Breed Spotlight: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Small Spaniels have always been common throughout England, and evidence of their initial development can be traced all the way back to 1016 CE. As with their larger relatives, their primary use was that of a hunting dog, a role they served for hundreds of years. By the 1500s the spunky little toy-sized Spaniels had climbed their way to companion roles, and served only as a lap dog to the wealthy, as only the affluent were able to keep such dogs that did not have to earn their place in the family. The breed’s predecessor, the King Charles Spaniel, was named for King Charles II, who was an avid aficionado of the small Spaniel types. Within the latter half of the nineteenth century, the toy Spaniels were crossed with Japanese Chins, which resulted in the creation of flat-faced, dome-skulled dogs called King Charles Spaniels, or “Charlies.” The King Charles Spaniel replaced the longer-muzzled, traditional miniaturized Spaniels. 

In 1926, a man by the name of Roswell Eldridge offered a cash reward for anyone who could produce old-type Toy Spaniels without the domed skull. The idea of reviving the old type of Toy Spaniels caught on, and in 1928, the first Cavalier club was formed, a standard was set, and the dogs were eventually recognized as the King Charles Spaniel- Cavalier type. Along with the Charlies, breeders used other breeds, such as the now extinct Toy Trawler Spaniels, as well as ancestors of today’s Brittany and Cocker Spaniels, to produce dogs that they believed were accurate representations of the old type of Toy Spaniels: diminutive in size, longer in muzzle, flatter in skull, but still possessing the sweet and spirited disposition of the Toy Spaniels that the world had come to know and love.

World War II decimated the numbers of the Cavalier, dropping them down to the six individuals that became the building block of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed. Fortunately, as their numbers grew, so did their popularity. The first Cavaliers were brought to the United States in 1956, quickly becoming one of the most popular Spaniel breeds in the country. The breed still retains its popularity to this day.

Want to learn more about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? Click here for the full breed standard.


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