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English Toy Spaniel


The English Toy Spaniel, also known as the King Charles Dog, the King Charlie, the Black and Tan Spaniel, the E.T or simply the "Charlie", is a big dog in a small package, famous for its long, flowing coat and association with the rich and famous. English Toy Spaniels are called King Charles Spaniels in their country of origin. Not surprisingly, they are often mistaken for their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cousins. The English Toy Spaniel's ancestors came from the Far East to Europe during the 16th century, probably as gifts from Japanese Emperors to English royalty. Although most spaniels originally were bred to be hunting dogs, the English Toy Spaniel has always been a spoiled lapdog. This is a cheerful, affectionate, extremely friendly dog that makes an ideal indoor companion. The Charlie lives happily in apartments and urban homes and plays well with children.

History & Health


The English Toy Spaniel (fondly referred to as the "Charlie") has a long but well-documented history, with its origins firmly founded in Asia. Most authorities agree that the English Toy Spaniel or its immediate ancestors (probably the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese) came to Europe from Japan in the early part of the 16th century, when exotic lapdogs were extremely popular gifts among royalty. The English Toy Spaniel is prominently featured in art from that era. It reportedly first appeared in Titian's "Venus of Urbino." The dog in that painting is a red-and-white English Toy Spaniel, used to symbolize female seductiveness. Many other 16th century Italian artists, such as Paolo Veronese and Palma Vecchio, used this breed in their work. By the 17th century, the Charlie had become popular throughout Europe. Spanish painters such as Diego Velazquez and Juan de Vales Leal, and Dutch artists such as Peter Paul Rubens and Caspar Netscher, portrayed them in their paintings. Most of the Toy Spaniels in artwork of this era were black-and-white or tricolored. By this time, the breed had gained immense popularity in England. It was a favorite of King Charles I and King Charles II. In his diaries, Samuel Pepys describes how these small spaniels were allowed to roam freely, even during official occasions, throughout the Palace at Hampton Court. King Charles II was one of the biggest advocates of this breed, and his patronage is what led to its official name in England: the King Charles Spaniel.
While the breed remained popular in Britain throughout the Stuart dynasty, the Revolution of 1688 had profound consequences for the breed. When William and Mary of Orange ascended to the throne, they brought their beloved Pugs from Holland with them. They crossed their Pugs with the popular tiny English Toy Spaniels, which led to several significant changes in the breed – most notably, a dramatic shortening of its muzzle and a smaller size. By the early 18th century, depictions of the Charlie began to reflect its flat face and different appearance from the dogs recorded by 16th and 17th century artists.
The popularity of Toy Spaniels in Britain did not wane during the 18th and 19th centuries. They continued to be crossed with shorter-nosed oriental breeds during the 1800s, which stamped in the popular look that we see today: domed heads, prominent eyes and short muzzles. A controversy developed during the early 1900s over the breed's proper name and classification. The Kennel Club of England wanted to combine the Ruby, Blenheim, Prince Charles and King James varieties into a single breed called the "Toy Spaniel." The Toy Spaniel Club, which oversaw these four varieties in England at that time, objected. The dispute was resolved when King Edward VII made it known that he wanted to call the breed the "King Charles Spaniel." By 1904, even the American Kennel Club followed suit and combined all four varieties into one. However, the AKC called the breed the "English Toy Spaniel" and recognized it in its registry in 1886. Some fanciers of these small spaniels preferred the original, larger, longer-muzzled type. They split off and eventually developed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which is close but certainly not identical to its English Toy Spaniel cousin.

Health Predispositions

The English Toy Spaniel is a moderately healthy breed with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, glaucoma, distichia, retinal dysplasia, hyaloid artery remnant disorder, hydrocephalus, open fontanelles, umbilical hernias, ear infections, mitral valve disease, congestive heart failure, patellar luxation, patent ductus arteriosus, vertebral disc disease and "hanging tongue." Charlies tend to have fused toes, which is not a cause for concern in this breed.

Temperament & Personality


The English Toy Spaniel is one of the most easy-going and amiable of all Toy breeds. They are known for their cheerful, playful dispositions and love of lounging on laps. They are discriminating about who they choose to adore. However, once they make up their minds, they are passionately affectionate. To be chosen by a Charlie is a life-long, extremely rewarding experience. Charlies make wonderful family dogs, as long as they are raised properly. They are naturally well-behaved, quiet for a Toy breed and not overly demanding. They can be shy with strangers but are boisterous with immediate family members. English Toys love their people, but they also are fairly independent and need plenty of alone time. They are fairly fragile and do not appreciate rough handling. Charlies will snap or bite if they are uncomfortable, frightened, threatened or mistreated. They certainly are not mean, and they don't make good guard dogs. However, they do make great companions for the elderly and for city-dwellers, especially since they are not an especially barky breed. They can become overwhelmed in chaotic households, especially ones with young, unsupervised children. English Toy Spaniels usually get along well with other dogs, if they are properly introduced. They are willing to please, but can be a bit stubborn.

Activity Level

English Toy Spaniels make great apartment dogs. They are lazy by nature and only need a bit of exercise to stay healthy and content. A daily walk around the block or a romp in a well-fenced yard usually is enough exercise for a Charlie. They still need to be socialized with strangers and given time to play with other dogs. Charlies normally prefer the company of people over that of other animals. However, they are not naturally aggressive and, with proper supervision and training, will play well with others. Because their soft wavy coats are prone to matting, Charlies do best playing on grass in areas that are free from mud, sticks and other debris. Toy Spaniels are not known as fans of water, but some do enjoy a quick swim in warm weather.


