Man’s best friend is popular the world over, with roughly 8.5 million dogs in the UK alone. This covers some 200-300 different breeds, including registered dogs, pedigrees, and everything beside and in-between.

While the list of popular breeds alters year-on-year according to our changing needs and preferences, there are some clear favourites that top the list consistently.

The loyal Labrador, for one, has been a British favourite almost since records began, while more uncommon breeds like the Dogue de Bordeaux and the Lhasa Apso have entered the leader board one year, and exited the very next.

You’ll find many lists online for the ‘top UK dog breeds’, all with varying results, which is why we’ve decided to go on KC registrations for a clear idea of breed trends. Below you’ll find registration numbers for 2016 plus an idea of how the rankings have changed since the previous year.


1) Labrador retriever - 33,856 (up 1,349 on 2015)

Described by the Kennel Club as the ‘best all-round dog,’ this top spot probably isn’t surprising. Originally used by fishermen off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, Canada, it was later developed in 19th century England and officially recognised by the KC in 1903. This traditional working animal has always been a firm favourite with families for its intelligence, trainability, and its gentle, obedient nature.

2) Cocker spaniel - 21,854 (down 723 on 2015)

A gundog prominent during the Tudor reign and the original family companion, the Cocker spaniel has always played a close second to the Lab. As well as being popular for its versatility as a working dog, it is known for its high trainability as a domestic animal and for its loyal and affectionate character.

3) French bulldog - 21,470 (up 6,863 on 2015)

Ranking 12th in 2012, the French bulldog has climbed massively in the rankings in recent years and looks set to overtake the Labrador if the trend continues. Despite its name, the ‘Frenchie’ is actually a British dog that was first developed in Nottingham in the 1800s. Its smaller size, along with its current status as the breed choice of celebs, has contributed to its widespread popularity as a family pet.

4) Pug - 10,408 (up 321 on 2015)

Again, you could say that the recent status of this breed as a celebrity favourite has contributed to its rising popularity, but it has actually long been the favourite of prominent figures, including Queen Victoria and Napolean’s wife, Josephine. Small and stocky, the breed is both distinctive and has an amiable temperament.

5) English springer spaniel - 9,827 (down 419 on 2015)

Despite being slightly down on 2015’s figures, the English springer has always featured somewhere in the UK’s top ten. Having retained its popularity since its early prevalence in the Renaissance, the breed is often described as ‘full of life and character’ and is seen as an ideal choice for active families with children.

6 ) Bulldog - 7,785 (up 825 on 2015)

Commonly viewed as the ‘National Dog of Great Britain’, it’s unlikely the English bulldog’s popularity will ever dwindle. Although it may look intimidating, owners of the breed describe it as mellow, affectionate, and the perfect childhood companion.

7) German shepherd - 7,751 (down 32 on 2015)

Arguably the most popular breed worldwide, the German shepherd or ‘Alsatian’ was first developed in 1899 as a versatile working animal. While it continues to be seen in the police and military, it is also now widely seen in the home, being inherently devoted, mannered and able-minded when trained and socialised from an early age.

8) Golden retriever - 7,232 (up 304 on 2015)

Similar in many ways to our top runner, the Goldie was first seen in the late 1800s and has its roots in the Scottish Highlands. Originally used for hunting and retrieving, the breed is now a popular companion animal with a long, glossy coat, feathered legs and deep brown eyes.

9) Miniature schnauzer - 5,347 (up 144 on 2015)

This placing may come as a surprise to some, but the breed has consistently reappeared in the top 20 over the years. Traditionally used by farmers as a ratting dog, the Miniature schnauzer is globally popular and was developed in 19th century Germany from the Standard schnauzer.

10) Border terrier - 5,150 (down 276 on 2015)

Last but not least is this small, rustic-looking dog, which first appeared in the 18th century. Named for its long association with the Border Hunt in Northumberland, the breed was officially recognised by the KC in 1920. Today it is popular with families looking for a practically-sized dog that is relaxed and intelligent.

If you have any of these breeds, we’d love to hear from you! Please comment below and tell us what you love most about your dog.

Written by: Hannah