Britain’s Top Dogs Revealed: Labradors lead, Corgis come back, and Jack Russells jump

Statistics released ahead of Crufts suggest old favourites making a comeback

  • New data released by dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, shows the shape of Britain’s favourite dogs shifting – and native breeds could be making a comeback
  • Of the top ten fastest breeds which gained popularity in the last year, half are British native breeds, including the historic Jack Russell Terrier and royal favourite, the Corgi
  • Meanwhile the Labrador reclaims the throne as top dog following the short reign of the French Bulldog
  • It’s bad news though for some native breeds as iconic ‘at risk’ Old English Sheepdog tumbles to an historic, all time low
  • Hope that Crufts will raise awareness of the diversity of breeds – with increased entries of many unusual and at risk breeds, helping to raise their profile with the public

Crufts organisers, the Kennel Club, has announced that old favourites appear to be taking the lead as the UK’s top dogs, with the likes of the Jack Russell and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi soaring in popularity.

Of the top ten fastest breeds to gain popularity from 2018 to 2019 – as the Brexit deadline loomed – half are British native breeds, including the ancient Scottish breed, the Gordon Setter, which increased in popularity by 41 per cent, the historic Jack Russell Terrier – a breed owned by Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds since last year and the four-legged lead in hit film The Secret Life of Pets in 2016 – which increased by 30 per cent, and the Queen’s favourite, the Corgi, which saw a surge of 38 per cent, coinciding with the return of Netflix series The Crown and its much-anticipated third series.

Of the top ten breeds ‘going down’ during the same period, eight were breeds which originate from overseas, including the previously fashionable and celebrity favourite the Chihuahua (-26 per cent), and the exotic Siberian Husky (-37 per cent).

In the same vein, old favourite, the Labrador Retriever, has reclaimed the throne as Britain’s top dog following the short reign of the à la mode French Bulldog.

Bill Lambert, Kennel Club spokesperson said: “High profile owners and popular culture can have a huge impact on the popularity of certain breeds, though we’d urge people to always do their research rather than follow a trend. The Jack Russell for example has certainly seen a surge of interest since rescue dog Dilyn first put his paws through the door of Downing Street in September, and at Crufts 2020 there will be more Jack Russells than ever before competing for the silver Best in Show trophy. We’ll have to wait and see if this dog has its day!

However, not all native breeds are benefiting from this resurgence. The Irish Red & White Setter has become the most vulnerable of all Britain’s native breeds, with just 39 puppy registrations in 2019. This is the breed’s lowest figure in 30 years.

The Irish Red & White Setter is currently on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds list, for dogs with fewer than 300 puppy registrations a year and are at risk of disappearing from our streets and parks.  

It’s also not looking good for one of Britain’s most iconic dog breeds, the Old English Sheepdog, which reached historic lows in 2019. There has been a steady decline in the popularity of the breed, popularly known as the ‘Dulux dog’, over the years and in 2019 it recorded its lowest number of registrations ever – with just 317 puppies registered. Registrations of the breed have decreased by 68 per cent in the last 20 years.

The historic Dandie Dinmont Terrier is decreasing too, and since 2018 puppy registrations have dropped by 24 per cent. The breed is experiencing no such decline in popularity in the show ring however, as its entries have gone up for Crufts 2020 compared to 2019. Organisers hope that Crufts will shine a light on ‘forgotten’ native breeds, and raise their profile with the public via the special Vulnerable Breed Competition and breed booths for visitors to meet and greet these dogs which are now so rare.

Bill added: “The six most popular breeds in the UK account for more registrations between them than the remaining 216 breeds of dog combined, with people simply overlooking the less obvious choices, and many of our much-loved historic breeds.

“Some of the breeds we consider to be at risk of disappearing due to their low numbers are largely in this position because of the fact they are unrecognisable to the British public. We need to keep the rich diversity of breeds, with all of their unique characteristics, so that people can get a dog that is truly right for them.

“We would strongly encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to consider and research all 222 breeds, and come to Crufts next month where we have a dedicated Discover Dogs zone where people can meet these breeds first hand, and talk to experts about what they are like to live with.”

Crufts runs from 5th – 8th March at the NEC in Birmingham. Tickets are available at www.crufts.org.uk and advice on finding the right dog breed can be found on the Kennel Club website: www.thekennelclub.org.uk/find-a-breed.

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