Selecting an English Toy Spaniel

Choosing an English Toy Spaniel

The English toy spaniel, also called the King Charles spaniel is often confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The English toy spaniel is as adorable and loving as the Cavalier and the most distinguishing difference is the shape of the head and the shortness of the muzzle.

History and Origin

Spaniel-type dogs have been part of our lives for centuries. Some are large and some are small. Tapestries and paintings as far back as the 1400s have depicted small spaniel-like canines. The English toy spaniel, also known as the King Charles spaniel, is one of these beloved spaniels. Although associated with King Charles II, this breed was known in England and Scotland for at least 100 years before his reign. But due to the King’s devotion to the breed, it became quite popular and well known.

At the time of King Charles’ reign, the breed looked more like today’s Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Over time, breeders began altering its appearance until it looked like the dog we know today with a domed head and short muzzle.

In the United States, the breed is known as the English toy spaniel. In most other parts of the world, it is known as the King Charles spaniel, not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. There is also one color variation of the breed (black and tan) known as the King Charles since at the time of King Charles’ reign; most English toy spaniels were black and tan.

The English toy spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886 as a member of the toy group.

Appearance and Size

The English toy spaniel is an adorable little dog with a domed head, large expressive eyes and a short muzzle. The ears are long and hang. The tail is usually docked. The coat of the English toy spaniel is silky and long with feathers.

The English toy spaniel is often confused with the Cavalier King Charles spaniel but there are some distinctive differences. The Cavalier is larger, longer and taller. The nose of the Cavalier is longer, as is the tail.

The English toy spaniel comes in four colors divided into broken and solid. The broken varieties are referred to as Prince Charles and Blenheim. The Prince Charles is white with black and tan markings (tri-colored) and the Blenheim is white with red markings.

The solid varieties are called the King Charles and ruby. The King Charles is black with tan markings. The ruby is a mahogany red.

The adult English toy spaniel is approximately 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 9 to 15 pounds.


The English toy spaniel is an adorable and affectionate toy breed. He is a born companion and lap dog with the temperament of an extrovert. This dog can be quite lively and even vocal. This breed does not like to spend time alone. He prefers the company of his family or other dogs.

Home and Family Relations

The English toy spaniel loves to be pampered and relishes life indoors. Due to their small size, they make excellent lap dogs and do well with the elderly. This breed can do well in an apartment as long as adequate exercise is provided.

Despite being a gentle and affectionate breed, the English toy spaniel does not have the patience for unruly children. Early socialization and obedience training are important in developing a beloved member of the family.


The English toy spaniel is an intelligent and eager dog. They learn quickly and can be trained in agility and hunting, among other things. Some are difficult to leash train and may be difficult to house train.


Weekly brushing is necessary to prevent mats and tangles. Extra attention should be paid to the fine hair behind the ears.

Special Care

English toy spaniels, like other dogs with short muzzles, do not handle hot humid environments very well.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Chronic valvular disease is a disorder of the valves of the heart. This can result in congestive heart failure.

Patellar luxation is a disorder affecting the kneecap.

Glaucoma and umbilical hernias also occur.

In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.

Legg-Calve Perthes, a disease of the hip joints that leads to lameness.

Intervertebral disk disease is a disorder involving the disks between the spine. Affected dogs are painful. In severe cases, rear leg paralysis can occur.

Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excess fluid builds up around the brain leading to neurologic disorders.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 and 5 years.

Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.

Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.

The life span of the English toy spaniel is 10 to 12 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.