Plenty of people claim to be animal lovers, but Queen Elizabeth takes her passion for dogs to another level. While the queen is, as of this writing, the proud owner of three canine friends, Vogue states that this well-known royal has owned over 30 corgis during her reign. The number of corgis the queen has possessed at one time has varied over the years. A photograph from the 1970s shows Her Majesty with seven dogs, and, in 2012, she was reported to have at least five. Her highest count of furry companions for a given period is thought to be around nine (via Vogue).
Her Majesty’s devotion to this particular breed started during her childhood, and her fondness for corgis has only continued to blossom. While many pet owners enjoy pampering their lovable pals, the queen ensures her animals receive that royal treatment when it comes to pet care. With over 70 years of corgi companionship, Her Majesty has proven her long-standing love for corgis has continued to remain strong. So, naturally, fans of the royal family and animal lovers alike are dying to know more about the queen’s special relationship with man’s (or, in this case, queen’s) best friend.
The queen’s love for corgis started with Dookie and Jane
Queen Elizabeth’s love for corgis began during her childhood after King George VI brought home a Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy for the royal family. According to the Royal Collection Trust, the corgi’s official title was Rozavel Golden Eagle, but he was more commonly known by the name Dookie. It was the pup’s training staff who gave the royal family’s newest member this playful moniker, knowing that the corgi would be going to live in the Duke of York’s household. After the royals realized that their new companion responded to his nickname over his given name, the dog became generally referred to as Dookie.
However, Dookie wasn’t the then-princess’ only corgi companion. Shortly after taking in Dookie, the royal family added another furry pal to their growing household, a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Jane. Marie Claire states that Jane remained with the family until her tragic death in 1944 when she was fatally hit by a passing car. In addition to Dookie and Jane, the royal family also had dogs Ching, Carol, and Cracker (via Daily Paws). Growing up surrounded by so many four-legged friends, it comes as no surprise that the queen became such a strong animal lover herself.
Susan was the first corgi in the queen’s breeding line
As noted above, Queen Elizabeth grew up around corgis and other family pets, although she didn’t have a furry friend that was hers alone until her late teens. For her 18th birthday, the queen (known then as Princess Elizabeth) received a special gift: a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Susan. According to the American Kennel Club, Susan was the first corgi that belonged to the queen herself and not the family. Officially registered as Hickathrift Pippa, Her Majesty’s new friend was initially called Sue, which eventually developed into Susan.
The queen’s fondness for Susan eventually led to her breeding her pet, starting a royal corgis dynasty that continued for over 80 years. The outlet states that all the corgis that have been a part of the queen’s family have come from Susan’s lineage. Sadly, in 2018, the Daily Mail reported that Susan’s line had finally come to an end with the death of her last remaining descendent, Willow. At the time of her death, Willow had cancer-related illness and was eventually put to sleep to prevent any prolonged suffering. The article states that Willow’s passing was "extremely hard" for the queen due to the late corgi’s connection to her first pet, Susan.
The queen is estimated to have owned approximately 30 corgis during her reign
Queen Elizabeth’s love for corgis is unquestionably legendary. As Vanity Fair states, "No world leader had been as widely identified with a particular animal as Elizabeth II with her corgis." The queen herself has even referred to her pups as "family." But, of course, it takes time for someone to become iconic for animal ownership, and over Her Majesty’s reign, it’s estimated (via Metro) that she’s owned at least 30 corgis, if not more.
According to the forenamed Vanity Fair piece, the queen’s long-running lineage of royal corgis began after the beloved Susan birthed two puppies, Sugar and Honey (who would later become a companion to the Queen Mother). Sugar would continue the line, which eventually ended with Willow, the 14th generation of Susan’s descendents.
Anyone still skeptical of the queen’s never-ending devotion to her four-legged friends should also note how these furry pals have been integrated into royal affairs and even international events. For example, while the 2012 London Olympics showed the royal corgis escorting James Bond into Buckingham Palace in an opening sketch, Christmastime in 2014 saw the Palace gift shop overflowing with stuffed animal corgis for royal fans who were eager to emulate the queen (per Vanity Fair).
The queen created a breed called dorgis
Anyone can call themselves the ultimate dog lover, but have they managed to create a new breed like Queen Elizabeth? According to Vanity Fair, Her Majesty is credited with inventing a unique breed called dorgis. However, the initial creation was entirely accidental. The outlet states that dorgis sprang into existence in 1971 when royal corgi Tiny mated with Pipkin, Princess Margaret’s dachshund. The result: six adorable hybrid pooches that would become known as dorgis.
