In England, the years spanning 1626 and 1661 were significant for a number of reasons, including a long lasting civil war, arrest and execution of King Charles I for treason, Parliament's temporary ten-year suspension of monarchy rule, and then resumption of monarchy rule with the designation of Charles I's son (Charles II) as King. Though it might be difficult to envision many positive events emanating from that time period, the family's pets (Toy Spaniels) did play a vital role in helping the breed gain recognition and maturity. By the time Charles II was placed on the throne in 1661, the Toy Spaniels had been quite elevated in stature. They were designated as King Charles Spaniels and given free rein throughout all palace, public, and governmental locations, including Parliament.
During the mid to late 1800's, experimental cross-breeding took place by British breeders, and many breeds, including the Toy Spaniel, underwent significant structural changes. But during the 1928 Crufts Dog Show, breeders formed a club for the King Charles Spaniel, implementing a Standard which stipulated the original look of the Spaniels that graced the Royal Courts of the 1600's. The name for both the new club and the breed itself was set as Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Seventeen years later (in 1945), the United Kingdom Kennel Club granted separate registration status for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Over the next five years, breeders and owners began exporting the breed to the USA. The American Kennel Club admitted the breed first to its Miscellaneous Class in 1962 and then the Toy Class in 1995.
The Breed Standard approved in January 1995 by the American Kennel Club is very nicely exhibited in stately-looking Cavalier King Charles Spaniels such as those pictured here. As with its name, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is expected to reflect a fearless but gentle character, and an elegant though stately, royal appearance. The untrimmed, unclipped silky smooth coat is an adamant requirement in this breed's Standard. Equally fixed by the Standard is intolerance for a bad temper, shyness, and meanness.
Permitted colorings are: Blenheim (rich chestnut markings well broken up on a clear, perly white ground); Tricolor (black markings on a pearly white background); Ruby (whole-colored rich red); and, Black & Tan (black with tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and on the chest, legs, and tail's underside).
In addition to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's unique royal background and Breed Standard requirements, those interested in adopting this breed should be aware of a serious health concern which is found in all blood lines from all countries. According to the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, the health issue (known as Mitral Valve Disease) is known to progress in this particular breed more rapidly than in other breeds. Hence, close oversight and conscientious health care are major requisites for those who desire to make a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel part of their family. Working only with ethical and reputable breeders who are recommended by the Parent Club will help to ensure adoption of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is as healthy as possible.