This jubilee weekend, we wanted to spotlight a few dog breeds with connections to royalty! Some of these are pretty common knowledge – but others may surprise you. Read on to find out if your dog is posher than you know!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
I’m sure it’s no surprise, given the name, that the Cavalier King Charles has a royal heritage – with dogs of this type originally appearing in England in paintings alongside Queen Mary I and King Philip, before becoming famous due to their association with King Charles II. What may be less well-known is how and why the breed diverged from the similar – but separate – King Charles Spaniel. The popular toy spaniels of the time were crossbred with the trendy Pug in the 17th century, creating the flat-nosed look associated with the King Charles Spaniel. In the 1920s, breeders set out to recreate the original, longer-nosed breed resembling Charles II’s spaniels of the Restoration! Supporters of Charles I and II at the time were known as Cavaliers, hence the name!
This royal connection may come as a bit more of a surprise, but Labrador Retrievers were a big favourite with King George IV! He was so fond of them that he actually bred them. The Labrador was developed in the UK from fishing dogs imported from Newfoundland by British noblemen at the time, so these common dogs had friends in high places from the beginning! Today, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has a black Labrador named Pula!
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Probably the first dog to spring to mind when thinking of breeds associated with British royalty, this iconic breed has been seen alongside our Queen Elizabeth II for years. The family’s first Corgi was adopted by the Queen’s father, King George IV, in 1933 and the Queen herself has owned more than 30 of these delightful dogs since 1945! Did you know that, according to Welsh lore, these stout little dogs were once war horses for fairies before taking up their role as herding dogs for humans?!
Developed in France from what were originally Spanish water dogs, the Bichon Frise is another easily-recognisable lap dog with a rich royal history. Travelling the continents alongside Italian sailors, they soon became associated with European royalty in the 13th century, when they entered the royal courts of France, Italy and Spain. Did you know that there are four types of “bichon” – the Havanese, the Bolognese, the Maltese and the modern day Bichon Frise (also known as the Tenerife).
Another French breed – often known as the “Patou” in its native country – is a livestock guardian breed developed in the Pyrenees Mountains separating France and Spain. Despite similar appearances, this breed is distinct from the Pyrenean Mastiff which originates from the Spanish side of the mountains! Brought to the court of King Louis XIV by Madame de Maintenon and Louis, Dauphin of France, this breed was eventually named the Royal Dog of France by Louis himself!
Descendants of a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, this little dog originates from Tibet as has strong associations with Buddhism and its mythology. “Shih Tzu” in Mandarin translates to “lion,” a sacred animal in the Buddhist religion. In fact, many palace doors, tombs and temples are guarded by a pair of stone lions or lion dogs, often called “Fu Dogs,” and some suggest these are the lionised form of the Shih Tzu! These dogs were so popular and valued by Chinese royalty that, for years, they refused to sell or give any of them away.