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 favourite of Queen Elizabeth II. Considering the longest-reigning monarch was on the throne for 70 years before her death on September 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 centre in 2017.
If the new king and queen consort are going to popularise 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?
The British royal family tree is usually associated with pedigree, not strays. So as Dr Sabrina Kong, 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.