King Charles Spaniel

FCI standard Nº 128

Great Britain
Group 9 Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 7 English Toy Spaniels
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Monday 03 January 1955
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 27 July 2021
Last update
Tuesday 24 August 2021
En français, cette race se dit
King Charles Spaniel
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
King Charles Spaniel
En español, esta raza se dice
King Charles Spaniel
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
King Charles Spaniel


Companion and Toy Dog.

Brief historical summary

An obvious relative of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this dog is known in some countries as the English Toy Spaniel, and derives his name from a dog which was a great favourite of King Charles II. Toy spaniels have long been treasured as pets both in England and on the Continent and were bred to a smaller and smaller size from setter dogs which established the type for spaniels. Basically these were little gun dogs, but pampered by wealthy owners, admired for their companionship and crossed with toy dogs from the East, giving rise to their facial appearance.

General appearance

Refined, compact and cobby.

Behaviour / temperament

Happy, intelligent, toy spaniel, with distinctive domed head. Reserved, gentle and affectionate.


Cranial region

Moderately large in comparison to size, well domed, full over eyes.  
Between skull and nose well defined.

Facial region

Black, with large, wide-open nostrils, short and turned-up.
Square, wide and deep, well turned up.
Exactly meeting, giving nice finish.
Jaws and teeth
Lower jaw wide. Bite should be slightly undershot. Protruding tongue highly undesirable.
Not falling away under eyes, but well cushioned.
Relatively large and dark, set wide apart, eyelids block square to face line, pleasing expression.
Set on low, hanging quite flat to cheeks, very long and well feathered.


Of medium length; arched giving proud carriage of head.


Short and level.
Wide and deep.


Docking previously optional.
Docked: Well feathered, not carried over or above level of back.
Undocked: Well feathered, not carried over or above level of back.
In overall balance with the rest of the dog.
Natural short tail (bobtail) and kinked tail tolerated.



Well laid back.
Close to rib cage, neither turning in nor out.
Legs short and straight.


Sufficient muscle to give positive driving movement.
Well bent.
Hocks well let down and defined. Straight viewed from behind, turning neither in nor out.


Compact, well padded and feathered, toes well knuckled, round cat-shaped foot, well cushioned.

Gait and movement

Free, active and elegant, driving from behind. Sound movement highly desirable.


Long, silky and straight, slight wave allowed, never curly. Legs, ears and tail profusely feathered.
• Black and Tan: Rich glossy black, with bright mahogany-tan markings on muzzle, legs, chest, linings of ears, under tail and spots over eyes. White patch on chest undesirable.
• Tricolour: Ground pearly white, with well distributed black patches, brilliant tan markings on cheeks, linings of ears, under tail and spots over eyes. Wide white blaze between eyes and up forehead.
• Blenheim: Ground pearly white, with well distributed chestnut-red patches. Wide, clear blaze with the “spot” in centre of skull should be a clear chestnut red mark about the size of a penny.
• Ruby: Whole coloured, rich chestnut red. White patch on chest highly undesirable.

Size and weight

Height at withers
3.6-6.3 kgs.


• 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.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.

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 King Charles Spaniel is a small dog, but not a miniaturized dog. Elegant and refined, her appearance is nevertheless picked up, solid and somewhat sporty. Here is a Spaniel amenity in British fashion.

In the first place, it is thus a Spaniel, that is to say that, while going up in his family tree, one finds the Hunting Spaniel, whose origin, itself, is rather confused and is the subject of various theories, to tell the truth, unsatisfactory. Thus, the Spaniel could claim Spain as the original soil, although he is not a Mediterranean, or be a dog that "Spain" - which flattens, old French; which is credible with regard to the French word, but what is less credible with regard to its English name, "Spaniel".

According to Welsh Springer Spaniel specialists, the Spaniel would have been known a long time ago in the British Isles, because it would be mentioned by the Welsh chef Hywell Dda (or Howell the Great), in a text of Tenth century. Be that as it may, the Spaniels have been settled in Britain since at least the end of the 14th century, as Edward de Langley (ca 1373-1415), Henry IV's master of dogs and hunts , quotes them in his Mayster of Game. And, at the same time, is it better reference than Geoffrey Chaucer, this poet known for his contribution to the fixation of the English language? Certainly, the Spaniel must be considered a British possession.