People notes that the royal family loved their new furry friends so much that they continued to breed the animals, leading to even more dorgis. These new royal household members included Tinker, Cider, Rum, Berry, Candy, Brandy, Harris, Piper, Chipper, Vulcan, and Pickles. But, of course, man’s best friend can’t stick around forever, and, sadly, in 2020, Vanity Fair reported that Vulcan, unfortunately, died of old age. According to the news source, Vulcan was one of the four royal dogs who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair when Annie Leibovitz photographed the queen for a 2016 issue of the magazine.
The queen’s corgis go everywhere with her
One constant throughout her reign is Her Majesty’s beloved four-legged friends firmly at her side. Queen Elizabeth’s furry pal, Susan, even accompanied her and Prince Philip on their three-week honeymoon (via Tatler). The Royal Collection Trust states that the lovebirds (along with the corgi) departed from Waterloo station and headed to Hampshire for the first part of their trip. Additionally, a photograph from the Royal Collection Trust where the couple strolls the grounds on their honeymoon shows the ever-loyal Susan trotting along directly behind the queen.
Nevertheless, Susan wasn’t the only one of Her Majesty’s corgis to accompany her on trips. According to Express, the queen’s pets are avid travelers. As the U.K.’s ruler, the queen is a frequent flyer, and being royalty means that she travels in style on her private aircraft, a.k.a. the royal plane. While all those flights can be taxing, the queen makes sure to bring plenty of four-legged friends for company. The article recounts recollections of one of the queen’s former flight navigators, Bob Shields, who made statements for the Channel 5 documentary "Secrets of the Royal Flight." Shields revealed how the royal staff would try to make the dogs "do their business" before flying to avoid accidents while onboard. However, this fear proved unwarranted, as Shields noted that the royal pets were incredibly well-trained. "I am delighted to say we never had one accident," he remarked proudly (via Express).
The Palace has a special area just for corgis
If you think your furry friends live like little princes and princesses, think again. Queen Elizabeth goes all out when it comes to her pets, with a special living space in Buckingham Palace devoted to her corgis that’s known as the Corgi Room (via Page Six). This pet-friendly area is perfect for any royal dog who wants to relax in style. According to former royal chef Darren McGrady (via his YouTube video), these regal canines truly receive the royal treatment. "They sleep in, like, little wicker baskets in the corgi room and are looked after by two footman called Doggie 1 and Doggie 2. That’s what they called them," says McGrady. Being a royal corgi definitely means living a lavish lifestyle.
Of course, these royal pooches’ high status can also make some of the staff nervous about interacting with them. McGrady admits he was worried about his first meeting with the queen’s prized pups, saying that his initial encounter with them at Balmoral Castle didn’t exactly go as planned. "I saw in the distance the queen and the corgis, and I got really excited." However, McGrady’s nerves ended up getting the best of him. "As she got closer, the dogs saw me and came running toward me barking," he said. "I was so scared, I turned around and ran away, and the queen was laughing — she thought it was really funny."
The queen’s corgis aren’t always on their best behavior
Animal lovers are often willing to overlook the bad habits of their pets; however, when you’re Queen Elizabeth, there’s a good chance your furry friends’ faux pas might end up in a news article. In a book written by the queen’s dresser, Angela Kelly (recounted via The U.S. Sun), the royal staff member narrates how the corgis’ carefree lounging can sometimes cause unfortunate accidents. According to Kelly, jeweler Harry Collins once tripped after failing to spot corgi Linnet lying on the floor. The dresser states that Collins was "apologi[z]ing profusely," though the queen reassured him that the dog was fine, saying that her pets had "a terrible habit of lying in the most awkward places."
Still, the corgis’ choice of resting place is far from their worst behavior. Reportedly, Her Majesty’s corgis have gotten into some pretty nasty tussles with other royal pets. For example, in 2012, the New York Daily News reported that the queen’s corgis fought with Princess Beatrice’s Norfolk terriers. As a result, one of the terriers, named Max, suffered terrible injuries and had to be taken to the vet. Additionally, Express says that, in 1991, the queen needed three stitches after trying to break up a corgi fight between eight of her pets and two of the Queen Mother’s corgis. Nonetheless, these regrettable incidents have clearly left no lasting animosity, as the queen’s love for corgis continues to this day.
