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So Long, Corgis! Meet the New Dogs Moving into Buckingham Palace

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 13 hrs ago Chloë Nannestad

If there's one thing the royal family loves, it's dogs. Everybody knows about Queen Elizabeth's famous corgis, but the identities of King Charles III's dogs are more of a mystery. The queen's beloved Welsh Corgis will go down in history as some of the cutest British royal family pets, but the dogs that the new King Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, prefer will definitely give them a run for their money once they take up residence at the palace.

When we think about dogs fit for royalty, it's tempting to imagine a noble Great Dane or a racing dog with a pedigree that goes back as far as the royals themselves. But it turns out that Charles's pups didn't come from a fancy breeder at all. In the timeline of royal dogs throughout history, these pooches will go down as the first humble rescues to reach the pinnacle of luxury. And there's one thing we know for sure: We're about to be obsessed with King Charles III's dogs.

What kind of dogs does King Charles III have?

The first dog breed that springs to mind when we think about the British royal family is the cute corgi, the longtime favorite of Queen Elizabeth II. Considering the longest-reigning monarch was on the throne for 70 years before her death on Sept. 8, 2022, corgis are pretty much the only pet the public associates with the royals.

But when we think about King Charles III in particular, another breed is top of mind: the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, of course. This British dog was named for King Charles II in the 1600s, according to Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks. It's not the preferred royal pooch, though.

As it turns out, King Charles III's dogs are Jack Russell terriers. He and Camilla brought home two of them—Bluebell and Beth—from a London rescue center in 2017.

If the new king and queen consort are going to popularize a dog breed, the Jack Russell terrier is a great pick, says Dr. Simon. "They are generally healthy, thanks to their sensible body shape and the fact they are not snub-nosed," she says. And although they can be hyperactive and bark a lot, owners can manage their rambunctious tendencies with enough exercise and training.

These feisty little guys are wire-haired dogs, small in stature but long in endurance. Erika Barnes, founder and CEO of Pet Smitten, notes that there's a long-held theory about the royals' choice of pets: The family might strategically select smaller dog breeds so that they "don't come across as too domineering and dictatorial to the British public," she says.

She also points out that Jack Russell terriers have been bred in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years and have long been included in hunting packs on royal hunting trips. Despite their little legs, they have no problem keeping up with royals on horseback. After all, they are one of the fastest dog breeds. With enough stamina for a royal workday, that long British heritage and a long-standing connection to the royal family, Charles's choice of canine companion makes sense.

Are they the first rescue dogs in Buckingham Palace?

© Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The British royal family tree is usually associated with pedigree, not strays. So as Sabrina Kong, DVM, a veterinarian with We Love Doodles, explains, the fact that Beth and Bluebell are the first rescue pets in the palace is a big deal. (They're not, however, the only rescue pets in the family. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have adopted rescue dogs as well.)

Camilla adopted the pups from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, of which she is the royal patron. In an interview with BBC Radio 5 in 2020, she revealed that the poor pooches were found separately in terrible condition—Bluebell was rescued while wandering the woods, and Beth had been moved around her whole life.

"They found [Bluebell] two or three weeks later wandering about in woods, no hair on her, covered in sores, virtually dead," she said in the interview. "And they nursed her back to life, and her hair grew again. She's very sweet but a tiny bit neurotic, shall we say."

Fortunately, the two dogs got along well. And considering they're now King Charles III's dogs, they'll certainly never want for anything again.

"Adopt, don't shop" now has the royal seal of approval. And animal lovers are hoping this sparks a trend. The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has been operating out of Battersea, London, since 1860 and has re-homed thousands of animals. With such high-profile rescue pets now trotting alongside the king, the hope is that many more people will be inspired to adopt their next pet.

How many Jack Russell terriers has King Charles owned over the years?

As Dr. Kong explains, Beth and Bluebell are not the first Jack Russell terriers that Charles has owned. Back in 1994, his beloved Pooh (named after Winnie-the-Pooh) ran away, escaping into the woods of the queen's Balmoral estate in Scotland. Sadly, it was never found.

A few years earlier, Pooh's companion Tigga (named after Tigger, another resident of the Hundred Acre Wood) became a bit of a celebrity after turning up in the palace's unofficial Christmas cards in 1990, cuddled up with his human brothers, Prince William and Prince Harry. Charles was so devoted to Tigga that, when the pooch eventually passed at the grand old age of 18, he buried his pet on the grounds of Highgrove House, the longstanding official residence of Charles and Camilla.

In fact, Charles's love of the breed dates back to his childhood, when he had Jack Russell terriers as pets. But like the rest of the British nobility, he loves other breeds as well.

The lumbering Labrador has been a favorite of the British upper classes for many years, and Charles found a loyal friend in one decades ago. He owned a yellow Labrador named Harvey in the 1980s, but according to royal expert George Grant, Princess Diana objected to him being "smelly," and Harvey was re-homed with one of Charles's advisors.

Will the dogs have the run of Buckingham Palace?

Although Charles and Camilla will be moving into Buckingham Palace eventually, the heritage building is currently being extensively re-wired, so the royal couple and their canine companions will remain in Clarence House until the renovations are complete. But there is no doubt that these pooches will continue to live in luxury.

When Elizabeth was queen, the royal pack of corgis reportedly had a stately room in the palace to call their own, so Beth and Bluebell can go in with high expectations for their royal accommodations.

Camilla told the BBC that although the dogs are allowed almost everywhere at home (including on the sofa), they are not allowed to sleep on the bed. We predict that the royal canines will have their very own bedroom, complete with four-poster dog beds and chew toys aplenty. After the life they had prior to being rescued, these pups deserve a bit of pampering.

And if you're worried about the queen's corgis being evicted, fear not: Dr. Kong explains that the queen's two corgis and one dorgi (the super-cute name for a dachshund-corgi mix) will be under the care of another royal family member, Prince Andrew, from now on. He may be wrapped in scandal, but his household will continue to provide the dogs with a lifestyle to which they have no doubt become accustomed.

Sources:

  • Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks
  • Erika Barnes, founder and CEO of Pet Smitten
  • Sabrina Kong, DVM, veterinarian with We Love Doodles
  • BBC News: "Battersea Dogs and Cats Home: Duchess of Cornwall celebrates 160 years of centre"
  • Battersea: "What we do"
  • Yahoo Life: "Meet Beth and Bluebell: The newest residents of Buckingham Palace"
  • Architectural Digest: "Where Will King Charles Live? And Other Royal Housing Questions Answered"
  • Fortune: "Diana called them the Queen's 'moving carpet.' What will happen to the royal corgis now?"

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