Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (2023)

Dogs have long held a unique bond with humans, and they have been popular pets of royalty in countries around the world for thousands of years. While we are all familiar with the Queen of England’s love of corgis, there are other breeds that have frequented the royal courts throughout the ages, some of which may surprise you.


Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (1)

Known as the “Royal Dog of Egypt,” the saluki is one of the oldest living dog breeds with carvings of the dogs appearing in Sumerian tombs from as far back as 7000 B.C. These stunning hunting dogs were highly regarded by Ancient Egyptian royalty for their grace, beauty, stamina, and speed. So much so that engravings depicting the breed have been found in tombs dating back over 2000 years, and some were even mummified with their masters, which was considered a great honor.

The most famous of all Egyptian rulers, Tutankhamen, has been portrayed in many images hunting with his beloved salukis. Brought to Europe in the 12th century during the crusades, they were introduced to America in the early part of the 20th century.

(Video) Where Every Dog Breed Came From

Shih Tzu

Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (2)

The characterful little shih tzu can trace its roots back through Chinese history, and these canine aristocrats were regarded as the “holy pet of the palace.” Thought to have been bred by Tibetan monks and given as gifts to the emperors of China, they were highly revered for their lion-like features, as Buddha was said to have ridden on the back of a lion.

During the Ming and Manchu dynasties, anyone found owning one of these dogs outside the imperial court was sentenced to death. Used as bed warmers, these imperial dogs really came to prominence in the late 19th century when Empress Tzu Hsi was presented with a pair of exceptional breeding shih tzus by the Dalai Lama. Her breeding program produced the modern-day dogs, and many of the offspring of this pair were given as gifts to Dutch and English nobility.

The first shih tzu arrived in the US in the 1930s. Popular but not found as often in royal circles anymore, the shih tzu is still a popular choice with celebrities. Mariah Carey, Bill Gates, and Beyonce all own one of these delightful little dogs.

King Charles Spaniel

Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (3)

While some breeds like the Staffordshire bull terrier are synonymous with the working classes, the King Charles spaniel, also known as the English toy spaniel, has been associated with kings and queens for hundreds of years. Thought to have originated in the Far East, toy spaniels were extremely popular during the reign of the Tudors, with Henry VIII and both his daughters keeping a number of these small lapdogs. However, they got their name from Charles II, who was never seen without his canine companions and was accused of caring more about his precious dogs than the kingdom he ruled.


Called comfort dogs, spaniels were used both as feet warmers in cold medieval castles and as flea magnets being placed in royal beds to be bitten instead of their owners. Their popularity with royalty continued, Queen Victoria's first dog was a King Charles spaniel named Dash, and the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nickolaevna of Russia also owned one of these gentle companion dogs, as did the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.


Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (4)

No portrait of the French court back in the day was complete without dogs; they were the ultimate fashion accessory and, along with the Great Pyrenees, pugs, spaniels, and Maltese, poodles became a popular choice. Kings Louis XIV and Louis XVI were both fond of the breed. In fact, the “Sun King” as Louis the XIV was known, had a Poodle called Filou who is remembered to this day.

These hordes of pampered pooches were not trained and had the run of the apartments and private chambers at Versailles, so despite the incredible beauty of the palace, the smell was probably not great. Although the dogs originated in Germany, the French loved the poodle so much it became their national dog. The breed’s regal air and considerable intelligence still make it a popular choice among upper-class dog owners today.


Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (5)

An ancient breed dating as far back as 400 B.C., the pug is thought to have originated in China. The Dutch East India Company brought these dogs to Holland in the 1500s, where they became popular during the reign of William, Prince of Orange. A pug purportedly saved his life in 1572 by alerting him of an assassination attempt, which led to the snub-nosed little pug becoming the official dog of the House of Orange.

(Video) 20 Most Ancient Dog Breeds on Planet Earth

One hundred years later, they were brought to Britain when William II ascended the throne in England and became popular with the royalty and nobility of the era. They were also common in French royal circles: Queen Marie-Antoinette and the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte were both pug owners.

Bichon Frise

Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (6)

In the 1300s, the fluffy white bichon frise was discovered on the Island of Tenerife by Italian sailors who brought the little dogs back home. They became a favorite of Italian royalty and later also rose to popularity in France. King Henry III loved his bichon frise so much that he had a special basket made for his pet, which he carried around with him at all times. These cute little canines were also popular with Spanish royalty, and many are depicted in paintings of Goya the 18th-century court artist.


Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (7)

At one time, only royalty were allowed to own these little dogs. They were considered sacred and were popular companions in the Imperial Palace of Peking. Like the shih tzu, they are known as “lion dogs” because of their resemblance to the Chinese guardian lions.

During the “opium wars” of the 19th century, five were brought to the UK and given as gifts to the aristocracy, with one being presented to Queen Victoria. She was christened Looty and lived a life of luxury at Windsor Castle until her death in 1872.

(Video) These Are 10 Real Royal Dog Breeds


Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (8)

There is evidence that these elegant sighthounds were used for hunting by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. The breed has been a favourite of the aristocracy for centuries, so much so that during the Middle Ages when King Canute of England established the forest laws, only the nobility were allowed to own this breed—causing the death of one of these prize hounds was punishable by death.

The breed features prominently in the heraldry of the time and at one point over 400 noble families in France had a greyhound on their coat of arms. The Tudors were especially fond of these noble creatures, with Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I owning a number of hounds. King James I was also a huge fan of greyhound coursing and had a large pack of hounds. Perhaps one of the most famous royal greyhounds was Eos, who belonged to Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. A life-size bronze statue stands to this day at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Dog Breeds and Royalty: A History (9)

The short-legged Pembroke Welsh corgi has the honor of being much loved by the monarchy. King George VI bought a dog called Dookie for his daughters in 1933 and the breed has been in residence at Buckingham Palace ever since. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II has owned over 30 corgis and a number of dorgis (corgi-dachshund crosses) during her reign, most descended from her first one, Susan.

She currently has two corgis named Holly and Willow, along with two dorgis called Candy and Vulcan. Her Majesty also breeds and trains black Labradors and cocker spaniels at her Sandringham estate.

(Video) These Are 10 Most Ancient Dog Breeds

Seven Fascinating Facts About the Royal Corgis

  1. During the 1980s, the Queen owned 13 corgis at one time and they were described by Princess Diana as “the moving carpet.”
  2. The dog that appeared in the 2012 opening ceremony of the Olympics in the James Bond sketch was called Monty, and he is now buried at Balmoral.
  3. You should not be surprised to learn the royal pooches enjoy an impressive diet. Their meals include steak fillets, rabbit, and organic chicken with rice, prepared by the palace chef.
  4. The Queen takes a stroll around the grounds of Buckingham Palace every day after lunch with her four-legged friends.
  5. It is believed the Queen makes up a stocking for each of her dogs every Christmas.
  6. They have their own quarters in the palace called the Corgi Room, where they sleep on raised wicker beds.
  7. In 1991, the Queen received three stitches in her hand after breaking up a scuffle between her pack of 10 corgis.

Whether a commoner or royalty, one thing is for certain: the special relationship between dog and owner is something that has been appreciated for thousands of years and is why, whatever the breed, dogs really are man's best friend.

Author Bio:John Devlin

Owner -

Husband, father, and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George, a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However cute this sounds, a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice.


What dog could only be owned by royalty? ›

Pekingese. An ancient Chinese breed that was owned exclusively by royalty (the penalty for stealing a Pekingese was death), the Pekingese has appeared in Chinese art and history throughout the ages, beginning with the Tang Dynasty of the 8 century.

Which dog breed was made famous through association with royal families? ›

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

During Tudor times, they were popular with aristocratic ladies, who used them as flea catchers and hot water bottles, as well as companions. As their name implies, the Cavalier was championed by King Charles I as well as Charles II and Mary Queen of Scots.

What was the Kings Favourite dog breed? ›

Following Queen Elizabeth II's death, the country saw a surge in the number of people purchasing Corgis, as the public searched for ways to keep alive some small connection to their beloved monarch.

What breed of dogs is loved by the queen? ›

Fond of corgis since she was a small child, Elizabeth II owned more than 30 corgis from her accession in 1952 until her death in 2022. She owned at least one corgi throughout the years 1933 to 2018.

Was a dog ever a king? ›

Such is the case of Saurr, a dog that served as the king of the Norwegian region of Drontheim in the 11th century. Eystein, a king of the Norwegian Uplands, instated Saurr as king after the recently conquered people of Dronthiem killed his son.

What is the king of all dogs? ›

Hungarian dog breeds – komondor, the king of dogs.

What is the most noble dog? ›

Akita. As the guard dog of Japanese royalty, the Akita is indeed a noble dog. Confident and intelligent, these dogs require an experienced trainer as they're known for their stubbornness as much as their loyalty.

What kind of dog is called King? ›

The King Shepherd is a combination of several possible breeds but must include the German Shepherd. Most often, they are blended with the Alaskan Malamute and/or Great Pyrenees, and some older lines trace back to the Akita. Even though they might have an intimidating size, they're affectionate and loving.

