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Unique Pets in the English Countryside


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

I am a sucker for unique pets—I currently live alone and am raising two Guinea pigs and two rescued pigeons in my apartment! If you also get a kick out of seeing adorable animals that are maybe a little funny looking (like rabbits that are the size of dogs), you'd love exploring the English countryside and seeing all of the pets kept.

While a visit to England isn't available, here's the next best thing—obsessing over photos of animals online! Have fun and take a look at these adorable pets to travel virtually to England for a bit.

Giant Rabbits

"Giant rabbits can make wonderful pets. Their larger than life characters and enormous stature make them delightful to own. However, they come with their own set of special requirements and potential problems, so it is important to ensure you can meet these needs before making the commitment.

Giant rabbits are a term given to the massive breeds of rabbits that generally weigh over 5kg. These include the:

  • French Lop
  • New Zealand White
  • Continental Giant
  • Flemish Giant
  • Belgian Hare
  • English Lop

A giant rabbit should not be confused with an overweight rabbit, whose weight and size is larger than it should be! A giant rabbit is supposed to be just that…a giant and can weigh anywhere from 5kg – 10kg or more. This is larger than many dogs!"

Rabbit Welfare Association + Fund UK

READ MORE: Caring for Giant Rabbits

Old English Sheepdogs

"Compared to some ancient breeds, the OES is a relative newcomer, being only a few hundred years old. It originated in the southwestern counties of England to drive sheep and cattle to market. The Scottish Bearded Collie may have played a large role in the development of the OES; others claim it was the Russian Owtchar. And, rather then herding sheep, the breed’s job was primarily as a drover, driving sheep and cattle to market."

—Jan Reisen, American Kennel Club

READ MORE: 10 Things to Know About the Lovable Old English Sheepdog


"For a small, island nation, we have a remarkable diversity of domestic animals and our lives, and the equine gene pool, are the richer for it. From Shires to Shetlands, Highlands to Hackneys, here are 16 native horse breeds of Britain."

—Kate Green, Country Life UK

READ MORE: From Shetlands to Shires: Native horse breeds of Britain

English Bulldogs

"The Bulldog has been around for over 500 years, but it’s changed a lot since its earliest days in the 1500s. The breed used to be a lot taller than its squat, present-day relative, and Bulldogs earned their name as “bull-baiters.” Believe it or not, at one time Bulldogs were used to draw bulls out and hold them by the nose. This was done for practical reasons, such as to help in the castration of bulls, but it was mostly a form of entertainment. 

Bulldogs were successful at bull-baiting because they were able to use their powerful necks, jaws, and bodies to hold the nose of a bull to the ground. Gradually, Bulldogs were bred to be squatter and thicker to improve their effectiveness in the ring. 

As the centuries wore on, dog-fighting and bull-baiting was outlawed in England and replaced by dog shows. People began to select dogs for shorter legs and bigger heads, and the modern bulldog eventually emerged: a thicker, squatter version than before. Also, the aggressiveness of the original Bulldog was bred out, leaving Bulldogs, as we know them, some of the gentlest dogs around!"

Pet Health Network

READ MORE: The English Bulldog

English Setters

"The English setter is a gentle, friendly, placid dog that is especially good with children. He is mild-mannered, and sensitive, and loves to both give .and receive affection. He does not respond well when spoken to, or handled in a harsh manner. He is more likely to do the opposite of what you demand of him, if handled this way.

These dogs are known to be alert and protective of their families and territories, but will calm down quickly when told to.

English setters are very sociable dogs. They enjoy being with both people and other dogs. They do not do well isolated.

They are very active as puppies, but are known to mellow out considerably when they fully mature.

Setters need plenty of physical and mental exercise , a tired Setter is a happy Setter! If not exercised enough they can revert to destructive behavior in the house and become difficult to manage.

English Setters can live with cats, birds, and other dogs especially if they are raised together. Introducing an adult Setter, with a high prey drive can be a challenge, but usually one good swipe from the cat, and he’s good to go. Introductions to other dogs are not a problem if done correctly."

Our English Setter Rescue

READ MORE: About English Setters


"The Pembroke is a bright, sensitive dog who enjoys play with his human family and responds well to training. As herders bred to move cattle, they are fearless and independent. They are vigilant watchdogs, with acute senses and a “big dog” bark. Families who can meet their bold but kindly Pembroke’s need for activity and togetherness will never have a more loyal, loving pet."

American Kennel Club

READ MORE: Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer