Great British Breeds

Canada is famous for their Labrador Retrievers. When you think of Germany, is a Dachshund one of the first things That come to mind? Lots of countries have a claim to a popular breed, but few can compare to Britain.

“Home to the first kennel club in the world, the United Kingdom is a nation of dog lovers,” explains Lance Novak, Executive Director for the Canadian Kennel Club. “The U.K. is credited with the creation of several breeds, carefully crafted over time to perform specialized tasks in specific environments across the country’s varied landscapes. From the rough and rugged utilitarian Airedale Terrier to the dignified, aristocratic English Toy Spaniel, there is quite likely a breed to suit every dog-loving Anglophile.” If you’ve got a serious case of anglomania post Royal Wedding, here is a sampling of recognizable British Breeds:

BULLDOG

There are few breeds that are as symbolic in nature as the Bulldog. The strong build and jowly face of the Bulldog was once used as a stand-in for national pride and perseverance during World War 2 – owing in part to the breed’s similarity in looks and spirit to Winston Churchill. Bulldogs continue to be a popular pet – who doesn’t love that trademark smushy face?

“Today’s English Bulldog, symbolizing British courage and tenacity, is a popular companion breed due to its low energy level, easygoing character and ability to adjust to any living space,” explains Novak. Their stocky body and short face requires special attention though during hot North American Summers.

CORGI

Like the Bulldog, one person comes to mind when you think about the Corgi: Queen Elizabeth II. There are two types of Welsh Corgis – Pembroke (the type owned by the Queen) and the Cardigan (an easy way to tell them apart is that the Cardigan typically has a tail and the Pembroke does not). Though largely known as royal companions and for being internet favourites, Corgis are actually cow herding dogs originally, and their exercise requirements might be more than their short legs suggest: “A cattle herding dog from the west of Wales, this is a big dog in a small package,” says Novak. “The Pembroke has proven to be a tremendously appealing companion due to its unique appearance and willingness to please. Many Pembrokes enjoy participating in Herding, Obedience, Agility, and Tracking trials.”

ENGLISH FOXHOUND

Think of people wearing smart red sporting coats on horseback getting ready for a hunt – see the pack of hounds milling around, those are English Foxhounds. As their name suggests, Foxhounds were bred to hunt Fox.

“An intrinsic part of the English countryside, large packs of this scent-hound were used to hunt foxes by men on horseback. Generally friendly with people and other dogs, this breed thrives on exercise and is therefore most suitable for those who lead a very, very active lifestyle and have the appropriate space requirements,” explains Novak. They do well in a pack but require training from a young age to redirect their high-spirited nature.

CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL

Another breed closely associated with Royalty, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and its cousin the King Charles Spaniel are closely associated with their name sake King Charles II and later Queen Victoria. Though, only the King Charles Spaniel (also known as the English Toy Spaniel) dates back that far. The Cavalier was created as a breed in the 1920s, drawing inspiration from the dogs depicted in portraits of King Charles I and II.

Both breeds make wonderful family pets, but the cavalier may prove more common. “This charming little lap dog is affectionate and playful. A born companion, the sweet-natured Cavalier is highly adaptable to almost any living situation as long as it gets to be close to its family,” says Novak.

FAMOUS ROYAL COMPANIONS

CAESAR – King Edward VII doted on Caesar the Wire Fox Terrier, who was decked out in a collar that read “I am Caesar, I belong to the King.” Caesar outlived his Royal master and walked in the King’s funeral procession.

DASH – a King Charles Spaniel was Queen Victoria’s closest companion and was with her when she ascended to the throne and moved to Buckingham Palace – where she bathed him herself shortly after her coronation.

LUPO – this English Cocker Spaniel is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and lives at Kensington Palace along with Meghan and Prince Harry’s Beagle Guy and Princess Eugenie’s Dog Jack the Norfolk Terrier.

MARVIN – dogs aren’t the only pets living in the apartments and cottages of Kensington Palace, Marvin the hamster is another pet of the Cambridge family.

SUSAN – the first of Queen Elizabeth’s Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Susan was an 18th birthday present from her father the King, and all the Corgis and Dorgis (Dachshund/Corgi crosses) bred by the Queen are descendants of Susan. The last of Susan’s line, Willow, passed away at 14 years old in 2018.

FUN FACTS

  • Airedale Terriers are used by Buckingham Palace as guard dogs.
  • Corgi is Welsh for “dwarf dog.”
  • UK dog owners who don’t scoop their dog’s poop in public areas can be slapped with a £1,000 fine under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act of 2005.
  • In 2012 Pudsey – a Border Collie/Bichon Frise/Chinese Crested cross – became the first dog act (along with handler Ashleigh Butler) to win Britain’s Got Talent. Pudsey sadly passed away in 2017.

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