A Perfect Pair of King Charles Spaniels

Old King Cole was a Merry Old Soul. . . .
But King Charles was Merrier than He. . . . .
And King Charles had Spaniels which followed him around
And now their breeds are THREE!

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Here at our Solano County clinic in Dixon we have a pair of perfect King Charles Spaniels as we know them today. Notice the most prominent characteristics of the King Charles breed: Small size, short nose, domed head and abrupt stop between the nose and the head. This modern type of King Charles Spaniel comes in a variety of colors but white with red markings is associated with the first Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace in 1700. Thus the red and white King Charles Spaniels are known as the Blenheim variety. The rest of the history of the King Charles is long and confusing: The story begins with the migration of at least one small East Asian Toy Spaniel to the court of England’s Queen Mary in 1540 and then to the court of King Charles in 1650. (note that it is not clear whether the first Spaniels went from Asia to Spain or from Spain to Asia and then back) Then the Cavalier King Charles and Blenheim varieties developed with short faces and a stop. In 1900 the Cavalier was bred back to resemble King Charles’ original dog with a larger body, long nose, flat head and minimum stop while the King Charles Spaniel as it was already known in 1900 retained its very small size and current head characteristics. This confusing story leaves us with: 1) Cavalier King Charles with a closer resemblance to the original. 2) King Charles (or English Toy Spaniel) being small, short nosed with abrupt stop and domed head. 3) Blenheim King Charles which is white with red markings. These dogs now have very little hunting capabilities left and make excellent house dogs though sometimes they can be a little excitable and periodically hyperactive.

– Geoffrey Antipa


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