Country of Origin
The King Charles Spaniel (which is its British name—the American name is ‘English Toy Spaniel’) was created by crossing small Spaniels with a short snouted breed such as the Pug or Japanese Chin. It was brought to Scotland from Continental Europe (possibly by Mary, Queen of Scots) in the 1500’s or 1600’s, where it became a fashionable lap dog and companion for the noble class. King Charles Spaniels were also popular lap warmers (and flea magnets) for the lower class. King Charles II, for whom the breed is named, grew up with a pet King Charles Spaniel (then known as the Toy Spaniel), and was such a big fan of the breed that he was accused of neglecting his official duties to spend time with his pet Spaniels. He once issued a decree that the breed could not be forbidden entry to any building, including Parliament! Some King Charles Spaniels, such as the red and white ‘Blenheims’, served as hunting dogs, but most strains were bred for appearance rather than work capacity. Over the years, the breed became smaller with a shorter nose. It continues to this day as a popular pet.
The King Charles Spaniel has a shoulder height of 25-30 cm (10-12 in) and weighs 4-5 kg (9-12 lbs). It has a large, round head with a deep stop (point at which the muzzle meets the forehead), large, wide eyes, long, feathery ears and a square, undershot jaw. King Charles Spaniels have flat, silky tails which are docked at 4 in or less. Their pug-like snout, round head and lively colors give them a distinct and attention-grabbing appearance.
The King Charles Spaniel has long, soft, silky hair which is lightly waved. There are four color types which were formerly considered separate breeds: tricolor (‘Prince Charles’), red and white (‘Blenheim’), black and tan (‘King Charles’) and red (‘Ruby’). The American Kennel Club classes the first two (B/PC) separately from the latter (R/KC). The King Charles Spaniel is an average shedder.
The King Charles Spaniel loves to be with its family and craves attention. It is cheerful, playful, and intelligent—an ideal dog to carry with you and share your time with. King Charles Spaniels do not bark frequently. They are generally well behaved, but can sometimes be timid or stubborn.
The King Charles Spaniel gets along well with children (older children are preferable), other dogs, and any household pets. It is friendly, happy, and loving. King Charles Spaniels are devoted to loved ones but suspicious around strangers.
The King Charles Spaniel’s facial folds need to be treated with a special lotion periodically. Its coat must be brushed twice a week. It should be bathed only when necessary. King Charles Spaniels have a life span of 10-12 years. King Charles Spaniels are susceptible to mitral valve disease (a heart condition) and syringomyelia (a spinal condition), which afflicts many members of the breed. They may have a soft spot in the skull, which closes by adulthood and is not considered a risk. Fused toes are also not considered a health risk. King Charles Spaniels may be sensitive to anesthesia and hot weather.
The intelligence of the King Charles Spaniel makes training fairly easy. This breed requires a gentle approach.
The exercise needs of the King Charles Spaniel are uncomplicated. It enjoys walks, but its needs can usually be met with indoor play; it will adapt itself to the activity level of your family. The King Charles Spaniel is well suited to apartment life.