Royal Mail issued a set of 10 stamps on June 6 entitled Dogs, showcasing some of the most popular breeds in the UK.

Having evolved from an ancestor of the grey wolf (dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their genes), the dog has been domesticated by humans for thousands of years.

Today, more people around the world own a dog than any other pet. This includes a third of UK households, amounting to 12 million dogs in Britain.

We have used them to help us with hunting, guarding, herding and transport, as well as providing companionship. In the process we have developed many different breeds, with the specific characteristics required for each role.

In the UK the Kennel Club governs dog shows, holds the UK register of pedigree dogs, and regulates breed standards. All breeds are assigned to one of seven categories.

The gundog group were developed as hunting dogs, to flush out and retrieve game, and the terrier group for digging out prey from holes or catching rats. The hound group can hunt by sight or by scent, and can therefore be used for tracking missing people or detecting drugs or bombs.

The pastoral group are used for herding and guarding livestock, while the working group were bred for diverse jobs such as pulling sleds, hauling in fishing nets or mountain rescue.

The toy group are mostly companion dogs, bred for their small size and affectionate nature, while the utility group are an eclectic collection of breeds which don’t fit neatly into any of the six other categories.

Based on photographs, the stamps show a selection of popular breeds, either in close-up or in full-body view, facing the viewer.

Designed by Royal Mail Group, they were printed in litho by Cartor.

2nd class DALMATIAN
A muscular breed known for its stamina, the spotted Dalmatian is a member of the utility group. Traditionally it was used as a carriage dog, accompanying horse-drawn coaches to guard them and protect the horses from other dogs.

A member of the terrier group known for its high energy, the Jack Russell derives from dogs bred for fox-hunting in Devon by a country parson named John Russell. The definition of its breed standard by kennel clubs has been controversial in recent years.

The friendly and playful Labrador retriever is a gundog developed in the UK from water dogs imported from Newfoundland, and is named after the Labrador region of Canada. Popular as a guide dog or assistance dog for the disabled, it had more UK Kennel Club registrations than any other breed in 2023.

A member of the pastoral group, originating from the Anglo-Scottish borders, the border collie is the classic sheep-herding dog. Obedient, clever, tireless and quick to react, it has an unrivalled ability to work in synchronisation with humans, as showcased in competitive sheepdog trials.

2nd class WHIPPET
One of the hound group, slightly smaller than a greyhound, the whippet is known for its speed and its loyalty. It was bred as a sighthound, with a strong instinct for finding prey by sight, and developed as a racing dog in northern England.

Originally developed by the Chukchi people of north-east Asia, the Siberian husky was highly valued as a sled-pulling dog. With its resilience, stamina and thick fur coat, this member of the working group is still an essential part of life for nomadic peoples in Arctic regions.

1st class CHIHUAHUA
The smallest breed in the world, noted for its loyalty, the Chihuahua can trace its roots to central America and is named after a Mexican state. A member of the toy group, usually kept as a companion, it can make an excellent watchdog despite its diminutive size.

A member of the gundog group, bred to flush out game, the cocker spaniel is known for its obedience, diligence and temperament. Historically it is the most successful breed at the UK’s major dog show, Crufts, with seven best-in-show awards since the award was inaugurated in 1928.

Famously the favourite breed of Queen Elizabeth II, the Pembroke Welsh corgi is a member of the pastoral group. Short and stocky but tenacious, it was bred for herding cattle, literally biting at their heels but able to duck beneath the occasional kick.

1st class PUG
One of the small breeds of the toy group which were favoured in the imperial court of China, the pug is known for its wrinkly face, short muzzle and curly tail, but equally for being even-tempered, sensitive and sociable, making it an ideal companion dog.

The presentation pack offers insights into different types of dogs. A first day cover and stamp cards are available as usual.

Set of 10 stamps £11.00
Presentation pack £11.90
First day cover £13.85
Stamp cards £4.50

This set takes a purely thematic approach, leaning on the enduring popularity of dogs as pets

The photographs are sharp and expressive, the design approach clean but predictable

Dog-lovers who find their favourite breed featured might choose to stock up on the relevant stamps