As the UK’s number one resource for dog owners we are commonly asked what is the most popular dog in the UK?
It is estimated that over 26% of the entire UK adult population own a dog. This translates to around 10 million dogs living within the UK.
Whilst not all dogs are registered, this estimate is as close as accurate as we can get. Some experts do believe that it could be as high as 11 million dogs in the UK in 2021.
Here we have compiled the list of top ten UK dog breeds in 2021.
How this list is calculated
You may be thinking how we can possibly assertain which breeds are the most popular?
Well to avoid bias and favouritism we have approached the question in a completely mathematical and scientific manner. We have gone purely by total number of dogs and number of dog breeds owned across the UK. This in turn makes our list the most statistically accurate you will find anywhere.
We have sourced our data from UK veterinarians all across the UK. Our vet database is the largest online collection of UK veterinarians online and is updated daily.
We asked our members to provide valuable data of their dogs which are then in turn cross referenced and analysed.
All of this data has then been crosschecked with the UK’s leading kennels and registrars. We also use public data released by the kennel club from previous years.
All of this data is then analysed and trends created. This gives us the most comprehensive numbers possible without manually going to each house and counting dogs personally!
So on to the list!
The UK’s Top Ten Dog Breeds In 2021
The boxer dog breed gets its name from the dog’s natural behaviour.
Bobbing and weaving when play fighting are a common sight for the breed and ultimately where the breed’s name originated.
Being large and muscular box headed dogs with a firm appetite for both exercise and play, it is no mystery why the boxer dog breed is loved Worldwide.
The breed has been a firm favourite with UK dog owners dating all the way back to the 1930’s and before. The breed is recognised by the kennel club and is often seen in show rings and dog athletics.
The recent years have seen the dog breed’s popularity decline though. Had this list been for 2001 for example, the boxer dog breed would be way up in the top 5 of the UK’s most popular dogs list.
9. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a familiar face making an appearance towards the tail end of this list. The water loving loyal dog breed is popular throughout the World. Despite this though it’s cousin’s, the Labrador breed, overtake it in terms of dog breed popularity within the UK as the Golden retriever slips from 8th in 2020 to 9th in 2021.
Still hugely popular across the pond in America, the breed is also still well represented in UK homes. The dog’s work ethic and temperament also still sees the breed heavily used as sniffer dogs, assistance to the blind and UK search and rescue operations.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is synonymous within the UK dog world as a breed who’s popularity has stayed consistent across all areas of the UK.
This is so much so that you may be like us, that is, a little surprised. Surprised mainly at how low down on the list they sit as only the 8th most popular dog breed in the UK.
Sometimes known simply as ‘Cavvy’, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel shares many similar traits with other spaniel breeds, notably the Springer Spaniel and it’s more popular cousin, the Cocker Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is currently seeing huge rises in popularity in both America and Australia. As well this, the breed is well represented in Europe with breed clubs spanning from Norway to Spain.
The UK on the other hand has seen the breed decline on the list of most popular dogs. Whilst being popular from the early 20th century all the way up to the millennium, it appears UK dog owners have opted for other breeds in their homes.
7. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog breed is a truly one of a kind dog. Sporting it’s ‘bat like’ ears and small stature, few breeds are as cute as this one.
It is with that in mind that there is no surprise that this breed has now made it on to the top 10 list of UK dog breeds for 2021.
Showing up in 12th, just outside the top 10 in 2020 – the French Bulldog has seen a steep rise in popularity during and since the pandemic bringing it up to 7th for 2021.
Ever the charmer, the French Bulldog shares many of the characteristics of their other bulldog cousins albeit in miniature form. Their block heads, scrunched faces and wrinkles are all too common in bulldogs of all kinds, shapes and sizes.
Ever the entertainer and in at number 5 is the popular Pug.
Known particularly for its tiny size and large personality, the Pug is quite possibly the smallest big dog out there. With its wrinkly short muzzled face and curled tail there is no doubt to be had when it comes to their cuteness.
Coming under some scrutiny over the years for the breeding practices that have been used to create the Pugs we know today hasn’t done much to damage their popularity in the UK.
In strong at the 5th most popular UK dog breed and only set to rise in the years to come.
5. Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel dog breed starts our run in but just misses out on the top 3 most popular UK dog breeds for 2021.
There’s a reason this dog is so popular and it’s unparalleled successes at Crufts since it’s inception is only part of the story.
Agile, energetic and incredibly intelligent – the Cocker Spaniel edges out it’s other Spaniel cousins as the clear leader in numbers throughout the UK.
It’s looks and subsequent seven wins at Crufts help but as personality goes, Cocker Spaniels are definitely up there with the best as UK dog owners appear to agree.
4. English Springer Spaniel
Another popular Spaniel takes 6th place, the English Springer Spaniel.
Gun dogs as a whole are hugely popular in the UK. This is likely, at least partially, because of their ingrained heritage for hundreds of years across the nation.
English Springer Spaniels were originally bred to both flush out and retrieve game birds for hunters. Their obedience, energy and incredible good nature has now translated over to make them a fantastic companion within any UK home.
Their friendliness with small children has also helped them reach the respectable 6th place overall making them the 2nd most popular Spaniel dog breed in the UK.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd which is also sometimes known as an Alsatian, has seen a huge increase in ownership over the last 10 years in the UK.
Unsurprisingly originating in Germany, it is an incredibly young breed being traced as late as the 19th century.
The UK have always been fond of the breed despite a large intermission during World War 2 due to their German origins. Since the 1960’s though, the breed has gone from strength to strength cementing their position within the top 3.
Heavily used by UK police forces and military because of their fearless loyalty, German Shepherds can be a great companion to anyone who is willing to keep up with training and grooming – a personal favourite breed for us at UK Dog Owner.
2. Labrador Retriever
Controversially not number 1 is the adored Labrador Retriever.
Why controversially? Well, most top UK dog lists will declare they are the number one owned dog throughout the entire UK.
This is unfortunately misleading.
They are the most registered dog in the UK but that only tells half the story. Many dogs are unregistered within the UK with The Kennel Club. As a percentage, most Labradors tend to be registered as opposed to unregistered.
This leads many to believe it is the most owned dog but our research says otherwise.
The Labrador is another UK breed bred specifically as a gun dog and is still used today by hunters. The Labrador Retriever has been consistently in the top 3 UK dog breeds for at least the last four decades.
Probably the most loyal nature of any breed and quite possibly the most loving too, the Labrador Retriever is set to remain right near the top of these lists for many more years to come.
1. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier takes the crown of most popular UK dog breed in 2021!
Incredibly muscular and fiercely loyal are just two traits that see the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a common staple in UK homes.
Originating in Staffordshire after a cross breeding of the English White Terrier and a Bulldog. The breed was originally controversially a fighting dog.
Since blood sports and dog fighting were banned in the mid 19th century, responsible breeding has seen the breed become friendlier, more loyal and affectionate.
But there are no such thing as bad dogs, only bad owners, in our opinion.
Many ‘Staffies’ are incredibly friendly and loving in the right environment. It is unfortunate that some owners train their ‘Staffies’ more for protection which in turn makes the news.
That said they are a protective and incredibly strong breed which needs to be considered when taking ownership.
When it comes to love and companionship though they are second to none!