History of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
For many centuries, small breeds of spaniels have been popular in the United Kingdom. Some centuries
later, Toy Spaniels became popular as pets, especially as pets of the royal family. In fact, the King Charles Spaniel was
so named because a Blenheim-coated spaniel was the children's pet in the household of Charles I. Such spaniels can be
seen in many paintings of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. These early spaniels had longer, pointier snouts and thinner-boned
limbs than today's.
Over time, the toy spaniels were replaced in popularity by short-snouted,
dome-headed dogs of Asian descent, such as the Pug and Japanese Chin. The King Charles Spaniel was bred with these dogs, resulting
in the similar-shaped head of today's English Toy Spaniel breed. The King Charles Spaniel remained popular at Blenheim
Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, where the brown and white version was the most popular - resulting in the name Blenheim
for that color combination.
In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldrige
offered twenty-five pounds as a prize for any King Charles Spaniel "of the old-fashioned type" with a longer nose,
flat skull, and a lozenge (spot) in the middle of the crown of the head, sometimes called "the kiss of Buddha,"
"Blenheim Spot," "lozenge" or "Kissing Spot". So, the breed was developed by selective breeding
of short-snouted Spaniels. The result was a dog that resembled the boyhood pet of Charles II of England ("Cavalier King
Charles"), hence the name of the breed.
In 1952, the first Cavaliers were sent to America and a national breed club was
formed soon after, but because of the small numbers of Cavaliers they did not gain full breed recognition for 40 years. January
1, 1996 saw the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel enter American Kennel Club competition as the 140th recognized breed.