Risky Regencies

Dogs In History

I wasn’t really sure what to blog about today! I’m still working on the same projects I was last week (“Irish book 2,” etc), I couldn’t find anything interesting that happened on this date in history (though I’m sure there must be something somewhere!), and the heat and humidity of August has me stupefied and seeking the arctic AC of movie theaters and shopping malls (tax-free weekend on clothes last week, woo-hoo!). Then I found some interesting websites on famous dogs in history, and since I love dogs I decided to talk about that!

Mary Queen of Scots was well-known for her love of animals, bringing several small dogs with her from France when she returned to Scotland as a young widow. She had greyhounds and spaniels, as well as cages of songbirds. Her most famous pet was a Skye terrier named Geddon, who was devoted to her in her last years and accompanied her to her execution. Her cousin Elizabeth I was also fond of spaniels (her father, Henry VIII, had tried to cut down on the stench of his palaces by banning all dogs indoors except for ladies’ lap dogs–and monkeys). Elizabeth II, of course, is well-known for her love of Corgis. (A friend of mine has one–they are adorable, but they shed like crazy! I always wonder if the queen has someone following the dogs around Windsor with a ShopVac…)

Charles II loved his little spaniels so much that they are now named for him–Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (He even passed a law saying these little dogs could go into any public place, even Parliament! I’d love to see if that is still in effect).

In later years, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were well-known for their troop of Pugs (11 altogether, including Dizzy/Disraeli, Davy Crockett, Trooper, Winston, etc) who traveled with them equipped with their own jeweled collars and silver, monogrammed water bowls. (Pugs have always had their champions! Prince William of Orange was said to have been saved by his Pug Pompey when the dog barked in the night to warn him of the approach of the Spanish in 1571. His descendents William and Mary brought Pugs with them to England when they assumed the throne in 1688. And an aunt of Catherine the Great, Princess Hedvig Sophia of Sweden, had 16. I cannot imagine the amount of Pug hair there must have been in her palace)

No other British monarch was as well-known for their affinity to dogs than Queen Victoria. Starting when she was a princess and she acquired her first dog, a spaniel named Dash (a gift from her bete noir Sir John Conroy–the puppy didn’t improve her opinion of him, but she adored Dash, and was heartbroken when he died in 1840), she always had a troop of dogs following behind her. She owned about 15 different breeds–mastiffs, border collies, greyhounds, Pugs (Bosco was her favorite Pug), greyhounds, Japanese chins, Skye terriers named Islay and Cairnach, a Scottie named Laddie, etc. Her favorite dogs were Pomeranians. Poms were actually introduced to England by Queen Charlotte, who brought them with her on her marriage in 1761.

Queen Victoria bought her first Pom on a trip to Italy in 1888, a red-sable named Marco (who later won Cruft’s). Her last Pom was Turi, who comforted her on her deathbed.

Dash the spaniel
Princess Vicky with Laddie
Queen Victoria’s Dogs and Parrot, by Landseer
Poms were also beloved by many other figures in history. Michelangelo had one (who watched him paint the Sistine Chapel from the comfort of its silk cushion!), Isaac Newton, Mozart (whose dog was named Pimperl), and Chopin (who did not have one of his own, but loved a friend’s dog so much he wrote “Valse des Petits Chiens” for it).

And Marie Antoinette always had a coterie of little dogs trailing around Versailles behind her, including the Poms! She also adored Poodles, Papillons (including one named Thisbe), and Pugs (such as the famous Mops, an Austrian Pug who was taken away from her on her entry to France–but later returned).

Madame de Pompadour preferred the elegant and tres French Papillon, and had two named Ines and Mimi who went with her everywhere. (I adore this breed, and if I had room in my house for one more dog–which I definitely don’t!–I’d have this one).

As it is, I have a Poodle (who doesn’t shed at all, but who is very bossy and opinionated), and a Pug (who is laid-back and agreeable, but sheds like crazy and eats a lot). I’d love to have footmen and parlor maids to clean up after them and their cat siblings, as Queen Victoria and Marie Antoinette must have!

