English Toy Spaniel

Breed Group: Toy

Temperament and Behavior

Although smaller, English Toy Spaniels, called Charlies by their fans, are similar to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and is close to the perfect “inside” dog in many ways. They are a sweet gentle breed who enjoys playing and the company of other dogs. They may be slightly more active than the Cavalier, quite active inside and a small dynamo of activity outside, but they need almost no exercise. Not quite as demonstrative of their love for family as the Cavalier, they still love to be loved. Unlike his Cavalier cousin, Charlies are reserved with strangers. With their easily managed size, they make an excellent choice for seniors. No matter what the senior activity level, they are always ready to join in everything but the most strenuous exercise. They make great traveling companions, with his tiny body easily slipping into a crate that fits under an airplane seat. So what are the challenges you might ask? Though small, he is a spaniel and may have more field instincts than you would expect from such a tiny dog. Because he loves to chase anything from butterflies to squirrels, to low-flying birds, a leash or fenced yard is a necessity for off-leash romps. And his tiny size makes him even more easily injured than the Cavalier. As a result, they are very poorly suited for a home with small children.

Physical Characteristics

The English Toy Spaniel is a tiny dog, with large, dark brown eyes, giving them a sweet, gentle expression. Their coat is soft and silky with a slight wave and long feathering on their ears, legs, and tail. They have long feathery hair on their feet called slippers. English Toy Spaniels range between 9 and 10″ tall and weight between 8 and 15 pounds, though some are oversize. English Toy Spaniels need more coat care than their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel counterpart. Brush them at least twice a week, more when they are shedding. Like the Cavalier, trim the hair in their ears and the bottoms of their paws. Similar to Cavaliers, they shed fairly lightly. They do as well as most dogs in the cold but like other dogs with short muzzles, poorly in heat. English Toy Spaniels come in four colors: 1) Ruby, a rich red color, preferably with no white markings. 2) Blenheim, white with large patches of rich chestnut on the body and solid chestnut colored ears. The chestnut on the ears extends over the face and surrounds both eyes and leaves a wide white blaze running up the center of the face. Some dogs have a small chestnut patch, called the Blenheim Spot, at the top of the skull. 3) Prince Charles, a tri-Color with jet black markings over a white coat with deep tan markings on the cheeks, over the eyes and on the underside of the tail. 4) King Charles (not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) is a Black and Tan color combination, jet black with deep tan markings on the cheeks, over the eyes, inside the ears, on the chest and legs, and on the underside of the tail. Some feel the Prince Charles and Blenheim colors are more active than the Ruby and King Charles varieties which tend to be more laid back. The Prince Charles and King Charles varieties tend to have the most luxurious coat.

Trainer's Notes

Make sure to socialize an English Toy Spaniel extremely well so they do not become shy. They have a stubborn streak and are not as easy to train as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. But they still make a wonderful choice for anyone who wants a loving lap dog.

Photo © by Pleple2000 available under the GNUFDL
English Toy Spaniel

English Toy Spaniel, King Charles color combination


Like their Cavalier cousin, Charlies do not have a long list of health problems in comparison to other breeds, but the ones it has are more devastating. Mitral Valve Disease and PDA are both diseases of the heart. Syringomyelia, a malformation of the skull that produces a progressive neurological disease is a significant problem as well. Finally, although the main registry for Hip Dysplasia has only a small number of English Toy Spaniels in their database, preliminary numbers indicate the condition affects about 1 in 4 dogs. Few Charlies live beyond the age of 12.


Much less popular than the Cavalier, according to the American Kennel Club, the English Toy Spaniel has between 200 and 300 dogs registered each year. This ranks them 123rd on the AKC list of most popular breeds.

Breed History

The English Toy and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels share the same history. They began as a single breed, probably developed from crossing small spaniels with toy breeds from the Orient. King Charles II was so enamored by the Toy Spaniel of England, they became known as the King Charles Spaniel, the name that is still used in England today. In subsequent centuries, the King Charles Spaniel was reduced in size and given a rounder head with a less prominent muzzle through selective breeding. In America, the name was changed to the English Toy Spaniel.

Additional Information

As a result of being similar, many people find themselves comparing the English Toy Spaniel to the Japanese Chin. The English Toy Spaniel is heavier in build, and most people consider him less athletic, and more reserved than the Japanese Chin. King Charles II so loved these dogs he decreed they were to be accepted in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament where animals were never allowed. Today, this decree is still in existence. Other notable owners of the breed are Kings Charles I, and James II, Queen Victoria, the Duke of Marlborough, Marie-Josèphine-Rose de Beauharnais (better known as Napoleon’s wife, Josephine), and Mary Queen of Scots. The national (US) breed club is the English Toy Spaniel Club of America.

Is An English Toy Spaniel THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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