Which dog breeds are popular with the royal family?

Like the rest of us, the British royal family loves their dogs. Once they find a breed that they bond with, they will often make sure they’ve got one – or four or five, in some cases – next to them for life.

Dogs provide comfort, companionship, amusement and diversion – qualities which are very welcome, we imagine, when you’re part of the royal family and certain things are expected from you.

“The reason the Queen likes her dogs so much is that she can relax with them,” noted her long-time senior adviser, the late Sir Martin Charteris. Switching off as a member of the royal family can’t be easy – but dogs are made to be a welcome distraction from all that’s going on in life.

In this article, we’ll look at some dogs favoured by the royal family, and find out a little bit more about their temperaments so you can decide if the breeds might be right for you, too.

And if you do decide to get a pup of your own, make sure you give it the royal treatment and protect it with pet insurance from the specialists at Purely Pets.

Queen Elizabeth’s corgis (and dorgis)

Everybody knows that Queen Elizabeth loves her corgis – although, later in life, she has taken a shine to dorgis (a dog that is half corgi, half dachshund).

There are pictures of the queen cuddling a corgi from when she was a young princess and it’s said that she’s owned over 30 dogs of that breed during her reign. It’s fair to say, her love for this breed is enduring and is unlikely to ever waiver.

In fact, it’s been reported that Her Majesty has been leaning on her two newest dorgis, Fergus and Muick, for emotional support following the death of her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"The Queen was left with only one dog at the end of [2020]. She had made the decision not to get anymore because she didn’t think it fair at her age," a royal source told the Mail on Sunday. "But it would be unthinkable for her not to have any. It’s like the Tower of London not having any ravens. The new puppies are adorable."

The dogs can expect a life fit for a royal. According to Brian Hoey in the 2013 book Pets by Royal Appointment, the Queen’s dogs enjoy a daily meal of fillet steak and chicken breast, hand delivered to them by a footman.

Corgi

What’s it like to own a Corgi?

If you’ve ever owned a corgi, you’ll already have a good idea why the Queen has made the breed a companion for life. As Country Living outlines, with the right training and attention, they make for fun-loving and loyal pets, with an intelligence which belies their small stature.

They are not particularly mild-mannered and like to make themselves heard, but as long as they are given enough daily exercise, they’re a real asset to any house – or palace!

From a pet insurance point of view, you have to be mindful of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a common health issue and genetically inherited disorder that hinders vision. This condition  develops when dogs are still very young so make sure your pup is protected as soon as possible.

Prince Charles and Camilla’s Jack Russell terriers

The Duchess of Cornwall loves her animals, and has taken over Patronage of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home from the Queen. It is from this very rescue centre that she got her two beloved Jack Russell terriers, Beth and Bluebell.

After a difficult start to life, the two dogs are now said to be thriving. But it could all have been very different without Battersea’s intervention, Camilla told the BBC.

"They found Bluebell two or three weeks later wandering about in woods, no hair on her, covered in sores, virtually dead,” she explained. “And they nursed her back to life and her hair grew again. She's very sweet, but a tiny bit neurotic, shall we say."

Camilla has even been known to take the dogs along with her for official engagements – with the dogs stealing the show, as canines so often do!

But it’s not just the Duchess who loves Jack Russells – Prince Charles has a history with the breed, too. Unfortunately, it’s a history which is tinged with heartbreak.

In 1994, Charles’ cherished Jack Russell named Pooh went missing for several days during a family visit to Balmoral. Despite a reward, Pooh was never found, with it suggested that the Terrier might have got trapped down a rabbit hole.

Charles was gifted another Jack Russell named Tigga by Lady Salisbury which enjoyed a long and happy life, living to an incredible age of 18. Tigga posed alongside Princes Harry and William in official family Christmas cards, and was Charles’ constant companion.

Jack Russel

What’s it like to own a Jack Russell terrier?

The Jack Russell terrier is at its happiest when it has a job to do, dog food expert Hills explains. Small, smart and loud, these terriers were bred to control rats, pursuing them below ground. As a result, they love nothing more than a good game of fetch – in fact, they’ll chase anything that moves.

However, you can keep their manic energy in check by ensuring they get plenty of exercise, which is why they are best suited to a family which either has lots of garden space for them to roam in, or thinks nothing of getting out for an hour’s walk a day.

With pet insurance in mind, as a Jack Russell owner, you need to keep an eye out for conditions such as Patellar Luxation (the kneecap slipping out of place) and Primary Lens Luxation, which can cause blindness.

Princess Anne’s Bull terriers

Princess Anne’s dog ownership history is easily the most controversial among the royal family. It even landed her in court – the first time a senior royal had attended court for over 100 years!

