Everyone’s heard the old saying: “Dog is man’s best friend”. Royal families and world leaders around the world are no exception. Over the years these pets have been varied and interesting as they are often gifts from other dignitaries. The most well-known right now because of the royal wedding is of course Queen Elizabeth and her Corgis.
I especially liked the picture that made Twitter of Meghan’s beagle in the back seat with the Queen! It makes one curious about other pets around the world.
History of Royal Pets
Often politics were involved with the giving and receiving of pets, therefore they had to be kept and treated like royalty to keep the peace so to speak. These were usually dogs or horses, but sometimes these gifts could be very odd. Some of these over the years include leopards, bears, elephants, lions, lynx, caged birds, pet monkeys, rabbits, ducks, foxes and guinea pigs. Over the years, the various Kings and Queens around the world have had their own favorite pets usually dogs such as Spaniels, Greyhounds, Dachshunds, smooth-haired Collies, Pekingese (usually a gift from the Chinese), Terriers, Borzois and Labradors. King George acquired the first royal Corgi in 1933 and in 1944 the then Princess Elizabeth (now Queen) was given Susan, a Corgi. Interestingly, all of the Queen’s Corgis and Dorgis (Corgi x Dachshund) since then have been descended from this initial Corgi.
Other Royal Pets
Other royal pets over the years have been quite varied due to differing royalty around the world. The French Queen, Marie Antoinette was known for a pug named Mops while King Louis XIV loved his toy poodles. King Kamehameha III of Hawaii was fond of English Mastiffs. Mary, Queen of Scots, was known to have Maltese dogs and King Charles II loved his Spaniels so much so that they (AKC) eventually gave a certain breed of spaniel the name of King Charles Cavalier Spaniel! Alexander the Great had a dog so strong it is said to have brought down a bear and a lion and is thought to have been either a Greyhound (I doubt this) or a Mastiff (more likely to have been able to do these feats). Catherine the Great was known for her Italian Greyhounds and Queen Victoria for her Pomeranians. Other leaders have preferred horses and hunting dogs as these are more likely to be used in hunting or other sports.
Through the years, there have been quite a variety of animals at the white house and at times it may have looked like the President brought the whole farm with him to Washington D.C.! Among these are:
- George Washington with a parrot, several hounds and horses.
- Thomas Jefferson with several birds, horses and 2 bear cubs (reported to have been gifts from Lewis and Clark).
- Abraham Lincoln who brought a turkey (supposed to be Thanksgiving dinner but his son wouldn’t let this be!), goats, ponies, cats, dogs and pigs.
- Theodore Roosevelt who has been reported to have had more than 30 animals during his time there and include a raccoon, a rat and several “wild” pets.
- Ronald Reagan was known to have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and a Bouvier des Flanders sheepdog (was he trying to win over other political leaders?)
- Bill Clinton had a Labrador and a cat.
- Barack Obama with 2 Portuguese Water Dogs (a hypoallergenic breed) primarily because of his daughter’s allergies.
- Vice President Mike Pence has brought cats, rabbits and even a beehive to Washington!
- Donald Trump was reported to have been given a gift of a Golden doodle (Golden Retriever x Standard Poodle) which has not yet found his way to the White House and is probably living in New York at another residence.
Most people feel that having a real live pet allows them to see a leader as a regular person especially when they are pictured with them or the family. This may make them seem more likable and down to earth.
Other World Leader’s Pets
David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, followed what some call a long line of tradition by bringing a cat, Larry, to his office as there is actually a titled position of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office that must be filled! Larry remained on the job even when Current Prime Minister Theresa May took the office.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a black Labrador named Koni who was a gift from the General of the Russian Army, a Belgian Shepherd which was a gift from the Bulgarian President, an Akita which was a gift from Japan’s Prime Minister and the latest, an alabai (Central Asian Shepherd) puppy as a birthday present from Turkmenistan’s President! The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought a Portuguese Water Dog into his family. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife adopted a Labrador/Griffon, Nemo, from a local shelter.
Saudi monarchs seem to prefer horses especially Arabian and Thoroughbreds.
Are Pets Important in the World of Politics?
As you can see from the above information, sometimes the royal and world leader’s family pets may seem to play a seemingly small but important part in the realm of world politics. Throughout the years, gifts to or from world leaders are a very casual but extremely significant means by which they show each other some of their feelings or how they perceive each other’s families. In some cultures, animals are often seen as a cultural extension, so by the giving of your animal to another leader gives you a connection to them and at the same time shows the trust you place in them to take care of this animal. I feel that our politicians become more realistic or familiar once you see them in a more laid back environment with their families and their pets. After all, what’s better than seeing a child with a pet cat or dog or watching a service dog help it’s owner become independent? Pets are also known to be calming in some situations and can aid with loneliness and anxiety with the elderly or convalescing patients.