Her Majesty’s corgis eat like royalty
While many animal lovers give their furry friends special meals, Her Majesty’s corgis truly eat like royalty every day. According to Insider, former royal chef Darren McGrady told the outlet that Queen Elizabeth’s corgis have their own special menu made up of fresh ingredients. No canned food for these canines! McGrady’s YouTube video (which features a cuddly stuffed animal corgi) goes into even further details, with the former royal chef recreating the signature meals that he would make for the queen’s furry friends. "I thought that when I started at the palace I’d be cooking for the queen, and different presidents from around the world," McGrady says before revealing his initial job at the Palace was cooking for the queen’s beloved corgis.
The former royal chef states that the corgis would eat plates of freshly chopped chicken, beef, rabbit, and liver on a daily basis. McGrady added that chopped cabbage and rice were separately mixed into the meats on specific dogs’ plates to help settle the stomachs of pups who were dealing with tummy problems. However, he declared that the most important part of preparing meals for the royal pets was making sure that all meats were cut down to a "fine dice to ensure no bones." After all, no chef wants to be responsible for one of the royal corgis choking.
The corgis have a special resting place
Animal enthusiasts choose to honor their pets a number of different ways after they die. But, of course, when it comes to the animal-loving royal family, they make sure to give their furry friends a special final resting place. According to the Daily Mail, the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk is home to a pet cemetery for royal companions. However, the royal family chooses to keep the burial plot hidden to ensure a sense of privacy for their late pets. Queen Victoria initially set up the cemetery in 1887 after the death of her collie, Noble, but saw little use after its creation. Eventually, in 1959, Queen Elizabeth revived the plot to ensure an ideal resting place for her beloved corgi, Susan.
Susan rests alongside her descents, Sugar and Heather, all three of whom have similar gravestones that refer to each as "the faithful companion of the queen." A stone wall decorated with plaques separates the pet cemetery from the rest of the estate. The plaques remember the lives of other beloved royal pets. These memorials give tribute to pets like Prince Philip’s yellow labrador, Candy, who died in 1958, and a black labrador named Sandringham Slipper, who died in 1980. Other commemoratives include a black lab named Sandringham Brae, who is remembered as "a gentleman amongst dogs," and a roan cocker spaniel Sandringham Fern, a "tireless worker and mischievous character."
The queen suffered a double loss after her dorgi, Fergus, died
The loss of a family member is always hard, but it can become even harder to cope with when multiple deaths happen within months of each other. Back in 2021, Good to Know reported that Queen Elizabeth had suffered a second loss after her husband, Prince Philip, died only a month prior. The new sources stated that Her Majesty’s dorgi puppy, Fergus, had sadly died at only 5 months old, with the cause of death not released to the public. Fergus (along with a second puppy) were gifts from the queen’s son, Prince Andrew, to cheer up Her Majesty during her husband’s illness.
An insider from Windsor Castle told The Sun that the queen was understandably "devastated" at the surprising loss and added that those around Her Majesty were worried how she would handle the loss of the puppy so soon after losing Philip. Additionally, the article noted that the late dorgi, Fergus, was named after the queen’s WWI veteran uncle, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon. He died in 1915 while leading an attack at the Battle of Loos in France. As of publication, the queen’s second puppy, Muick, appears to be in good health and is happily spending his days with his beloved royal ruler (per The Sun).
The queen has three furry friends living with her
While Queen Elizabeth has consistently had corgis as her companions over the years, she is, as of this writing, the proud owner of three. She has a 10-year-old dorgi named Candy, the previously-mentioned dorgi named Muick, and a new corgi whose name hasn’t been released yet to the public. The Sun announced the addition of the latest pup back in 2021, stating that the new corgi was a gift given to the ruler on what would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday. A Windsor Castle insider told the newspaper that Her Majesty was "absolutely delighted" with her new furry pal.
This news might come as a shock to some, since Express previously reported in 2015 that the queen wouldn’t be getting any new dogs after her current ones pass away. According to the news source, this proud dog lover’s surprising stance was out of fear that she would sustain an injury from tripping over one of the canines. The article added that the queen even turned down an offer for two new puppies from her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice. But, of course, being an avid animal lover is a hard habit to kick, and, since then, the queen has clearly changed her mind about taking in new pets.