There are a baffling number of recognised breeds – The Kennel Club recognises 210 breeds and The American Kennel Club 190 different breeds. You might have wondered what the most popular breeds of dog in the UK are and how this list differs around the world.
So did I, and so I did a bit of research…
What are the most popular breeds in the UK?
This list has recently seen a massive change for the first time in decades. Smaller, “celebrity” dogs like the Pug have shot up in popularity and The French Bulldog is poised to take over the number one spot from the Labrador Retriever for the first time in almost three decades!
The Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer has a lot to recommend it as a companion. Especially for those looking for a smaller pet dog.
The original Schnauzer dates from at least the 14th century in Germany. The miniature variety was first officially recorded in 1888. The miniaturisation is thought to have come through the infusion of Affenpinscher into the Schnauzer line.
Despite the reduction of size, they are just as fun and spirited make great companion dogs.
There are health issues to look out for but this is a well-constructed dog with a reasonable lifespan.
The Dachshund (miniature smooth-haired)
Originating in Germany, as the name would imply, where it is surprisingly known as the Teckel (badger dog)
There are several variants on the Daschund breed, distinguished by their size (miniature is under 5KG) and their coat. The Smooth-haired, the Long-haired and the Wire-haired
The miniature, smooth haired variety is the most popular and a fairly new addition to the top 10.
Bred for tracking wounded game such as deer, and for going to ground after badger or rabbits, which has given them their distinctive silhouette.
Unfortunately, this cute feature comes at a high price. Severe back issues are incredibly common, so it is very important to read up on this breed before you buy and make sure you get them from a recognised breeder.
The German Shepherd, also known as the Alsatian, is a large dog of Germanic origins, and relatively young in dog terms, with the breed originating towards the end of the 19th century.
The German Shepherd dog is prized for its fearlessness, loyalty and intelligence, and can often be found in working roles, most famously as a police dog
However there have been many issues with the breed and the Kennel Club have listed it “at risk”.
Holding its own at number seven is The Golden Retriever, or Goldie, one of our most beautiful and good-natured breeds. Sharing their ancestry with the Labrador Retriever, The Goldie is a medium-sized, intelligent dog that loves the water!
They are also renowned for their loyalty and ability to work with people and can be found in many working roles such as search and rescue, assistance for blind or deaf people, and as sniffer dogs.
Though hugely popular, they’re not without their own issues. Concerns over cancer are sadly far from resolved.
Ths iconic canine symbol of Britishness, The British Bulldog, has always been popular, but with several health issues.
However, since the start of the 21st Century dedicated breeders and the Kennel Club’s Standard have militated against exaggeration with a strong focus on health and welfare over some of the traditional Bulldog features.
This all bodes well for their long-term future and the Bulldog remains hugely popular as a family companion for his great character and loyalty.
The English Springer Spaniel
Gundogs are falling slightly in popularity and the Springer is down this year. The all-purpose gun dog is a family ‘good sport’, but can their energy be a bit too much for you?
Affectionate, fun loving and incredibly good-natured, the Springer Spaniel loves to play, chase and run, and is the perfect companion for energetic children!
Do not underestimate the amount of exercise they need though, they will need several hours every day. They also don’t take too well to being left on their own for extended periods.
Beyond cute, the Pug has captured our hearts and goes up in popularity again this year.
The Pug is an intelligent, entertaining and good-natured dog. It is often referred to as the comedian of the canine world and their looks are unique and distinctive, with their short, squat bodies, curled tails and squashed faces!
There are some issues with this increasing popularity as poor breeders are exacerbating the inherent health issues with the Pug and other flat nosed breeds.
The Cocker Spaniel
This gundog breed is bred for performance and has a high octane personality. However, this really is two different breeds of dog in one; show and working cockers are very different dogs.
Working cockers are still in service today and are more popular than ever in the shooting field and as agility dogs. Whereas, show Cockers are bred as pets, with a distinctive and fluffy aesthetic.
This fluffy aesthetic is obviously approved of by the cognoscenti of the Show-Ring world as the Cocker Spaniel has taken the “Best In Show” title at Crufts seven times since its inception – the most of any breed.
