King Charles Spaniel

Breed History / Description

The two ‘Royal Spaniels’ – the King Charles and the Cavalier – share a common history in the miniaturisation of sporting spaniels (see Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). 

With the advent of the early dog shows, a Toy Spaniel club was formed and with this came the first Breed Standard. The Kennel Club planned to name the breed the Toy Spaniel but King Edward VII was keen to have the royal connection maintained so the King Charles Spaniel was adopted as the title for the breed. 

Today the King Charles with its domed skull, shorter muzzle and slightly smaller stature is easily distinguished as a separate breed from its cousin the Cavalier, but until 1945 they were shown together as one breed. In the early 20th Century, when short-faced Toy breeds were becoming increasingly popular, these features were selectively bred for by some breeders and until World War I this type was more successful in the show ring. In 1926 a group of breeders preferring the ‘old type’ with the flatter skull and the longer tapered muzzle started to break away in a bid to maintain their preferred type. This lead to their separation, and eventually in 1945 the Kennel Club recognised the King Charles and the Cavalier King Charles as two separate breeds, with the smaller variety, with the domed skull and shorter face, retaining the name which had been bestowed on the toy spaniels by King Edward VII. 

From the 1960s the Cavalier became increasing popular and this lead to a decline in the numbers of King Charles. However, in recent years, the King Charles has seen a remarkable revival with breeders working successfully to improve soundness of movement and a more outgoing temperament within the breed.


Happy, intelligent, toy spaniel, with distinctive domed head. 


Reserved, gentle and affectionate.

Club, K., 2018. The Kennel Club's Breed Standards. 5th ed. London SW1V 2SA: Ebury Press.

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