Dog Breeds Can Reveal Your Social Class

Etiquette expert explains how your dog’s breed, name, and collar can reveal a lot about your social status.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

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Upper class or not – your dogs probably think they’re royalty anyway.


Do you ever wonder what people think about your dog? Do you believe that they try to assess your personality based on its breed?  “Oh that person has a Pit Bull, they must be a risk taker” or “That person has a Bichon, they must love going to the groomers ALL the time.” The truth is, the old adage of people picking pets that look like them is just the beginning of the associations that can be made about you and your dog.

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William Hanson, U.K.’s leading etiquette expert, informs those in high society about how to maintain status. His advice ranges from how to buy toilet paper (plain white, untextured, 3-ply) to using proper vocabulary (it’s lavatory not toilet, and alcohol not booze). Hanson’s latest discourse on maintaining civility includes dog breeds. He asserts that a once-over of your favorite canine will reveal all anyone needs to know about where you place in the social hierarchy.

Where does your dog rate on the social scale?

Upper Class Breeds:

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The upper class prefer clever and quick, hunting breeds: Jack Russells, Terriers, King Charles Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Whippets, and the Queen’s beloved Corgis.


Traditionally, the upper class gravitate toward “working” dog breeds, even if their dog is never going to actually “work.” This choice of dog speaks to one’s appreciation of intelligence and a commitment to more cultivated leisure activities, such as hunting for water fowl or skeet shooting.

High status breeds, due to obedience education, tend to do well on the leash, thus would never be found wearing a harness. Collared dogs are well mannered and dignified, reflecting the refined upbringing of their owners.

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At the very top of the social ladder for upper class breeds, you’ll find the black Labrador. (Interestingly, yellow Labs do not even place this far up on the scale.) His name will likely come from the breeder and have a Roman numeral after it.


Upper Middle Class:

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English Setters indicate that you’re just under the upper class!

Dalmatians, Golden Retreivers, English setters, Weimaraners, and Rottweilers reveal upper middle class leanings. This level of society tends to dispense with the collar altogether, perhaps a signal that they have no social class anxiety whatsoever and prefer to live free. These breeds are intelligent and active, indicating their owners have enough affluence to allow for leisure, outdoor activities. Additionally, according to Hanson,  upper middle class dogs will tend toward simple, yet unique, 2-syllable names like: Ranger, Rover, and Bertie.

Middle Class:

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If your best friend is a rough haired terrier, Great Dane, Wolfhound, Red Setter or Cocker Spaniel, then you’re in the middle class. They can’t pay out large sums for a rare breed, but enjoy a pet with a cuddly temperament. Middle class dogs sport collars with their own name on it, whereas upper class have the owner’s information. The names tend to be confusingly close to human children: Emma, Jack, Sophie, Vicky.

Lower Middle Class:

According to Hanson, the lower middle class hates dogs and therefore have none. This is largely due to the “smell” and expense. Those of the lower class that do have a dog tend to bestow a name that suggests status, like Princess or Dutchie. This class tends to dress the dog in bowties, tartan collars and other fun neckwear instead of collars.

New Money Folks:

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If you can fit your dog in your hand bag, then you are probably new money!

Those people who may have started in a lower class, but came into money later in life have small, low maintenance dogs. Some examples include,  Yorkies, Poodles, West Highland Terriers, and Chihuahuas. Rather than see their dogs as pets with “a practical use” like hunting or pointing, this class views their pet as an accessory.

BUT…

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Of course, none of this can really be true. Dog lovers love all types of dogs no matter their class status. Social class, schmocial class, if you can pet your dog, you’re probably happy!