A sculpture Lithuanian Hound

In the 16th-century Vilnius, the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania echoed with a multitude of sounds that included the barking, whining and growling of dogs. The Grand Dukes of Lithuania and their family members owned canines of various breeds, ranging from small puppies to exceptional hunting dogs.

Dogs were among the most valuable gifts circulating among the royalty of Europe. All the last Jagiellon rulers, from Alexander (1461–1506) to Sigismund Augustus (1520–1572), owned domestic dogs. Stephen Báthory (1533–1586) and the first ruler from the House of Vasa, Sigismund III (1566–1632), as well as the Queens Bona Sforza (1494–1557) and Barbara Radziwiłł (c. 1522 / 1523–1551), also kept dogs, sometimes brought to Vilnius from far away.

The largest packs of dogs, of up to two hundred Hounds and Greyhounds, were kept well outside the Palace of the Grand Dukes, in the royal kennels. The first ones were located well outside the city, in what is today Valakampiai, beside the then summer residence of the ruler. By 1553 they were moved closer and occupied the area between the present-day Green and Mindaugas Bridges.

Learn more about royal dogs in Vilnius by clicking this link.