Breed history. General appearance. Purpose. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a royal dog.


     In Americans opinion, this  breed looks like the American cocker spaniel. In England these dogs are called “comfort creators”.

     Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has medium length hair that requires no cutting, long silky ears and large touching eyes.

     This is a tender, playful and calm, intelligent and small dog with proper dignity. Its relations with man have been seen throughout the whole history of England to our days. The main purpose of these spaniels was to warm their masters in cold winters. Every crown-bearing person had several dogs of this breed as companions and frequently regarded for them as favourite kids.


Sharon Hope Cavalier King Charles Spaniel club USA: 

     “Instruction written in Old  England for a queen was recommended  to keep the "comfort dog" (nowadays  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known) on queen’s knees during winter colds.

     Whereas, in England such dogs lived in the royal household, nowadays owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are presidents, large industrialists, art stars. This is directly related to the fact that the dog has a soothing effect on many people by its calm and friendly nature. They say, the quality of leisure is highly increased when a cavalier dog is taking a nap on one’s knees.

     Ronald and Nancy Reagans, William F. Buckler, Frank Sinatra, Candice Bergen, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Sylvester Stallone, princess Margaret – this is far from a full list of happy owners of cavaliers in our time.  Russian  Princess Anastasia had a dog of this breed.


History of the breed.

This breed requires no advertising, as the history itself is the best advertiser.

     The First mentioning about small spaniels in Britain is referred to the XI century, the time of the King Knut (994-1035). In those times, they were used for hunting. But several centuries later, dogs of the initial breed were kept at the English royal household, but in the role of companions… Canvases of great artists, such as Titian, Vandyke, Leli, Stabs, Gainsborough, Minyar Watteau show a small spaniel with flat head and highly settled ears. In the time of Tudors  toy spaniels were ladies’ dogs. English King Henry VII Tudor (1509-1547) was a famous tyrant, but he had a weakness for small spaniels. A special decree was banned to keep dogs in the royal household, but there was exclusion" for several small spaniels for ladies". Later, during the reign Queen Elizabeth's I daughter, toy spaniels were kept as room dogs, which main task was to bring pleasure to their masters and testify their richness and high social status.

     In the time of Stuarts, they were granted with a royal title. Beginning of the reign of the King Charles I, Cavalier King Charles dogs were very popular among aristocrats. They reached the highest level of popularity in the period of the Stuarts dynasty - Charles I (1600-1649) and Charles II (1630-1685).  Breeding of these dogs was a business for titled persons. It is widely known that the white-red colour (Blenheim) was obtained by Sir John Churchill Marlborough (1650-1722), an ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill, in the Blenheim Palace. This is the origin of the colour.

     History tells us that King Charles II was rarely seen without two or three dogs. His love to his small pets was so great that he couldn’t leave them for long. So a decree was issued to allow King Charles spaniels come to any public place, including the Palace of Parliament, where animals are not allowed. In England this decrees is effective even today.

      The King spaniel appearance changed because the short-muzzle dogs were brought from Japan and China in the 18th centure became popular. Spaniels were cross bred with pugs and Chinese dogs. The head became round, ears became lower and the tail bent. The temper changed with new stubborn traits. As at that time there were no breed standards and dog shows, the initial appearance was almost lost.

     During the time of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in 1886, a club of toy spaniels was founded  and each variety got its name: toy spaniels with black colour were called King Charles, tricolor – Prince Charles, red and white – Blenheim and red ones were called Ruby spaniels.

     In 1926, visitors of the Kraft dog show noticed that exhibited spaniels have little in common with their ancestors in pictures. An American Roswell Eldridge endeavored to find an old-type toy spaniel, such as the one shown in the picture of Sir Edwin Landseer “The Cavalier's Dogs”. But he only managed to find short-muzzle "charles". In 1926 he persuaded the kennel Club to arrange a prize of 25 pounds for those who would present an old-type Charles spaniel in the Kraft dog show within five years.

     In 1928,  a dog owned by Miss Mostin Walker called Ann Son got that prize, but, unfortunately, Eldridge died in 70, a month prior to the Kraft with no chance to see the result.

     In the same year, a King Charles spaniel club was founded called the “Nova”. The old breed got an additional name “Cavalier” which is also connected with famous historical events. The thing is that Cavaliers were supporters of King Charles I during the civil war against Cromwell (1599-1658). At the first meeting of club that took place on the Kraft’s second day, the breed’s standard was prepared. Spaniel named Ann's Son was put on the table to compare it with dogs shown in pictures of the 16-17 centuries.

     From 1928 to 1945, selective works were performed to support the desire type. In 1945 Cavalier King Charles spaniel was registered as an individual breed under No.136 FCI.




Cavalier King Charles spaniel. A little more history.


     King Charles spaniels have ancient history. Back in IX, Celts brought dogs looking like cavaliers into Britain, but until the XIII century no one heard of small spaniels.

     It shall be said that today there are two relative breeds of King Charles spaniel, which are usually called a small English spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel who is a hero of our story. Modern version of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel occurred at the initiative of the American breeder Roswell Eldridge, who helped to arrange a special prize at the Kraft show to make the British breeders to come back to the shape, which he describes as an Old-type Blenheim spaniel. By this Eldridge means a toy spaniel with a longer nose than in the brachy-like King Charles spaniel. It resulted into fast differentiation of breeds beginning with 1944. In 1973 the King Charles spaniel called Alansmere Aquarius became a winner of the Best-in-Show at the largest Kraft dog show in England.


     Minnesingers started talking of them anew by mentioning in their songs elegant and brave dogs with white and black or white and red colour. Later, the dogs became pets of ladies in the household of British kings. But they were not only a pleasure for sweet ladies. In XII and XIV, aristocrats frequently used small spaniels for hunting because of their nice appearance.

     But since time passed more and more Cavalier King Charles spaniels transformed into decorative dogs and became an attribute of rich parlors. They became the most popular during the reign of Tudors and Stuarts. In the literature of that period, small spaniels are often mentioned and a lot of interesting, but not always happy stories are related to this breed. It’s enough to say that one of those dogs of black and white colour was a pet of Marie Stuart ,the queen of Scotland. She accompanied her to the execution.

     In the XIV and XVII centuries representatives of the breed frequently posed to artists. Such popularity testifies how they were loved and esteemed. Truth to tell, artists wouldn’t usually picture dogs with all due details: body parts were either large or thin, noses were either long or short. In general, in pictures, one could hardly recognize these dogs.

     Images of these dogs can be found in ceramics art. Small spaniels were embroidered by Queen Victoria maids of honour. Wonderful statuettes of spaniels were kept in her jewelry box.

     Along with Blenheim colored spaniels, in the time of kings Charles and James, black and white, tricolor and purely red dogs were also known. When in England in 1886, a club of toy spaniels was founded, each variety got its name: toy spaniels with black colour were called King Charles, tricolor spaniels were called Prince Charles, red and white – Blenheim, and red ones were called Ruby spaniels.

     As the English king Eduard VII (1841-1910) wished, all toy spaniels were called King Charles spaniels in memory of the Stuart dynasty and this name gained a foothold forever.

     To the middle of the XIX century, short-muzzle dogs became  more popular. This thing induced English breeders to make corrections in the exterior of toy spaniels, which was achieved by mixing with the blood of pugs.

See breed standard in new tab  Source: