times a week, doesn’t shed excessively
LIFE EXPECTANCY8-10 years

The English bulldog is friendly, brave, calm, affectionate, playful, and trainable. English bulldogs are unique looking with their loose skin, underbite, and smushed in face. Bulldogs can have difficulty breathing in warm weather due to their snout. There are many types of Bulldogs.

Bulldogs were bred in 13th-century England, where they were used for bullbaiting. In 1835, when bloodsports were outlawed, Bulldogs and other dogs were forced to fight other dogs for gamblers.

Finally, when dog fighting became illegal, breeders made bulldogs more mellow and sweet and bred out the ferociousness.

10. Border Collie

united kingdom dog breeds
GROUPHerding
DOG’s SIZE18-22 inches tall
WEIGHT30-55 pounds
FUR AND COLORMedium rough or short double coats in black, blue, blue merle, red, red merle, sable, white and black, white and blue merle, white and red, lilac, saddleback, sable, sable merle, gold, brindle, white and blue, white and red merle, white ticked, seal, white and seal, white and gold
TEMPERAMENTCompulsive herders
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORBrush a couple of times per week
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-15 years

The Border collie is energetic, affectionate, smart, playful, trainable, barks a lot, and needs mental stimulation. The Border is known as the smartest dog breed and the best herder. A Border collie starred in the movie Babe. They are one of several types of Collie dog breeds.

The Border was created after Roman Emperor Claudius conquered England in the year 35. The Romans brought their canines to tend to their livestock.

300 years later, the Vikings invaded England and brought their small and quick herding pooches. They crossbred and created the Border.

11. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog
GROUPGROUP
DOG’s SIZE21 inches and up
WEIGHT60-100 pounds
FUR AND COLORShaggy double coat in black and white, fawn and white, brown and white, blue merle, blue, grizzle, gray, white, blue-gray, grizzle and white, blue and white, blue gray and white, blue merle and white, gray and white
TEMPERAMENTGentle
ACTIVITY LEVELModerate
SHEDDING FACTORNot excessive, brush weekly
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-12 years

The English Sheepdog is intelligent, gentle, adaptable, affectionate, good with children, playful, protective, very trainable, needs mental stimulation, loyal family pets, and are muscular canines. They are agile and enjoy exploring. Famous English sheepdogs include Paul McCartney’s Martha and the Shaggy Dog Disney movie Dog.

Old English sheepdogs are from Devon and Somerset counties and the Duchy of Cornwall. Experts believe that Old English sheepdogs were bred by mixing canines from Scotland, Europe, and Russia. Rather than tending to sheep, the Old English sheepdog drove sheep to town markets.

12. Clumber Spaniel

english Spaniel breeds
GROUPSporting
DOG’s SIZE17-20 inches tall
WEIGHT55-85 pounds
FUR AND COLORWavy, silky, medium coat in white
TEMPERAMENTCalm
ACTIVITY LEVELModerate
SHEDDING FACTORModerate to heavy, brush 2-3 times per week
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-12 years

The Clumber spaniel is playful, calm, funny, affectionate, friendly, and trainable. They love to fetch and swim and are easygoing companions. Some say they are mischievous, stubborn, and naughty. They are the largest of the spaniel breeds and spaniel types.

Historians can trace the breed to the 1700s in Nottinghamshire, England, where the Duke of Newcastle and his gamekeeper bred a spaniel and named it after the Duke’s estate, Clumber Park. They were game bird hunters and favorites of British royals. Clumbers were painted by portrait and sports artists.

13. English Setter

dog breeds uk
GROUPSporting
DOG’s SIZE23-27 inches tall
WEIGHT45-80 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong and silky in blue belton, blue belton and tan (Tri-Color), lemon belton, liver belton, orange belton, white
TEMPERAMENT Calm
ACTIVITY LEVELModerate
SHEDDING FACTORModerate
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 years

The English setter is friendly, mellow, happy, affectionate, good with kids and other dogs, playful, trainable, and needs mental stimulation. They are one of the AKC’s four British setters bred to work on the terrains of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The English setter was developed 400 years ago on English estates by crossing old spaniel breeds and pointer breeds to create hunting dogs to sit quietly when game birds were located. They became gun dogs when hunting rifles were invented.

14. English Foxhounds

uk dog breeds
GROUPHerding
DOG’s SIZE24 inches tall
WEIGHT60-75 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort and dense in black, white, and tan or white with hare (more tan than black and white, giving the look of a hare); badger (a mixture of white, gray, brown, and black hairs); tan; or yellow
TEMPERAMENTFriendly
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot excessive, brush weekly
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-13 years

The English foxhound is gentle, affectionate, friendly, easy to train, and needs two hours of exercise each day.

George Washington helped popularize English Foxhounds in the US. This breed is still used in traditional English fox hunts.

15. Beagle

uk dogs breeds
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZEunder 13 and 13 to 15 inches tall
WEIGHT20 and 20-30 pounds
FUR AND COLORDense double coat in black, red, and white; red, black, and white; red and black; black; red; lemon; blue and white; brown; white; tan; black and white; black, tan, and red tick; black, fawn, and white; blue, white, black, and tan; blue, tan, and white; black and tan; black, tan, and blue tick; black, tan, and white; black, white, and tan; brown and white; brown, white, and tan; lemon and white; tan and white; red and white
TEMPERAMENTEasygoing
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORModerate, brush weekly
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-15 years

Beagles are friendly, good with children and dogs, affectionate, loyal, funny, playful, energetic, and need mental and physical stimulation. Snoopy from Peanuts is a Beagle.

