All these British dog breeds on this page had their origins in Great Britain. That means the countries of England, Wales and Scotland. By definition, Ireland is excluded, so no Irish Wolfhounds here! Yet. (Another page is under construction.)
Most of these British Dog Breeds were developed as working dogs of one sort or another. Some of them represent some unique aspect of British life, such as the Bull Mastiff, bred by gamekeepers by crossing a bull dog with a mastiff, to produce a calm yet powerful dog, capable of catching and restraining poachers.
So here's the list of dogs that were originally bred in Great Britain.
This calm, docile bulldog is one of the most popular British Dog Breeds in countries all around the world. They are mellow and laid-back, taking life easy. They will warn you of intruders, but do not offer much by way of protection.
With their very short nose, they do not breath well, and so do not like hot weather nor extended exercise - they simply get out of breath and shut down. A loveable, low energy dog breed.
They were bred originally to "bait" a bull, clamping it's teeth onto the bull's nose for long enough to allow a butcher to kill the bull. This was outlawed in 1835. The breed was therefore very aggressive and ferocious at first, but after bull baiting was outlawed the bulldog was "bred down" in several directions.
One direction involved mixing in terrier breeds to make better fighting dogs, to supply the new (and illegal) sport of dog-fighting. The other direction - the English bulldog - was bred to be smaller and much less aggressive; even docile!
Click HERE to go to read more about the Olde English Bulldogge!
This a friendly, happy British Dog breed that was originally bred to flush out game (birds) from bushes and grassland. It was very important that the dog did NOT chase the game nor attack. This has resulted in a very restrained breed that nevertheless can be very excitable. They are extremely sociable, and will approach strangers with a wagging tail.
breed emerged in its present form towards the end of the 18th century,
when breeders agreed to separate smaller less heavy spaniels from their
heavier, more athletic cousins.
The smaller spaniels were good at flushing out small birds like Woodcock, and so they came to be called Cocker spaniels. The larger, heavier spaniels were referred to as Field or English spaniels.
Click HERE to read more about the English Springer Spaniel.
The Yorkshire Terrier we know today is a mixture of 4 to 5 other terrier breeds. The Skye, Clydesdale and Paisley terriers were brought from Scotland to England by Scottish mill workers seeking work during the industrial revolution. They were fierce and good at keeping rats and other rodents out of homes and shops.
proved to be good at keeping rats out of the woolen mills, too, and
breeders started breeding smaller terriers, to be more agile. In the
1870s people began referring to these new terriers as "Yorkshire
In 1873 the Yorkie was one of the first breeds to be recognized by the new English Kennel Club.
Click HERE to read more about the Yorkshire Terrier - a British dog breed.
Although that link above goes to our American Staffordshire bull terrier page, the history of the breed is from the county of Staffordshire in England. These dogs are the result of the outlawing of bull-baiting in the 1880s in England.
Breeders started mixing the larger, heavier Bulldog with Terrier breeds to increase their aggressiveness and fighting abilities. Other breeders went the other way, breeding for smaller, more docile dogs, ending up with the Olde English Bulldogge.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog/Terrier breeds were used initially for catching rats in a pit in staged competitions with illegal betting. Eventually 2 breeds arose, the Bull terriers and the Staffordshire terriers, which eventually became known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Click HERE to read more about the Staffordshire terrier.
The Border Collie was developed in the border area between England and Scotland, in the English county of Northumberland to work with sheep. They were bred for generations to herd sheep, and are now the best sheep herders in the world.
They are very smart and accept training well - in fact training is essential to keep the dog's mind occupied. Probably the most intelligent of British dog breeds.
Click HERE to read more about the Border Collie.
A friendly and energetic breed, the english setter is sensitive and intelligent, with a playful nature.
Page on the English Setter under construction!
The favorite breed of the Queen of England, the Welsh Corgi is a feisty dog. It's origins are shrouded in the mists of time, but everyone agrees it all started in Wales in the United Kingdom.
They were used to help with sheep and cattle, and also as a wildfowler's dog. It's role gradually changed to guard of the farmyard, protecting and gathering flocks of geese and other farmyard fowl.
Click HERE to read more about the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
An instantly recognizable breed, the English Bull Terrier is usually white, with a oval shaped head and small eyes. It looks as if the dog has been squeezed into the wrong skin!
This breed was developed by breeding the original bull-baiting bulldog with the white terrier. After bull-baiting was outlawed, this breed was used in rat pits, and had a reputation for aggressiveness with all rodents.
