Continental Toy Spaniel

FCI standard Nº 77

France, Belgium
Mrs Peggy Davis
Group 9 Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 9 Continental Toy Spaniel
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Friday 01 January 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Monday 17 September 1990
Last update
Monday 06 April 1998
En français, cette race se dit
Epagneul nain continental
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Kontinentaler Zwergspaniel
En español, esta raza se dice
Spaniel continental enano de compañía
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Continentale Dwergspaniël



General appearance

Small de luxe Toy spaniel, of a normal and harmonious build, with long hair, moderately long muzzle shorter than the skull, lively personality, graceful yet robust, proud carriage with an easy and elegant gait. His body is somewhat longer than high.


Cranial region

In normal proportion to the body and proportionately lighter and shorter than in the Spaniel of large or medium size.
Not too rounded neither in profile nor from the front, sometimes showing a slight trace of medial furrow. 
Depression sufficiently accentuate. In the heavier dogs, this depression is less evident yet still defined; in the very small dogs it is clearly marked without ever showing sudden break.

Facial region

Small, black and round, but slightly flattened on top.
Shorter than the skull, fine, pointed and not too hollow on the sides; must not be turned up.
Strongly pigmented, thin and tight.
Nasal bridge
Jaws and teeth
Quite strong, closing well and normally.
Tongue : Must not be visible; the fact that it is constantly visible or not drawn in when touched by the finger is a fault.
Rather large, well open, in the shape of a large almond, not prominent, set rather low in the head, the inner corner is at the intersection of the skull and the muzzle. Dark in colour and very expressive; eyelid strongly pigmented.
Quite fine but firm. Whether it is the oblique ear or the hanging ear, when examined by hand, the cartilage must not end in too sharp a point. The ears are set on rather far back on the head, sufficiently apart one from the other, so as to reveal the slightly rounded shape of the skull.
Variety with hanging ears, called : PHALENE.
The ear at rest is set high, considerably higher than the eye line, carried hanging and yet quite mobile. Garnished with wavy hair which may reach quite a length which gives the dog a pretty appearance.
Variety with erect ears, called : PAPILLON.
The ear is set on high, the auricle (external ear) well open and turned to the side; the inner edge of the auricle forming an angle of approx. 45° with the horizontal. In no case must the ear point upwards, which would be like a Spitz type ear and must definitely be rejected. The inside of the auricle is covered with fine hairs, also wavy. The longest hairs extending slightly beyond the edge of the ear; the outer face, on the contrary, is covered with long hair forming hanging fringes extending well beyond the edges of the ear. Cross-breeding of the two varieties often produces semi-erect ears, with drooping tip; this mixed form of ear carriage is a serious fault.


Of moderate length, a little arched at the nape.


Neither too short or arched, nor saddled, without however being flat.
Solid and slightly arched.
Wide, fairly well let down. The circumference of the thorax taken between the past two ribs must be approximately equivalent to the height at the withers. Ribs well arched.
Underline and belly
Belly : Slightly drawn up.


Set quite high, rather long, abundant fringe forming a lovely plume. When the dog is in action, it is carried raised along the line of the back and curved, the extreme tip may touch the back; never should it curl or lie flat on the back.


Legs straight, firm, fine. The dog must not seem to be raised up; seen either from the front or from back, the legs are parallel.


Well developed, well attached to the body.
Upper arm
Of equal length as the shoulder-blade, normally angulated and well joined with it, well attached to the body.
Apparent in profile.


Normally angulated.


Rather long, called « hare feet » resting evenly on their pads. Strong nails, preferably black, lighter in the dogs with brown or white coats (the white nails in white dogs or in dogs with white legs do not constitute a fault if the dog is otherwise well pigmented). The toes are strong with a tough pad, well furnished in between with fine hair extending beyond the tip of the foot and forming a point.

Gait and movement

Proud, free, easy and elegant.


The coat, without undercoat, is abundant, glossy, wavy (not to be confused with curly), not soft but slightly resistant to the touch, with silky reflections. The hairs are inserted flat; they are quite fine, slightly curved by the wave. The appearance of the coat is similar to that of the English Toy Spaniels, but it differs definitely from that of the Pekingese Spaniel; at the same time it should not have any resemblance to the coat of the Spitz. The hair is short on the face, the muzzle, the front of the legs and the underneath part of the hock.
Of medium length on the body, it gets longer on the neck to form a ruff and jabot, descending in waves on the chest; forming fringes at the ears and at the back of the forelegs; at the back of the thighs, an ample culotte with soft hair. There may be small tufts of hair between the toes and may even extend slightly beyond providing they do not give a heavy appearance to the foot, but rather give it a finer appearance by lengthening it. Certain dogs in good coat condition have hair 7,5 cm long at the withers and fringes of 15 cm on the tail.
All colours are admitted on a coat with a white background. On the body and legs, the white must be dominant in relation to the colour. The white on the head preferably extended by a more or less wide blaze. A white marking is admitted on the lower part of the head, but dominant white on the head constitutes a fault. In all cases, the lips, the eyelids and principally the nose must be pigmented.

Size and weight

Height at withers
About 28 cm.
Two categories :
1) Less than 2,5 kg for dogs and bitches.
2) From 2,5 kg to 4,5 kg for dogs, from 2,5 kg to 5 kg for bitches.
Minimum weight 1,5 kg.


• 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.

General faults

 Skull flat, apple-shaded and bulging as in the small English Toy Spaniels.
 Stop too much or insufficiently accentuated.
 Nose not black.
 Muzzle arched or hollow.
 Depigmentation of the lips.
 Overshot and especially undershot mouth.
 Eye small, too round, prominent; light in colour; showing white when the dog looks straight ahead.
 Depigmentation on the edges of the eyelids.
 Roach- or saddle back.
 Tail curly, resting on the back; falling on the side (that is the bone and not the fringes which, because of their length, fall in locks).
 Forelegs bowed.
 Pastern joints knotty.
 Hindquarters weak.
 Hindquarters, which, seen from the back, are out of the vertical at the stifle, the hocks and the feet.
 Single or double dewclaws on the hind legs are undesirable and constitute a beauty fault ; their removal is therefore advisable.
 Feet turning inwards or outwards.
 Nails not touching the ground.
 Coat poor, soft or blown (puffed up); hair planted straight or itself straight; woolly hair; undercoat indicating cross-breading with the Spitz.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggresive or overly shy.
 Pink or pink spotted nose.
 Excessive prognathism, overshot or undershot to the point where the incisors do not touch anymore.
 Tongue paralysed or constantly visible.

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

The Continental Dwarf Spaniel is better known as the Butterfly Spaniel or the Phalael Spaniel (a moth), depending on the shape of its ears, and it is true that this light-skinned leprechaun, twirling gracefully, Well deserves his nickname.

That said, the official name of this dog characterizes it perfectly, because it is well a reduction of Spaniel, even if it appears less obvious for the most recent variety, with straight ears. Moreover, the Spaniels have always been of very different sizes. Those we know today are certainly rather large, but Buffon insisted on this diversity; in some regions there were much smaller and lighter types than Breton Spaniel. In the same way, the continental origin of the race is not open to discussion since the living Spaniels on either side of the Channel have always been distinct, ours, smaller and finer, having only pleasure dogs, unlike Spaniels, which at first were strong enough to hunt; it was not until the 17th century, following crossings with Asian Spaniels, that they began to become pet dogs.

The Continental Dwarf Spaniel may be awarded the Golden Palm of Seniority. Indeed, this dog was already represented in the paintings of the famous Giotto (1266 - 1337) and, in the sixteenth century, he had become omnipresent in the pictorial art where he appeared most often alongside a great lady or a family, as the new fashion of the portrait wanted. And if the miniature dogs appeared as obligatory motifs, it was the Dwarf Spaniels who were the most frequently represented, as can be seen through many paintings, notably in Marguerite de Valois and François Clouet's Son of François 1er. (1510 - 1572). In the Italian school, Veronese (1528 - 1588) included a Dwarf spaniel in the Queen of Sheba, in the Lady on the balustrade, in the Family, and Titian (1488 - 1576) painted him in his famous Venus d ' Urbino. But it is undoubtedly the Flemish school which offered the greatest number of representations of the Dwarf Spaniel, whether it is the work of Hans Memling (1433 - 1494), Van der Helst (1613 - 1670), of Quentin Metsys (1466 - 1530) and of Rubens (1577 - 1640).

