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Home Dog BreedsOverview of Dog Breeds Royal Dogs: An Overview of Breeds Cherished by Monarchs

Royal Dogs: An Overview of Breeds Cherished by Monarchs

by Kimberley Lehman

Ever wondered what kind of furry friends roamed the lavish halls of ancient castles and palaces? Well, it turns out that royalty has always had a thing for dogs, just like the rest of us. From the majestic Great Danes to the elegant Afghan Hounds, kings and queens have favored certain dog breeds throughout history.

I’ve always been fascinated by the connection between certain dog breeds and their noble human companions. It’s not just about the luxury or the pedigree; it’s about the bond that transcends social status. Let’s dive into the world of dog breeds that have enjoyed the privilege of royal ownership, uncovering some intriguing stories along the way.

Ancient Dog Breeds with Royal Roots

Diving deep into the history of dog breeds, I’ve uncovered a fascinating connection between several ancient breeds and their noble human counterparts. One can’t help but marvel at how these magnificent creatures have stood by the side of royalty, their loyalty transcending time and social status.

Among the most noteworthy is the Saluki, often cited as one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. This graceful hound was highly esteemed in ancient Egypt, where they weren’t just pets but revered animals. It’s intriguing to think about how Pharaohs and royal figures cherished these dogs, embedding them in their art and history as symbols of nobility and grace. The connection between the Saluki and royalty is undeniable, showcasing a bond that has lasted through millennia.

The Greyhound, another ancient breed, shares a similar storied past. Renowned for their speed and elegance, Greyhounds were the breed of choice for many noble families in Europe. They were so valued that laws were once enacted, stipulating that only nobility could own them. This exclusivity highlights the esteem in which these dogs were held, considered not just pets but symbols of wealth and status.

In the far reaches of the East, the Pekingese holds a special place in the hearts of Chinese Emperors and their courts. These small, yet formidable dogs, were believed to bring good fortune and were exclusively owned by imperial families. They lived lavish lifestyles, often having their own servants. The Pekingese’s royal roots are a testament to their importance in Chinese history, embodying the luxury and opulence of the Imperial court.

Let’s not overlook the Shih Tzu, another breed with a royal Chinese heritage. Like the Pekingese, Shih Tzus were bred to be companions to royalty, often referred to as the “lion dog” for their resemblance to Chinese guardian lion statues. This breed’s connection to Chinese emperors is a vivid reminder of the luxury and prestige associated with ancient royal courts.

The Classic Corgis: Beloved by British Royalty

When I first learned about the strong connection between corgis and the British royal family, I was instantly intrigued. Queen Elizabeth II’s affection for Pembroke Welsh Corgis is perhaps the most well-documented and enduring example of dogs’ historical ties to royal families. This bond goes beyond mere preference; it’s a profound love story between a monarch and her dogs, spanning over seven decades.

The origin of the Queen’s relationship with corgis dates back to her childhood. Her first corgi, Dookie, was a family pet when she was just a young girl. But the one that truly began her personal journey with the breed was Susan, a corgi given to her on her 18th birthday. Susan was so cherished by the Queen that she even accompanied Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their honeymoon. Now, that’s what I call royal treatment!

Throughout her reign, the Queen has owned more than 30 corgis, most of them direct descendants of Susan. It’s fascinating to consider how these small dogs became such a significant part of royal history. To me, it highlights the depth of the relationship between the royals and their pets — not as mere animals, but as beloved family members.

What makes corgis so special, especially to someone of such high stature as the Queen? Perhaps it’s their Energetic and Affectionate Nature or their Sturdy Build and Intelligence, making them excellent companions. Despite their short legs, corgis are incredibly agile and were originally bred for herding sheep and cattle. Their loyalty and protective instincts might have contributed to their appeal for royal duties.

Interestingly, the Queen’s passion for this breed has put them in the spotlight, leading to a surge in their popularity across the United Kingdom. It’s not just their royal connections; corgis are truly charming creatures, known for their spirited personality and expressive faces.

This deep affection for corgis showcases a softer side of the monarchy, presenting a picture of the Queen not just as a sovereign but as a passionate dog lover. Her dedication to her pets, including ensuring their lineage continued for generations, speaks volumes about her character and the special place these dogs hold in the history of British royalty.

The Regal Pomeranians: Tiny Dogs with a Big Royal Following

When I dive into the history of Pomeranians, it’s clear the allure of these fluffy, tiny dogs isn’t just a modern phenomenon. Pomeranians have a rich history of gracing palaces and warming the laps of royalty. In the 18th century, they were the darlings of nobility across Europe, but it was Queen Victoria of England who truly catapulted the Pomeranian to royal status.

