7 Memorable Corgis From Pop Culture

Holly, the Queen's corgi // YouTube
Holly, the Queen's corgi // YouTube

If you’re somehow still unaware of the cuddly cuteness that is the corgi, that’s about to change. The small herding dogs with the long bodies and adorably expressive faces have popped up everywhere, from TV shows to YouTube videos to Instagram. Take a look at some of pop culture's most memorable corgis.

1. HOLLY

Queen Elizabeth II, the current Queen of England, is a longtime lover of corgis. In 1933, her father, King George VI, brought his seven-year-old daughter Dookie, her first pup. Since then, the Queen has owned dozens of Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Dorgis (a mix between a Corgi and a Dachshund). She frequently walks them herself and has even overseen a corgi breeding program at Windsor Castle. Now 90 years old, the queen has loved and lost many of her corgis; sadly, Holly, who took starred in the 2012 London Olympics opening video, passed away in early October. Holly is buried at Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family's estate in Scotland.

2. RALPH

Born in the summer of 2013, Ralph lives in Northern California with his human family and George, their other corgi. With 238,000 Instagram followers, Ralph delights people around the world with his smiling face, joie de vivre, and overall cuteness. But Ralph’s Instagram is more than cute dog photos. Fans get to watch the story of a growing human family, as seen through a corgi’s eyes. Ralph goes through life with his mom and dad, their toddler son (a.k.a. Ralph’s broham), and their newborn baby girl. If you can’t get enough Ralph in your life, you can buy an annual wall calendar featuring him (and George) wearing bunny ears, colorful hats, and Santa caps.

3. MOLLY, "THE THING OF EVIL"

Author Stephen King's corgi Molly—who he jokingly (we think) calls "The Thing of Evil"—has become a star in her own right, thanks to King's Twitter and Facebook posts about her proclivity for stealing snacks and tearing up soccer balls. "The Thing of Evil" isn't King's first foray into corgi ownership; the author had a corgi named Marlowe in the '90s. He's even written a couple of corgis into his books, including Under the Dome's Horace.

4. EIN

YouTube

Ein, the corgi on the beloved anime Cowboy Bebop, was a main character on the Adult Swim TV show in the early 2000s. According to Cowboy Bebop lore, the crazy smart corgi is a data dog, a lab animal that was genetically engineered to have intelligence superpowers. Ein travels on a spaceship in the year 2071 with his human bounty hunter owners. Although he generally acts like a normal dog, Ein occasionally surprises his owners by showing off his computer hacking skills.

5. LOKI

Born in Oklahoma, Loki moved to Vancouver as a puppy to live with his owners, Tim and Viv. Whether he was walking on the beach, eating, or playing with his pet hamster, Loki racked up more than 800,000 Facebook fans and 700,000 Instagram followers thanks to his antics. He was also fond of costumes—some of his more memorable looks include Harry Potter (Loki Potter from Gryffincorg), Pikachu, and Sherlock Holmes (Sherloki Holmes). Earlier this year, Loki's fans were shocked and heartbroken to learn Loki had fallen ill. They banded together to raise more than $34,000 for his vet bills. Sadly, Loki passed away in September from kidney disease.

6. RUFUS

Although plenty of startups have a company dog or mascot, Rufus might be the most memorable. Born in 1994 in California, Rufus was Amazon.com’s original mascot. Owned by one of the e-commerce giant's first engineers, Rufus attended company meetings and chased tennis balls through the office. He died in 2009, but Rufus lives on in Amazon’s canine-friendly company culture. Amazon employees are free to bring their dogs to work, and Amazon's Instagram is full of photos of its furry fans (including the Rufus lookalike above). One of the company’s office buildings in Seattle is even named after the beloved pup.

7. SUTTER BROWN

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, lives and works alongside Sutter Brown, the first dog of California. Born in 2003, the Pembroke Welsh corgi lived with the governor’s sister until Brown adopted him after the 2010 election. With more than 18,000 Facebook fans, Sutter has appeared on cards to promote Brown’s tax proposals and even joins the governor in meetings at the state Capitol. Last year, Brown and his wife added to their corgi family when they adopted Colusa, a Pembroke Welsh corgi/border collie mix. In October, Sutter, 13, underwent emergency surgery to remove tumors in his intestines, lymph nodes, and liver. According to Sutter and Colusa's official Facebook page, Sutter is now convalescing at home—and feasting on his favorite foods, including cottage cheese and scrambled eggs.