After dog fighting was outlawed, the original breeder added some Dalmatian to the mix to create a pure white dog. He called them Bull Terriers.
Around 1900 they were crossed with Staffordshire Bull Terriers, which re-introduced some colors into the breed, but it remained the English Bull Terrier.
Click HERE to read more about the English Bull Terrier!
West Highland White Terrier ("Westie")
The "Westie" is a small white terrier from the Western Isles of Scotland. Alert, independent yet friendly, the Westie is a rascal!
All the short-legged terriers being bred in Scotland in the 1800's were used to hunt small game. They could have various coat colors. In a hunting accident, a red dog belonging to Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch was mistaken for a fox and shot.
The Colonel decided to breed only white terriers in future, to avoid the same mistake being made again. They were originally called Poltalloch terriers, but the Colonel was uncomfortable with having his name associated with the breed, and requested a name change.
The breed was then known as the Rosenearth Terrier, until it was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908, and subsequently re-named as the West Highland White Terrier in 1909.
Click HERE to read more about the West Highland White Terrier.
The Bullmastiff was bred by English gamekeepers to help catch poachers of game (such as deer, fish and birds) on English country estates. Originally bred by crossing bulldogs with large mastiffs, the resulting Bullmastiff is a large, heavy, powerful dog which combines strength with calmness and confidence.
These dogs were bred and trained to be very quiet; they rarely bark. The ideal Bullmastiff would detect a poacher, then quietly and calmly sneak up, and seize the poacher by the arm, then sitting down and holding the poacher firmly until the game keeper arrived to make the arrest.
Click HERE to read more about the Bullmastiff.
The Airedale was bred in the Aire Valley district of Yorkshire in England, to detect and flush out vermin such as rats. They are the largest of the terrier breeds. They are docile and complacent with kids, but with a stubborn streak when chasing something.
They also hunted otters, weasels, martens and foxes. Farmers needed a dog small enough to get into the animal's lair, but strong enough to take on something as big as a fox. They were originally bred by combing the now-extinct Black-and-Tan terrier with the Bull Terrier, and then adding some Otterhound.
Click HERE to read more about the Airedale Terrier.
The Cavalier King Charles is "the King of Spaniels". Small, sweet and gentle, they are small enough to not threaten kids, yet large enough to play with older kids. Overall, a calm dog breed.
The breed has its roots in Asia, but was first introduced to English King Charles in the 17th century, and was named thereafter. The King was very fond of this breed, but it didn't take it's modern form until after 1930. It was only recognized by the AKC in 1995.
Click HERE to read more about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
This breed gets its name from the Duke of Newcastle's English estate at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. Brought to Clumber Park by the French Duc de Noailles, who was feeling threatened by the French Revolution, the breed was perfected here.
They were bred as hunting dogs for their ability to detect and retrieve shot game. They have a very keen sense of smell, even amongst dogs. They are slow-moving and calm, with modern dogs being something of a couch potato! It is one of the few gun dogs that can do well in an apartment.
The Clumber spaniel is a relatively rare breed.
Click HERE to learn more about the Clumber Spaniel.
The Beagle is a scent hound, detecting it's target by scent alone. They were bred as hunting dogs, to identify and flush out game.
They have their roots in England in the 1500's, when Queen Elizabeth I started a fad by keeping Pocket Beagles. These dogs were too small to be used in fox hunting, and the Foxhound was preferred at the time.
However the modern Beagle first appeared around 1800 when they were specifically bred for hunting rabbits. They are now friendly, affectionate family dogs, which do well in the company of other dogs.
Click HERE to read more about the Beagle dog breed.
As its name implies, the Sussex Spaniel was originally bred in the county of Sussex, England. Like all spaniels, it was intended to flush out birds and game without chasing them. The heavy clay soils and thick undergrowth of the region demanded a powerful dog, and the Sussex Spaniel is deep-chested and muscular, with relatively short legs.
Of all the spaniels, these are probably one of the calmest when indoors. Outdoors, they get excited and bark more than most spaniels, and so were not commonly used by hunters. BUT indoors they are calm, quiet and mellow.
Click HERE to read more about the Sussex Spaniel.
Other British Dog Breeds include the Bedlington Terrier, Welsh Springer Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel, the Sealyham Terrier, the Otterhound, the Old English Sheepdog, the Bloodhound, and the Flat-coated Retriever.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to British dog breeds. Please let us know if think we have missed one out!
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