Some chandeliers; two centuries at most; will be necessary for the Hunting Spaniel to be transformed into Pleasure Spaniel, according to a quite logical process, when we know that there are hardly other dogs more affectionate, more docile than the Spaniels. In fact, in 1570, Johannes Caius, the British breed specialist, says that there are "nice Spaniels" all the more appreciated because they are smaller, so they can nestle "in the the noble ladies, whose "comforting" they are, according to the expression of the learned doctor, physician to Queen Elizabeth I.

If Company Spaniel is present at the Court of England, it is equally with the great Scottish rival of Elizabeth, Mary Stuart: when it will be conducted on the scaffold, in 1587, we discover under his skirts one of his little Spaniels. The Queen of Scotland will transmit her taste for this kind of dogs to all the lineage of the Stuarts, the two Jacques (James I, who reigned over England between 1603 and 1625, and James II, who reigned from 1685 to 1688) and the two Charles (Charles I, King of England from 1625 to 1649, and Charles II, who was from 1660 to 1685). Two of Charles I's Spaniels, who also ended up on the scaffold, had the privilege of entering history: Gentle Breath and Gentile Heart, it is said, were wandered all over London after the execution of their master. . It is not, however, this unfortunate king who gave his name to the small Spaniels of pleasure, but his son Charles II, whom the chronicles (and in particular that of Samuel Pepys) portray, not without acrimony, as at least as much preoccupied by his little dogs than his profession of king.

As a heritage of Mary, who was Queen of France in 1659, when she married Francis II, the Stuarts also received a lasting friendship for our country. The excellent relations they have maintained with France have not been unimportant during the vicissitudes that many of them have known, but above all, here, these relations allow us to suggest a link between the little English Spaniels and the Spaniels. Continental Dwarves. Moreover, if they form today quite different breeds, these dogs were much closer to the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so much so that some English dogs represented could be considered as Continental and vice versa. Thus, the dog that appears at the feet of Queen Charlotte of England, in the painting painted by Benjamin West in 1779, could be a Phalaen spaniel; while that shown by Giuseppe Maria Crespi in the early eighteenth century is strikingly reminiscent of a King Charles.

It is true that these little Spaniels traveled a lot: they were rare and therefore very popular, so they were very appreciated gifts. If we find them in Italy, in Flanders, in France, why would not they have crossed the Channel, especially during the reign of the Stuarts, who favored exchanges with the Continent?

In fact, the case of the English Toys Spaniels is more complicated than that of the Continental Spaniels. There seems to be a constant confusion in the ancient sources between small hunting Spaniels, who are in fact the ancestors of the Cockers, and the Carpet Spaniels, who are solely dedicated to living in the salon. Thus, for a number of authors, the evolution towards this last type, relatively late, would not really have been specified until the nineteenth century. However, one can not ignore the various circumstances that marked the history of the small Spaniels, since the time of the Stuarts, as well as the crossings that did not fail to occur. Of course, the hypothesis of a contribution of exclusively domestic and small-sized Continental Spaniels is not corroborated by any document, so far, but can we blame English cynologists who were concerned to brush the King Charles history of not having explored this path?

On the other hand, if it is a crossing which owes nothing to the suppositions, it is the one carried out with Asian Spaniels, and this, not in the last century; which is still far away; but just when the little Spaniels were named "King Charles". In addition, as curious as it may seem, these dogs arrived via Portugal. Yet, when we know that Charles II had married a princess of Portuguese origin, Catherine de Braganza, there is no need to be surprised at the arrival on the soil of England of a couple of Spaniels Japanese, offered by a Portuguese missionary: Portugal had then bases in the empire of the Sunrise, in the concern so much to evangelize the Japanese as to trade with them (for example, to acquire silks and porcelain).

These Spaniels, known today as Chins or Tchins, were very small, had a high forehead and a short nose, and they did not yet have the camuse face that is theirs now. Therefore, it is not at this period that the appearance of a very short snout must be placed in the King Charles, who, despite the position due to his name, was going to continue a path filled with mysteries and mysteries detours.

The Spaniels of Catherine of Braganza did not constitute the only extreme oriental infusion to the English race. We know, for example, that the Duke of Marlborough, known to have selected the small Blenheim Spaniels, crossed his Red and White Hunting Spaniels with an Asian Spaniel, which can not be said to come from China, Japan, or from another country. James Scott points out, moreover, that the Duke possessed two distinct lineages of Spaniels: the dogs of the first were small but able to hunt, while those of the second, smaller, were exclusively house dogs. Such crosses with Eastern Spaniels were certainly practiced more than once, even if less is known about them, for in Great Britain kings, dukes and other members of the high nobility did not disdain to take care themselves of canine breeding (which was unthinkable among their French counterparts, except perhaps for the current dogs). The English aristocracy has always been very attached to its estates and things of the earth, being much less attracted by the brilliant lights of the court and the city.