11 Facts About French Bulldogs

iStock/carolinemaryan
iStock/carolinemaryan

These cute little dogs are enjoying a serious comeback. Here’s the scoop on the fourth most popular dog breed in America. 

1. FRENCH BULLDOGS HAVE ROOTS IN ENGLAND.


iStock/malrok

The French bulldog’s origins are murky, but most sources trace their roots to English bulldogs. Lace makers in England were drawn to the toy version of the dog and would use the smaller pups as lap warmers while they worked. When the lace industry moved to France, they took their dogs with them. There, the English bulldogs probably bred with terriers to create bouledogues français, or French bulldogs. 

2. THEY WERE BRED TO BE GREAT COMPANIONS.

Frenchies are affectionate, friendly dogs that were bred to be companions. Although they’re somewhat slow to be housebroken, they get along well with other dogs and aren’t big barkers. The dogs don’t need much exercise, so they are fine in small areas and enjoy the safety of a crate.

3. THEY CAN'T SWIM.


iStock/ginastancel

As a result of their squat frame and bulbous head, French bulldogs can’t swim, so pool owners should keep a watchful eye on their pups. Keep in mind that if you plan a beach vacation, your furry friend might feel a little left out. 

4. FLYING IS A PROBLEM FOR THEM, TOO.

French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have shorter snouts than other dogs. These pushed-in faces can lead to a variety of breathing problems. This facial structure, coupled with high stress and uncomfortably warm temperatures, can lead to fatal situations for dogs with smaller snouts. Many breeds like bulldogs and pugs have perished while flying, so as a result, many airlines have banned them. 

Luckily there are special airlines just for pets, like Pet Jets. These companies will transport dogs with special needs on their own flights separate from their owners. There's a human on board to take care of any pups that get sick or panic. 

5. THEY MAKE GREAT BABYSITTERS.

When a baby orangutan named Malone was abandoned by his mother, the Twycross Zoo in England didn’t know if he would make it. Luckily, a 9-year-old French bulldog named Bugsy stepped in and took care of the little guy. The pair became fast friends and would even fall asleep together. When Malone was big enough, he joined the other orangutans at the zoo. 

6. THEY'RE SENSITIVE TO CRITICISM.

Frenchies are very sensitive, so they do not take criticism lightly. If you scold a French bulldog, it might take it very seriously and mope around the house. French bulldogs respond better to positive reinforcement and encouragement. 

7. THEY'RE A TALKATIVE BREED. 

French bulldogs might not bark much, but they do like to “talk.” Using a complex system of yawns, yips, and gargles, the dogs can convey the illusion of their own language. Sometimes they will even sing along with you in the car. 

8. THEY HAVE TWO STYLES OF EARS. 


iStock/IvonneW

Originally, French bulldogs had rose-shaped ears, similar to their larger relative, the English bulldog. English breeders much preferred the shape, but American breeders liked the unique bat ears. When a rose-eared bulldog was featured at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1897, American dog fanciers were very angry

9. THIS CONTROVERSY LED TO THE FORMATION OF THE FRENCH BULL DOG CLUB OF AMERICA.

The FBDCA was founded in protest of the rose-shaped ears. The organization threw its first specialty show in 1898 at New York City’s famed Waldorf-Astoria. The FBDCA website described the event: “amid palms, potted plants, rich rugs and soft divans. Hundreds of engraved invitations were sent out and the cream of New York society showed up. And, of course, rose-eared dogs were not welcomed.”

The somewhat catty efforts of the club led to the breed moving away from rose-shaped ears entirely. Today, French bulldogs feature the bat-shaped ears American breeders fought to showcase. 

