Country houses for sale

The best country houses for dogs

Sadly, too few people consider the dogs in the family when choosing a house. Proximity to schools and transport links are high on the human agenda, but canine requirements come disgracefully far down the list. This lack of thought can have a serious bearing on your dog’s happiness, so if you’re looking to buy, you really should consider rearranging your priorities.

Take labradors, for example. As Britain’s most popular dog, they can be found padding around all kinds of houses, but they see larger, more historical properties as their birthright. Tom’s wedding photograph in the closing scenes of Four Weddings and a Funeral is a classic example – he’s standing in the porch of a large country house, new wife on one side, lab on the other. This is the correct milieu for a labrador. These houses invariably include all the sporting and recreational pursuits that the breed could wish for-a pheasant or partridge shoot-and larger kitchens for hoovering up crumbs.

Grimblethorpe Hall in the Lincolnshire Wolds, currently on the market with Chesterton Humberts for £1.95 million (01522 516830), is an excellent example of the kind of house labrador owners should be looking for: dating from 1620, with a 17th-century oak staircase, it’s suitably grand and has the added bonus of 63 acres of farmland. Shooting rights are included in the sale.

Lurchers are also traditionalists at heart. If life on the open road isn’t an option, nothing short of a small estate will do. Like pugs, they argue that their decorative qualities are wasted on modern houses and that oil paintings and topiary are essential to their wellbeing. Savills has the answer with The Manor at Sherriffhales, in Shropshire, on the market for £1.5 million (01952 239500), which offers topiary and manicured lawn. The local countryside has more than enough to fulfil a lurcher’s sporting needs.

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By contrast, Jack Russells (and most other terriers) scorn lurcher and labrador preferences as snobbery. They don’t mind where they live as long as there’s scope for adventure. Spaniels are also easy to please; they’ll happily live in a shipping container if there’s a good duck shoot on the doorstep. When choosing houses for Jack Russells, you should pay attention to the outhouses and outlying ground; holes are a distinct advantage, as is the odd sighting of a rabbit.

Grade II*-listed Underdown Farm, near Honiton, in Devon, which is for sale with Chesterton Humberts at £1.5 million (01823 288484), could be a winner, thanks to its extensive outbuildings and 53 acres. And there’s the ultimate seal of approval at The Folly in Chavenage, Gloucestershire, on the market with Knight Frank for £1.25 million (01285 659771), with a paddock and a good array of outhouses: the vendor’s own terrier appears in the brochure.

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