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The History of King Charles Spaniels

The History of King Charles Spaniel.


Even though people think that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed is relatively new, it descends from the toy spaniel that has existed for centuries as a companion to royalty. 


Cavaliers descend from toy spaniels depicted in many 16th, 17th, and 18th-century paintings of Northern Europe by Van Dyck, Caspar Netscher, and Gainsborough. The spaniels in those paintings had level heads, high-set ears, and longer noses.


History of King Charles Spaniel in the 17th Century

These spaniels were great favorites of royal and noble families in England, and the earliest recorded appearance of a toy spaniel in England was in a painting of Queen Mary I and King Philip. 

Mary Queen of Scots also had a toy spaniel that accompanied her as she walked to her beheading, and her grandson, Charles I, and great-grandson, Charles II, who gave their name to the breed, loved the little dogs as well.

It’s also said that King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685, never went anywhere without at least two or three of these little spaniels. 

The love was so strong that the king was accused of neglecting the kingdom to take care of the dogs. 

He was known as the Cavalier king, where the breed gets the other part of its name. This was evident in the writings of Samuel Pepys in his diary; he describes how the spaniels were allowed to roam anywhere in the Whitehall palace, including on state occasions. 

In an entry dated 1 September 1666, when he described a council meeting, Pepys wrote, “All I observed there was the silliness of the King, playing with his dog all the while and not minding the business.”


History of King Charles Spaniel After Charles II’s death

After the death of Charles II, the King Charles Spaniels’ popularity waned, and they went out of fashion, being replaced in favour by Pugs and other short-faced breeds that became the new royal favourites at that time, King William III and Queen Mary II. 

The King Charles Spaniels were crossbred with these dogs, eventually leading to drastic physical changes, such as the shorter nose and the domed head. 

But despite the introduction of the pug’s toy, spaniels were still popular with the upper classes as ladies’ dogs as they would often carry small toy-sized spaniels as they travelled around town. 

They were also frequently featured in literature and art, such as On Rover, a Lady’s Spaniel, Jonathan Swift’s Satire of  Ambrose Philips poem to the daughter of the Lord Lieutenant. 

He describes the features of an English toy, specifically a  forehead large and high, among other physical characteristics of the breed.

History of King Charles Spaniel 19th Century with the Duke of Marlborough

There was also one stronghold of the King Charles Spaniels that was of the type that King Charles himself loved, and that was at Blenheim Palace, the country domain of the Dukes of Marlborough.

 Here, a kind of red and white Toy Spaniels continued to be bred, which is why Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with this colouration are called Blenheim today. 

These varieties of toy spaniel were occasionally used in hunting, as the Sportsman’s Repository reported in 1830 of the Blenheim Spaniel.

In the early days, there was no recognized standard of points for the breed, and no dog shows yet; the type and size of the toy spaniels bred by the Dukes of Marlborough varied.

 In the mid-19th Century, during Queens victoria’s reign, English breeders started holding dog shows and trying to refine different dog breeds, so enthusiasts began to breed dogs seriously.

 By then, the toy spaniel was accepted as having a flat face, undershot jaw, domed skull, and large, round, front-facing eyes.

 The King Charles Spaniels portrayed in paintings from earlier centuries were almost extinct. But since this type of dog was still popular and a lovely breed, especially among the royals during the late 19th Century.

 In 1896 Ott von Bismarck purchased a king Charles Spaniel from an American Kennel for 1000$; the dog weighed less than 2 pounds and had been disqualified from the Westminster Kennel Club the previous year because of its weight.


History of King Charles Spaniel in the 20th Century

During the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge, a great lover of Toy Spaniels, began searching in England for toy spaniels that looked like those in the old paintings. 

He searched for over five years, even taking his search to the Crufts Dog Show, where he persuaded the Kennel Club (England’s equivalent to the American Kennel Club) to allow him to offer 25 pounds sterling, a vast sum at the time for the best dog and best bitch of the sort seen in King Charles II’s reign. He offered this prize for five years.

When Miss Mostyn Walker submitted Ann’s Son for examination in 1928, she was given the 25-pound prize.

 Roswell Eldridge passed away just one month prior to Crufts; therefore, he did not live to see the award being accepted. A breed club was established as interest in the breed increased.

 To distinguish the breed from King Charles Spaniel with a Flat Face, the term Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was adopted (the English Tot Spaniel in the United States).

The club held its maiden gathering on the second day of Crufts in 1928 and drew up a variety standard, a composed depiction of how the variety ought to look, and it was practically the same as it is today. 

Ann’s Son, the property of Miss Mostyn Walker, was presented as an example of the breed, and club members gathered up all of the copies of pictures of the old paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries with little dogs of this type in them. 

All club members agreed that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels would be kept as natural as possible, and trimming and shaping the dog for the show ring would be discouraged.

Progress was slow for the next few years as the Kennel Club was reluctant to recognize the new breed. With no challenge certificates, few people were sufficiently interested in trying and raising a breed with no sales value.

In 1945, after multiple efforts by the breeders, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was acknowledged as a separate breed. 

The first Cavalier Champion was appropriately owned by Mrs Pitt’s daughter Jane, and he was Ch. Daywell Roger. 

He had been bred by Lt. Col. and Mrs Brierly and was widely used at stud; Dywell Roger significantly contributed to the breed’s development in the middle of the Century.

During the 1940s, two male Cavaliers were imported into the U.S. from England. Still, In the 1940s, two male Cavaliers were imported into the U.S. from England.

At the time, she found that she couldn’t register her dogs with the American Kennel Club, she contacted people in the U.S. who had Cavaliers, and at the time, there were less than twelve.

In 1954, she established the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA), the official breed club and the only registered body for Cavaliers in the United States for over fifty years.

 During these years, the CKCSC, USA members decided against pushing for full recognition of the breed, feeling that the club’s strict code of ethics prevented the breed from commercially being bred. 

They feared that when the breed is recognized too much, it would become too popular and, therefore, too attractive for breeders who wouldn’t maintain their established standards.

 For the most part, they kept the AKC Miscellaneous status so that members who wanted to show their dogs in obedience could do so.

 In 1992he AKC invited the CKCSC, USA, to become the parent club for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the membership declined. 

A horde of CKCSC USA members established the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC) and applied to the AKC for parent-club status. 

This was granted, and the AKC formally acknowledged the breed in March 1995.

The CKCSC, USA, is an independent breed registry; however, the ACKCSC is the parent club for the breed within the AKC.



King Charles Spaniel, also known as the English Toy Spaniel, is a dog originating in England. It is a small spaniel that was initially bred as a lap dog for King Charles II.

King Charles Spaniel was bred from other small spaniels and shares many characteristics with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Blenheim Spaniel.

King Charles Spaniel has been around since at least the 17th Century, when it was first seen in paintings by Anthony van Dyck and Peter Lely. 

It’s believed that these early dogs were bred from pugs and various other breeds of toy dogs.

The breed’s name comes from its popularity with King Charles II (who reigned from 1660-1685), who kept several as pets.

It is unclear whether or not the breed has been around long enough to be considered an actual breed or if it is just a variation on other small spaniels like the toy poodle or miniature poodle (which are both recognized as separate breeds).

King Charles Spaniel is between 10-12 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 8-10 pounds. They have long silky coats that come in brown, black, tan, or apricot colors.

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