April 29, 2011
While the world watched with baited breath as Great Britain’s Prince William said his vows to long-time love Catherine Middleton today, we here at DogWatch Hidden Fences find we’re a bit more intrigued by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel than all the Royal Wedding hoopla. While today will certainly go down in royal history, we’d like to bring the focus to some dog breeds that have made royal history of their own! Introducing . . . the Royal Dogs!
The Saluki: Perhaps the oldest pure dog breed still in existence, the sleek and elegant Saluki has been discovered in carvings in Sumerian tombs dating as far back as 7000 B.C., and Egyptian tombs dating back to 2100 B.C. Thought to be named after the ancient town of Suluk, Libya, the Saluki was considered the royal dog of Egypt. So beloved by the Egyptian royals, they were frequently mummified along with their owners, and several depictions exist of King Tutankhamen with his favorite Salukis. The Saluki is thought to have been brought to Europe during the Crusades in the 12th Century, and arrived in England in the mid-1800s, and America in the early 1900s.
The Lhasa Apso: One of the most ancient dog breeds, the lion-like, black-lipped Lhasa Apso is thought to have existed as far back as 800 B.C. Lhasas originated in the sacred city of Lhasa in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet, and were bred by holy men called Lamas. Referred to in Tibet as “Apso Seng Kyi,” or “Bearded Lion Dog,” the Lhasa was primarily used as a watchdog in temples and monasteries, as well as in religious ceremonies. It was believed that the souls of deceased Lamas could enter the bodies of Lhasa Apsos, where they remained as they awaited reincarnation. A highly-prized dog, Lhasas could neither be bought nor sold; they could only be given as a gift. Lhasa Apsos made their way to Great Britain and the United States in the early 1900s.
The Pekingese: The royal dog of China, these little dogs with a lion’s mane took their name from the ancient city of Peking (now Beijing) over 2,000 years ago. In ancient China, Pekingese were considered sacred and believed to drive away evil spirits. Bred and guarded in the Imperial Palace, so prized were these little “lion dogs” that only royalty was permitted to own them, and the theft of a Pekingese was punishable by death! In 1860, the British overtook the Imperial Palace of China; during the seizure, five Pekingese were captured and brought back to Great Britain. They were given to British royalty, including Queen Victoria, as spoils of war, and were then interbred, thus beginning the British line of Pekingese. In the early 1900s, the Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi began gifting the dogs to influential Americans, beginning the line of the modern American Pekingese.
The Pug: An old breed of Chinese descent, dating as far back as 400 B.C., the snub-nosed, smush-faced Pug is believed to be a relative of the Pekingese. Imported to Holland by the Dutch East India Company in the 16th century, the Pug rose to Dutch popularity under William, Prince of Orange, after one saved his life in 1572 by sounding the alarm that the Spanish were approaching, thus allowing him time to successfully flee their assassination attempt. So the intrepid little Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange, and one hundred years later, when William II ascended the throne in England, he brought his beloved Pugs with him, establishing their following in Great Britain. This following grew to include the likes of the ill-fated Queen Marie-Antoinette, as well as another less-than-fortunate Parisian, the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.