They come in two sizes: under 13 inches and between 13-15 inches. Merry Beagles make great family dogs and are one of the most popular dogs.

Historians say that packs of Beagles hunted rabbits in England back in 55 BC. In the 1500s, English gentlemen had two varieties of Beagles: a pack of large hounds to track deer and small hounds to track hares. The Beagle descended from the small hounds. They began working with English hunters in the 1500s.

16. Greyhounds 

dog breeds in uk
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZE27-30 inches tall
WEIGHT60-70 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort in black; black brindle, blue brindle, red, red brindle, white, white and black, white and blue brindle, white and red, blue, blue fawn, white and black brindle, white and blue, white and blue fawn, white and red brindle, black and white, blue brindle and white, red and white, black brindle and white, blue and white, blue fawn and white, fawn, fawn and white, liver, liver and white, liver brindle, red brindle and white, white and fawn, white and liver, white and liver brindle
TEMPERAMENTSweet
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot much, brush weekly
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-13 years

Greyhounds are independent, affectionate, gentle, good with dogs and children, playful, friendly, and energetic. The greyhound is very lean and fast and can be found in art, poetry, and in the company of kings during the last several thousands of years. The greyhound is the template of coursing dogs.

Greyhounds are in prehistoric Egyptian art from 5,000 years ago when they hunted gazelle and other animals in the desert. Alexander the Great and Russian Czars had greyhounds.

17. Whippet

dog species
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZE18-22 inches tall
WEIGHT25-40 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort in black, blue, blue brindle; blue fawn, fawn; fawn brindle, red, white, white and fawn, white and red, red brindle, sable, black brindle, white and blue fawn, white and sable, white and black, white and blue, cream, white and blue brindle, white and red brindle, white and fawn brindle, seal
TEMPERAMENTCalm
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot much, brush weekly
LIFE EXPECTANCY12-15 years

Whippets are affectionate dogs that are calm, intelligent, good with children and dogs, fast, energetic, make a good watchdog, and need mental stimulus. The Whippet dog enjoys relaxing, but if you give them something to chase — they’ll jump up and run right after it.

They hail from Victorian England in the north country where coal miners liked dog racing and rabbit hunting but couldn’t afford to kennel and feed large dogs like Greyhounds — so they bred a smaller dog. They can run 35 miles per hour. Whippets were known as the “Poor Man’s Racehorse.”

They appear in art from the Middle Ages. At the turn of the 20th century, when textile workers from Lancashire were emigrating to New England, they brought their Whippet dogs.

18. Bloodhound

names of dog breeds
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZE23-27 inches tall
WEIGHT80-110 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort and dense fur in black and tan, liver and tan, red
TEMPERAMENTEasy going
ACTIVITY LEVEL LEVELCalm
SHEDDING FACTORMostly during season changes
LIFE EXPECTANCY10-12 years

The Bloodhound is independent, friendly, inquisitive, affectionate, good with children and dogs, playful, and trainable. They bark and drool. They are an ancient breed famous for their excellent olfactory abilities.

Some well-known Bloodhounds include Mickey Mouse’s friend Pluto, Trusty from Lady and the Tramp, and Huckleberry Hound. They’re calm unless they are on a scent.

Although their history is mysterious, a third-century scholar wrote about “a hound of unrivaled scenting powers, so intensely devoted to the work that he could not be pulled off the trail until his quarry was found.”

The oldest scent hound, Bloodhounds, were mixed with other breeds to breed scent hounds. They are excellent police dogs and will follow a scent through swamps, etc. Technology can’t rival their noses.

19. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff
GROUPWorking
DOG’s SIZE24-27 inches tall
WEIGHT100-130 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort hair in fawn, fawn brindle, red, red brindle, red fawn, red fawn brindle
TEMPERAMENTCalm
ACTIVITY LEVELEnergetic
SHEDDING FACTORNot excessive
LIFE EXPECTANCY7-9 years

The Bullmastiff is calm at home but fearless at work. They are loyal, affectionate, brave, good with children and dogs, protective, energetic, intelligent, fast, and need mental stimulation.

The Bullmstiff is a cross between a Bulldog and a Mastiff. They are muscular dogs and need early socialization and training to prevent undesirable behaviors (like many dogs).

Bullmastiffs were bred in the mid-to-late 19th century to guard the English aristocracy members’ game preserves from poachers. Modern Bullmastiffs have more wrinkles than their ancestors.

FAQs

What Is the Most British Dog of All Time?

According to Purina, the Corgi.

What Is the National Dog of England?

The wrinkly British Bulldog is the national dog. It triumphed over the many English dog breeds for that honor.

What Are the Characteristics of English Dogs?

Most English dog breeds are energetic and were bred as a hunting dog or to engage in another blood sport.

Wrap-up  

Many of the English dog breeds began as hunting dogs and bloodsport canines. Now, many are just family members.

Most terrier breeds originated in England, except the miniature schnauzer.

Three English breeds are in the top 10 American Kennel Club’s most popular dogs: Bulldog, Beagle, and Yorkies. We love our English poochie imports. Cheers.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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