What was the first dog the queen had? ›

Royal life

For her eighteenth birthday in 1944, the King gave Princess Elizabeth a two-month-old Pembroke Corgi puppy with the registered name Hickathrift Pippa; she was called Sue, which became Susan.

What dog breed was created during Henry VIII reign? ›

The first Maltese came to England during the reign of Henry VIII. By the mid 1800s they were favorite lap dogs of the upper class, and they were one of the earliest breeds exhibited in dog shows. They were called Maltese Terriers at the time. The first Maltese came to America in the late 1800s.

What dogs guarded the Kings? ›

The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient dog breed that's changed little since their development more than 5,000 years ago. They were the dogs of kings and may have hunted gazelles with pharaohs, hence their name. This loyal hunting companion later made their way to Malta, where they're now the national dog.

What dogs did Knights have? ›

Many guardians were simply big dogs, but the most highly regarded were usually mastiffs (something like their modern descendants) or alaunts. Of Spanish origin, alaunts were large, active beasts built something like greyhounds, but heavier, with coarse heads, short muzzles and prick ears (possibly cropped).

What breed is Prince William's dog? ›

Prince William and Princess Kate own an adorable English Cocker Spaniel, while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle adopted a rescue Labrador when they relocated to the UK. Once the royals find a breed that they bond with, they will often make sure they've got one, or two or even five in some cases, next to them for life.

What is the most loyal dog? ›

Labrador Retriever

There's a reason Lucy is so loyal! "A great choice for families with young kids or other dogs, Labs get along with everyone and love their owners endlessly," Munden says. According to the AKC, they are the number one most popular breed and are as high in happy energy as they are loyal.

What breed of dog does Prince Charles have? ›

Prince Charles is a longtime owner of Jack Russell terriers, loving the breed for many years. As well as having them when he was growing up, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have two adorable rescue Jack Russell Terriers named Bluebell and Beth. King George VI owned a number of Labradors as gun dogs and pets.

Did royalty have dogs? ›

Whether it be King Charles II who was rumored to not go anywhere without a minimum of three spaniels or Queen Victoria who owned a whopping 88 smooth-haired Collies in her lifetime, royals certainly have a history of loving their dogs.

What is the most royal animal? ›

The Most Adorable Royal Pets, Ranked
  • Princess Anne's Dog. ...
  • The Queen's Swans. ...
  • Mike & Zara Tindall's Dogs. ...
  • The Queen's Corgis. ...
  • Princess Margaret's Spaniel. ...
  • Prince Charles' Yellow Lab. ...
  • Princess Michael of Kent's Cat. ...
  • The Cambridge Kids' Hamster, Marvin.
Sep 11, 2020

What is the most legendary dog? ›

1. Toto – Cairn Terrier. Undeniably the most famous dog in history is Toto. Toto, whose real name was Terry, was abandoned as a puppy.

Are there any dog gods? ›

Bau is depicted as a patron deity with a dog head. This ancient dog deity and goddess was worshiped by cults that revered dogs and gave dogs a high position of importance in their culture. Because dogs were considered divine entities, their importance was signified by their use in ceremonies and oath taking.

What is the ultimate family dog? ›

Family dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Irish Setters are playful and protective.
Find Labrador Retriever puppies on the AKC Marketplace and start shopping for everything you'll need.
  • Bulldog. ...
  • Golden Retriever. ...
  • Beagle. ...
  • Pug. ...
  • Irish Setter. ...
  • Brussels Griffon. ...
  • Newfoundland. ...
  • French Bulldog.

What is the #1 rarest dog? ›

Norwegian Lundehund

Dating back to the Ice Age, the Norwegian Lundehund is recognised as one of the rarest dog breeds on the planet due to its unique characteristics, which aren't shared by any other breed.

What is the most priceless dog? ›

1. Samoyed – $14,000. Coming in at the #1 overall spot for the most expensive dog in the world is the Samoyed originating from Siberia. The rare breed is known for its kind, loving, and eager to please attitude along with their smiling faces.

What is a mega dog? ›

DESCRIPTION. MEGADOG. The MEGADOG is a weapon designed to target monster sea bass and trophy largemouth bass. By pushing the potential of the Megabass walking masterpiece, the DOG-X, to the limit, MEGADOG deploys intense flashing appeal and surface disturbance to target large bass that chase big baitfish to the surface ...