Mainlanders, the Dwarf Spaniels were French as well as Italian or Flemish. These extremely rare and precious dogs were particularly popular with the great lords or noble darnes, who did not hesitate to use the great means to acquire the finest, smallest and most delicate subjects. Many were also kings and princes who possessed them. Henry III is one of those who loved them the most, to his detriment moreover, because this passion for the Dwarf Spaniels has greatly contributed to ridicule him. Without fearing for his reputation, he willingly sat on grand councils with his Spaniels in a corbel hanging on his neck. And he sometimes abandoned the affairs of his kingdom (yet agitated) to go to Lyon choose subjects "no bigger than the fist". But before him, Francis I., although known as the colossus who laid Henry VIII of England, had already for companion a favorite Dwarf Spaniel, named Lemon.

This dog, indeed, reached the peak of glory at the time of the Renaissance, and in the seventeenth century, it was still part of the royal entourage, as evidenced by the famous painting Louis XIV family Larguillière (1656 - 1746). In time, the Dwarf Spaniel became more of an alcove and parlor dog, an evolution already visible through the work of Watteau (1684 - 1721) who included it in his gallant compositions, whether in the Embarquement for Kythera or in the Assembly in a park. As for Greuze (1725 - 1805), he represented a little black and fiery Spaniel sitting on the knees of the Marquise de Chauvelin. Finally, he was especially consecrated as an alcove dog by Fragonard (1732-1806), who painted him in the Sweet Note, in the Crowned Lover, in the Lever or in the Woman with the Dog.

At the end of the eighteenth century, it is from a scientific point of view that Buffon gave us the portrait of the Dwarf Spaniel. In his Natural History; enriched by the many illustrations of Breant; he already distinguished the different varieties of the Dwarf Spaniel, according to the color and the length of the coat. Thus, it should not be confused the Dwarf spaniel itself, white and black dress, with the black and fire Pyramid or the Rogue characterized by a shorter hair and color entirely black.

However, over time, it became more and more difficult for the Dwarf Spaniel to retain its pre-eminence, so much did the small breeds of amenity, including Bichons and Poodles, develop. In addition, all these dogs were often crossed between them, undergoing the new modes that made them frequently unrecognizable, because it was not enough to wrap them or to provide them with a necklace by perfuming them. It was also fashionable to mow them "in lion" or curl, which also explains the success of the Poodle, naturally curly hair. Also, it is sometimes difficult, today, to want to distinguish on this or that painting a Bichon of a Spaniel or a real Lion Dog.

In the nineteenth century, the Dwarf Spaniel passed from the salon of the marquises to that of the bourgeois, as the evolution of the French society after the Revolution of 1789. However, from the second Empire, the aura of this dog seriously declined in our country, for the benefit of many small luxury breeds, such Carlin who spread as much as the Poodle before the arrival of the Pekingese.

But, if the race collapsed in France, it was developing in Belgium where it knew a real revolution. In fact, Belgian breeders transformed his ears, which, from falling, became erect. At the beginning of the century, the cynophile Van der Snickt described the ears of the two varieties, which were present at the Belgian exhibitions in 1902. In the twenties, Houtard and Bylandt, two Belgians, proposed a draft standard for the breed. . The Belgian Continental Dwarf Spaniel Club was founded in 1933, and immediately began a great activity.