English Toy Spaniels are bred and born to please. However, because they have a hard time focusing on specific tasks for any prolonged period of time, they can be a bit difficult to train. English Toys enjoy eating, so training them with a combination of tasty rewards and consistent positive reinforcement works best. These are extremely intelligent animals. When they learn a trick or task, they usually remember it for life, as long as the command is frequently reinforced. English Toy Spaniels do not respond well to physical punishment, loud voices or other forms of negative reinforcement. Use of harsh training techniques will damage the trust that is essential to a healthy relationship between dog and owner.

Behavioral Traits

English Toy Spaniels have almost no bark and little, if any, bite. When confronted, they are more likely to cower than stand and fight. These are not guard dogs. They can be good watch dogs, because they will use their voice to announce the arrival of guests at the front door. Most of the time, however, they are quiet. English Toys give energetic, enthusiastic greetings to their owners, expressing their boundless delight at welcoming "their people" home. These are lap dogs. They prefer to sleep in bed with their owners and do not do well in crates. They love to eat and can become fat if overfed. This breed is predisposed to developing separation anxiety if isolated from their people for long periods of time. Because of their portability and relative quietness, they make terrific traveling companions. Charlies aren't the best dogs for households with young children, because they can become nippy when irritated by unsupervised kids. Children can hurt Toy Spaniels, and even kill them, by squeezing them or falling on top of them. Charlies can be very clownish and entertaining. They have just enough of the spaniel hunting instinct to get themselves into trouble, and so should never be off-leash unless they are in a safely fenced area.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The English Toy Spaniel is a compact, cobby and essentially square toy dog possessed of a short-nosed, domed head, a merry and affectionate demeanor and a silky, flowing coat. His compact, sturdy body and charming temperament, together with his rounded head, lustrous dark eye, and well cushioned face, proclaim him a dog of distinction and character. The important characteristics of the breed are exemplified by the head.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - The most desirable weight of an adult is eight to fourteen pounds. General symmetry and substance are more important than the actual weight; however, all other things being equal, the smaller sized dog is to be preferred. Proportion - Compact and essentially square in shape, built on cobby lines. Substance - Sturdy of frame, solidly constructed.

Head large in comparison to size, with a plush, chubby look, albeit with a degree of refinement which prevents it from being coarse. Expression Soft and appealing, indicating an intelligent nature. Eyes Large and very dark brown or black, set squarely on line with the nose, with little or no white showing. The eye rims should be black. Ears Very long and set low and close to the head, fringed with heavy feathering. Skull High and well domed; from the side, curves as far out over the eyes as possible. Stop Deep and well-defined. Muzzle Very short, with the nose well laid back and with well developed cushioning under the eyes. Jaw Square, broad, and deep, and well turned up, with lips properly meeting to give a finished appearance. Nose Large and jet black in color, with large, wide open nostrils. Bite Slightly undershot; teeth not to show. A wry mouth should be penalized; a hanging tongue is extremely objectionable.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck-Moderate in length; nicely arched. Topline - Level. Body - Short, compact, square and deep, on cobby lines, with a broad back. Sturdy of frame, with good rib and deep brisket.

The tail is docked to two to four inches in length and carried at or just slightly above the level of the back. The set of the tail is at the back's level. Many are born with a shorter or screw tail which is acceptable. The feather on the tail should be silky and from three to four inches in length, constituting a marked "flag" of a square shape. The tail and its carriage is an index of the breed's attitude and character.

Shoulders well laid back; legs well boned and strong, dropping straight down from the elbow; strong in pastern. Feet, front and rear, are neat and compact; fused toes are often seen and are acceptable.

Rear legs are well muscled and nicely angulated to indicate strength, and parallel of hock.

Profusely coated, heavy fringing on the ears, body, and on the chest, and with flowing feathering on both the front and hind legs, and feathering on the feet. The coat is straight or only slightly wavy, with a silken, glossy texture. Although the Blenheim and the Ruby rarely gain the length of coat and ears of the Prince Charles and King Charles, good coats and long ear fringes are a desired and prized attribute. Over-trimming of the body, feet or tail fringings should be penalized.

The Blenheim (red and white) consists of a pearly white ground with deep red or chestnut markings evenly distributed in large patches. The ears and the cheeks are red, with a blaze of white extending from the nose up the forehead and ending between the ears in a crescentic curve. It is preferable that there be red markings around both eyes. The Blenheim often carries a thumb mark or "Blenheim Spot" placed on the top and the center of the skull.
The Prince Charles (tricolor) consists of a pearly white ground, with evenly distributed black patches, solid black ears and black face markings. It is preferable that there be black markings around both eyes. The tan markings are of a rich color, and on the face, over the eyes, in the lining of the ears, and under the tail.
The King Charles (black and tan) is a rich, glossy black with bright mahogany tan markings appearing on the cheeks, lining of the ears, over the eyes, on the legs and underneath the tail. The presence of a small white chest patch about the size of a quarter, or a few white hairs on the chest of a King Charles Spaniel are not to be penalized; other white markings are an extremely serious fault.
The Ruby is a self-colored, rich mahogany red. The presence of a small white chest patch about the size of a quarter, or a few white hairs on the chest of a Ruby Spaniel are not to be penalized. Other white markings are an extremely serious fault.

Elegant with good reach in the front, and sound, driving rear action. The gait as a whole is free and lively, evidencing stable character and correct construction. In profile, the movement exhibits a good length of stride, and viewed from front and rear it is straight and true, resulting from straight-boned fronts and properly made and muscled hindquarters.

The English Toy Spaniel is a bright and interested little dog, affectionate and willing to please.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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