What is a majestic dog? ›

Majestic Tree Hounds are large dogs that were developed in the United States to hunt such big game as mountain lions, bears, jaguars and bob cats. Also known as the Majestic Hound, this is a somewhat new breed of dog that was created by crossing large game hounds with various blood-trailing hounds.

What is a fairy dog? ›

The Faerie Dog (or Coin-Sith) is a mythological hound that can be found in Scotland and the Hebrides. Said to be the size of a young bull, the faerie dog has a wolf-like appearance.

Why did the Queen stop breeding corgis? ›

She reportedly decided to stop breeding corgis in 2015 so that none would be left behind when she died, but she received two as gifts from her son Andrew after her husband Prince Philip passed away. She's also credited with creating the Dorgi after breeding one of her dogs with Princess Margaret's daschund Pipkin.

How many dogs did Queen Elizabeth have when she died? ›

Queen Elizabeth leaves behind at least 4 dogs, what happens to them? The British monarch was known for her love of animals, and had a particular fondness for corgis. Elizabeth had at least four dogs under her care when she died on Thursday.

How many dogs has the Queen ever had? ›

At the time of her passing, Queen Elizabeth is reported to have had four dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, she had two Pembroke Welsh corgis, Muick and Sandy, as well as an older, mixed-breed "dorgi" called Candy.

What kind of dog did Anne Boleyn have? ›

Pourquoi was Anne Boleyn's lapdog. Some sources claim he was a Havanese, a dog breed that originated in Cuba, closely related to the Bichon. Havanese dogs are known to have a charming habit of tilting their heads in an inquisitive fashion, which may have been the root of Pourquoi name: For What? in French.

What kind of dog did Queen Elizabeth 1 have? ›

Stubby, fluffy little dogs with a high-pitched bark, corgis were the late queen's constant companions since she was a child. She owned nearly 30 throughout her life, and they enjoyed a life of privilege fit for a royal pet. Elizabeth's death last week has raised public concerns over who will care for her beloved dogs.

What breed was King Arthur's dog? ›

Nevertheless Cavall is recognized as being King Arthur's favorite hunting dog and his efforts in capturing Twrch Trwyth have been commemorated via the Wild Boar statue in Ammanford, Wales. In many accounts, Cavall is said to have been a molossus dog breed.

What was Pharaoh's dog? ›

The Pharaoh Hound or Kelb tal-Fenek is a Maltese breed of hunting dog. It is traditionally used for rabbit-hunting in the rocky terrain of the islands; the Maltese name means "rabbit dog".
Pharaoh Hound
Other namesMaltese: Kelb tal-Fenek
Traits Height males 56–64 cm females 53–61 cm
3 more rows

What was the Viking dog? ›

The Norwegian Buhund (Buhund) is a member of the Herding Group and a typical northern breed of the spitz type, with prick ears and a tightly curled tail. Although their exact origin hasn't been identified, they were known in Scandinavia even before the days of the Vikings.

What dogs did Samurai have? ›

From the 1500s into the 1800s, the Akita served as companions for samurai. In 1931, the Akita was officially declared a Japanese natural monument. The mayor of Odate City in Akita Prefecture organized the Akita Inu Hozonkai to preserve the original Akita as a Japanese natural treasure through careful breeding.

What dogs did Edward VIII have? ›

Caesar (1898–1914) was a Wire Fox Terrier owned by King Edward VII. He was bred in the kennels of Kathleen, Duchess of Newcastle, and became the constant companion of the King.
Caesar (dog)
A postcard featuring Caesar
BreedWire Fox Terrier
BornCaesar of Notts 1898
5 more rows

What is the world No 1 dog name? ›

The top ten list, in order by popularity for both male and female dogs combined, is: 1)“Bella” followed by; 2) “Luna;” 3) “Charlie;” 4) “Lucy;” 5) “Cooper;” 6) “Max;” 7) “Bailey;” 8) “Daisy;” 9) “Sadie,” and; 10) “Lola.”

What is the most loyal dog in history? ›

Hachikō (ハチ公, November 10, 1923 – March 8, 1935) was a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following Ueno's death. Faithfully waiting for the return of his deceased owner for more than nine years until his death.

What kind of dog is boss? ›

Boss dog Buddy (a Great Pyrenees/Bernese Mountain dog mix) was played by three lookalike dogs, but mainly Odin, the film's primary star. Odin was tasked with dying in the lap of Buddy's beloved owner Ethan (Dennis Quaid), which happens early in the film.

What dog is king of all dogs? ›

Hungarian dog breeds – komondor, the king of dogs.


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