But it remained to define the nationality of the race which, although very present in the Flemish art over the centuries and very widespread in Belgium since 1900, could also be recognized as French, by virtue of the numerous historical and artistic testimonies. At a congress organized in Lille in 1934, with the Belgian Club of the race, the Royal Society of Saint-Hubert of Belgium and the Central Canine Society of France decided that the Dwarf Spaniel was Franco-Belgian and they came up with a standard of the breed, after examining the most typical Brussels subjects and also referring to the many reproductions of old paintings. This is the dog figured in Titian's painting Clarissa Strozzi who finally served as a model: on the arm of the charming little Clarissa, a red and white Spaniel is painted sitting at the corner of a chest. Very thin, it has a light fur, neither curly, nor woolly, nor very provided. Its head has exactly the same proportions as today's Dwarf, and its white muzzle is prolonged by a white list that delicately shares its high forehead. This ideal representation of the race was named a certain time type "Vecelli" - Vecellio (or Vecelli) being the true surname of Titian.

This standard of the Continental Dwarf Spaniel was recognized in 1937 by the FCI. He was referring mainly to the old type with falling ears, but the butterfly-shaped variety became much more popular. The designation of "phalene", to qualify the old type, appeared besides in 1955, whereas it began to be rare. In fact, the dogs with falling ears that were born in the litters were more and more seldom used as breeders, so much so that this variety was very close to disappear, there is little.

Some authors think that the butterfly variety comes from the crossing of the Spaniel with Chihuahua. However, it seems plausible that the American race is beholden to the Dwarf Spaniel, because it was introduced in South America by the Spaniards, and it is from this continent that the first champions Chihuahuas long haired. It is more likely to small dogs of the genus Spitz that the Spaniel owes his ears erected. They were, moreover, much more widespread in Belgium than were the Chihuahua, whose settlement in this country is later than the beginning of the century.

If the breed is now developing well in France, it is since the sixties rare in Belgium (whereas it "swarmed", one says there, fifty years ago), where it exists more than a few breeders . The English began to take an interest in the Continental Dwarf Spaniel around 1920, and the first subjects were introduced to foreign breeds in 1923. The Kennel Club opened its Book of Origins soon after, in 1926. The first lines were French and Belgian imports, but the British Dwarf Spaniel then changed: a little larger, black and white in general, with a snout a little longer, it has rounder eyes, while the Continental In the United Kingdom, the Spaniel then came to the United States where it was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935. It is also via Great Britain that it was established in the Netherlands, as well as in Sweden where a thousand births are registered each year.

The Continental Dwarf Spaniel not only has a prestigious past, its endearing character makes it a popular dog with many friends. Easy-going, kind, completely devoted to his masters, he is a lively little dog, curious, very playful, keeping throughout his life a puppy temperament. Very sociable, he is never intimidated by strangers, he observes with his mischievous eyes quivering tail. He does not hesitate to bark with conviction at the slightest noise or in the face of any unusual event, then showing great vigilance. Pretty obedient with masters not too lenient, he can moderate his barking. But this little dog, which is perfectly conformed, is not exclusively intended for a salon life. In Sweden, for example, he is involved in many exercises, such as obedience tests, using accessories adapted to his size. We can see him jump a small barrier to bring back to his master a mini-contribution (sort of dumbbell used in training exercises). And in this country with a harsh climate, we do not fear to play it and work in the snow.

The Dwarf Spaniel is a very lively dog, sporty if that is the desire of his masters, just as he is an excellent playmate for children. It is much more docile, sweet and less exuberant than a little Yorkshire, for example. Its coat does not pose maintenance problems. The absence of undercoat makes the brushing tedious and reduces their frequency, but be careful, with a soft brush, that it has no knots in its fringes, especially to the ears . If the pup, tiny at birth (it weighs 80 to 110 g), quickly reaches its adult size, it acquires its final fur only between eighteen months and two years.

He is a very strong dog despite his graceful appearance, and he lives easily up to fourteen years, not requiring any particular care. His eyes, in particular, are not very prominent, so not very fragile. The standard has wisely set a minimum weight limit, which is rare for miniature breeds. Thus, the dog must weigh at least 1.5 kg, to avoid exaggerated dwarfism, which often leads to health problems. The breed is not very prolific: it takes a little patience to get a subject, but the future master will not regret his expectations, because the French breeding is quality.

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