What are your favorite dogs, either in history or in your own house? And do you have any tips for getting Pug hair off the sofa???

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Barbara Monajem
13 years ago

Yorkshire Terriers!! If I were to get a dog, it would be a Yorkie. As it is, I have to settle for saying hello to a neighbor’s Yorkie every day on my walk. There’s a Papillon in the neighborhood, too, and he’s adorable (and much less vocal than the Yorkie).

Alternatively, if I lived where there was cooler weather and lots of roaming room, I’d get a Great Pyrenees. Some friends had two of these, and they were wonderful, wonderful dogs.

Elena Greene
13 years ago

Neither my husband’s nor my parents were into pets, so we never felt a strong need to get a dog. If we did, I think it’d be a friendly mutt (or perhaps the cat equivalent). But my oldest child has a flokati rug that sheds turquoise fluff that ends up all over the house. Does that count?

13 years ago

Because I love Chow Chows, I was fascinated to learn that Sigmund Freud used one or two of his Chows to assist him in psychotherapy especially with children. He did a lot of “firsts” in the practice of Psychiatry and it seems like he may have started animal assisted therapy as well!!! Here’s a link (found on Ebay) to a photo of him with one of his chows, probably Jo-Fi:


Read about Jo-Fi’s technique here:

Jane Austen
13 years ago

I am on my 5th Siberian Husky. I used to name them after the Romanovs, but each one of my dogs met an untimely end like the Romanovs. (They had a heart defect that was undetectable). So I stopped going to that breeder and rescued my newest Siberian Husky named Aurora Borealis, but I call her Rory for short. She is a beautiful well natured dog, but she does shed a lot. One of my mom’s friends makes yarn and wanted to make yarn out of dog hair. I collected it for a summer and now I have a dog hair hat, which I never wear, but it is a great conversation piece. I love huskies because they talk to you and I enjoy that a lot.

Now for a joke courtesy of Stephen Colbert:
This just in there is now a weight loss drug for dogs. Now we know obese dogs have been a problem for a long time since there’s a whole breed called “Husky”, but they prefer to be called “Siberian Big Boned”. (Sorry, makes me laugh every time!”

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

LOL, JA! Huskies are such lovely dogs (they were also the mascot at my high school)

Barbara, I also love Yorkies! There is one that lives next door to my parents, she’s BFFs with my Poodle Abigail. They even have a little dog door in the fence so they can visit each other. But they’re are sooooo mischevious when they’re together!

Jane Austen
13 years ago

Who won the Victoria Dahl? I never saw a posting.

andrea pickens
andrea pickens
13 years ago

What a fun post, Amanda. I have always been partial to German Shepherds. We had them when I was growing up, and they are very smart and very loyal. Alas, with my erratic travel schedule these days, I don’t feel I can get a dog of my own yet.

BTW, did you see that Eloisa James is talking at BN on dogs in books. There must be something in the air! (Or the dog days of summer, LOL)

13 years ago

Shedding dogs: gah! I have a lab and all she has to do is *breathe* and the hair just… floats… off…

And gets into every piece of furniture with fabric on it :sigh:

My preference has always been large dogs, either pure breeds (German Shepherd if at all possible) or mixed.

Suggestion to get the hair (cat or otherwise) off fabric furniture: one of those rubber hand brushes that are fashioned similarly to the original one sweep broom. They work by creating static (the rubber bristles act like the old trick of rubbing a balloon on your hair and making it “sticky” that way) which pulls the hair together.

The secret is to keep the strokes short, shallow and soft.


Sorry ’bout that–I don’t work for or get paid to promote these things, but my life has changed so much for the better since discovering them, that now I’m a sort of crusader for them.

Kit Donner
13 years ago

I loved your blog! I am such a dog lover, I wish I had room for more than the 2 I have. I have a mixed terrier (adopted as a puppy) who has been my love for 11 years and we recently adopted a poodle mix. We had trouble finding a dog that my terrier would tolerate since he really wanted to be an only dog. My dream is to someday have a dog just like Asta from the Thin Man series. Thanks for a great blog!

Jane Austen
13 years ago

For any of those who live in the UK…have you ever been to the Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle? Very interesting.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

A Dog Collar Museum????

