How Queen Elizabeth II Became a Corgi Breeding Legend
Queen Elizabeth II, her Majesty the Queen, passed away at age 96 on September the 8th, 2021, after more than 70 years as Great Britain’s reigning monarch, the longest reign of any female head of state in history. An undeniable historical giant, Queen Elizabeth II’s life has captured the public’s attention since her birth, but one piece of her life has been of particular interest to people around the world.
Perhaps the best-known fact about Queen Elizabeth II is that she loved her dogs. Rarely seen without her fleet of corgis, Queen Elizabeth II was a lifelong dog lover and a key figure in the rise of popularity of the Pembroke Welsh corgi.
As we remember Queen Elizabeth II, let’s take a look back through the ages at the dogs who she grew, lived, and ruled alongside.
Dookie: The Dog That Started It All
Queen Elizabeth’s first dog entered her life at the tender age of seven. Elizabeth’s father, George VI who would soon be king, purchased the dog in 1933 from a well-known breeder of Pembroke Welsh corgis. Officially named “Rozavel Golden Eagle”, the new puppy was dubbed “Dookie” as a bit of a joke, since the boarders who cared for the pup until the family moved to Windsor castle felt that the puppy had started to take on the personality of a duke after being selected by the royal family.
The first, but certainly not last, corgi to join the royal family, Elizabeth took a particular liking to the dog, and the two became inseparable. Elizabeth and her sister would even feed Dookie by hand, giving him plenty of tender love and care.
Susan: The Queen’s Favorite
Susan, another Pembroke Welsh Corgi, was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday. Susan and Elizabeth would build a bond so strong, that the queen snuck her along on her honeymoon by hiding her under a pile of rugs. Elizabeth also bred Susan, keeping several of her puppies to be able to continue breeding and to keep Susan’s legacy alive.
Despite Susan’s devotion to the queen, she wasn’t always fond of other people, and Elizabeth’s husband Prince Phillip developed a dislike of corgis, starting with Susan. Susan got herself into a bit of scandal, having bitten a member of staff at the palace.
None of this dissuaded Elizabeth, who loved Susan dearly until the end, and even personally designed a headstone for the pup following her death in 1959 at almost 15 years old.
The Royal Corgi Bloodline
While Dookie seeded the love of dogs and corgis in young Queen Elizabeth II’s mind, Susan would be the start of a hugely influential breeding program that gave the queen more than 14 generations of royal corgis.
Susan was bred twice to two premium dogs from the same kennel she had been acquired from. The royals kept four puppies total from the two litters, including Sugar, who was gifted to Prince Charles, and Honey. Both Sugar and Honey went on to have puppies of their own. From Sugar, the queen kept Whiskey and Sherry, and from Honey, she kept Bee.
And so it went for 14 generations. Selecting her favorite pups from each litter. Some notable names from the Royal Corgi breeding program have included Heather, Tiny, Bushy, Foxy, Monty, Emma, Linne,t Willow, and Holly. In all, Queen Elizabeth owned 30 or more corgis, most descendants of Susan, and continued her breeding program until 2018.
Queen Elizabeth II’s breeding efforts undoubtedly had an impact not only on the popularity and demand for corgis but also on the look and standard of the breed, which was refined greatly in the 80 or so years since Queen Elizabeth II first encountered the Pembroke Welsh corgi.
Creating a New Breed: The Dorgi
Though corgis were undoubtedly Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite breed, they were not the only dogs owned by the royal family or living in Windsor. The queen was also fond of cocker spaniels and had a number of mixed-breed dogs lovingly dubbed “dorgis.”
Created purely on accident, the dorgi came to be one fateful day in the 1970s when Queen Elizabeth II’s corgi Tiny got a little too much unsupervised alone time with Princess Margaret’s (the queen’s sister) dachshund, Pipkin. Delighted by these miniature corgi-like dogs, the queen continued to breed dorgis, many of which remained at Windsor. Among Tiny and Pipkin’s descendants were Cider, Rum, Berry, Candy, Brandy, Chipper, Harris, Pickles, Piper, Tinker, and Vulcan who died in 2020.
Life As a Royal Dog
Queen Elizabeth II’s dogs enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, complete with home-cooked meals, a beautifully decorated room dedicated to the dogs, and elevated woven baskets to sleep in at night. The Royal Corgis dined on fresh rabbit, beef, and other delicacies prepared by the palace chef.
The Royal Dogs were walked twice a day, and given special treatment on holidays. Queen Elizabeth II even made personalized stockings for each of the pups every Christmas, stuffing them with treats and toys.
Many of the Corgis joined the queen on her outings and were rarely seen away from her at home. According to those that witnessed Queen Elizabeth II with her dogs, she was extremely hands-on, often breaking up scuffles, enforcing training protocol, and attending carefully to their health and wellbeing.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Dogs Today
Though Queen Elizabeth II halted her breeding program, she continued to keep dogs up until her death on September 8th, 2022. At the time of her passing, the queen had five dogs, including two cocker spaniels, a dorgi named Candy, and two corgis named Muick and Sandy.
What Will Happen To The Queen’s Dogs?
All of the late queen’s dogs are expected to remain with the royal family and will continue to enjoy a lavish lifestyle for the rest of their lives. Muick and Sandy were recent gifts given to the queen by her son Prince Andrew, so many expect that he will take over care of the queen’s last two corgis.