Royal Dogs

Dogs have played an important role in role in the public and private lives in The Royal Family. This is reflected in a large amount of items in the Royal Collection that feature dogs. From Van Dyck's portraits of Charles I with King Charles Cavalier Spaniels to Edwin Landseer's paintings of Queen Victoria's beloved dog Dash - The Royal Family's love of dogs has long been evident.

Read the full story of Royal dogs in the Royal Collection Trust's Book 'Noble Hounds and Dear Companions', which is available to read free online or select from the menu to find out more about some Royal dogs throughout history.

Utilising the Royal Photograph Collection, Noble Hounds shows how dogs have played an important role in the life of The Royal Family, as well as highlighting how canine fashions have been led by their choices, and how animal welfare in general has benefited from their love of dogs.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria was a dog lover from an early age. For her 17th birthday a portrait of Dash, her beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was given to her as a gift from her mother, The Duchess of Kent. 

When Dash died in 1840, he was buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle with the epitaph:

His attachment was without selfishness,

His playfulness without malice,

His fidelity without deceit,

READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.

Queen Victoria married fellow dog lover Prince Albert in 1840. He arrived in England for his wedding with the greyhound Eos - who also joined them on their honeymoon.

During the 1840s a new type of dog arrived from Coburg, Germany - the dachshund. Deckel the dachshund arrived in England in 1845 and became the first dachshund to hold a strong place in The Queen's affections.

However, it was Waldman VI (centre of the photo below) who became known as 'the very favourite dachshund of Queen Victoria'.

Waldman the dachshund

In the 1860s and 70s, Queen Victoria became fond of smooth haired Collies - she owned 88 in her lifetime. There are many photographs showing Queen Victoria with her favourite Collie, Sharp. The photo below became a 'carte-de-visite' which was widely published and sold to the public like a postcard. 

On the 3rd April 1866, The Queen wrote in her journal, 'I was photographed alone with my faithful Sharp.'

Queen Victoria with Sharp in 1866

After ascending to the throne in 1837, The Queen became the RSPCA Patron and in 1885 Battersea Dogs Home Patron. Prince Leopold, The Queen's son, also adopted a fox terrier called Skippy from Battersea Dogs home.

Edward VII and Queen Alexandra

When he was the The Prince of Wales, Edward VII preferred terriers, but he acquired numerous other types of dogs throughout his life. In 1886, he was given a Samoyed by the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Edward VII with his Samoyed

The King's favourite dog was Irish Terrier Jack, who suddenly died during a visit to Ireland in 1903. His epitaph reads:

"Here lies Jack, King Edward's favourite Irish Terrier who only lived twelve hours after reaching his native land. He died at Viceregal Lodge on July 21 1903."

Edward VII's most famous dog was terrier Caesar, who went onto accompany The King everywhere - including meetings with politicians. After The King's death in 1910 Caesar very poignantly walked behind the coffin of his dead master.

Caesar walks behind King Edward VII's coffin

Edward VII's wife, Queen Alexandra also loved dogs. Although she often chose small breeds, she became well known for keeping Borzoi's.

The first Borzoi's in the Royal Family were probably the pair Vassilka and Alex, who were presented by Tsar Alexander III of Russia.

Queen Alexandra with her Borzoi, Alex

Following the death of King Edward VII in 1910, the Sandringham kennels remained under the care and guidance of Queen Alexandra.

George V and Queen Mary

King George V had five dogs during his reign that were his personal pets. His first was collie, Heather, who is featured in the photograph below.

George V and Queen Mary with their collie, Heather

The photograph was taken at St James's Palace and also features Queen Mary, which was unusual and it wasn't common to find such large dogs indoor at this time.

Following Heather's death, the King acquired Happy – the first of the four terriers he was to own; Jack, Snip and Bob.

George VI and Queen Elizabeth

King George VI owned a number of Labradors as gun dogs and pets. He was particularly fond of yellow Labradors, which were still relatively uncommon in the early twentieth century.

George, when The Duke of York, acquired the first Royal corgi, Dookie, in 1933. Shortly after Dookie, a second Corgi, Jane, arrived. Jane had two puppies in 1938: Crackers and Carol. Crackers lived to be almost 14 and was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

George VI with a Corgi

The photo above was taken as part of George VI's and The Queen Mother's silver wedding anniversary celebrations.

Elizabeth II

For her eighteenth birthday in 1944, the then Princess Elizabeth was given Susan the corgi. All subsequent corgis bred by The Queen have been descended from Susan.

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with a Corgi

As well as her love of corgis, The Queen has also bred 'dorgis' - a cross between dachshund and corgis. Her Majesty was photographed with her Corgis and Dorgis by Annie Leibowitz as part of her 90th Birthday Celebrations in 2016.

The Queen with her Corgis and Dorgis

Charities

Many members of The Royal Family are Patrons or Presidents of dog and animal charities and regularly support them. 

You can find a full list of The Royal Family's charities and patronages here.

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