Breed English Toy Spaniel

BreedsAbout the Breed: English Toy Spaniel

Often confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Toy Spaniels are known as the ultimate lap dog—proud, affectionate, and willing to please.


The English Toy Spaniel is a very old breed with origins that trace back to ancient Japan or China. When the Knight Fitz-Ralph returned from the Crusades in the 13th century, he brought with him a strain of small, beautiful spaniels from Italy that are believed to be the foundation of this breed.

Kings and queens of Europe and England enjoyed and cherished the English Toy Spaniel, with reports of them lavishing so much attention on their dogs to the neglect of more important matters.

During the Victorian Era, the breed was crossed with Asian Toys, probably Pug and Japanese Chin, and became what is known in America as the English Toy Spaniel.

In England, the English Toy Spaniel is called the King Charles Spaniel, which causes frequent confusion. The English Toy Spaniel is not the same as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are considered different breeds by the AKC, and both of their respective breed clubs are adamant that their distinctions be respected and maintained.

The English Toy Spaniel was one of the first to be recognized by the AKC, back in 1886. Only the Yorkshire Terrier and the Pug were recognized earlier, in 1885.


English Toy Spaniels want to be as close to their people as possible. They will go to great lengths to wrap themselves around their owner’s ankles, with no fear of being tread upon, for they are totally trusting.  If their owner is seated, the English Toy Spaniel will instantly seek a lap for even closer and more satisfying contact.

Best with:

  • People who want a highly affectionate dog who wants to be as close as possible to them at all times.
  • Apartment dwellers.
  • Homes with fenced yards, to prevent spaniel instincts from chasing birds or butterflies into the street.

Not for:

  • Homes with no fence.
  • Homes where the dog will be left alone all day/night.
  • Families with overzealous youngsters.
  • Owners not willing to maintain regular grooming.


  • Cheerful and affectionate.
  • Calm and easy-going.
  • Seldom bark.
  • Doesn’t need much exercise.
  • Polite and peaceful with other people and pets.


  • Can be clingy.
  • Prone to separation anxiety if left alone.
  • Can get overwhelmed by children and/or rough play.
  • Can sometimes be reserved with strangers.
  • Can be mildly stubborn.
  • Considerable shedding.



Both males and females average 9–10 inches at the shoulder, and range from 8-14 pounds.


The English Toy Spaniel comes in four color varieties. In the United States, each variety has a different name:

  • The black-and-tan variety is called the King Charles (again, not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), because this coloring seems to have been the monarch’s favorite.
  • The black, white, and tan variety is called the Prince Charles.
  • The red and white variety is called the Blenheim, after the palace where the Dukes of Marlborough live, and where Sir Winston Churchill was born.
  • The red variety is called the Ruby.

Energy Level:

Moderate. Playing in the yard is typically plenty of exercise.

Life expectancy:

Average 10 to 12 years.


English Toy Spaniels will do reasonably well with dog-savvy, calm children.

Other animals:

Most English Toy Spaniels coexist peacefully with other pets.


Perfect for snuggling and sitting on your lap. They are smart but can be stubborn during training… patience, consistency, and a positive, gentle approach are keys to success.


The English Toy Spaniel’s long, wavy, silky, and profuse coat needs to be brushed at least twice a week; a long-toothed metal dog comb is good for working out tangles. Left unattended, tangles and mats will develop and can cause skin problems.


Englis Toy Spaniels are generally healthy. Problems include eye conditions, cardiac disease, and luxating patellas.