But now, 1688, the year in which the last of the Stuart kings, James II, after three years of reign, had to emigrate to France and give way to his son-in-law William III of Orange-Nassau, Stadtholder of the United Provinces . It is at this precise moment that some place the disgrace of King Charles. But is not it going a little fast? Forget that the Stuarts did not have the exclusivity of this kind of dogs, appreciated by all the nobility? The dukes of Norfolk, in particular, were noted for their predilection for Toys Spaniels, which they created a lineage with black and fire dress. As for the Duke of Marlborough, already quoted, it is not to be a convinced supporter of William of Orange against James II who prevented him from particularly sniffing his Spaniels.

William III, he is known to have had, like his great-grandfather William the Taciturn, the Pugs for companions favorites, and he would have introduced this breed in Britain. One can think, obviously, that the King Charles was then crossed with the Pug.

However, the Dutch, who must be familiar with this episode of their story, say that Guillaume's favorite dogs were rather small duck hunting Spaniels, the Kooikerhondjes. So? Certainly, it is sure that the Pug is already known in the eighteenth century, the famous self-portrait of William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) with his Carlin testifies, but it is also undeniable that the Vogue Pug in England does not date of this time and that this dog as original as charming will have to wait a century to impose itself; which does not exclude previous crossings between Carlins and King Charles, on the contrary. It was not until 1870 that Hugh Dalziel could exclaim: "The Pug (the name of the Carlin in English) is in excess in this country, we see it swarming everywhere. This breed is essentially part of the Victorian universe.

The decline of the King Charles at the beginning of the nineteenth century should therefore be considered, which makes it contemporaneous with the analogous fate of the Dwarf Spaniels on the Continent. After several centuries of reign without sharing, these Spaniels and Spaniels, the first real pet dogs created in Europe, must make room for the newcomers, Poodles, Carlin, of course, and soon the long-haired cousins of the latter (Tchin, Pekingese), because the Carlin is of Chinese origin. With regard to the Pekingese, it may be noted that Hogarth represented, in The Marriage in Fashion, a dog that is very similar to him, which proves the age of the introduction of this breed in England, even if it does not really start spread only in the last years of the nineteenth century.

Disappearing or changing "look" is the alternative that comes to King Charles, because being fashionable, for small dogs, when the dog is born, is to take the Pug as a model, while at least as regards the proportions of the head. Until then, all dogs had a distinct muzzle, more or less long or pointed. Here come from China or Japan canine specimens whose muzzle is so short that their truffle seems like a nose in the middle of the "face"; their round, broad and camouflaged head gives them a brow, their big eyes are no longer placed laterally but look straight forward. In short, they have almost human figure. A boon for dogs to be pampered, cherished, pampered like little children.

The King Charles, who already has a snout short and not pointed, so adapts. It is transformed, even, in thirty years. In 1845, Queen Victoria's favorite painter, Sir Edwin Landseer, shows two King Charles in his painting The Prince's Favorites, which he places beside a large feathered hat, which is as much a reference to time of their great success as an indication of their size (very modest); and, importantly, he represents them with a marked stop, a high forehead, but a muzzle. And, in 1859, the newspaper The Field describes King harles stating: "They have a slender but short snout, of elegant form", or even: "Their nose is very delicate, their voice of the most musical, but they are quickly tired. They are better than their cuckoo spell. In 1879, Stonehenge regretted their metamorphosis: "The brevity of their muzzle has nothing to do with the old standard, when it was brought to the point where it is now triumphing. What had happened during this period of time?

The answer is found in the writings of Rawdon Lee in 1893: the King Charles had left the salons of the "high society" to settle in the popular neighborhoods of London, where, by selection, the breeders had arrived to produce dogs with deep stops (we must be able to accommodate a marble), pronounced dome head, muzzle reduced to its simplest expression. One of them even called his subjects "no noses." The documents of the time attest, moreover, that these characteristics had sometimes been exaggerated, because, besides specimens which, according to a French specialist, Mrs. Françoise Guérin, are almost identical to those of today, they show others whose skull is twice as "dore" than what is required now.

If Lee excludes the crossing with the Pug and the Pekinese, like Davidson, other authors, more numerous, it is true, affirm the opposite, and it is necessary to recognize that, for many races; and King Charles is one of them; it is practically impossible to know exactly what was going on in the backyards of breeders, people who were quite talkative when it came to highlighting their results but rather discreet as to how to get there.

The King Charles Club was founded in 1882, but it took another ten years for the Kennel Club to register the breed, or rather the breeds, because we then separate the Toys Spaniels according to their colors (in 1923, they will be grouped in four varieties of a single breed, the King Charles Spaniel). Next to the King Charles proper, black and fire, there is the Blenheim, red and white, as well as two "new", Prince Charles (sometimes named "Princess Elizabeth" in some ancient works), tricolor, and the Ruby , entirely tawny red (chestnut).

Even more than the larger ones, amenity breeds have had to deal with the vagaries of fashion. The Pug becoming decidedly too common, we prefer the sumptuous Pekingese soon; then, a little before the Great War, the leonine and proud character of the Terrier was somewhat neglected for the sparkling temperament of the Terriers, especially the hard-haired ones, to whom the grooming gave a square and clear silhouette, very original. Finally all the others advance, Loulou of Pomerania, Dachshund. Among this cohort each year more numerous, the noble and very old King Charles has more and more difficult to keep a place in sight.

Suddenly, an American has the idea of finding the King Charles as it appeared in the time of Charles II; an initiative that, interesting as it is, will push a little more in the shadow one who, through this long series of episodes and despite a changing fortune, arrived at the time of the twenties. Indeed, a race emerges from the past to gain momentum, a new breed, whose Special Club was founded in 1928 and that the Kennel Club began to record in 1944, but at the same time old, since its "recreation" is based on representations of the seventeenth century: also, to name it, one chooses to simply add the term "Cavalier", retaining that of "King Charles".

In fact, the King Charles is slowly moving towards extinction outright, after the Second World War decimated the last farms, when, fortunately, this threat of extinction encourages some enthusiasts to save him (at the same time, the Cavalier, he, knows an irresistible rise, thanks in particular to a royal guarantee, in this case that of Princess Margaret). The King Charles will thus slowly climb the slope, and this is how, again, this essential element of the British canine heritage figure in number in the exhibitions: 20 subjects are present at Cruft in 1972, 169 at the United Toy Dog Show in 1983, according to clarifications provided by Ms. Guérin.

For many centuries, the King Charles had to fend for himself without royal sponsorship, while the English rulers and their families, first and foremost Queen Victoria, paid their kind attention to an impressive number of races. did not fail to have effects on the British public. Curious and complex destiny for a dog with such a transparent and pleasant temperament! It must be that the King Charles has been endowed with strong qualities to reach us. Here, for example, is the portrait of a century ago when he was passing through one of his difficult periods: "Intelligent, essentially loving, extremely gentle, cheerful, modest, obedient but retaining free will. and their personality, opposing only the force of inertia to things that are not to their taste, clean, elegant, with aristocratic, discreet ways, never soliciting. No term is to be changed in these praiseworthy and yet so exact words.

Always in the same mood, knowing to stand in any place without disturbing, adapting to everything; city apartment, pavilion with a garden, walks in the countryside or in the woods, car trips, hotel, restaurant; this dog, clean, barking, civilized in all circumstances, knows not to be noticed. And at the same time, what a remarkable pace. With its elegant silhouette, its silky coat with abundant fringes, its extreme refinement, the King Charles combines an undeniable robustness: it is not a miniature although it is not very bulky.

Is it a dog for insiders, what could suggest its relatively low numbers in its country of origin and its scarcity, even in France? This is not so sure! If you think about it, you sometimes have to be a good connoisseur to choose a dog whose breed is in vogue and which is the object of a strong demand. Being introduced into the cynophile environment, having an informed eye are not useless to who wants to discern the subject of elite, or at least a specimen well typed. In the case of King Charles, the proposed acquirer is faced with enthusiasts, enthusiasts who are dedicated to the breed, often of long standing, and whose breeding, modest in quantitative terms, is focused on quality. Thus, the neophyte can turn with confidence to one of these amateurs in the noble sense of the term, who will provide him with good advice, will worry about the growth of the "student", will encourage him to confirm, to to attend dog shows.

If the owner of a dog "in the wind" can derive a legitimate pride, the happy master of a King Charles will have no less satisfactions when he will inform passers-by curious to know what is the race of this dog out of the ordinary. That the King Charles participates in his own promotion must also be the main fault of this dog, at least for snobs. But the King Charles is not a posh, unassigned, he is the "King", simply, and his nickname is "Charlie".

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