The court appearance came after her Bull terrier, Dotty, attacked two children in Windsor Great Park in 2002. Thankfully, the two boys who the dog bit did not sustain serious injuries, but the Princess Royal was still convicted of a criminal offence.

It doesn’t end there. Little more than a year later, the same dog attacked one of the Queen's corgis during a family gathering for Christmas at Sandringham. Unfortunately, the injuries sustained by the corgi, Pharos, were serious enough that it had to be put down, reportedly leaving the Queen “devastated”, the BBC reported.

To avoid having Dotty put down, Anne is said to have sent the dog to an animal psychologist to try to change its aggressive tendencies.

What’s it like to own a Bull terrier?

While it’s true that Bull terriers have some aggressive tendencies, these can often be managed with adequate training, Hills suggests.

A strong and powerful dog breed, Bull Terriers can do some real damage if they are not given suitable training. But most of the time, they end up being gentle, affectionate and playful dogs – you just need to ensure that they are given plenty of opportunities to burn off excess energy.

This will also help keep them fit and healthy and stave off conditions they can be prone to including Lethal Acrodermatitis (a genetic disease that causes fatal skin and growth problems) and, once again, those kneecaps slipping out of place.

Remember that pet insurance can help you cover financial costs if your dog was to attack a third party. Ask the team at Purely Pets for more details.

Will and Kate’s English Cocker spaniels

The Cocker spaniel is William and Kate’s dog breed of choice. They got their first Cocker, Lupo, as a Christmas present from Kate’s parents in 2011, Vanity Fair reports. Although it was a little while before the dog’s name was to be made public knowledge, with the couple said to have wanted to maintain some privacy at this time. Kate eventually revealed the name, meaning Wolf, during a public engagement.

Lupo’s role within the family was a significant one, as it was he who ‘picked’ the name George when Kate was pregnant with the Prince in 2013. Unsure which name to choose for their first born, they scattered some pieces of paper on the floor, each with a name on it, with Lupo said to have gone straight for ‘George’.

Lupo has proven to be a great companion to all three of the couple’s young children. However, he sadly passed away in November 2020, aged 8.

It didn’t take long for the family to welcome a new four-legged companion into Kensington Palace. In fact, it’s been reported that they got their new puppy before Lupo passed away, as a gift from Kate’s brother James Middleton.

“It was hoped that the younger dog would give Lupo some company and give him a little bit more life and energy,” a source told The Mail on Sunday.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, but the arrival of the new puppy will undoubtedly have gone some way to filling the void left by Lupo.

Spaniel

What’s it like to own an English Cocker spaniel?

It’s not difficult to see why the Cocker spaniel has been such a hit with the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge, as it’s a dog breed which is especially good around children, with its playful, gentle nature.

Purina says that Cocker Spaniels are a “happy breed” and they are always looking for ways to please their owners, wagging their tails excitedly when they manage to achieve that!

The most difficult thing with a Cocker spaniel is to get them to sit still for five minutes – they have endless amounts of energy, and will need between an hour to two hours of exercise every day.

They tend to live to a good age of around 12 to 15 years, but owners need to be mindful about keeping on the right side of any health issues. One of the most common problems encountered in the breed is recurrent ear infections, due to their large ear flaps. Meanwhile, they can also suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, as well as hip dysplasia.

Harry and Meghan’s beagles and labradors

As in keeping with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex doing things a little differently than other members of the royal family, they’ve not kept to a single breed.

Meghan rescued Guy, a Beagle, before she got to know Harry. Once they got married, the couple welcomed a black Labrador named Pula – named after the currency of Botswana, the place where Harry and Meghan holidayed early on in their relationship.

The two dogs have been spotted in various pictures and videos of the couple chilling at home.

What’s it like to own a beagle?

Upright and alert, you only need to look at a Beagle to see that they need plenty of exercise. With a powerful nose, they will follow a scent to the end of the earth – often being very noisy about the pursuit as they do so!

In return for indulging their inquisitive and energetic nature, you get a pet that is even-tempered and a pleasure to be around. But when taking out pet insurance, make sure you’re covered against common conditions including epilepsy, which can need ongoing treatment.

What’s it like to own a labrador?

As for a Labrador, the UK’s most popular dog, their warm, friendly temperament makes them easy to train – obviously, they can be trained to do some incredible things, such as helping to guide the blind.

Although they can be placid, they have high levels of energy, so they will need plenty of opportunities to run around, with two hours of exercise considered the bare minimum for labradors.

The principal health issues to be aware of are dysplasia and joint complaints, as well as obesity and eye problems. It’s crucial that if the symptoms of these hereditary conditions – or any others – become visible, they are treated as soon as possible.

Pet insurance from Purely Pets

If you’re an owner of a dog breed which has ‘royal patronage’, make sure you’re giving them the royal treatment with comprehensive canine insurance.

Get a quick quote for pet insurance today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.