Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

FCI standard Nº 136

Great Britain
Group 9 Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 7 English Toy Spaniels
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Thursday 20 January 1955
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 04 November 2008
Last update
Monday 12 January 2009
En français, cette race se dit
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
En español, esta raza se dice
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


Companion and Toy.

General appearance

Active, graceful and well balanced, with gentle expression.

Behaviour / temperament

Sporting, affectionate, absolutely fearless. Gay, friendly, non-aggressive; no tendency towards nervousness.


Cranial region

Almost flat between ears. 

Facial region

Nostrils black and well developed without flesh marks.
Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 1 1/2 ins. (3,8 cm). Well tapered. Face well filled below eyes. Any tendency to snipiness undesirable.
Well developed and not pendulous.
Jaws and teeth
Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Large, dark, round but not prominent; spaced well apart.
Long, set high, with plenty of feather.


Moderate length, slightly arched.


Moderate; good spring of ribs.


Length of tail in balance with body, well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back. Docking previously optional when no more than one-third was to be removed.



Legs moderately boned, straight.
Well laid back.


Legs with moderate bone.
Well turned.
No tendency to cow- or sickle-hocks.


Compact, cushioned and well feathered.

Gait and movement

Free-moving and elegant in action, plenty of drive from behind. Fore-and hindlegs move parallel when viewed from in front and behind.


Long, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Plenty of feathering. Totally free from trimming.
Recognized colours are :
Black and Tan : Raven black with tan markings above the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest and legs and underside of tail. Tan should be bright. White marks undesirable.
Ruby : Whole coloured rich red. White markings undesirable.
Blenheim : Rich chestnut markings well broken up, on pearly white ground. Markings evenly divided on head, leaving room between ears for much valued lozenge mark or spot (a unique characteristic of the breed).
Tricolour : Black and white well spaced, broken up, with tan markings over eyes, cheeks, inside ears, inside legs, and on underside of tail.
Any other colour or combination of colours highly undesirable.

Size and weight

5,4 - 8 kg (12 - 18 lbs). A small, well-balanced dog well within these weights desirable.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

This easy-going dog has been given a very complicated name, but it has the merit of perfectly summarizing its origins and history.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is part of the Spaniels; in other words, Spaniels. His "cousin", the King Charles Spaniel, is also often listed by the French authors under the name "Epagneul Nain Anglais". From the Renaissance, the Spaniels became, after the ancient Bichons, the most sought after pet dogs on both sides of the Channel. Dwarf Spaniels were the favorites of Charles I, Charles II, Henriette of England, the gentle Mary Stuart and the terrible Elisabeth Ire. A bloody anecdote is that Mary Stuart (1542 - 1587) was accompanied to death by her Dwarf Spaniel, who used to snuggle under her skirts and was found in this position while Mary Stuart was coming from die on the scaffold. To tell the truth, several races claim this tragic honor, for Mary Stuart possessed many dogs. In France, Henry III is represented on a picture with a Spaniel who would have been brought back from Italy; Louis XIV and the Dauphin also had as companions King Charles Spaniels.

These dogs owe their name to the King of England Charles II (1630 - 1685), who loved these miniature Spaniels and had a large number of them. They circulated freely in the royal palaces, especially at Whitehall, and were therefore considered as privileged favorites. They appear on all the paintings representing the sovereign, who took them with him in all his travels, "even when he was in charge of the affairs of the state," wrote the writer Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) with disapproval. Charles II also showed a very moderate interest in his office and often preferred the company of his little Spaniels: "All that I see confirms to me the puerility of the king, who plays with his dogs without stopping, not not very concerned about his duties, "lamented Samuel Pepys in his diary. The king even slept his dogs in his room, he installed the dogs that gave birth, and the puppies were then raised in the royal intimacy, which made the court "disgusting and stinking", according to a writing of the time . The English aristocracy was not long in adopting these dogs, and in a sustainable way, as evidenced by the famous paintings of William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) and Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788).

