- The most recognizable feature of the English Toy Spaniel is his head, with its domed skull, large eyes, black nose, and soft, intelligent expression.
- The English Toy Spaniel comes in four colors or patterns: Blenheim (red and white), Ruby (solid red), Prince Charles (tricolor), and King Charles (black and tan). In dog shows, the Blenheim and the Prince Charles compete in one class and the King Charles and the Ruby in another.
AKC group: Toy
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Average size: 8 – 14 pounds
Coat appearance: Silky, medium-length
Coloration: Tricolored (beige, white and black), black and tan, red and white
Other identifiers: Dark eyes and dark-eyed rims; well-proportioned body; scissor-bite teeth; long ears with feathering and medium-to long-length wavy coat; soft expression
Little spaniels probably descend from dogs that were popular in Chinese and Japanese imperial courts. They may share an ancient ancestor with the Pekingese and the Japanese
|Portrait of Queen Mary I and King Philip of England
by Hans Eworth (1558)
Chin. At some point, they made their way to Europe and became prized as companion dogs. Johannes Caius mentioned toy spaniels in his book, Of English Dogges, which was published in 1574. Mary, Queen of Scots had at least one toy spaniel, and it’s said that her son, King James I, received a litter in 1613 as a gift from the Emperor of Japan.
In England, this breed is known as the King Charles Spaniel, because both Charles I and Charles II were very fond of the little dog. Because they were popular with royalty, they were also popular with everyone else, and it wasn’t unusual to see one pictured with the family in a portrait painted by Gainsborough, Rubens, Rembrandt, or Van Dyck. After the death of Charles II and the ouster of his brother, James II, Charles’ niece Mary and her husband William ascended to England’s throne. They brought their own favorite dogs with them: Pugs. Some people bred the toy spaniels and the Pugs together, eventually changing the look of the breed. The body became wider, the face flatter, and the skull more domed.
The American Kennel Club recognized the English Toy Spaniel as a member of the Toy Group in 1886. Today, the ET ranks 126th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The sweet and lovable English Toy Spaniel is a true companion dog. He has an aristocratic bearing, but he’s not a snob at all; picture instead a happy, devoted, quiet dog. He enjoys spending time with the people he loves and will fit himself into their lives. The ET requires little exercise and is happiest perched on his owner’s knee. He does well with other dogs and cats if socialized to them and is gentle and loving to children although he’s not best suited to living with them. He can become overwhelmed by excitement and can be shy and timid when he meets new people or is exposed to new situations.
The English Toy Spaniel, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is susceptible to major health conditions like patellar luxation, and minor issues like early tooth loss, and “lazy tongue,” a condition which causes the tongue to protrude from the mouth. A veterinarian may recommend regular knee tests for the dog.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), hydrocephalus, and fused toes are also seen in some English Toy Spaniels, as well as a soft spot in the dog’s skull due to an incomplete fontanel closure. Some English Toy Spaniels react adversely to anesthesia.
Even though the English Toy Spaniel is not very active, it enjoys a fun indoor or outdoor game or a good on-leash walk. Hot weather does not suit it and, by nature, it cannot live outdoors, away from the comfort of its family. It has a long coat that requires combing twice a week.
They are good for apartment life, relatively inactive indoors, and will do okay without a yard if they are sufficiently exercised. English Toy Spaniels do not do well in temperature extremes.
English Toy Spaniels are pretty bright dogs. They have a strong desire to please their owners however; they have a short attention span. To keep this breed interested during training sessions, delectable treats are necessary. Charlies love tasty treats so this will keep him focused and be his reward for working hard during the session.
This breed makes a wonderful therapy dog. Their small size and love for riding in the car make traveling to hospitals and nursing home facilities easy. Patients enjoy allowing this cute little dog to sit on their laps while stroking their soft coats. Everybody feels better with an English Toy Spaniel around!
English Toy Spaniels are not fans of exercise. They would much rather chill on the couch than to chase a ball in the yard. Although this breed does not require a lot of activity, he does need some exercise to stay healthy and fit. Regular walks are important, but the occasional brisk trot will be beneficial to the Charlie. He might not like it; but it is needed.
This breed is easily enticed with tasty treats. Puzzle toys which hide a treat within tend to keep the English Toy Spaniel intrigued and active inside of the house. Those that have a fenced yard for the dog to play in will find that the Charlie’s playfulness will have him chasing balls and other toys around the yard. Though not the most energetic breed of dog, the English Toy Spaniel will happily spend time playing with kids. That is, until he becomes bored and needs a nap.
The English Toy Spaniel has a long, silky coat that is usually straight but can be slightly wavy. Despite his long coat, this is a wash-and-go dog. Comb him out weekly to prevent mats and tangles, especially those that form behind the ears, elbows, and back legs. A bath every two to four weeks will keep him smelling good, and it doesn’t hurt to wash his face daily — mainly to prevent him from doing it himself by rubbing it on your furniture.
Otherwise, simply clean the ears, trim the toenails, and brush the teeth frequently. The latter is especially important with toy breeds, which are often prone to dental disease. Charlies often have fused toes, which are a normal characteristic of the breed and not something to be concerned about.
Children And Other Pets
English Toy Spaniels can be loving toward children, but they can become overwhelmed by the noise and stimulation young children create. This can lead to biting if they are handled roughly. English Toy Spaniels do very well with other pets, especially if they are raised with them.
Is this breed right for you?
Although the English Toy Spaniel enjoys engaging in play and walks, it is necessary that he lives indoors with his family. Good with school-aged children, the breed is completely content sitting on his owner’s lap all day. In need of regular companionship, he will need to be with a family that is home and available to him constantly.
Did You Know?
English Toy Spaniels used to have their tails docked, and some still do, but this practice is becoming less common. Tail docking is done at an early age, so if you want a puppy with a natural tail, let the breeder know before the pups are born.
|Portrait of a King Charles Spaniel,
by Jean-Baptiste Huet 1778
An urban legend claims that Charles II issued a special decree granting King Charles Spaniels permission to enter any establishment in the UK,overriding “no dog except guide dogs” rules. A variant of this myth relates specifically to the Houses of Parliament. This myth is sometimes instead applied to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The UK Parliament website states: “Contrary to popular rumour, there is no Act of Parliament referring to King Charles spaniels being allowed anywhere in the Palace of Westminster. We are often asked this question and have thoroughly researched it.” Similarly, there is no proof of any such law covering the wider UK. A spokesman for the Kennel Club said: “This law has been quoted from time to time. It is alleged in books that King Charles made this decree but our research hasn’t tracked it down.”
A dream day in the life of the English Toy Spaniel
The English Toy Spaniel will be in no rush to wake up in the morning. Perfectly happy staying in bed with his family members, he will follow you to breakfast once you finally move from your comfort zone. Fill up his bowl to allow him to leisurely eat for the remainder of the day. Engage in a bit of play with his favorite toys, take him for a short walk and end the day with your English Toy Spaniel on your lap.