My sister has four Yorkies, which I think is excessive. Of course, I have 4 cats, but that’s different.

How come all these dog lovers you speak of are royalty? Where are the royal cat lovers?

Jane Austen
13 years ago


I believe you will find your cat lovers in ancient Egypt. I rather imagine royals love dogs so much since they are supposed to love the hunt and such past times. What’s the point of having a hunting cottage with no dog to fetch your birds?

The dog collar museum was interesting. Some of the collars were very girly and others very butch. You could buy some as well, but I thought it was a shame you could not buy replicas of some that they had in the museum.

Catherine Delors
13 years ago

I recently posted (on another topic) a portrait of Madame de Maintenon with her papillon. She too loved little dogs!


Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

“Where are the royal cat lovers?”

You’ll have to write that post! 🙂 It seems like the British royals aren’t very cat-ly, but some of the princesses at Versailles kept cats (I wonder what they used for litter?)

A dog collar museum??? What fun!

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

A dog collar museum? Frodo would love it! For those of you who don’t know Frodo is the world’s worst chihuahua. He thinks he is a Rottweiler, hates everyone but me and growls at my Mom over the phone. He has banned from some vet clinics and his present vet thinks he is terrific, even when he tries to bite him. (the dog bites the vet, not vice versa)

I have dachshund sisters – Adelaide and Sassafras. A dachshund/chihuahua cross named Little Man. A long-haired chihuahua named Vito and a Katrina survivor bassett/beagle cross named Boudreaux.

I have hand vacs in every room and lots of brushes and gloves. Tea tree oil shampoo cuts down on the shedding.

We had a King Charles Spaniel in England and brought him home with us. His name was Mischief and when he died at the age of 15 it was one of the few times I ever saw my Dad cry. Mischief and Dad are together now and I am sure wherever they are they are sitting at a fishing hole drowning some worms.

Michelle Styles
13 years ago

Amanda —

Just a small correction. Cavelier King Charles spaniels were first bred in the 20th century by an American dog fancier so that they look more like the protraits from the time period. Some of thier known problems — siezures, brain tumours etc comes from having too small of a breeding stock. (My sister owns one and I was just reading Martin Clunes A Dogs Life about the CKC an was interested because the dog now has a brain tumour).
The King Charles is a healthier breed.

Currently I have 2 Border Collies, again named in the 20th century despite being around for a long time. And an elderly labrador.

13 years ago

What a beautiful page! If I had to be a dog, I would be a Yorkshire Terrier. I have raised Yorkies for nearly 17 years and absolutely love it. They are gorgeous and such loving intelligent dogs. As a matter of fact, I am excited as I have a litter of Yorkie puppies that will be born this August. Wish me luck. http://www.sharonsyorkiepuppies.com

13 years ago

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Patricia Barraclough
Patricia Barraclough
13 years ago

Love dogs. Our first was a beagle and they still have a special place in my heart. If I could find a cute little female, I might break down and get another dog. At present, we have four. All our dogs have been rescue dogs. We have a 13 year old lab mix (from the first litter we fostered for the animal shelter). She is a sweetheart. We have a male healer mix that showed up on our doorstep and wouldn’t leave. The last litter we fostered 8 years ago. They were terrier mixes and we kept a female. Our son brought home a pure blooded pit bull about 6 months ago. She is a really nice dog. Unfortunately she is too smart for her own good. She can open our storm doors and get out. She was hit by a car. Her spine was injured. She still asks to go out, but does have accidents when excited. She has started wagging her tail and can stand on her back legs. Unfortunately, she can’t walk on them. You can see the muscles twitching, but they don’t work. There is a chance a neuron in the hip area will take over and control the legs, we can hope – it has only bee about a month. Someone had called our vet and told me someone was being sent to pick her up, so I waited. It was animal control who came. I asked him to get a board or blanket to help me move her, but he grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and threw her in the truck saying “this is going to really hurt.” If she had been moved properly, the damage probably would not have been so bad. If I had know he would be so callous, I never would have let him touch her. He needs to get another job.

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