10 royals who dearly loved their dogs

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Queen Elizabeth II

Everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth II didn’t go anywhere without her beloved Corgis — so much so that they became a royal symbol themselves. They even had a presence at her funeral.

Throughout history, many monarchs around the world enjoyed the companionship of canines. In more ancient times, some breeds were even forbidden outside of court, while more recent royal interest in a breed could help ensure its popularity beyond the castle walls too.

Let’s take a look at the favourite dogs of 10 royals from history and the dogs they loved.

QUEEN VICTORIA royal

1) QUEEN VICTORIA AND DACHSHUNDS

Queen Victoria adored dogs and acquired several different breeds of pups throughout her long reign, some of which she received as gifts. In 1845, after she got her first Dachshund, Deckel, the breed forever held a special place in her heart. The Queen loved the cuddly, joyful nature of the breed, which was originally developed to battle badgers. This led to her famous declaration “Nothing will turn a man’s home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a Dachshund.”

Her favourite dachshund, named Waldman VI, came into the queen’s life in 1872.

While she loved Dachshunds, Queen Victoria also had a soft spot for Collies, Scottish Terriers, Pugs, and Pomeranians, and she could often be seen cuddling up with some of these dogs throughout her long reign.

TUTANKHAMUN royal2) TUTANKHAMUN’S GREYHOUNDS, SALUKIS, IBIZAN HOUNDS & PHARAOH HOUNDS

Humans have kept canine companions for thousands of years, and that includes famous Egyptians like Tutankhamun, who apparently kept hounds such as Greyhounds, Salukis, Ibizan Hounds, and Pharaoh Hounds —which fall into the category of sighthounds. The pharaoh’s hunting dogs were so important to him that they were included in a painting of him riding a chariot into battle.

Can you imagine being Tutankhamun and strolling by the pyramids of ancient Egypt taking your pup for a walk? Well, that’s exactly what the ancient Egyptians did, and there are relief carvings of them walking dogs on leashes to prove it!

Greyhounds are excellent hunters, but they’re also friendly, gentle giants, so it’s no wonder they were loved by Egyptians like Tutankhamun. The Saluki is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, and a 7,000-year-old Sumerian wall carving shows they’ve been loyal companions for a very long time. Both the Ibizan Hound and the Pharaoh Hound resemble the Egyptian god Anubis and they were also gifted hunters — a trait the Egyptians respected greatly. Some of these breeds proved such faithful companions in life that they were even mummified after they died.

KING GEORGE VI royal3) KING GEORGE VI, GLEN, AND YELLOW LABRADOR RETRIEVERS

King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, was particularly fond of yellow Labrador Retrievers and was often photographed with his four-legged friend, Glen.

George kept yellow Labs as pets and gun dogs, and he also bred them at Sandringham House while he was king. In fact, he helped popularize the breed at a time when these dogs were still relatively new.

Labs only appeared in the early 1800s when people began breeding the now-extinct St. John’sWater Dog with British hunting dogs. Today, Labs are a go-to breed for many things. Come to think of it, there isn’t much they can’t do! They’re great family dogs, adventure buddies, and service dogs, but they can even excel at agility training and on the farm.

EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI royal4) EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI’S PEKINGESE AND SHIH TZUS

The Empress Dowager Cixi ruled the Qing dynasty through the turn of the 20th century, and she was an avid dog breeder who was particularly fond of Pekingese and Shih Tzus. It’s said that the Dalai Lama gave her a pair of Shih Tzus, and she instructed members of the imperial palace to breed the dogs and train them to sit up when she entered the room.

The Pekingese were bred specifically to look like imperial guardian lion statues. They became a favourite of the imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and it’s thought they were bred to be small so they could be carried around inside a robe’s sleeves.

The Shih Tzu, it is said, was bred by monks in Tibet to serve as temple dogs, but the monks would also gift the dogs to Chinese emperors and empresses. Like the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu was appealing because of its resemblance to a lion, and their name actually comes from a Chinese word for lion.

Did you know: Pekingese dogs, which are named after the city of Peking (now Beijing), weren’t seen outside of China until British and French troops invaded and looted the Summer Palace, where they found the dogs and smuggled one out.

Interesting fact: After the 1949 Chinese Communist Revolution, the Shih Tzu’s association with wealth and nobility made them a target, and nearly all the Shih Tzus in the country were killed. A handful were saved and sent to England, and that’s why the breed is still around today.

KING CHARLES II royal5) KING CHARLES II’S CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIELS

Charles II was the king of England in the 17th century, and he was so fond of a particular breed of Spaniel that they even named the dog after him — the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel! These pups were originally bred from toy spaniels starting in the 16th century, and their main role was to keep noble laps warm in draughty castles.

Thanks to Charles II, who loved the Spaniels dearly and bred them in such great numbers, the breed became popular outside the palace as well. And inside the castle, the dogs were so important to Charles II and his family that they were included in many portraits with the king and his children.

KING HENRY III royal6) KING HENRY III AND THE BICHON FRISÉ

King Henry III was the king of France in the 16th century, and his all-time favourite dog was the Bichon Frisé. These adorable, playful, and affectionate dogs have a long history of royal association, going back to the 13th century.