Queen Victoria wasn’t just a mere enthusiast of the breed; her passion for Pomeranians was well-documented. It’s said that her fondness for these petite dogs inspired a miniaturization of the breed. Before her influence, Pomeranians were larger, but Queen Victoria preferred them small, and thus the trend for tinier Poms was born. One of her most beloved Pomeranians, Marco, weighed only 12 pounds, a stark contrast to the breed’s earlier standard of around 20 pounds. This shift in breed preference marked the start of the Pomeranian’s evolution into the petite, fluffy companions we adore today.

Beyond Queen Victoria, other royals also shared a penchant for Pomeranians. Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, is said to have owned several, using them as messengers between her and her husband while she was confined. The Empress’s Pomeranians, however, were likely closer to the breed’s original size before Queen Victoria’s influence.

Pomeranians are not just prized for their royal connections; they are also celebrated for their spirited, intelligent, and loyal nature. Despite their small size, they possess a bold and confident personality, often unaware of their diminutive stature. This fearless approach to life, combined with their alertness, makes them excellent watchdogs. Furthermore, their adorable fluffy appearance and wide range of coat colors add to their appeal, making them a favorite among both royals and the common folk alike.

The Graceful Afghan Hounds: Stars of the Royal Court

When I think about Afghan Hounds, the first image that comes to my mind is their elegance. It’s almost as if they carry their own royal decree without saying a word. Their long, silky hair and proud posture have not only won dog shows around the world but also the hearts of royalty throughout history. Afghan Hounds have a unique blend of dignity and aloofness that sets them apart, making them a prestigious choice for nobles and kings.

Afghan Hounds aren’t just beautiful; they come with a rich history that’s as fascinating as their appearance. Originating from the mountains of Afghanistan, they were bred by nomadic tribes for hunting large prey due to their incredible speed, agility, and keen sight. Their noble lineage, however, isn’t just a factor of their hunting capabilities. It’s their regal bearing that has made them favorites among the upper echelons of society. Stories tell of Afghan Hounds lounging in the lavish gardens and ornate halls of ancient royal courts, admired for their beauty and cherished as companions of the elite.

Transitioning from the rugged terrains of Afghanistan to the opulent palaces of Europe, Afghan Hounds quickly became a symbol of status and luxury. They were, and still are, a breed that commands attention. Their gait is akin to a model strutting down the runway, full of grace and confidence. I’ve always found it captivating how a dog breed can encapsulate so much history and luxury in its demeanor.

One remarkable story that always stands out to me is about Zardin, a particularly famous Afghan Hound that won the hearts of the British public in the early 20th century. Zardin was presented at a dog show in England and was so unlike anything people had seen before that he became an instant sensation. He’s credited with establishing the breed in the West, introducing these ‘oriental wonders’ to a new audience and cementing their place among the most desirable breeds for dog connoisseurs and royalty alike.

Great Danes: Majestic Companions of European Monarchs

I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer presence Great Danes command. Their towering size combined with a gentle demeanor has made them an emblem of both strength and grace among European nobility. It’s no secret that Great Danes, often referred to as the “Apollo of Dogs,” have been favored by monarchs across Europe for centuries. Their majestic appearance and loyal nature made them not just pets, but symbols of royal status and power.

Historically, Great Danes served a dual purpose in royal courts: they were both imposing guardians and cherished companions. German nobility, in particular, were keen on raising these gentle giants. It’s interesting how the breed, despite its name, is deeply rooted in German history. They were bred for hunting wild boar and deer, a testament to their strength and agility. Yet, their roles evolved as monarchies did, transitioning from fearless hunters to regal companions.

One of the most notable royal admirers of Great Danes was King Frederick of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. He was so enamored with his Great Danes that he was often seen accompanied by them in public and in the privacy of his royal chambers. Frederick’s affection for his dogs was so profound that he requested to be buried alongside his favorite Dane, signalling the deep bond he shared with his pets.

In the 19th century, Great Danes became even more prominent among European aristocracy. They were no longer just the companions of kings and queens but started featuring prominently in royal art and photography, further cementing their status as a breed of nobility and elegance. The breed’s regal bearing and calm temperament made them ideal subjects, exuding dignity in every portrait.

Royal families across Europe, including the British and Russian monarchs, kept Great Danes. They were often seen parading these majestic animals during official functions, showcasing their wealth and stature. The dogs, in turn, were treated to a life of luxury, often having their own dedicated servants and lavish quarters.


Diving into the world of dogs with royal connections has been a fascinating journey. I’ve loved discovering how breeds like the Saluki, Greyhound, and the ever-charming Corgi have held places of honor in the hearts of monarchs across the globe. It’s clear that these dogs were more than just pets; they were symbols of power, luxury, and even companionship in the highest echelons of society. From the opulent courts of ancient civilizations to the more familiar backdrop of the British royal family, each breed’s unique qualities have made them beloved by kings and queens throughout history. This exploration has not only highlighted the timeless bond between humans and their canine friends but also reminded me that dogs, regardless of their pedigree, bring joy and love into our lives. They may have been the favorites of royals, but in the end, they play the same cherished role in the lives of many around the world.


Kimberley Lehman

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