Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have been around for the last five hundred or so years, bringing immense pleasure to the lives of royalty. world leaders and countless ordinary men, women and children. There is speculation as to where the breed originated. Some say Italy, others China. We can be sure that the Toy Spaniel was in England by 1554. A painting by Antonio Moro (which now hangs in Woburn Abbey) show Queen Mary I and Phillip of Spain with a couple of Toy Spaniels at their feet. An all breed catalogue in 1570 by Dr. Johannes Caius included “Spaniel gentle or comforter-a delicate, neat and pretty kind of dog … chamber companions, pleasant play fellows” -words that still apply today.
These beautiful Toy Spaniels dotted Royal History throughout the years, even President Ronald Reagan owned a little blenheim Cavalier, the ‘first’ Cavalier in the White House.
In 1886, the Toy Spaniel Club was founded, which divided the breed into four types according to Color-King Charles (black and whites or black and tans), Blenheim (red and white), Rubies (solid reds and Tricolors). In 1902, the club changed its name to the King Charles Spaniel Club, as requested by King Edward VII.
The I 9th is when the breed began to alter. Serious breeders held shows and began to seriously thing about breeding the Toy Spaniel to a desired type. A shorter, pug like face began to evolve and take favor with the breeders. as did a domed head and longer, low-set cars. The old type Toy Spaniel all but disappeared by Edwardian times.
Re-introduction of the old-type Spaniel can be traced back to a Catalog of the Charles Cruft’s Dog Show in 1926: “Blenheim Spaniels of the Old Type, as shown in the pictures of Charles II’s time, long face, no stop, flat skull not inclined to be domed, with a spot in the centre of skull.” A few people became quite inspired by the crusade to revive the old breed and this hard core banded together. In 1928. the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was formed. The committee studied old paintings to decide on a breed standard. Between 1926 and 1929 Ann’s Son, a key figure in the breed’s history, won the top prize for best dog in the Cruft’s show. Ann’s Son was a Blenheim of such outstanding quality that he attracted many new admirers to the breed. He was also used as a live illustration of the type of breed standard required.
The Cavalier is regularly in the top five most popular breeds in Britain. In 1973, Alansmere Aquarius became the first Cavalier and the first Toy dog to win Best In Show at Cruft’s-a remarkable achievement, only six generations on from Ann’s Son.
Few breeds make such ideal pets: cheap to feed. not too difficult to groom, good-natured. sweet and gentle. TI1ey can fit into the bustling lifestyle of a young family yet they can be just as happy brightening up the lives of those who might otherwise be lonely in their retirement. It’s not hard to believe that once people have a Cavalier they tend to stick with the breed for life.
Temperament is the primary consideration for responsible breeders. If a Cavalier isn’t “active, fearless and very happy,” it isn’t really a Cavalier. A few minor bad habits of the Cavalier are pulling on the lead and barking in the car and need to be taken care of early on.
Adult Cavaliers should weigh between 12 and 20 pounds. They usually stand 12 to 13 inches at the shoulder. The eyes arc large, round and very dark. They should never appear to bulge or be set too closely together.
The ears are another distinctive feature. Set high on the head, leathers should be lengthy and covered with long silky coat. The ears frame face, as long human hair does. The skull between the ears should be almost completely flat, unlike the King Charles which is more domed. The muzzle should meet the skull in a gentle slope, and the nose shouldn’t be to snipey, coarse or blunt.
Teeth are evenly spaced and they should meet to form a level or scissor bite.
The standard calls for the neck to be of moderate length and slightly arched, leading to well-laidback shoulders. These characteristics determine the way the Cavalier carries itself. standing and moving.
Viewed from the front, the forelegs should be straight with elbows tucked in neatly. The legs shouldn’t appear to emerge from one location or be too widely divided in Bulldog fashion.
Toes shouldn’t turn either in or out.
Moderation is called for in bone; coarseness or weediness is undesirable.
The rib cage should be slightly rounded, but not so much that is barrel shaped.
Viewed from the side, the back or topline is straight. It should never dip or roach, whether the dog is standing or moving.
The hindquarters are meant to have well-turned stifles. Rear construction is equally important to good movement in the Cavalier as shoulder placement. From the rear, the back legs should appear straight, turning neither in nor out.
The perfect Cavalier coat is long and silky with a healthy shine. A curly coat is usually a sign the hair is too coarse, but a slight wave is permissible.
There are four recognized color patterns. Ruby, which sometimes a little splash of white is found on the chest, and while this is not desirable it is occasionally forgiven by judges. Black and tan is raven black with bright tan markings above the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears. on the chest, legs and under the tail. Blenheim is pearly white with well-broken-up rich chestnut red markings, the head markings are very important to breeders. The red markings should be even with white on the muzzle leading up to a blaze between the eyes. A red thumbprint, kiss or lozenge, on the forehead is highly prized. And lastly. the tricolor has black on pearly white background where the Blenheim has red. It also has tan markings in the same places as the tan on black and tan Cavaliers.