The King Charles Spaniels were divided into several "families" according to their colors. One of the most famous had a white and orange dress, called "Blenheim" (the orange shade has evolved over time to a brighter tone, bright brown). Blenheim is a town in Bavaria, on the north bank of the Rhine; in 1704, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, captain general of the British armies, won a decisive victory over the French army during the War of the Spanish Succession, Marlborough had as favorite dogs small white and orange Spaniels; his wife, the Duchess Sarah, was hoping in vain for news when, holding on her knees a female Spaniel waiting for little ones, she pressed her thumb firmly on the forehead of the animal. When the puppies were born, it was found that they all wore on the forehead an orange mark, the "mark of the duchess Sarah's thumb." When the news of the duke's victory was known, the small white and orange Spaniels bearing a distinctive mark on the forehead were called "Blenheim". This mark still exists in the current variety Blenheim, under the name of "lozenge".

The King Charles Spaniels, with their most prestigious sponsorships, ran happy days until the English aristocracy became infatuated with a newcomer, with an absolutely amazing facet, the Carlin. The King Charles Spaniel breed had to adapt to the demands of the day and its head acquired a very different physiognomy, due to the intervention of the Pugs but also, from the mid-nineteenth century, the first Japanese Spaniels (Tchin) and Pekingese, who dethroned the Carlin in the hearts of the "high society". Radical transformation, as confirmed by the cynologist Stonehenge in 1879: "The brevity of their muzzle has nothing to do with the old standard, when it was brought to the point where it is currently triumphing. And fast transformation, since we have a painting of the famous animal painter Landseer, dating from the 1830s, titled King Charles Spaniels, or the Prince's favorites, and showing two dogs with elongated snouts.

It is likely that the fashion phenomenon is superimposed another. Because of their relative rarity at that time, the breeds of company ended up withering; the contributions of the short-faced Asian Spaniels and the Carlin were probably as necessary as they were beneficial to these "fairy animals misled among the dogs", to use the expression of the newspaper The Field about the King Charles Spaniels.

The desire to return to the appearance of the 17th century King Charles did not materialize until the 1920s. And it was more precisely in 1926 that a Long Island American, Roswell Elridge, took the initiative to encourage the breeders looking for the original type, with an elongated muzzle, little stop and a skull not dome domed, offering for this purpose a price of 25 pounds, as part of the exhibition Cruft for five years. This price was only addressed to King Charles of the Blenheim variety, presenting in addition the characteristic "lozenge". The English breeders took up the challenge, and after a few years they were able to see King Charles as they appeared in the Hogarth and Gainsborough paintings.

The beginnings, however, were difficult because the breeders were reluctant to take back in the opposite direction the work that had brought them to the short nose. Some breeders, including Mrs. Hewitt Pitt, decided to try the experiment using the left-overs King Charles. Based on the results, a standard was written in 1928, which took as a model the subject closest to the dogs represented on the old paintings, a certain Ann's Son, belonging to Miss Mostyn Walker. It was then decided to name Cavalier King Charles these dogs to the type found to differentiate them from King Charles, with a flat nose and dome-shaped skull, which still constitute a race at present. In short, whether they have flattened or elongated snouts, subjects of both types are entitled to the reference to King Charles. In some countries, moreover, like the United States, the two dogs are found under the, common name of Toys English Spaniels (English Spaniels Toys).

The Kennel Club, however, held, in 1945, to dedicate the distinction between King Charles, known colloquially as "Charlie", and Cavalier King Charles. Since then, the score has turned to the advantage of the Cavalier, who has more success than his "cousin". By 1928, moreover, Cavalier King Charles had a special breed club recognized by the Kennel Club; long before, therefore, a separate inscription was envisaged. From 1946, separate titles of champions were awarded. One of the determining factors of the Cavalier's popularity was undoubtedly his entry into the Royal Family of England. In 1960, Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon adopted a Cavalier, whom they named Rowley, a nod to a distant ancestor of the Princess, named Old Rowley.

The cynophilic consecration came to him thanks to the subject named Alansmere Aquarius. At seventeen months, this Cavalier was successively judged the best of his race at the exhibition of Cruft in 1973, then the best of the group "Toy", and finally "Best in show". He was both the first Cavalier to win this title, and the first Toy. Ten years ago, Amelia of Lagun led the way by becoming the best of the Toys group. Since then, the breed's success has only grown. She is today, in England, among the five most popular breeds, clamoring, with 10,000 births annually, the Yorkshire Terrier. In continental Europe, the Cavalier is mainly used in Holland, Switzerland and the Nordic countries (Sweden and Finland). The beginnings of the Cavalier in France were very discreet. First judged with the King Charles Spaniels, it was noted in 1969, during the exhibition of championship of France, the appearance of a class of Cavaliers, with the participation of two subjects. But the breeding did not really start until 1975, progressing then with big steps. Thus, the year 1987 saw the birth of 692 subjects.

