William & Kate: New Dog in the Family?
That appears to be the case, as the couple take a romantic stroll in North Wales just a few days after Kate turned 30.
At their countryside surroundings, the two snuggled as they walked along the edge of the sea with a new, four-legged friend trotting with them along the damp sand.
There had been reports that William planned to give his bride a puppy for Christmas, and the couple welcomed the New Year playing with some dogs at Kate's family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
Growing up, William had a black Labrador – named Widgeon – and the devoted pal was regularly seen by his side at shoots and polo matches.
While the royals are always big fans – and owners – of black Labradors, the dog by William and Kate's side is most likely a black cocker spaniel.
"It'll be a spaniel," a friend suggests. "The Middletons have always had spaniels. Perhaps Mike and Carole have given them one or it could be one of the family's dogs."
And as speculation rose about whether it was a birthday present for Kate, it emerged that the Duchess's first as a royal was a quiet affair, likely celebrated with William, 29, and her family.
Beforehand, palace sources had said it would be "low-key and private" – and it certainly didn't involve a wide group of friends. "It sends a good signal that not everything has to be a party the whole time," a pal says.
The palace will not comment on the couple's dog.