A Queenly Love of Dogs

Queen Victoria’s Beloved Pomeranians

“Marco on the Queen’s Breakfast Table” painted by Charles Burton Barber in 1893.


It was springtime in 1888.

Queen Victoria was visiting Florence, Italy … and she fell in love.

She was swept off her feet by a beautiful male with auburn hair.

But this was no man, for no man could replace her dearest Albert.

The cute little nose and big intelligent eyes of the Volpino Italiano dog stole her heart.

She instantly fell in love, saying they reminded her of her grandmother, Queen Charlotte’s dogs, only these were much smaller.

The Volpino Italiano is a Spitz breed, which along with other Spitz-type dogs, are today generically referred to as Pomeranians.


In Pomeranians, the Queen had found the new love of her life and introduced four new members to the Royal household—Marco, a 12-pound red sable named after the Italian merchant traveler Marco Polo, Gina, a white female, and two others.

Marco and Gina would both go on to win prizes in the show ring.

 Queen Victoria had such a powerful influence on popular culture that Pomeranians soon became one of the most fashionable toy breeds—especially the smaller, red-coated ones like Marco.

 The Toronto Daily Mail of 1894 ran an article on Queen Victoria’s dogs, describing Marco as an auburn dog with tawny red hair.

“The Queen has her favorites among the dogs, and some of them become jealous of the attentions she pays to others.

Among those she likes best is one named “Marco.” This is said to be the finest Spitz dog in England. It has taken a number of prizes.

He weighs just about twelve pounds and he has brighter eyes, quicker motion, and sharper bark than any other dog in the kennel. He is just three years old, and he carries his tail over his back as though he owned the whole establishment.”


Queen Victoria had at one time 35 Pomeranians in the royal kennels. In 1891, she showed six of the dogs at the opening of Cruft’s—now the world’s largest international dog show—their names were Fluffy, Nino, Mino, Beppo, Gilda and Lulu.

10 years later, on her dying day, the Queen requested that her beloved Pomeranian, Turi, be brought to her bedside.

At half-past six in the evening, Tuesday, 22 January 1901, at the age of 81, Queen Victoria died at Osbourne House, her faithful little white pomeranian, Turi, by her side to the last.









Hey…. But what about Elizabeth??


In living memory, no world leader has been as widely identified with a particular animal as Elizabeth II with her corgis.

“My corgis are family,” the Queen has said. Family, as she of all people knows, requires serious work, no matter how impeccable the pedigree. Since the 1950s, with considerable help from others, the Queen has personally overseen a program of corgi breeding that is based on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Purebred puppies from her kennel are registered under the affix of Windsor. The Queen has never allowed her own corgis—there have been scores of them over the years—to compete at dog shows, and she has never sold one, though she has given many away as gifts.



Her Majesty has ended her corgi breeding program, it seems her beloved pets Holly and Willow - the only two remaining of her once 13-strong pack - could be the last in a lifetime of iconic companions for the Queen.

The 12-year-old pair are the 14th generation descendants of Susan, a corgi given to the Queen on her 18th birthday. Susan was to become her constant companion for the next 15 years, even accompanying the Royal couple on their honeymoon in 1947.

Her Majesty's pets accompany her everywhere, staying in palaces and castles, travelling in chauffeur-driven limousines, by private plane or helicopter and are carried down aircraft steps by aides.

She has stopped breeding Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and no longer replaces the pets as they die, as she doesn't want to leave any behind when she passes away.

But what of her two remaining dogs Holly and Willow.. it is said to start with a brisk early walk with a footman. 

But as soon as the Queen wakes, the eager pets meet her and accompany her to breakfast where, sources have previously revealed, they are slipped slices of toast slathered in butter and marmalade from the table. 

Lunch is cooked for them from scratch from an ever-changing menu (which apparently is altered daily and posted to the kitchen walls) and lovingly served to the pets in highly polished bowls, often by the Queen herself. 

Former royal chef Darren McGrady, who worked for the Queen for 11 years, once revealed:  “One day it would be chuck steadk, which we boiled and served with finely chopped boiled cabbage and white rice. The next they’d have poached chicken or liver. Or rabbits shot by William or Harry that we’d clean, cook, debone and chop for the dogs."

After lunch the trio take to the grounds for a brisk afternoon walk, before it is back home for a tea of handmade gravy and freshly baked scones and a dinner steak and chicken breast. 













It seems Her Majesty's love of her dogs even extends to providing them with Christmas gifts each year - including a stocking filled with crackers, cakes and a strictly non-squeaking toy.


Brian Hoey, author of Not In Front Of The Corgis, a book about life with the royals, says: "Nobody is allowed to raise a finger or a voice to any of the dogs. They cock their legs and do what corgis do wherever they want — on antique furniture, priceless carpets . . ."


She is, after all…


The Queen




Long Live the Queen

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012