The rise and rise of the French Bulldog may be unprecedented. Growth in registrations is up an incredible 2963% in the last ten years and in the interim figures for 2018 it has overtaken the Labrador Retriever as the No1 in the UK.
Ownership by celebrities such as the Beckhams, Lady Gaga and Hugh Jackman have fuelled this growth, but this has lead to issues with poor breeders and concerns over welfare issues.
French Bulldogs, like many other flat nosed breeds, have certain inherent health issues and people buying a French Bulldog on a whim and without awareness of health concerns could lead to a welfare crisis.
Don’t get me wrong, they are fantastic dogs, but do be aware of the possible issues (and associated costs!) before getting one!
Probably the most popular dog in the world, they remain a firm favourite with the British too, where they have consistently topped the list for decades. However, recently, their position has come under threat from The French Bulldog.
Originally bred as a gun dog, they are now also highly valued as loyal, loving and friendly family pet. This family-friendly appeal is doubtless a big reason for his success.
The Labrador’s temperament is legendary. Often being referred to as the gold standard for all dog breeds. They are great with children as well as intelligent and easy to train, so it is no wonder that Labs are still in great demand!
Most popular dog breeds in New Zealand
The quality of New Zealand dogs was proven not only by NZ-bred Afghan and Rottweiler dogs winning big at Crufts but also by 490 purebred dogs being exported around the world from New Zealand. “Our purebred dogs rank with the best in the world,” said John Perfect.
I found it difficult to find a top ten as apparently New Zealand’s dog owners go for the following breeds far more than others, making it difficult to get more than a top 7!
The following list was based on reported NZ Kennel Club numbers in 2016
- French Bulldog
- Border Collie
- Golden Retriever
- English Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
Over 10,200 dogs (mainly puppies) of 140 breeds were registered in 2006, but I found it hard to get more recent information on this.
The Labrador Retriever actually accounted for 14.6% of the puppy registrations in 2016 compared to just under 10% in 2006, so it is getting even more popular!
“The Labrador Retriever remains New Zealand’s most popular dog. It is both a great family pet and a working dog which is often used for hunting game for which it was bred.” John Perfect, NZ Kennel Club President
The Most Popular Dog Breeds in Auckland, New Zealand
There is actually more information on the most popular breeds in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
- Labrador retriever (14%)
- Staffordshire bull terrier (5.9%)
- Border collie (5.4%)
- Jack russell terrier (4.5%)
- German shepherd (4.2%)
- Shih tzu (4.1%)
- Bichon frise (3.5%)
- Fox terrier (3.4%)
- American pit bull terrier (3.4%)
- Miniature schnauzer (3.2%)
How is the popularity of a dog breed ascertained?
The place to start is to figure out how to judge the most popular breed of dog? The fact is that most dogs are actually crossbred or mongrels but this does not really tell you a lot! The records for crossbreeds is not comprehensive. Even if it was, there are only so many Morkies and Labradoodles and the rest will be Bitsas (Bits of this and bits of that) who are lovely dogs but very hard to categorise.
So, for this reason, I have stuck to the recognised breeds (although I may look to incorporate some known ones in future) and I have used the data provided by their local Kennel Club.
Kennel Club of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The figures that make up our list are from The Kennel Club of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. They record the number of puppies of each pedigree breed born and registered in a given year.
However these figures do not take into account all of the older dogs of that breed that are still around!
So this list may not show a breed’s true popularity in the UK, but birth numbers is a good barometer; if people are not buying a certain breed, or there is a higher demand for a breed, the breeders will adjust to compensate.
This means that when we speak about the popularity of a dog it is in terms of their numbers. We are solely referring to the number of dogs of a given breed registered in the UK compared to other breeds.
We are not talking about the dogs that are necessarily held in the highest regard, liked by more people, or that are the most sought after.
- 1 What are the most popular breeds in the UK?
- 2 Most popular dog breeds in New Zealand
- 3 How is the popularity of a dog breed ascertained?