Why Did Queen Elizabeth II Own So Many Corgis—and What Will Happen to Them Now?

The queen loved her corgis so much, she even called them "family." Here’s why she had such an affinity for the breed and who will care for her dogs now.

Editor’s note: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who sat on the throne for 70 years, has died at 96 years old. In a statement on Sept. 8, 2022, the Royal Family website writes, “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.” The Reader’s Digest team sends condolences to the royal family and all of Britain at this time as we honor her life and legacy. 

Dogs have always been trusted companions for members up and down the British royal family tree, from Charles I’s spaniels to Queen Victoria’s beloved dog, Dash. Yet the longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, outdid them all, breeding 14 generations of corgis during her lifetime. What gives? And now that she has died, will they attend her funeral? Become King Charles III’s dogs and stay at Buckingham Palace? We found out everything you need to know about Queen Elizabeth’s corgis, including how many she raised, why she had a soft spot for the breed and what will happen to them next.

How many corgis did Queen Elizabeth II own?

Queen Elizabeth was always fond of her corgis. However, few people know just how many the queen owned over the course of her lifetime. It is estimated that she raised more than 30 corgis over the past 70 years. (That’s almost as long as her marriage to Prince Philip!) According to royal confidantes, the queen preferred corgis to other dog breeds because of their energy and untamed spirit. If you’re a fan of The Crown, you’ve probably seen Olivia Colman as Elizabeth II with this favored breed on the show.

Why did Queen Elizabeth II always have corgis?

young queen elizabeth with her corgiLisa Sheridan/Getty Images

The unbreakable bond between Elizabeth and her corgis began when the queen’s parents welcomed the royal family’s first corgi, named Dookie, in 1933. In 1944, Queen Elizabeth’s father gave her a corgi named Susan for her 18th birthday. After tagging along on Elizabeth’s honeymoon, Susan gave birth to a pair of puppies in 1949. Thus began the line of royal corgis, which the Queen herself engineered and which lasted for at least 14 generations of dogs.

Queen Elizabeth’s corgis have been her canine companions of choice ever since. At one point, she owned nine corgis simultaneously. Her corgis slept in their own room and ate food prepared by a personal gourmet chef. Aside from the endless amounts of love and affection she felt for (and received from!) them, there was also a more practical reason to keep her corgis around. They provided a way for the queen, like any dog owner, to find common ground with strangers by talking about their pups. Plus, the daily walks and feedings offered a comforting routine for her. Take a look at these adorable corgi pictures and you just may fall in love with the breed too.

Did Queen Elizabeth II still have corgis when she passed away?

The Queen And Duke Of Edinburgh Visit Battersea Dogs And Cats HomeWPA Pool/Getty Images

In recent years, Buckingham Palace no longer echoed with the chirps and barks of the Queen Elizabeth corgis. The last surviving member of the royal corgi family, Willow, died of cancer in April 2018. Whisper, a corgi the queen inherited from a former staff member, passed away in October of the same year. After the last two of Queen Elizabeth’s corgis, Holly and Willow, were born, the queen stopped breeding them because she didn’t want to leave any of them behind when she died.

But that didn’t mean Queen Elizabeth’s corgi obsession—or ownership—came to an end. In her final years, she still had a few furry friends roaming around the palace grounds. She owned two other corgis, named Muick (pronounced Mick) and Sandy, as well as a cocker spaniel named Lissy and a dorgi named Candy. What’s a dorgi? It’s a dachshund and corgi mix that Queen Elizabeth II herself is often credited with creating a few decades ago. Prince Andrew gave Muick to his mother during the pandemic to keep her company, while Sandy was a gift for her 95th birthday from Andrew, Eugenie and Beatrice.

What will happen to Queen Elizabeth’s corgis now?

Don’t worry—the royal pups will be well taken care of, but they won’t remain in Buckingham Palace. Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, who still live together, will look after the corgis, Muick and Sandy, at their sprawling country estate, Royal Lodge, in Windsor. Despite her divorce from Andrew, the Duchess of York maintained a close friendship with the queen, and they often walked their dogs together.

What about Candy and Lissy? Right now, it remains unclear who will be caring for them.

While Queen Elizabeth’s corgis may be the most famous pets to prowl the royal palace, these vintage photos prove that plenty of monarchs have had royal dogs throughout history.

Sources:

  • Royal.uk: “Royal Dogs”
  • BBC: “Corgis: The royal family in danger of dying out”
  • Vanity Fair: “Queen Elizabeth and Her Corgis: A Love Story”

Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.