Queen Elizabeth’s love of Corgis goes all the way back to 1933 when her dad, the future King George VI, brought home Dookie the Corgi pup. Ten year old “Lilibet” instantly fell in love with Dookie, who was soon joined by a second Corgi, Jane. Dookie and Jane became the first of over 30 Corgis the Queen has had throughout her 60 year reign. Today, Queen Elizabeth is often seen with her beloved Corgis - Holly and Willow.
The aptly named “Corgi” is formed by the combination of the Welsh words “cor” and “gi” meaning “dwarf dog”, which accurately describes the breed’s long, thick body and short stubby legs. Originally developed in Wales 1000 years ago, the modern Corgi was bred as a herding dog. But the origins of the Welsh Corgi are even more ancient. One line of Corgis (the Cardigan Corgi) is traced back 3000 years and is believed to have accompanied Viking invaders, while the second line (the Pembroke Corgi) was brought to Wales by Flemish Weavers around the same time.
At one foot tall, Corgis are the smallest of the herding breeds. To this day Corgis remain outstanding cattle dogs in South Wales and leap and nip at the heels of their livestock as their preferred method of herding cows. Being so low to the ground, heel-nipping Corgis are particularly adept at avoiding the retaliatory kicks of the cattle. Today, however, most Corgis are warm and loving house pets. But though one can take the Corgi out of the farm, it’s not so easy to take the farm out of the Corgi - Corgis have been known to nip at their owners’ heels in an attempt to herd them as well.
Although originally bred as working dogs, Corgis are not all brawn and no brains. UBC psychology professor and world renowned dog expert Dr. Stanley Coren has ranked Corgis as the 11th smartest dogs on a list of 137 breeds. So it’s no surprise that these smart, hard-working, warm-hearted, and ever so cute dogs have long been the Queen’s favorites.