Historically the dog of the British nobility, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is often seen portrayed in old paintings or antique Staffordshire ornaments. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is descended from the small Toy Spaniels seen in so many of the 16th, 17th and 18th Century paintings by the likes of Titian, Van Dyck, Lely, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney. These paintings show the small spaniel with a flat head, high set ears, almond eyes and a rather pointed nose. 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 and history tells us that King Charles II (1630 – 1685) was seldom seen without two or three 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, he is the only dog allowed to sit in the House of Lords at Parliament in England.
In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldrige offered twenty-five pounds as a prize for any King Charles Spaniel "of the old-fashioned type" with a longer nose, flat skull, and a lozenge (spot) in the middle of the crown of the head, sometimes called "the kiss of Buddha," "Blenheim Spot," or "Kissing Spot". So, the breed was developed by selective breeding of short-snouted Spaniels. The result was a dog that resembled the boyhood pet of the future Charles II of England ("Cavalier King Charles"), whence the breed derives its name. The Cavalier has been the companion of choice to people of nobility for 400 years. Every crowned head of England had one as a companion as a child, as did many in the Dutch court.
By the 1940s these dogs were classified as a separate breed and were given the prefix "Cavalier", to differentiate them from their forebears.
The Kennel Club granted the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels their own registration in 1945. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been shown in the Toy Group of the AKC since 1996.
The new Cavalier is active, graceful, and genuinely noble-looking. He weighs between 14 and 20 pounds and has a long, silky coat with lush feathering on the legs, belly, tail and ears. The coat colors can be Blenheim, tricolor, ruby, and black and tan.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a quiet, gentle dog, soothing to have around, and never aggressive. These qualities, combined with his hardy constitution, make him a both a popular family pet and a great show dog. His placid temperament makes him an ideal dog for apartment dwellers -- he seldom barks and never bites.
Training and intelligence: Cavaliers are very easy to train. They are highly intelligent and willing to listen. Although the Cavalier King Charles is noted as an intelligent dog, they do not make good guard dogs or watch dogs. However, a Cavalier may give a noisy greeting to a stranger alerting his owner to someone's arrival.
Blenheim - Noted by rich chestnut markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be chestnut and the color evenly spaced on the head. It surrounds both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes and ears, the center of which may be the lozenge or "Blenheim spot." The lozenge is a unique and desirable, though not essential, characteristic of the Blenheim. Tricolor – These have jet black markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be black and the color evenly spaced on the head. It surrounds both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes. Other markings include rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears and on the underside of the tail. Ruby – Specimens are whole-colored, rich red. Black and Tan – Characteristics are jet black with rich, bright tan markings over eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest, legs, and the underside of the tail.
Faults for show ring quality include heavy ticking (freckle spots) on Blenheims or Tricolors and white marks on Rubies or Black and Tans.