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The History of the
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Disclaimer: Pleasant Meadows has a "broad" watermark placed on our website to keep our images from being stolen.  The images on this page were found on Google and Pleasant Meadows takes NO CLAIM to them. The original artists and/or photographers are UNKNOWN and Pleasant Meadows will happily give credit to them if their names and/or companies become known to us.

General: An active, graceful, well-balanced dog, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate.


Head: The skull is slightly rounded, but without a dome or peak; it should appear flat because of the high placement of the ears.


Eyes: Large, round and set well apart; color a warm, very dark brown, giving a lustrous, limpid look. There should be slight cushioning under the eyes, which contributes much to the sweet, gentle expression characteristic of the breed. Faults: Small, almond-shaped, prominent, or light eyes; white surrounding the ring.


Nose: There should be a shallow stop, and the length from base of stop to tip of nose should be at least 1-1/2 inches. Nostrils should be well developed and the pigment uniformly black. Putty, or "dudley" noses, and white patches on the nose are serious faults, as are small, pinched nostrils.


Muzzle:  Well tapered; mouth level; lips well covering. Faults: Sharp, pointed or snipey muzzle. Full or pendulous lips. Flesh marks, i.e. patches of pink pigment showing through hair on muzzle.


Teeth: Strong and even, preferably meeting in a scissors bite, although a level bite is permitted. Undershot mouths are greatly to be discouraged; it should be emphasized, however, that a slightly undershot bite in an otherwise well-balanced head with the correct sweet expression should not be penalized in favor of a level mouth with a plain or hard expression. Faults: weak or crooked teeth; crooked jaws.


Ears: Set high, but not close, on top of the head. Leather long, with plenty of silky feathering, and wide enough so that when the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the face.


Neck: Fairly long, without throatiness, well enough muscled to form a slight arch at the crest. Set smoothly into nicely sloping shoulders.


Shoulders: Sloping back gently with moderate angulation, to give the characteristic look of top class and presence.


Body: Short-coupled with ribs well sprung but not barrelled. Chest moderately deep, leaving ample heart room. Back level, leading into strong, muscular hind quarters. Slightly  less body at the flank than at the last rib, but with no tucked-up appearance.


Legs: Forelegs straight and well under the dog, bone moderate, elbows close to the sides. Hind legs moderately muscled; stifles well-turned; hocks well let down. The hind legs viewed from the rear, should parallel each other from hock to heel. Pasterns strong and feet compact with well-cushioned pads. The dog stands level on all four feet. Faults: loose elbows, crooked legs; stifles turned in or out; cow hocks; stilted action; weak pasterns; open feet.


Tail: Set so as to be carried level with the back. Tail should be in constant characteristic motion when dog is in action (wagging). 

Coat: Long and silky and very soft to the touch; free from curl, though a slight wave is permissible. Feathering on ears, legs and tail should be long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature of the breed.

Trimming: NO trimming of the dog is permitted. However, it is permissible, and often desirable, to remove the hair growing between the pads on the underside of the foot.


Size: Height 12 to 13 inches at the withers; weight, proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 pounds. These are ideal heights and weights for showing; slight variations are permissible, and a dog should be penalized only in a fair comparison with one of equal general appearance, type and quality. The weedy specimen is as much to be penalized as the oversized one.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is descended from the small Toy Spaniels seen in so many of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century paintings by Titian, Van Dyck, Lely, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Romney. These paintings show small spaniels with flat heads, high set ears, almond eyes, and rather pointed noses. During Tudor times, Toy Spaniels were quite common as ladies' pets, but it was under the Stuarts that they were given the royal title of King Charles Spaniels.


History tells us that King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three spaniels at his heels. So fond was King Charles II of his little dogs, he wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. This decree is still in existence today in England. As time went by, and with the coming of the Dutch Court, Toy Spaniels went out of fashion and were replaced in popularity by the Pug. One exception was the strain of red and white Toy Spaniels that was bred at Blenheim Palace by various Dukes of Marlborough. 


In the early days, there were no dog shows and no recognized breed standard, so both type and size varied. By the mid-nineteenth century, England took up dog breeding and dog showing seriously. Many breeds were developed and others altered. This brought a new fashion to the Toy Spaniel - dogs with the completely flat face, undershot jaw, domed skull with long, low set ears and large, round frontal eyes of the modern King Charles Spaniel (known in the United States today as the English Toy Spaniel). As a result of this new fashion, the King Charles Spaniel of the type seen in the early paintings became almost extinct.


It was at this stage that an American, Roswell Eldridge, began to search in England for foundation stock for Toy Spaniels that resembled those in the old paintings, including Sir Edwin Landseer’s "The Cavalier's Pets." All he could find were the short-faced modified King Charles Spaniel (Toy Spaniel). Eldridge persisted, persuading the Kennel Club in 1926 to allow him to offer prizes for five years at Crufts Dog Show - twenty-five pounds sterling for the best dog and twenty-five pounds sterling for the best bitch -- for the dogs of the Blenheim variety as seen in King Charles II's reign. The following is a quotation taken from Crufts’catalog: "As shown in the pictures of King Charles II's time, long face no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the center of the skull" and the prizes to go to the nearest to the type described. 

No one among the King Charles breeders took this challenge very seriously as they had worked hard for years to do away with the long nose. Gradually, as the big prizes came to an end, only people really interested in reviving the dogs as they once had been were left to carry on the breeding experiment. At the end of five years little had been achieved, and the Kennel Club was of the opinion that the dogs were not in sufficient numbers, nor of a single type, to merit a breed registration separate from the Charlies.


