Corgis saved by The Crown: Queen's favourite dog taken off 'at risk' list after boost from Netflix show

Patrick Sawer

They have long been regarded as a breed for the elderly and the genteel upper middle class, chief among them the Queen.

So much so that the cachet of the Corgi has plummeted in recent years, even threatening the viability of the breed.

But the popularity of the award winning Netflix drama The Crown, showing a much younger and arguably more a la mode Queen Elizabeth surrounded by her beloved Corgis, has boosted the fortunes of the breed.

Figures from the Kennel Club’s inquiries website reveal that interest in acquiring a Corgi puppy shot up by 22 per cent following transmission of the second series of The Crown in December last year.

Indeed the breed has now come off the Kennel Club’s list of British dog breeds at risk, bucking a trend which is seeing historic British dogs plummet to dangerously low levels of popularity, in favour of newer and more fashionable breeds.

The Queen, who has owned more than 30 corgis over the years, has been devoted to the breed since childhood, often photographed surrounded by her canine "family" and allowing them a starring role in her video for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. 

Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II with two corgis and a footman during the film shown as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony Credit: Videograb

In 2015, it emerged that she had chosen to breed no more of the animals as pets, because "she didn't want to leave any young dog behind".  But last year, it was reported that she had made an exception to that rule to adopt Whisper, a corgi belonging to her former gamekeeper and friend Bill Fenwick until his death.

David Robson, of the Kennel Club, said|: “The Crown has certainly been important in the resurgence of the Corgi breed. It has increased interest in the breed. Following the transmission of the second series searches for the breed puppies on our web site went up by 22 per cent.”

In one scene in The Crown, depicting the visit to Buckingham Palace of President John F Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy - regarded as one of the most stylish women in the world at the time -  the Queen and the First Lady are seen surrounded by yelping Corgis.

A scene from Season 2 of The Crown showed the Queen in evening dress surrounded by Corgis

Other scenes show the Queen, played by Claire Foy, walking through the palace grounds with the dogs.

Mr Robson said: “People used the have the impression that while Corgis were in the spotlight, because of the Queen, they could be seen by young people as an older person’s dog. Now that’s changed, partly because we are seeing the character of the younger Queen surrounded by them.”

The breed got a further boost when Prince Harry revealed, following the announcement of his engagement to the US actress Meghan Markle, that the Queen’s Corgis prefer his fiancee to him.

“This has clearly helped raise the breed’s profile and enhance their popularity with dog owners and younger people looking to get a dog,” said Mr Robson.

Corgis had been added to the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list of British breeds which number between just 300 and 450 registrations, in 2009. Those that number fewer than 300 annual registrations are on the Kennel Club’s ‘Vulnerable Native Breeds’ list.

The Queen and Jackie Kennedy in Season 2 of The Crown, shortly before a scene where the monarch introduces the First Lady to her Corgis 

But between 2016 and 2017, even before the second series of The Crown which features more of the dogs, the number of registrations of Corgis rose by 7.54 per cent from 424 to 456.

The Club’s has now launched a Save Forgotten Dog Breeds campaign to remind people about the 220 breeds of pedigree dog in the country, including those historic native breeds that are at risk of disappearing.

Newly added to the ‘At Watch’ list is the Bullmastiff, after numbering 429 registrations last year, down 73 per cent in the last decade.

Last year several breeds, including the Old English Sheepdog, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Curly Coated Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel and English Toy Terrier dropped to their lowest level , since the list was started.

Overall, the 36 breeds on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds and At Watch lists have declined by 21 per cent in the past five years.

The Queen on the cover of Vanity Fair with her Corgis to commemorate her 90th birthday  Credit: Vanity Fair

Mary Davis, Chairman of the Welsh Corgi League, said: “We are delighted to see the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has grown steadily in popularity and is no longer on the At Watch list. The breed still enjoys some profile thanks to its royal connections and has had a boost from related TV programmes such as The Crown, unlike many other breeds on the list.

“Whilst we always need to make sure people choose the right dog for the right reasons, the Kennel Club’s campaign is critical to saving the British breeds which don’t have any public profile, so they stay in people’s minds. It is the people who discover and come to love our forgotten breeds today who will help keep them going for future generations to enjoy.”

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