Dogs and Royalty
By Julie Hill
Queen Elizabeth II of England loves dogs, and felt that if she had not been
born to be queen she would have liked, "to be a lady living in the country
with lots of horses and dogs". The close relationship between powerful
rulers and dogs is not a recent development though.
Chihuahuas were associated with the ancient royals of the Aztecs, King Arthur
favoured hunting dogs, King John in the 13th century had Otterhounds, and William
the Conqueror introduced Bloodhounds to Britain.
The much married Henry VIII had more success with dogs than wives it seems.
He introduced the Maltese Terrier to England, as well as enjoying coursing stags
with Greyhounds, and appreciating the company of Cocker Spaniels. It has to
be said that dogs have returned the devotion of the monarchs who loved them.
After Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, a Skye Terrier was found hiding in her
skirts, and had to be dragged away from his mistress.
King Charles II of England adored the breed named after him. His favourite
spaniel gave birth to a litter of puppies in her royal master's bed. Such was
his enthusiasm for his dogs that he passed a law that the Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel was not to be denied entry anywhere in the land. This law has never
been repealed, and it would be interesting to put it to the test!
Queen Victoria boosted many dog breeds. She encountered the Border Collie in
1871 at Balmoral Castle, and being attracted by their "beauty spirit and
devotion" she welcomed them into her royal kennel. She saw Pomeranians
in Florence, and brought them back to Britain. Prince Albert introduced his
wife to the Dachshund breed, and amongst others, the queen was given Japanese
Chins from Japan where they had a long history of association with royalty,
and China sent Chow Chows as a present.
Pugs were introduced to England by William III, and also beloved by George
III and Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor.
The King of Thailand has written a book about his favorite dog, crossbreed
Copper. Modern British Royalty still love their dogs too, Queen Elizabeth is
Patron of the Kennel Club. The queen is renowned for her corgis, but also favours
Labradors and spaniels. The late Princess Margaret liked Sealyams and Dachshunds.
The occasioinal meeting between Corgis and Dachshund lead to the crossbreed
dubbed Dorgis! The Labrador is a favourite dog amongst all the modern British
royals, with Jack Russell Terriers also admired. Princess Anne owns Greyhounds,
Bloodhounds, Clumber Spaniel and her infamous Bull Terriers.
You can see that if you like dogs you are in good company. Maybe these powerful
people enjoy the company of dogs because they relate to you as you are, not
being swayed by money or position. It must be comforting to know that when a
dog wags his tail or gives you a lick he genuinely loves you - but then I guess
that is the enjoyment we all get from our dogs.