In 1928 a dog owned by Miss Mostyn Walker, Ann's Son, was awarded the prize. (Unfortunately Roswell Eldridge died in 1928 at age 70, only a month before Crufts, so he never saw the results of his challenge prizes.) It was in the same year that a breed club was founded, and the name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was chosen. It was very important that the association with the name King Charles Spaniel be kept as most breeders bred back to the original type by way of the long-faced throwouts from the kennels of the short-faced variety breeders. Some of the stock threw back to the long-faced variety very quickly. Pioneers were often accused of using outcrosses to other suitable breeds to get the long faces, but this was not true, and crossing to other breeds was not recommended by the club. 

At the first meeting of the club, held the second day of Crufts in 1928, the standard of the breed was drawn up; it was practically the same as it is today. Ann's Son was placed on the table as the live example, and club members brought all the reproductions of pictures of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries they could muster. 

The first recorded Cavaliers in the United States came from England in the 1940s, although several Colonial American paintings include small spaniels of a similar type. Robrull of Veren and Bertie of Rookerynook, two older males belonging to Mrs. Harold Whitman and Mrs. John Schiff, respectively, were thought to be the first imports. However, the true beginning of the breed in this country was in 1952, when Mrs. (Sally) Lyons Brown of Kentucky received a black and tan bitch puppy, Psyche of Eyeworth, as a gift from her good friend in England, Lady Mary Forwood. As happens to most of us, Mrs. Brown found that one Cavalier was not enough, and soon more followed. Mrs. Brown was frustrated to find that she could not register her dogs with the American Kennel Club, because the breed was not recognized at that time. Therefore, she set out to contact any owners whom she could find on this side of the Atlantic, which at that time numbered less than a dozen. She established an active little nucleus of Cavalier enthusiasts among her family and friends in the Louisville, Kentucky area and in 1954 founded the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA), the official breed club and only registering body for Cavaliers in the United States for more than fifty years. Originally begun as an American chapter of the English Cavalier Club, the existence of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA, is directly attributable to Sally Brown's steadfast efforts in creating a stud book and her tireless work to establish the fledgling club. Incorporation took place in 1956, with Sally Brown serving as the club's president until 1962.


It is Mrs. Brown's sister-in-law, Gertrude Polk Brown, who is neverthelessthe acknowledged guardian of the breed in the United States. Trudy Brown was the enthusiastic owner of a puppy from the first litter born to Sally Brown's bitch, Mercury of Eyeworth. After ten years of unyielding efforts to create a solid club and an impeccable stud book, Sally Brown handed over the reins to her sister-in-law, who became its guiding spirit. Trudy's husband, GeorgeGarvin Brown, died in the early 1970s, and several years later she married JayAlbrecht. The death of Trudy Brown Albrecht in 1983 was greatly mourned by all Cavalier enthusiasts.

Another influential person in the early years of the breed in the United States was Elizabeth Spalding. Working with Sally and Trudy Brown in the club's formative years, Miss Spalding also was an exhibitor at club shows, where her dogs were consistent winners. Miss Spalding owned Pargeter Lotus of Kilspindie, who won Best in Show at the first National Specialty in 1962, as well as Pargeter Mermaid, Reserve Best in Show and Best Opposite Sex at that same show. This first specialty show had fourteen dogs and twenty-one bitches entered seventeen Blenheims, eight tricolors, four rubies and six black and tans'for a total number of twenty-six exhibitors, a far cry from the numbers exhibited today. 


In 1992, the CKCSC, USA was invited by the AKC to become its parent club for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but the membership voted nine to one against accepting the AKC's invitation to affiliate. A small group of CKCSC, USA members formed the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC), and they applied to the AKC for parent-club status. This was granted, and in March 1995, the breed was officially recognized by the AKC. The CKCSC, USA continues to operate as an independent breed registry with its own specialty- show system, while the ACKCSC became the parent club for the breed within the AKC. Cavaliers went into competition in the Toy Group in the AKC as of January 1, 1996. The ACKCSC held its first National Specialty in May 1997.

January 1997 saw a historic first when a Cavalier, won Best of Breed and a Toy Group placement at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes in four different colours


Blenheim, Ruby, Tri-colour, and Black and Tan.  


To read more about their colours, please CLICK HERE!

To read about the health issues that are most commonly associated 

with the Cavalier, please follow the links:


Heart Health:


Patellar Health:


Eye Health:

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (among many other breeds) has suffered at the hands of the Kennel Clubs since it's popularity in the UK and the USA has grown -- this happy little spaniel has unfortunately been the victim of growing fashion. To read more about this ...


Please see our page:


The Truth About Kennel Clubs

Manipulative practices EXPOSED and fiercely debated!


Keep in mind that we owe the early on breeders and founders of these clubs for keeping this wonderful breed alive.  We don't believe that the Kennel Clubs are bad, but each breeder is solely responsible for the dogs that they breed, and the practices that they use.

At Pleasant Meadows, we are breeding our Cavaliers back to the original appearance of  "Ann's Son", who was the Cavalier in which the breed standard was based upon back in 1928. You will be able to note if you study Cavalier history from this point onward, that even though Ann's Son was chosen as a prime example of the breed standard that there were not good specimens to then breed to Ann's Son to continue the standard.  Most of the other "Cavaliers" around were still fairly short nosed and round headed which goes against the standard.  Fashion has continuously shaped this little spaniel, and we refuse to be apart of it! Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will be bred firstly for health (which includes proper structure), and for excellent temperament, and then for breed standard.

We feel that our female, Isabella (now retired), is a prime example of what the Cavalier should look like when comparing to Ann's Son.  She has a longer nose and more of a gradual slope of the nose instead of the blunt stops seen on most Cavaliers today, and her head is more natural and not exaggeratedly wide or round.

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