Culture Magazine

Alfonso’s Royal Family History

By Englishwifeindianlife

Before you adopt a puppy, you research the breed of dog you intend to welcome into your family. I read all I could read about pugs, I learnt that you have to make sure food doesn’t get stored in their wrinkles, they take a while to potty train and because they have a very small nose, they cannot regulate heat very well (he is one pampered pouch, we turn on the air conditioning just for him!).

What I found most interesting about pugs was their history. Originally bred to adorn the laps of Chinese emperors, they then became the companions of European royalty, the pug has a regal history.

The pug is one of the oldest breeds in the world, ancient Chinese documents dating as far back at 700BC have been found telling of a small, short nose dog, matching the pug description. They were adored by the Emperors of China and lived in luxurious palaces of their own, sometimes being guarded by soldiers. Back in those days, Chinese law stated that only the Emperor could own a pug (I guess that is a bit like the Queen of England and her swans!) and illegal ownership of a pug was punishable by death! These dogs required the same level of respect as the Emperors wives, those Emperors sure loved their pugs!

In the late 16th century, China began to trade with European countries and some of those royal pugs were smuggled out of the country. Pugs soon became favorites of royal households throughout Europe. When Prince William of Orange invaded England, he took his Pug with him and one night, as the Prince slept, Spanish assassins crept into his tent. His Pug heard them and alerted his master to the danger, saving his life. The pug then became the official dog of the House of Orange, Dutch royalty. When Prince William traveled from Holland to become king of England, his pugs came with him. They attended his coronation wearing orange ribbons.

Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna and her pug! Photo credit: wikipedia

Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna and her pug!
Photo credit: wikipedia

Marie Antoinette had a Pug named Mops before she married Louis XVI at the age of 15. Sadly, she had to leave him behind once she entered France, I wonder if she let him eat cake? Another famous Frenchwoman, Josephine Bonaparte, had a Pug named Fortune. Before she married Napoleon Bonaparte, Josephine found herself confined in prison and her beloved Pug was the only visitor allowed, she would hide messages in his collar to take to her family. After marriage, Napoleon refused to let the pug sleep on their bed at night. Josephine announced that if the Fortune would not stay in the bed then neither would she. After that, Napoleon shared his bed with Josephine and her pug.

Meanwhile, in China, Pugs continued being bred by the royal families. When the British overran the Chinese Imperial Palace in the 19th century, they discovered several Pugs, and brought them back to England. Pugs then became very popular during the Victorian era and featured in many paintings, postcards, and figurines. Queen Victoria herself had many Pugs, she even bred them. Her majesty made the cropping of pugs ears illegal, Queen Victoria considered it unnecessarily cruel.

fonzi pug

We are not amused!

Whilst our little pug has a regal family history, my husband and I are definitely not royalty. Hopefully Alfonso doesn’t mind living with us, mere peasants!

royal pug

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