In one of the final moments of "Downton Abbey" Season 2, Robert frets over the disappearance of Isis, his beloved dog. It did not escape my notice that Isis, a Labrador Retriever, has many of the same personality traits as Robert himself. Was this by chance? Perhaps. It made my mind start spinning nonetheless.
In celebration of two of my favorite things, (1) dogs and (2) English drama, I present to you a mash-up of which dog breeds best represent the characters of the "Downton Abbey" upstairs clan. (...the downstairs list will follow shortly.)
There are lots of photos, so to make it load easier I put it beneath the page break. Enjoy.
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham: Labrador Retriever
Everyone loves a lab, and that's partly because a lab loves everyone. Smart and cheerful, labs work hard to please those around them, and take great care in watching over everyone's well-being. They are smart, good-natured, and aren't bothered by petty annoyances, which is usually important for staying happy within a family. But be careful--although they may look noble and strong, if labs don't get enough attention they'll get lonely and go sniffing around to find love from someone else. They have been known to hump a leg or two.
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham: Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington breed is a delight. So elegant, so graceful, they practically prance as they walk. Their fur in particular illustrates the true Bedlington character: a soft, luxurious undercoat that looks and feels exquisite, but is also mixed with tough, steely fibers for protection. Bedlingtons are loving and playful, they revel in the comforts of relaxing at home with the family, and they see no reason to pick a fight--but they will never be intimidated by any confrontation. Yes, Bedlingtons are bred for their refined character, but they still have scrappy terrier roots. Woe is the foolish soul who provokes the Bedlington, for these little fighters can never be scared into backing down.
Lady Mary: Afghan Hound
With a gorgeous, silken coat and long, elegant limbs, the Afghan has been bred for centuries to be among the most beautiful of breeds. Of course, Afghans are fully aware of how beautiful they are. They walk with their heads held high and proud (and their noses in the air, accordingly). They have an aloof, dignified temperament that can often seem cold; they can't be bothered to play silly games as do the more common dogs. They certainly won't come running just because you called their name. Don't worry, it's just for show; the Afghan is a lover, and makes a devoted companion. They just want to come to you when they are ready, thank you.
Matthew Crawley: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Strong, yet sensitive, the Greater Swiss is simply irresistable. They're so genuinely sweet. They succeed as a working breed, accomplishing their given tasks with enthusiasm, but they also enjoy time goofing off now and then and are always happy to make a new friend. The Greater Swiss is quite gentle, and they show affection without reserve; but they can also be excitable if they get nervous. With a natural instinct for protection, Greater Swiss are completely devoted to their families, and they will step in front of any threat to those they love.
Lady Edith: Saluki
The Saluki is not the friendliest dog. It's not that it doesn't want to be; "joy" and "affection" simply isn't in its nature. Awkward and nervous, they are simply too shy to jump in your lap and lick your face. But please don't be discouraged--they're just waiting for someone to sit down with them, notice them in the corner, and give them the love they so desperately crave. Pity the Saluki, do you? Don't be fooled. The Saluki is also among the fiercest hunters, bred for speed to hunt much larger prey, and will stop at nothing as they run to conquer their kill.
Lady Sybil: Shiba Inu
Oh dear, you do have a handful with the Shiba Inu. Headstrong, always ready for adventure, and glowing with self-confidence, many people have underestimated a Shiba due to their small size and fluffy coat--but it's certainly not a mistake anyone should make twice. Beneath all that luxurious fur there is a strong, capable dog who needs to spend lots of time outdoors accomplishing work. Although don't be surprised if their independence can lead to wandering off and getting into trouble. Are they too smart for their own good? No matter, just one flash of that adorable grin and all is forgiven.
Branson: Australian Shepherd
Gorgeous and smart! Australian Shepherds, a beautiful breed of "working dog," are terribly clever--perhaps too smart for their own good. If they are left on their own for too long they will dream up ways to find a bit of mischief, and they'll go sticking their noses in places they don't belong. They must be stimulated and given a wide berth of freedom, or they will become restless and cause trouble. But with those beautiful eyes, which can come in a variety of colors, who can resist? Ahem, it should also be noted that Australian Shepherds are renowned for having a lot of "stamina." Indeed.
Isobel Crawley: Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a such a smart little dog, filled with plucky personality that love to romp around, explore, enjoy a friendly scuffle with family and friends. Unfortunately, with all that energy, if Shih Tzus are not carefully trained they will forget their place in the family and will try to boss around everyone in the room. They love challenging bigger dogs, and have a reputation as being prone to ankle-biting. As stubborn as they can be, Shih Tzus respond well to firm boundaries and order, where they can feel comfortable in their place.
Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham: Pekingese
They look so sweet and cuddly, don't they? Yes, people often make that mistake with the Pekingese. Little do they know that this little googly-eyed ball of fluff was bred for Chinese royalty, and only the imperial family could own them. Pekingese are proud, noble creatures (certainly nobler than, say, something common like a Shih Tzu), they expect to be treated accordingly, and if they deem their leaders to be weak they will simply take over until everything is to their liking. Speaking of likes--they do not like exercise, they do not tolerate excessive heat, and they do NOT trust people they don't know. Must we all live by the whims and wishes of the Pekingese? Not necessarily. They may have the heart of a warrior, but it is a big heart nonetheless, and they are completely devoted to their families. Those who make the Pekingese the center of attention--and there is no other way--will be rewarded with love and loyalty beyond measure.