History of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Picture above showing my Blenheim coloured Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Charlie. The name Blenheim was used for the chestnut and white coloured coatings of the breed. The name was to honour John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough as he had many of the King Charles Spaniel Variety in the chestnut and whit colour.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a Pedigree dog and a member of the Toy dog group according to the British Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club. The breed is commonly mistaken for the King Charles Spaniel often, however there are clear differences between both breeds making them distinct. The snout of the Cavalier is longer, whereas the snout of the King Charles is similar to that of a Pug (nose squashed on to the face). Historically the main purpose for the breed was to be a lap dog for the wealthy. This was the usual requirement for small toy breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in order to keep their owners warm and to transfer their fleas to the hairs of the dog. The breed was said to have been a favourite of Charles II of England that he went so far as to sign a decree that enabled the breed to be recognised as a royal breed. This entitled the breed to enter public buildings, even the Houses of Parliament. This decree lasted through Charles II’s reign and was even in effect up until the reign of his successor James II.

However the popularity for the breed soon waivered as William and Mary preferred Toy Spaniels with shorter snouts. This changed the physical appearance of the dog that was associated with the time of Charles II. Yet in the nineteenth century Queen Victoria’s Toy Spaniel Dash appeared to look very much like the dogs of Charles II, with the longer snout according to portraits. However it was not until the 1920s that the revival of the traditional of Charles II’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came into place. In the early 1920s an American, Roswell Eldridge came to England for the Crufts dog show, disappointed to learn that the version of Charles II’s Toy Spaniel was no longer in existence in England he decided to make a public advert that said he would offer prize money to a breeder who was successful in re-producing the traditional King Charles Spaniel. However it was not until 1928 when the prize money was given to a Miss Walker and the breed Cavalier King Charles was formed.

‘Blenheim Spaniels of the Old Type, as shown in pictures of Charles II’s time, long face, no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed with spot in centre of skull.  First prize of £25 in Class 947 and 948 are given by Roswell Eldridge Esq., of New York, USA.  Prizes go to nearest to type required.’The advertisement of Roswell Eldridge

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