The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is the direct descendant of the small Toy Spaniels seen in many pictures of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Originating in the United Kingdom, Toy Spaniels were commonly kept as pets of the Royal families during the Tudor times. Their main purpose being to provide companionship and warm the laps of the Ladies of the Court. Thus the Cavalier acquired the nickname "The Comfort Spaniel". Many ladies would hide their Spaniel under their skirts and could often be seen riding in carriages with a Spaniel or two curled up on their lap.
It was because of King Charles II and his love of the little dog, that they were given the Royal title of King Charles Spaniels. It was said that King Charles II was seldom seen without a few Spaniels at his heels. During the early part of the 18th century, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough kept red and white King Charles Spaniels. They were well known for their sporty qualities as well as being companions. His estate was named Blenheim in honor of his victory at the Battle of Blenheim. Because of this influence, the red and white variety of King Charles Spaniel became known as the Blenheim. That long ago battle in France also gave us the legend of the "Blenheim Spot"; a thumb print shaped chestnut marking atop the head of the Blenheim Cavalier. The story goes that awaiting the news of her husband's fate on the battlefield, the nervous Duchess of Marlborough was said to have pressed the head of a pregnant spaniel with her thumb. When the litter was born, all the puppies carried the telltale mark of their mistress' anxious vigil. Although it may just be a bit of folklore, it is a charming story that has continued to be associated with the unique marking since the time of the spaniels living at the Blenheim palace.
As time went by, the King Charles Spaniels started to change in appearance and almost fade away altogether, as other breeds such as Pugs, became more in fashion with the new era. Then in 1926 a man from America, and a great lover of Toy Spaniels, Mr. Roswell Eldrige went over to England and was unpleasantly surprised to find that there were none of the little Spaniels that were once in the classic portraits to be found. This sparked a mission for Mr. Roswell Eldridge and he offered a grand prize of 25 pounds of sterling silver each as a prize for those with quality "old type" Blenheim Spaniels as shown in King Charles II of England's time. Some people entered their Spaniel but unfortunately Eldrige died before seeing his plan come to fruition. Eldridge did spark an interest in several breeders and those breeders formed the first Cavalier Club in 1928. The club created a new standard, based on a dog named "Ann's Son" which they believed was the closest Spaniel to the old type. They recognized the new variety of Spaniels as "King Charles Spaniels, Cavalier type". The history of the new type is relatively recent, although the history dates back to those first Spaniels dwelling in royal palaces.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels wasn't recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1995. The royal breed has risen in popularity ever since and is now the number 17th most popular pure breed in the USA. The Cavalier is one of the most affectionate dogs you will meet. They are extremely patient, eager to please, playful and good with most dogs and children. Cavaliers adapt quickly to almost any environment, family, and bond deeply with their family. They are naturally curious, and have a happy-go-lucky, zest for life. It's hard to feel sad when you have a Cavalier by your side. It's a real honor when a Cavalier cares for you. Queen Victoria owned a Tri Cavalier named Dash. He was considered the Queen's closest childhood friend. He passed away shortly after she became queen; she wrote the following message on his memorial. I think it sums up the Cavalier's meaning in life perfectly; "Here lies Dash, the favorite spaniel of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, by whose command this memorial was erected. He died on the 20th December 1840 in his ninth year. His attachment was without selfishness, his playfulness without malice, his fidelity without deceit. Reader, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of Dash."
The AKC recognizes four official colors: the Blenheim, Tri, Black and Tan, and Ruby Cavalier. Although more uncommon, Cavaliers can also be found in chocolate (brown) colors, which include chocolate and tan, chocolate ruby, chocolate tri, and chocolate Blenheim. They can also come in solid black, & black and white colors. These are non-official colors by A.K.C standards but equally beautiful and 100% Cavalier. The Cavalier weighs between 13-18lbs and stands between 12-13 inches in height.
Sleeping Cavalier puppies.
Two Rubies, a Tri, and a Black and Tan
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This color was named in honor of the Blenheim Palace.
Sometimes a Blenheim Cavalier can have a spot on top of his/her head. This special and prized marking is often called by a few different names, including: a "lozenge spot", "Blenheim spot", "Queen's thumbprint" or an "Angel's kiss".
This color is also referred to as "Prince Charles"
Black & Tan
This color is also referred to as "King Charles"