Dogs have been connected to royals throughout history. While Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is known today as a famous dog lover, kings and queens have always had their favorite canine companions. Here’s a look at some of the dogs remembered today for their place in history.

Ancient times

The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to celebrate the dog. There are paintings of hunting dogs similar to Pharaoh Hounds, Ibizan Hounds, and other similar breeds in many royal tombs dating back thousands of years. The Egyptians also favored the fast, graceful Saluki for desert hunting and paintings of these dogs can be seen on the walls of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Favorite dogs were often mummified to accompany their owners into the afterlife.

In China, there were several breeds considered to be “royal” dogs over the millennia. One of these royal dog breeds was the Pekingese. The breed is over 2000 years old. The dogs were carefully bred and guarded in the Imperial Palace and only people within the royal circle could own one. A number of Chinese breeds, including the Pekingese, were unknown in the West until the 19th and 20th centuries because they had been so closely guarded.

Europe and the UK

Europe has many stories of famous royal dogs. Some of the most famous are the Pugs that belonged to William of Orange. Prince William of Orange (in the Netherlands) had his life saved when his Pug named Pompey alerted him to the approach of assassins in 1572. Thereafter, Pugs were often associated with the family. A Pug traveled with his descendant, William III, when he left the Netherlands to become King of England in 1688.

Pugs were also popular in France in the 19th century. The Empress Josephine had her Pug named Fortune carry concealed messages to Napoleon when she was imprisoned before their marriage. Later in the 19th century, Queen Victoria of England bred her own Pugs. Her involvement with the breed, and with other breeds, helped launch Britain’s Kennel Club. Victoria was so passionate about dogs and such a devoted dog breeder, that she helped develop a number of breeds we have today. For instance, she was instrumental in developing the Pomeranian as we know the breed now. Victoria was also responsible for making Collies and other Scottish breeds popular.

The royal Stuart family of Britain had a number of devoted dogs. One of the most famous was the dog Boye. Boye was the companion of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of Charles I, and one of his most dashing and accomplished military commanders during the English Civil War. Boye, a white Poodle that Prince Rupert used for hunting, often accompanied the prince into battle. Enemies of Prince Rupert and his dog alleged that Boye had supernatural powers. Prince Rupert received the dog while he was imprisoned during the Thirty Years’ War to keep him company. Boye accompanied Prince Rupert from 1642 to 1644 when he died at the Battle of Marston Moor. While he lived, Boye was a symbol of the Royalist cause and much-loved.

Mary Queen of Scots was also an animal lover. After she was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle in February 1587, it was discovered that her small Terrier had been hiding inside the folds of her gown. The dog refused to leave the side of his dead mistress.

One of the great dog lovers among British monarchs was King Charles II. He was famous for the small spaniels that always surrounded him – King Charles Spaniels or English Toy Spaniels. A different breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, are probably named after his father, Charles I, who was also a dog lover.

Some breeds could only be owned by royals and nobles. The Scottish Deerhound – a Greyhound-type dog with a harsh coat for protection from the elements – could only be owned by people of the nobility in Scotland at one time. They are known as the Royal Dog of Scotland.

Today

Today Queen Elizabeth II is known for her beloved Corgis. She is said to have 10 dogs: four Corgis and three Dorgis (a cross between Corgis and Dachshunds). She also cares for three Corgis that belonged to her late mother, the Queen Mother. According to a recent news story, one of the Queen’s Corgi’s nearly took the ear off Princess Beatrice’s Norfolk Terrier, Max, at Balmoral during a vacation.

There’s also Kate and William’s dog Lupo. Lupo is a black Cocker Spaniel. There are American and English Cocker Spaniels though they used to be a single breed. Lupo is what Americans would call an “English” Cocker, though he’s simply a Cocker Spaniel in Britain.

You can see that not only are dogs man’s best friend, but they’re often a king or queen’s best friend.

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