The Gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful family companion that displays endless affectionate, loyalty and happiness. These traits also make them a popular dog breed to be used as therapy dogs.
They simply love nothing more than spending time with their human whether that’s lying on their lap or fooling around in the garden. If you have a cavalier, you can expect to lose all privacy as they follow your footsteps wherever you go, even the bathroom.
This beautiful breed has the cutest dark, round eyes that will melt anyone’s heart and seduce you into giving them everything they want. Luckily, often all they want is to curl up on your lap.
Whilst they’re a relatively new breed, their direct ancestors, the Toy Spaniel, have been around for centuries and were the chosen companion of royalty between the 16th and 19th century.
Early painting by famous artists, including Van Dyck, depict the original Toy Spaniel as having flat heads, long noses and high-set ears. It was this breed that Mary, Queen of Scots fell in love with and even had one with her when she was beheaded. This affection for Toy Spaniels was carried down to her Grandson, Charles I, and Great Grandson Charles II from whom they get their name.
They were so prized during this time that they were given as gifts to the ladies of the court who would carry them everywhere they went to keep their hands warm.
After Charles II died, their popularity sadly dropped as breeds with short faces became more fashionable. This led to some cross breeding, potentially with Pugs, which changed some features including the development of a shorter nose and domed head.
One notable residence, Blenheim Palace, kept a strain of unspoilt chestnut and white Toy Spaniels that remained the same as the breed King Charles II loved so much. This is why the one of the recognised colours of this breed is today known as Blenheim.
Sadly, the originally Toy Spaniels nearly went extinct in the 19th century but they thankfully managed to survive long enough for an American named Roswell Eldridge to set motions in place that eventually saved the breed. In 1920 he became obsessed with the tiny pooch and, in an effort to have one for himself, he offered a large prize every year at Crufts. 5 years later, a Toy Spaniel named Ann’s Son eventually won the prize and from this moment the breeds popularity began to rise again.
Eventually, the breed was named the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to differentiate themselves from their smaller cousins, the King Charles Spaniel, who’s most differentiating feature is their flatter face. The breed was finally officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1945 after many years of tireless work by breeders.
You can find the breed standard on the Kennel Club’s website here.