But King Henry III took it to a whole new level! It’s rumoured that he loved the little dogs so much that he would carry a couple of them about in a basket tied around his neck wherever he went! Another anecdote claims he took 200 Bichons with him on a trip to Lyon and gave them each their own servant! It’s even said that he employed a baker specifically to bake for his dogs.

With the way Henry III pampered his pooches, you can see why it became customary around this time to perfume these pups and outfit them with ribbons.

EMPEROR TAISHO7) EMPEROR TAISHO AND THE AKITA

Emperor Taisho was the 123rd Emperor of Japan in the early 20th century, and he proudly surrounded himself with Akitas. He was even photographed with a couple of them at the end of the 19th century. To honour the royal’s bond with these brave dogs, the emperor who came after him declared the Akita a national monument in 1931.

The roots of the Akita trace back to the Akita Prefecture in Japan, where they were bred to hunt large animals, such as bear and elk. They are known for being strong, proud dogs, and it was perhaps these qualitiesthat made them favourites among shoguns, samurais, and royalty during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Did you know: Helen Keller was the first person to bring an Akita to the United States, after one was gifted to her from the people of Japan following one of her visits to the country?

NICHOLAS II8) NICHOLAS II AND HIS BESTFRIEND, IMAN THE COLLIE

The last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, ruled from 1894 until the end of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. One of his favourite activities as a teenager was walking through the park with his most-loved Collie, Iman. A close friend even once said that the tsar wasn’t an affectionate man, except when it came to his family and his dogs.

That same friend described Nicholas as being inconsolable and crying for days when Iman died. After that, the tsar still kept about 12 collies, but Iman always held a special place in Nicholas’ heart, and he never again had a favourite four-legged companion.

EDWARD VII9) EDWARD VII’S FAVOURITE FOX TERRIER, CAESAR

Edward VII was the son of Queen Victoria, so you won’t be surprised to learn that he was also a devoted dog lover. One of his preferred breeds was the Fox Terrier, and his dog, Caesar, was so beloved that the pup would even accompany the King on international trips.

Nobody could possibly mistake the affection Edward had for his dog, since Caesar wore a collar announcing “I belong to the King.” At one point, the King commissioned Fabergé to create a likeness of Caesar in crystal, complete with a replica of the inscribed collar.

When Edward died, Caesar was part of the funeral procession, walking behind the coffin. And when they were designing the statue of the King for his tomb at St George’s Chapel, they were sure to include a life-sized statue of Caesar lying at his feet.

Terriers weren’t the only dogs in that royal household, however, and other family dogs included Poodles, Japanese Chins, and Tibetan Spaniels.

A love for dogs ran in the Romanov family, and Nicholas II’s cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, was particularly fond of Borzois, which he bred at his estate and used as hunting dogs. The Borzoi was originally bred to hunt wolves in Russia, but these large dogs are gentle creatures known for their intelligence, independence, and athletic grace. These pups became so popular among the tsars and nobles of Russia that the only way to get your hands on a Borzoi was to have a tsar gift you one.

Interesting fact: The Borzoi’s association with nobility and the tsars made the breed a target during the Russian Revolution, and many of the dogs died at the hands of angry revolutionaries. Some were smuggled out to Germany, and a few made their way to the U.S. before the world wars.

Queen Elizabeth II10) QUEEN ELIZABETH’S FAMOUS CORGIS

Of course, no list of royal dogs would be complete without mentioning Queen Elizabeth II and her Corgis. Before Queen Elizabeth made the Corgi an icon of British royalty, Corgis were favoured as herding dogs, but they’re also excellent family dogs and watchdogs thanks to their loving yet fearless demeanours.

The Queen got her first Corgi in 1933, when she was still a princess. The dog, Dookie, was a gift from her father to the family, but it was love at first sight for Princess Elizabeth.

Several years later, Elizabeth got a Corgi of her very own on her 18th birthday. That dog, whose name was Susan, was the Queen’s faithful companion for 15 years, and their friendship started a love affair that lasted a lifetime. All told, the Queen had more than 30 Corgis in her life, and almost every one of them was a descendant of Susan.

When the Queen died in September of 2022, she still had two Corgis. They were given to the Queen by Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, who are now looking after the royal pups.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS FROM THE MODERN BRITISH MONARCHY

Many current members of the British royal family have their own personal preferences when it comes to pups. Let’s have a look at what four-legged friends are the favourites among the dukes, duchesses, princes, and princesses — and the new king!

  • King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, have been devoted Jack Russell Terrier parents for many years. They’ve had several of the pups over the years who were often in the news with the then Prince of Wales, and today, the couple has two Jack Russell Terriers named Beth and Bluebell.
  • The Prince and Princess of Wales, aka Prince William and Kate Middleton, area Cocker Spaniel family! They adopted Lupo back in 2011, who sadly passed away in 2020, but they now have a black Cocker Spaniel named Orla.
  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, haven’t yet settled on a favourite Fidobreed, but they’re definitely a dog family. They currently have a Beagle named Guy and a black Labrador Retriever named Pula.
  • The Princess Royal, aka Princess Anne, the King’s sister, is famous for her love of English Bull Terriers.
  • Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, the nieces of the King, are proud pup parents of a pack of four Norfolk Terriers, Jack, Cici, Teddy, and Ginger.