Dogs in demand: A guide to the UK’s most popular breeds

Everyone knows the UK is a nation of dog lovers, and an estimated 9 million people across the country have a canine companion! Which means roughly one-third of British households own a dog. But which are the most popular breeds?

We’ve taken a look at some of the UK’s favourite types of pooch to explore what makes them loved by dog owners from Devon to Dundee…



The Labrador Retriever regularly tops polls of the country’s most popular dog breeds. In 2015, BBC analysis of microchipping data revealed that more than 509,000 Labradors had been tagged across the UK over the last ten years.

Labradors are renowned for being good-natured and loyal, making them ideal as family pets and assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The adorable Labrador puppy of the Andrex television adverts, which first appeared in 1972, has also helped to endear this much-loved breed to the nation.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

This breed made the list when the first ever survey of the UK’s most popular breeds was carried out 100 years ago. Cocker Spaniels remain much loved in Britain today, with many dog owners enjoying their lively, intelligent nature.

Originally bred as working gun-dogs, Cocker Spaniels are generally very good at socialising with people and other pets. They require regular grooming to keep their long, flowing coat in good condition as well as plenty of exercise and play. A toy like the Automatic Ball Launcher could be a great way to keep them occupied!

English Springer Spaniel

English Springer spaniel portrait

The English Springer Spaniel, a close relative of the Cocker Spaniel, is a relative newcomer to the list of Britain’s top dogs. It did not even appear among the 40 most popular breeds 100 years ago, but nowadays many owners love the Springer for its energy and enthusiasm.

Springer Spaniels certainly require an energetic owner, but they are generally obedient despite their excitable nature. This can make them a really fun family pet, as long as you have plenty of time for them to enjoy long walks, roam free off the lead and go swimming.

Golden Retriever

Portrait of beautiful Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are happy, amiable dogs with luxurious coats and a playful nature. It’s not hard to see why they’re one of the most popular breeds!

They’re also highly intelligent – the Golden Retriever was rated the fourth brightest dog breed (behind the Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd) in canine psychologist Stanley Coren’s influential book The Intelligence of Dogs. So make sure you can keep them entertained.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The watchful staffy

Another very popular breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a compact and muscular dog that can be very affectionate. Although this breed has a reputation for being tough, they make great people-friendly pets with the proper training and care.

Microchipping data has revealed that ‘Staffies’ are particularly popular among city dwellers, perhaps because their size means they’re happy to live in smaller homes. The Staffie was shown to be the most frequently microchipped dog in almost every area of London, as well as other major urban centres like Manchester and Birmingham.

If you’re thinking about bringing a new dog into your home, one of these popular breeds could make an ideal pet. For more help on choosing the right pooch for you and your family, check out our helpful post Big dog or small dog – what’s best for me?

What’s your favourite kind of dog? Are there any breeds you think don’t get enough love?

Let us know in the comments!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Dogs