10. MOST FRENCH BULLDOGS ARE BORN THROUGH ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION. 

Due to their unusual proportions, the dogs have a little trouble copulating. Males have a hard time reaching the females, and they often get overheated and exhausted when trying to get things going. As a result, a large majority of French bulldogs are created through artificial insemination. While this measure makes each litter of pups more expensive, it also allows breeders to check for potential problems during the process. 

French bulldogs often also have problems giving birth, so many must undergo a C-section. The operation ensures the dog will not have to weather too much stress and prevents future health complications.

11. CELEBRITIES LOVE FRENCHIES.

Frenchies make plenty of appearances in the tabloids. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, and The Rock have all been seen frolicking with their French bulldogs. Even Leonardo DiCaprio has one—aptly named Django. Hugh Jackman’s Frenchie is named Dali, after the way the dog’s mouth curls like the famous artist’s mustache. 

This article originally ran in 2015.

What’s That Thing That Hangs Off a Turkey’s Face?

iStock.com/JZHunt
iStock.com/JZHunt

That thing is called a snood. And it's there to let the other turkeys know that its owner is kind of a big deal.

When a male turkey—known as a tom—wants to mate, he faces two hurdles. One is his potential mates, the female turkeys (a.k.a. hens). In the realm of turkey mating, the hens wield the power of choice and the toms have to get their attention and win the opportunity to reproduce. Come mating season, a tom will strut around, gobble, puff out his chest, fan his tail, and drag his wings to attract the hens, who then pick which of the toms they’ll mate with.

The second problem for a tom looking for love is the other toms in the area. They’re all competing for the same limited number of hens. Sometimes a good mating display isn’t enough to win a mate, and toms will attack and fight each other to secure a hen. 

This is where the snood comes in. That goofy-looking piece of dangling flesh helps a tom both with choosy hens and with competition from rival males. Having a long snood almost always means that a hen will want to mate with him and that another tom will back down from a fight.

DUDES AND THEIR SNOODS

When two toms are trying to establish dominance, they’ll size each other up. Then they'll either fight, or one will flee.

In the late 1990s, Richard Buchholz, an animal behaviorist who focuses on turkeys, wanted to figure out which, if any, characteristics of a tom turkey could predict how they fare in dominance fights. That is, did bigger turkeys tend to win more scuffles? Did older ones? He also wanted to see if the turkeys used any of these predictive cues when sizing each other up. He looked at various characteristics of dominant toms that fight and win, and compared them to those of subordinate toms that lose fights or run from them. Of all the characteristics he looked at, only “relaxed snood length” seemed to be a reliable predictor of how a tom would do in bird-vs-bird combat. The dominant males, the ones who won fights and got a choice mate, had longer snoods.

With that in mind, Buchholz looked at how toms reacted to other toms with snoods of varying sizes. The birds tended to avoid confrontation with other males with longer snoods, and wouldn’t even feed near them. A big snood, this suggests, says to the other turkeys that this is a tom you don’t want to tangle with. Buchholz noted that snood length correlates with age, body mass, and testosterone, so, to competitors, the snood could be a good indicator of a tom’s aggressiveness, age/experience, size, and overall condition and fighting ability.

IN THE SNOOD FOR LOVE

Once the males have established who’s going to have a chance to mate, the final choice goes to the hen. While the mating display is the main draw for getting a hen to check him out, a tom’s snood helps him out again here.

Like it did for the other males, a tom’s snood signals a lot of information to a female assessing potential mates—it indicates how old and how big he is, and even says something about his health. In another study, Buchholz found that longer-snooded toms carried fewer parasites. If a hen wanted to choose a mate with good genes that might help her offspring grow large, live long, and avoid parasites, a tom’s snood is a good advertisement for his genes. In that study, hens showed a clear preference for toms with longer snoods. In another experiment years later, Buchholz found that healthy hens again showed a strong preference for long snoods and that hens with their own parasite problems were less picky about snood length and checked out more potential mates—perhaps, Buchholz thinks, because the hens recognized their own susceptibility to infection and were willing to invest more time searching for a tom with genes for parasite resistance that would complement their own—but still showed some preference for longer ones.

While a snood might look goofy to us, for a turkey, it’s integral to the mating game, signaling to other toms that they should get out of his way and letting hens know that he’s got what they’re looking for.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2013.

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