King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

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tricolour, black & tan, ruby, blenheim
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • very gentle, calm and sociable

  • well-suited for keeping in an apartment

  • great with other dogs and familiar non-canine pets

  • reliable watcher

  • needs minimal amount of daily exercise

  • fairly sizeable grooming requirements

  • suspicious towards strange people

  • bad guard dog


The King Charles Spaniel is a buoyant, gregarious and affectionate little dog that was bred solely for companionship in England somewhere in the XVI century. For centuries it was the favourite of English nobility but today the breed is loved by broad masses of canine fanciers throughout the world. Thanks to its all-around friendliness it can be successfully kept in multi-animal households and in families with older children.


The early history of the King Charles Spaniel can be traced back to England of the XVI century. It’s speculated that its progenitors were the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese that arrived to this country from Japan as gifts to English royalty. Soon this dog obtained wide recognition among English aristocrats and became the source of admiration for lots of famous artists of that time. One of its first images appeared in Titian’s «Venus of Urbino». Moreover the breed was portrayed by such renowned Italian painters as Paolo Veronese and Palma Vecchio.

By the early XVII century it also spread to European countries. At that point the English Toy Spaniel attained enormous popularity in its native England. King Charles I and Charles II were reckoned among its most loyal followers. These miniature spaniels were permitted to wander without hindrance, even during official events, throughout the Palace at Hampton Court. The King Charles II was an active promoter of the English Toy Spaniel and in honour of its contribution to its promotion the breed also became known as the King Charles Spaniel.

The Revolution of 1688 brought radical changes in the fate of the English Toy Spaniel. When William and Mary of Orange came to power in England, they arrived with their favourite Pugs. These dogs were heavily crossbred with small English Toy Spaniels and this practice resulted into appearance of the short-muzzled and even tinier modern version of this breed. By the beginning of the XIX flat face and slightly different conformation became the standard for the King Charles Spaniel.

In the first decade of the XX century there was a major disagreement among the breed’s fanciers about its proper name and classification. The Kennel Club of England (KC) insisted on joining the Ruby, Blenheim, Prince Charles and King James varieties into one breed under the name «Toy Spaniel». The Toy Spaniel Club, that patronized these four varieties, opposed resolutely to this decision. This dispute was settled by King Edward VII who offered to name this breed «King Charles Spaniel».

The American Kennel Club (AKC) granted it its official acceptance to the breed in 1904 although this canine organisation decided to register it as «English Toy Spaniel». Nowadays the King Charles Spaniel excels both as a companion animal and a show dog although some of its specimens have great success in agility and obedience competitions.


The King Charles Spaniel possesses outgoing and very gentle character, which makes it an ideal choice for senior citizens. Being a brilliant example of a lap dog it strives for always being beside its masters and preferable on top of them. Strong separation anxiety is frequently seen in its specimens so it’s rather unwise to leave this dog alone for long periods of time. This sedate breed can’t stand rough handling and too lively activities and therefore it doesn’t get along with toddlers. But it’s kind and friendly with older kids who treat it with proper gentleness.

The King Charles Spaniel demonstrates distrustfulness towards strange people but it’s usually incapable of aggressive actions. This dog would definitely prefer to flee from the unpleasant situation than to get involved in some kind of confrontation. However it’s endowed with enough vigilance to make a relatively good watcher. But its diminutive size and kind disposition don’t allow it to become an effective guardian.

The English Toy Spaniel is totally fine with other dogs and can happily get on with one or several its counterparts with similarly calm temperament. Nonetheless the owner must be always present during the first introduction of two unfamiliar canines. As a rule its specimen can’t resist giving a good chase to some street cat and shouldn’t be trusted around non-canine stray animals. On the other part a properly socialised dog usually makes friends with individual household cats and other creatures.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· breathing problems;

· heat intolerance;

· difficulty whelping;

· mitral valve disease;

· patent ductus arteriosis

· slipped stifle;

· eye problems;

· ear infections;

· open fontanelle;

· excessive weight gain.


The grooming of the King Charles Spaniel will takes good amount of your time. It should be carefully brushed every couple of days to avert tangles and mats from forming in its hair. The ears and tail of this dog are much likely to mat without proper care so they should be brushed especially thoroughly.

Lots of masters prefer to use professional service to regularly trim their pets although it isn’t a mandatory requirement. Relatively frequent bathing is essential for this breed.

The ears of the English Toy Spaniel get dirty really quickly and must be periodically cleaned otherwise nasty bacteria will build up and cause ear infections or irritations.


The King Charles Spaniel can be trained basic commands with average amount of efforts. On the whole this breed doesn’t express enough interest in training to excel in obedience or agility competitions. Moreover it’s prone to become a selective listener and usually works best if motivated by something more substantial than a simple praise.

But it’s very easy to teach this dog the norms of proper behaviour in the house and outside. Remember that screaming and physical punishments must never be used in its training regimen because of their total ineffectiveness.


The King Charles Spaniel has very low exercise requirements. This calm dog should be taken on a long daily walk although it will never refuse a chance to run freely in securely enclosed yard. Majority of its specimens are totally happy with relaxing on your sofa after its minimal need for physical activity is properly met. That’s why the King Charles Spaniel is an excellent breed for keeping in a small apartment.

However if this dog is treated as a couch potato and doesn’t get sufficient opportunities to roam and play it will eventually become hyper active, nervous, destructive and yappy indoors.