The situation is still relatively confused in the United States since the Cavalier, still part of the English Spaniel Toys, can compete in "various classes". However, Ronald Reagan having offered his wife Nancy a Cavalier in 1986, there is no doubt that the race will develop quickly; the media playing, in the field of canine fashions as in others, their role as advertising promoters.

The breed has kept the Spaniel adaptability, kindness, proverbial abilities of affection. But its format is less: its weight is between 5 and 9 kg, for an average size of 32 to 36 cm. This makes it a very compact dog, without being miniature. It is robust enough; the standard insists on the need for the Cavalier to be well built; to follow his masters in their walks. If necessary, it can be a real little sportsman; this charming luxury object, no doubt remembering that his ancestors were once famous hunters. It is also endowed with a very fine hearing. The Cavalier is thus much more than a carpet-spaniel (word for word, a "carpet spaniel"), a living spaniel; if it is not too heavy to wear, it shows its true nature as soon as it is placed on the ground, where it has a behavior that is in no way that of a pretty trinket. It certainly has a "British" and chic side, a history of the most prestigious, allowing him not to disassemble the most luxurious interiors, but he is above all a small family dog par excellence.

Very sociable, he gives the impression of having an avowed goal, in existence, to make friends: with other dogs, each meeting is an opportunity to find a playmate; even with the feline kind, he is very accommodating and disputes will never be his. But it is especially with children that he shows his unalterable joie de vivre, his permanent taste for play; even when he is getting older. Given its size, it can be entrusted, for walks, to young children.

Neither exclusive nor jealous, it is the living illustration of the adage that the more we are crazy, the more fun we have. But it is not exaggerated or exuberant. He is easily educated because he is not stubborn, understands quickly and has an excellent memory. The English like to make him participate in their Obedience tests (obedience program), where he gets some pretty good results. With a little patience and a little firmness, combined with common sense, we will make the Cavalier a dog easy to live, not causing difficulties. But with masters too good, the Cavalier can be malicious, even capricious.

Usually, the Cavalier barks little, but a subject left too often alone, who is bored, may become a barker, for he loves the company above all else, and ill endures a prolonged solitude. If it is not to be taken for a watchdog, it will easily signal an unusual sound; the presence of a visitor or factor, without ever playing a defensive role because his kindness and friendliness are such that he seems unable to treat someone as an enemy. The Cavalier, made to bring joy in a group, obviously has no vocation to become leader of the pack or to take seriously the defense of the territory.

The creators of the breed, in the twenties, insisted that their dogs remain trimming, that is to say that they are presented "nature" in dog shows, without any grooming artifice. It is true that the hair of the Cavalier, silky, long but not curly, sometimes slightly waved, abundant without being thick, does not require tedious care. Regular brushing followed by a comb is quite sufficient. However, it is at the price of such an interview, even summary, that the Cavalier will have the careful layout that can be admired in the photos. Two to three times a week, the ears, armpits, inside and back of the thighs will be thoroughly brushed. The ears will be frequently checked, especially in the summer, as well as the interdigital spaces which are, according to the standard, well "feathered", that is to say, furnished with long hairs: "spikelets", or ears of Grasses, very hard, can lodge in these areas of the body if the dog walks in the countryside, and cause cysts, infections between the fingers or severe ear pain.

Pet dog, in the best sense of the word, the Cavalier is a balanced dog, immune to morphological exaggerations (extreme miniaturization). His behavioral qualities explain his success, huge in Britain, starting in France: he fully satisfies all those who, having experienced either pocket races, exclusively flat, or dogs with strong personality, but difficult to hold, or dogs of ostentatious appearance but demanding in return for attentive and daily care, like to find in the Cavalier traits that they appreciate without bearing the inconveniences.

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