King Charles Spaniel

The King Charles Spaniel a breed of small dog that can trace its origin in Japan was bred in the 16th century in England and was widely used to be the companions of aristocratic ladies. This toy version of spaniels has warmed the hearts of wealthy ladies for thousands of years. Also known as comforters, these pampered and indulged dogs have shared the beds of aristocratic ladies and were used as living hot water bottles. These dogs have a burrowing habit. It would not be surprising to see the pet jump on and hide under the covers as these dogs really love to share the bed of the masters. The King Charles Spaniels are people dogs and a true blooded aristocrat. The dog has a will of its own. Although it is extremely devoted to the family, the dog has a deep seated conviction that they should not be made to act on a command. If the dog refuses to move nothing can make it budge, not even gentle cajoling or the promise of tasty treats.

The King Charles Spaniel that are also known as English Toy Spaniel and affectionately called Charles or Ets by breed enthusiasts are often confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Less informed lovers of this breed are further confounded by the fact that the King Charles Spanies comes in four varieties – the King Charles, the Prince Charles, the Ruby and the Blenheim. The Charlies and the Cavaliers are almost the same in size but while the Charlies have a pushed in nose, a Cavalier has slightly longer nose which is about an inch long. The low set ears of a Charlie accentuates the domed head, a Cavalier’s ears that are set on high accentuates the flat shaped skull. However, because some Charlies have higher set ears and some Cavaliers’ ears are set rather low, the point of distinction should be the shape of the head and the nose placement. Typically, Charlies have docked tails while Cavalier’s tails are undocked and left naturally.

The King Charles Spaniel is a through and through lap dog. This breed is only happy when it is near its beloved people. Unlike the Cavalier that is cheerful, lively and very eager to please, the King Charles Spaniels manifest a true aristocratic behavior. These dogs are stand-offish, indifferent to strangers and are known to choose who they would love.


A King Charles Spaniel is basically a small dog with well proportioned compact body. This dog has a large dome shaped head and very long low set ears that are heavily fringed and feathered. This dog has a large black punched in nose, large deeply brown or black eyes. This elegant breed that has a free and lively gait has a short but compact square shaped body, a level topline, a broad back, deep chest and well sprung ribs. The tail that is docked to about 4 inches is well feathered with long silky hair and always carried above the level of the back.

This breed has a profuse straight or slightly wavy, silky and glossy coat. The ears, the body and the chest are heavily fringed. The front and hind legs have flowing feathering. This breed has a profuse straight or slightly wavy silky and glossy coat. The King Charles Spaniel has four varieties of coat colors. The Blenheim is pearly white with bright red markings. Dogs with this coat color often have a thumb mark spot at the center of the skull known as the Blenheim spot. The tricolored Prince Charles has pearly white ground with black and tan markings. The King Charles variety are black and tan coated dogs. The glossy black coat has bright mahogany tan markings.

The Ruby variety has an all mahogany red coat. This variety may have a small white patch on the chest.


The King Charles Spaniel’s prime purpose in life is to be a part of a family. This breed is the ultimate companion especially of older people who can not provide an energetic breed the required exercise. This quiet breed rarely barks but it does have a gregarious and mischievous nature. These dogs are gentle, sweet and playful but are known to demand attention from the family. Dogs are basically chosen by their owners. However this is not true with a King Charles Spaniel as the breed is known to choose its owner. This is a friendly breed but they have the tendency to form a strong attachment to a single person. These aristocratic dogs would often manifest a snooty and a stand-offish attitude. These dogs tend to be shy in front of strangers but they are very affectionate and can even be little clowns to the people they love.

This dog would be the perfect choice for an apartment or for a city dweller. This dog does not need extensive exercise and as they are relatively active inside the house, the exercise requirement of the dog will be provided. A King Charles Spaniel is generally good with children. These dogs however would need to be treated gently and would do well with older children. This is not an aggressive dog but they are known to bite if they are mistreated. If properly socialized, these dogs are known to tolerate other dogs.


The King Charles Spaniel is one of the long haired breeds that does not require extensive grooming. These are “wash and wear” dogs. Regular brushing is all it would take to maintain the good condition of the skin and to keep the coat mat and tangle free. The pendulous ears though would need regular care to prevent wax build up, ear mite infestation as well as ear infection. Some owners shave the inside of the ear to keep them clean and to improve air circulation. This breed has fused pads that have thick double nails. These nails have to be trimmed regularly. A King Charles Spaniel is a breed with no doggie odor but since they are lap dogs and allowed to share the beds of the master, the dogs are usually bathed every two weeks.


Toy version of spaniels has existed for centuries. The King Charles Spaniel also known as English Toy Spaniel dates back to 2000 B.C. This breed of spaniel is considered to be one of the oldest as well as one of the rarest breeds of canines. The King Charles Spaniel is reputed to have originated in Japan, gained acclaim in China and was taken to Spain. On the later part of the 16th century, the dog was taken to England. The Emperor of Japan gifted King James 1 several small spaniel type dogs. From then on these small dogs became the favorites of the British nobility. The English were not the only aristocracy that favored this breed. Legend has it that before the dogs became popular in England Mary Queen of Scots already has specimens of this breed which she brought from France. When the queen was executed in the 16th century, her favorite dog, a black and tan English Toy Spaniel was found drenched in blood hiding in the folds of the queen’s skirt.

15th and 16th century paintings and writings have portrayed this dog. During that era, the dogs have a very different appearance from present day dogs. For one the spaniels then have pointed muzzles. During the reign of Charles 1 and Charles 11 this breed gained enormous prominence. King Charles 11 became an avid fan of the breed so much so that aside from giving his name to the breed he also issued a royal decree giving the dogs free access to any court, palace and any place in the British Empire. This royal decree is still in force up to this day. The king was so devoted to this dogs that critics have commented on the king’s preoccupation with the spaniels. During King Charles’ era only the black and tan variety are extant. The popularity of the breed waned with the fall of the Stuart kings. Interest for the breed was revived during the time of Queen Victoria. This time the dogs bore little resemblance to the “original” spaniels. The difference in the appearance was due to the cross breeding with the Japanese Chin, the pug and the bulldog. The dog is now smaller, with a round head, a short flat face with snub nose and long ears. Four colors also developed. The Black and tan which are the original colors, the rich chestnut red known as Ruby, the Blenheim are those with pearly white ground with large ruby red or chestnut markings the tricolored dogs dubbed as Prince Charles. Because of the changed appearance breeders have tried to change the name of the breed, an idea that was not approved by King Edward V11. Therefore, the King Charles Spaniel name of the breed remained in Britain.

This breed was brought to United States in the early 19th century and was recognized by AKC in 1886. The four color varieties were registered as separate breeds. In 1904, the four color varieties were registered as English Toy Spaniel but categorized by color.

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