Square-proportioned, compact and cobby, the English toy spaniel is profusely coated with a silky, flowing coat. The coat can be straight or slightly wavy. It has heavy fringing, including feathering on the feet. The hallmarks of the breed, however, is its head and expression. The head should be domed, with lustrous dark eyes and a well-cushioned face, creating a soft, appealing expression.
The haughty English toy spaniel enjoys a life of leisure, punctuated with rollicking romps. It is a lap dog par excellence gentle, amiable, calm and quiet yet it is playful and attentive. It is utterly devoted to its family and reserved with strangers. It is somewhat stubborn.
AKC RANKING 122
FAMILY spaniel, companion
AREA OF ORIGIN England
DATE OF ORIGIN 1600s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION flushing small birds, lapdog
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 10-11 Weight: 8-14
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 10-11 Weight: 8-14
OTHER NAME King Charles spaniel
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Somewhat affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
Although it enjoys a nice walk on leash or a fun game in the house or yard, the English toy spaniel is not overly active and its exercise needs can be met with minimal effort. It does not do well in heat and is temperamentally unsuited for living outside away from its family. Its long coat needs combing twice weekly. Major concerns: patellar luxation
Minor concerns: early tooth loss, "lazy" tongue (never fully extracts into mouth)
Occasionally seen: PDA
Suggested tests: knee
Life span: 10 12 years
Note: A soft spot in the skull (due to incomplete fontanel closure) sometimes occurs. The breed is sensitive to anesthesia.
The English toy spaniel and the cavalier King Charles spaniel share identical early histories. They began as one breed, probably resulting from crosses of small spaniels with Oriental toy breeds. Some evidence supports the theory that Mary, Queen of Scots, brought the first toy spaniels to Scotland with her from France. These "comforter spaniels" became very popular with the wealthy classes, and served as foot and lap warmers as well as delightful companions. They reached their height of early popularity during the 17th-century reign of King Charles II, who so doted on his dogs that the breed was soon called the King Charles spaniel the name by which it is still known in England. These early dogs were all black and tan; other colors were developed later, with the first Duke of Marlborough credited with developing the red-and-white "Blenheims," named after his estate. The red-and-white coloration may have come from crosses with Chinese cocker spaniels. The duke's spaniels were said to be good dogs for hunting woodcock. Most proponents of the breed were more interested in having an eye-catching lap dog than a hunting dog, and in the ensuing centuries the King Charles spaniel was bred down in size and selected for a rounder head and flatter nose. In America, the name was changed to English toy spaniel. The breed is shown in two varieties: the red parti-colored Blenheim and black-and-tan parti-colored Prince Charles; and the red solid-colored Ruby and black-and-tan solid-colored King Charles. The breed has continued to find favor with owners desiring an aristocratic but fun-loving lap dog.