The English Toy Spaniel is also known as the King Charles Spaniel. There are several variations of the color in this breed. The “Ruby” is a whole color, all rich red. The “Blenheim” is chestnut markings, broken, on a white background. The ears must be chestnut in color and surrounding both eyes, with a white blaze and a chestnut spot in the middle. The “Tricolor”, known as the “Prince Charles” is jet black markings on a white background with tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears and on the underside of the tail.
The “Black and Tan” is known as the “King Charles” and is a black coloring with tan markings similar to the placement of the markings of the Prince Charles variety. Regardless of color, the head is the most important characteristic of this little dog, it must have a “dome skull” with large round eyes and well turned up nose. In the United States the breed is shown in two varieties and is known as the English Toy Spaniel. One variety consists of the colors of Blenheim and Prince Charles competing in the same class, the other variety is the King Charles and Ruby colors.
When the breed became noticed by the court of King Charles, it became quite fashionable to carry these little spaniel dogs around. Furthermore this breed, developed exclusively as a lap dog, was quite content to do nothing except lie around. They were highly prized for the striking appearance of their faces and expression and the cute “turn up” nose. In fact the head became of such importance that at early dog shows there were exhibitors who carried the dog and it was judged solely on its head rather than on the movement. There were even some events at which the dog won solely on the basis of its head “furnishings” and never was walked in the ring. It became evident that breeders placing so much emphasis on head had developed a breed that was not sound of leg and body, often it was bow legged. Later on more breeders did begin to place more emphasis on the bone and structure and now the King Charles standard requires a longer stride and should move straight and true.
The head of the English Toy Spaniel is quite large and sometimes a natural birth is not possible. Caesarian Sections are sometimes the only way this breed can be born. Also this little dog can have a predisposition to Luxating Patella, a condition which causes the kneecap to slip, this can be a very painful and debilitating condition. It is important that breeders continue to strive to reduce these two problems of the breed. Of most importance in this and others of the Toy group is the notion that the overly developed head should be so highly prized as to prevent natural birth. It is the opinion of most responsible breeders of today that breeds that can not survive the process of a natural birth should be eliminated from the genetic pool.
The character of this little dog is pleasant and non energetic. He is a good dog for the elderly as he is quiet and loves nothing better than to lie in someone’s lap. He more than lives up to the description “lap dog”.