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Royalty in your midst

Not many of us are royal descendants but it might just be that your furry little four-legged best friend is!   Small dogs are not a new thing and many of New Zealand’s favourite small dog breeds come with a quite austere history. Those of you owning one of these breeds may be interested to learn some of their history!

  • The BICHON FRISE was re-introduced to Europe from the Canary Islands in the 14th century and by the 16th century they became fashionable at the French and other royal courts just like other toy breeds. They were much sought after by the nobility and wealthy families. 
  • The BRUSSELS GRIFFON was obviously a favourite of the Belgian royal family. The late Queen Astrid loved these little dogs which almost became extinct after the First World War but because of royal support eventually regained its popularity. Their earliest ancestors were first described in medieval French writings. 
  • The PEKINGESE originated from Imperial China. They can be traced back to the Han Dynasty 206 BC - 220 AD. It was as late as 1860 that this little dog became known outside China itself. Only Emperors, relatives and courtiers at the Imperial Court were allowed to own them. Lion dogs as they were known were kept in great numbers at court but only the finest were allowed in the Emperor's apartments. As they were considered sacred anyone who stole one of these animals was sentenced to death. 
  • The PUG was extremely popular in Victorian times and all sections of society owned them as did European royalty. Henry II of France, Marie Antoinette, The Empress Josephine and William Hogarth all owned pugs. Originally from the Orient they were brought to the West by merchants trading with China. The breed was introduced into Great Britain by William III and Queen Mary when they ruled the country in 1689. 
  • The MALTESE existed in ancient Egypt and Phoenician traders may have brought these dogs to Malta and the surrounding Mediterranean countries. These delightful little animals were owned by kings, queens and nobility. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have owned one and it was considered to be the dog of choice for a woman of that time. 
  • CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL. These toy spaniels were well established in European courts before being brought to England in the 16th century. They reached the height of their popularity in the reign of Charles II and are always associated with him. However, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots also kept them, mostly being used for 'comforters' due to their gentle natures.
  • The PAPILLON is one of the oldest toy breeds in continental Europe. Being a favourite of the French court it is not surprising to learn that they were owned by Marie Antoinette, Henry II and Madame de Pompadour. They were also it seems favourites of the Old Masters, as many Rubens and Rembrandt's show them in their portraits. The breed is thought to have originated in Italy from the Dwarf Spaniel. 
  • The WELSH CORGI is known the world over for the patronage of the British Royal family. Much has been written about them and stories abound of their antics and how they even have our own Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother eating out of their hands, so to speak! These plucky little dogs were originally bred for herding cattle, their stature being no disadvantage in this pursuit. Although an ancient breed both the Cardigan and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi have a somewhat cloudy lineage with the Cardigan being considered the oldest of the two. 
  • The BEAGLE is probably one of the oldest breed of native hound used for the chase in the British Isles. Elizabeth I kept pocket Beagles, no more than 10 inches at the shoulder, Charles II hunted a pack on Newmarket Heath whilst George IV kept a pack of dwarf Beagles for hunting on Brighton Downs. Prince Albert kept Beagles for rabbiting in Windsor Great Park. 
  • The DACHSHUND appeared in Britain in the 1840's. Prince Edward of Sax-Weimar sent a number of the smooth haired variety to the Prince Consort and they took part in pheasant shoots in Windsor Forest. The Dachshund's distant past remains a mystery although similar dogs were depicted in ancient Egyptian temples and tombs and in carvings from Mexico. 
  • SHIH-TSU. Little is known about their ancestry, but as it is sacred in China it would appear to be of very ancient origin. Thought to be a product of cross-breeding between the Tibetan temple dog, the Lahasa Apso and the early Pekingese. The Dalai Lama of Tibet offered them in tribute to Chinese Emperors. Isolated within the walls of the Forbidden City in Peking these little dogs would have certainly been in decline if they had not been bred with Pekingese. Despite the reluctance of the Chinese they were finally introduced into Britain in 1930. 
  • The LHASA APSO is believed to be one of the world's most ancient breeds possibly dating as far back as 800BC. Developed from the Tibetan Terrier and the Tibetan Spaniel they were bred exclusively in Tibet usually at monasteries. Rarely were they permitted to leave their homeland and the few given as gifts were always male so that reproduction of the species remained in Tibetan control. Said to symbolize the lion, they provided protection for Buddha and guarded monastic treasures, participating in religious ceremonies enthroned on silk cushions. 

Maybe DogHQ needs to re-name Tiny Town, The Royal Palace! 

by Louise O'Sullivan

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