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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a murky history, with its origin much debated. In spite of that, there is evidence that the breed has existed for centuries. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is frequently depicted in paintings and tapestries of the aristocracy. Paintings dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries show smaller spaniels. The dogs are usually painted with the children of court members. It is believed that Cavaliers were a luxury breed, as non-working dogs would not have been something the common people would not have possessed at the time.
The breed became a favorite of King Charles I of Britain. Called the Cavalier or Toy Spaniel at the time, the name King Charles was soon added. With the continued interest of King Charles II, the breed’s popularity increased until the house of Stuart fell.
With the new royal family established and having a preference for the Pug, it was undesirable to own a dog named after King Charles. Because of this, the breed became rather rare.
As a young child, Queen Victoria owned a Cavalier named Dash. The young Queen held an interest in breeding dogs and formalized dog shows, and because of this, the breed went through a radical change in physical appearance. It became what is now known as the English Toy Spaniel. The newer version of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel became so favored in appearance that the dog depicted in all of those old tapestries and paintings all but disappeared.
An American by the name of Roswell Eldridge visited England in 1920 looking for a pair of spaniels he had seen in paintings by Gainsborough and Copley. There were none to be found, so in 1926, he began offering prizes of 25 pounds for the best specimens of the “Old Type” Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He did this at the Crufts dog show for over 5 years. He endured much ridicule, as any Toy Spaniel that had a head like the older version was considered incorrect. However, his ploy created interest in reviving the old breed, and the 1928 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was formed, and the breed was given recognition by the English Kennel Club in 1944. Since 1946, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has become one of the most popular breeds in England.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel had a following in the United States, and was shown in the Miscellaneous class for quite some time. The American Kennel Club designated the breed as Toy Group and it became eligible for full recognition in 1996.
This toy spaniel should have a balanced appearance. It is active and graceful. The breed is fearless and considered “sportive,” though it is also gentle and affectionate. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel reaches a height of 12-13 inches, and weighs from 13-18 lbs. These proportions are considered ideal, though slight variations are allowed in this breed. The body is somewhat square.
The head is expected to be in proportion to the size of the dog. It should not appear too large or too small for the body. The eyes are large and round, but should not be prominent. They are set well apart, and are usually dark brown. The eyes are warm and expressive. They feature dark rims and cushioning underneath. The ears should not be close. They are set high on top of the head. Ears have plenty of feathering. They are long and leather. They are wide enough that when the dog is alert, the ears fan forward.
The skull is rounded, but appears flat due to the placement of the ears. The muzzle is full and tapers slightly. The nose is black and without other pigmentation. The lips are clean and well developed. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should have a scissors bite.
This breed has a longer neck, a deep chest, and less body at the flank then the ribs. The tail is set and carried gaily, but never above the back. Docking is considered optional, but only 1/3 can be removed. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has laid back shoulders, straight forelegs, muscled hindquarters, and hind legs that are parallel.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a medium length coat that is silky. It should not be curled. There is feathering on the chest, ears, and legs. The feathering on the tail is long. The feet also have feathering, as it is considered a feature of the breed. The coat should be natural, without trimming or excess grooming. Only the hair growing between the pads of the feet should be trimmed.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has several coat colors, each listed with its own specifications for show:
Black and Tan: Black, with tan markings that are clearly discerned over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest, legs, and underside of tail.
Ruby: Covered completely in red.
Blenheim: Chestnut markings broken up on clear white ground. Ears must be chestnut, and the color is even on the head and surrounding the eyes. There is a white blaze between the eyes and ears. At the center of the blaze is the “Blenheim spot.”
Tri Color: Black markings on clear white ground. Ears are black and the color is evenly spaced on the head. There is a white blaze between the eyes. Tan markings appear over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and at the underside of the tail.
Showing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is held to specific standards in show. The eyes should not be almond shaped or light in color. The dog should not have an undershot bite or crooked teeth. The legs should be straight, and not turned out or curved. A coat that is trimmed in any manner is to be severely penalized. Coloring should not have heavy ticking or white spots, depending on the color designation. Shyness or aggression is cause for disqualification. The temperament should be friendly and happy.

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