I don’t know about you, but if you ask my dogs, they are 100% princes and princesses. Admittedly, that’s my fault for raising them the way I did, but in my defense, Japanese Chins were bred for centuries to be the companions to royalty, so it’s also in their blood.
We all know Queen Elizabeth II of England adored her Welsh Corgis, but there are several breeds of dog that have been bred exclusively for royalty in the past.
Here are three of the breeds that were either bred for royal companions or favored by royals throughout history that you may not know about.
The Japanese Chin
Speaking from experience, these small dogs are regal characters, and it is no wonder they were so popular with the ruling classes of both China and Japan. As a matter of fact, the term “chin” is distinct in the Japanese language from the word “inu” (or dog) because the Chin are royalty in and of themselves.
Originating in China, the Chin made its way to Japan as a gift to the aristocracy from China’s Emperors. The gift was honored so much that the owners of Japanese Chin dogs cared for them with extreme reverence, forbidding servants to wake a sleeping Chin and even making offenders face imperial punishment if they inadvertently stepped on a paw or tail.
The Japanese Chin was introduced to Europe in the 1600s when a pair were presented to the Princess of Portugal, but it wasn’t until Japan opened its borders to trade in the mid 1800s that they became more widely known on a global scale.
In 1888, the “Japanese Spaniel” was one of the first breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and popularized by the American upper class. The name was changed to Japanese Chin in 1977, and the breed continues to have a loyal following worldwide for their regal demeanor and clown-like personality. Anyone who has ever witnessed a “chin spin” has fallen in love with the breed.
@holliewisely Kitty likes the new rug in the baby’s room. #japanesechin #chinspin ♬ Lollipop – The Chordettes
The origins of the Bichon Frise are shrouded in a fog of myth and legend. Some claim their heritage dates all the way back to pre-history, associating the modern dog with similar small white dogs mentioned throughout history under different names. However, there is no historical proof to support this claim.
It is more generally accepted that the Bichon Frise originated in the Mediterranean, eventually seeing the world when Spanish sailors brought the small breed along on voyages in the 14th century. They introduced the breed to the Canary Islands, where they thrived before being re-introduced to Europe by Italian sailors.
The Bichon Frise became popular with European aristocracy and royalty in the 16th century, especially in France, from where their name originates. “Bichon Frise” wasn’t widely used until French breeders started breeding them after World War I, and stems from the French “bichon à poil fries” or “curly-haired lapdog.”
During the height of their popularity, these small dogs were adored by royalty across Europe, including King Henry III of France who would carry his curly-haired companions in a basket wherever he went.
However, the breed’s royal popularity began to decline in the 1800s, and they became popular among commoners and as circus performers. The breed was not introduced to the U.S. until 1956 and didn’t become formally recognized until 1972 by the AKC. Now, the breed is well-loved worldwide for their charming nature and adorable “Teddy Trim” style.
@thepoochery Bichon Frisée gets his Teddy trim at the groomers #doggrooming #fyp #doggroom #dog #foryou #dogsoftiktok #doghaircut ♬ Whatta Man (feat. En Vogue) – Salt ‘N’ Pepa
The modern Greyhound has a striking resemblance to the dogs in ancient wall murals and they have been linked to dog breeds favored by the Ancient Egyptians and Celts.
No matter their origin, we know that similar sighthounds have been prized for millennia; Greyhounds are the only dog named by breed in the Christian Bible. The ancient history of the Greyhound even figures into Greek mythology. Ancient Greek gods were often depicted with Greyhounds, and it was a faithful Greyhound named Argus who first recognized Odysseus upon his return in the Odyssey. In later centuries, these amazing dogs were also immortalized in the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare.
Their popularity continued throughout history. The breed was close to extinction during the dark ages, but continued thanks to the priests who bred them for nobility. They were so highly revered that until 1700, Greyhound ownership was restricted to the noble class. They were favored by rulers all over Europe, including Queen Elizabeth I of England and Frederick the Great of Prussia.
The Greyhound made its way to America with Christopher Columbus, and as more Europeans emigrated to the U.S., they brought more pups along. As America pushed west, the lands shifted to open plains, making for an ideal environment for the fast-running Greyhound.
Across Europe, the breed continued to grow in popularity, even being presented in early dog shows. In 1877, eighteen greyhounds were involved in the first Westminster Kennel Club catalog. Greyhounds are affectionate and energetic family dogs and are still so popular that there are more rescue groups for Greyhounds than any other breed in America.
@claude_and_hero Adopt a greyhound, they said #greyhoundsoftiktok #adoptagreyhound #asitwas #harrystyles #babiesanddogs ♬ As It Was – Harry Styles
Knowing the history of your dog’s breed is a wonderful way to get to know them better. There may be traits that were specifically bred into the breed that explain their unique behavior and demeanor. Plus, you may have a dog descended from a long line of royal pups. Knowing that in advance will help you give them the reverence they deserve.
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