This study investigated the prevalence of nasal carriage of staphylococci in dogs and determined the characteristics of the isolates. A total of 724 dogs from 87 veterinary practices across the mainland UK were screened for carriage of Staphylococcus spp. All isolates were examined for meticillin resistance (MR) and the presence of the mecA gene investigated in those isolates showing resistance. All coagulase-positive staphylococci and MR coagulase-negative staphylococci (MRCoNS) were subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Spa typing and DNA microarray analysis of resistance and virulence genes was carried out on all MR S. aureus (MRSA) and a subset of meticillin susceptible S. aureus (MSSA). Staphylococci were isolated from 399 (55.1%) of the dogs; only seven (1%) carried MRSA, all of which were identified as the dominant UK healthcare-associated strain (EMRSA-15, ST22). MSSA was identified in 47 (6.5%) dogs, the sequence types of which have been suggested as precursors to successful MRSA clones. Forty (5.5%) dogs carried MRCoNS, while no dogs carried MR S. pseudintermedius, although this is increasingly reported in mainland Europe. Resistance to antimicrobials among the isolates varied between species, with multidrug resistance (MDR) in 87.5% of MRCoNS and 21.8% of coagulase positive staphylococci. Microarray analysis of MRSA and a subset of MSSA isolates identified numerous virulence genes associated with pathogenesis, which are commonly identified in isolates of human origin. However, no isolates carried Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes. This study suggests that MRSA carriage is low in the vet visiting dog population, but there is a diverse range of virulence and resistance determinants in canine S. aureus and MRCoNS isolates.