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  • Temperament: Gentle, Playful, Intelligent
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 130 of 194
  • Height: 9-10 inches
  • Weight: 8-14 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

English Toy Spaniel lying down facing forward
English Toy Spaniel standing in three-quarter view facing forward
English Toy Spaniel head facing left
English Toy Spaniel lying sideways on its side, head turned right
English Toy Spaniel coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The English Toy Spaniel is a compact, cobby and essentially square toy dog possessed of a short-nosed, domed head, a merry and affectionate demeanor and a silky, flowing coat. His compact, sturdy body and charming temperament, together with his rounded head, lustrous dark eye, and well cushioned face, proclaim him a dog of distinction and character. The important characteristics of the breed are exemplified by the head.

HEAD

Large in comparison to size, with a plush, chubby look, albeit with a degree of refinement which prevents it from being coarse. Expression – Soft and appealing, indicating an intelligent nature. Eyes – Large and very dark brown or black, set squarely on line with the nose, with little or no white showing. The eye rims should be black. Ears – Very long and set low and close to the head, fringed with heavy feathering. Skull – High and well domed; from the side, curves as far out over the eyes as possible. Stop – Deep and well-defined.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck – Moderate in length; nicely arched. Topline – Level. Body – Short, compact, square and deep, on cobby lines, with a broad back. Sturdy of frame, with good rib and deep brisket.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well laid back; legs well boned and strong, dropping straight down from the elbow; strong in pastern. Feet, front and rear, are neat and compact; fused toes are often seen and are acceptable.

HINDQUARTERS

Rear legs are well muscled and nicely angulated to indicate strength, and parallel of hock.

COAT

Profusely coated, heavy fringing on the ears, body, and on the chest, and with flowing feathering on both the front and hind legs, and feathering on the feet. The coat is straight or only slightly wavy, with a silken, glossy texture. Although the Blenheim and the Ruby rarely gain the length of coat and ears of the Prince Charles and King Charles, good coats and long ear fringes are a desired and prized attribute. Over-trimming of the body, feet or tail fringings should be penalized.

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About the English Toy Spaniel

The ETS is a square, snub-nosed toy weighing no more than 14 pounds. The large domed head—with its long and lush ears, dark melting eyes, and chubby cheeks—is a famous breed trait. The profuse coat comes in four varieties, each with its own proper name: red and white (Blenheim); black and tan (King Charles); white, black, and tan (Prince Charles); and a solid red (Ruby). Blenheims often have a red mark, the “Blenheim Spot,” on top of the head.

The ETS, like many toy breeds kept by royals, came to assume the personalities of their aristocratic owners. They can be proud and willful, and extremely discriminating in their choice of friends. With their favored humans, they are affectionate at home and exuberant and curious at play.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
English Toy Spaniel

Find a Puppy: English Toy Spaniel

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Care

NUTRITION

The English Toy Spaniel should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and ideally formulated for small or toy breeds. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with overly high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The English Toy Spaniel’s long, wavy, silky, and profuse coat should be brushed at least twice a week with a pin brush or soft bristle brush. A long-toothed metal dog comb can also come in handy for gently working through areas where tangles may be beginning to form. Left unattended, tangles and mats are uncomfortable for your dog and can cause skin problems to develop. Regular trimming around the face, feet, and other areas can keep your English Toy Spaniel looking neat. The nails should be trimmed once a month, and a bath every four to six weeks with a gentle shampoo meant for dogs will help to keep the English Toy’s coat and skin clean and healthy. Grooming sessions are a good time to check the dog all over for any new lumps or skin problems, and to check that the eyes and ears are healthy and trouble free.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

English Toy Spaniels are moderately active—when outdoors exercising they are alert, playful, and energetic, while at home they are sedate and dignified. They are easygoing dogs who make excellent companions for city dwellers in small apartments who can provide the dogs with daily walks on lead. As a short-faced breed, the ETS is not tolerant of hot weather and should not be left outdoors on warm or humid days.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

The “Charlie,” as the breed is sometimes known, is quiet, happy, and devoted to his owners. He is forgiving in nature and physically fastidious. Although primarily a companion to owners desiring a merry, affectionate pet, the breed has retained traits of his sporting ancestors and is said to be a fine small hunting spaniel. They are smart but can be stubborn during training; patience, consistency, and a positive, gentle approach are keys to success. Harsh methods are never appropriate for this sensitive, trusting breed. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Charlie grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

English Toy Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, but there are several health and genetic screening considerations specific to the breed, including eye conditions, cardiac disease, and luxating patellas. Dedicated breeders test their breeding stock and communicate with each other regularly to work together for breed health and preservation of the breed’s unique qualities. The English Toy Spaniel’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel

History

Toy spaniels are famously associated with Britain’s Charles I and II, the “Merry Monarchs” of the 1600s, whose sporty little dogs became symbols of the House of Stuart. In the time of Charles II, perhaps Britain’s most dog-happy monarch before the reign of Victoria, it was decreed that toy spaniels be the only dogs allowed in the House of Parliament.

The origins of Europe and Britain’s toy spaniels are a matter of conjecture. Some authorities maintain that miniature spaniels were brought to Europe from Japan or China in ancient times. Others say that toy spaniels were imported to Asia from Spain, thought to be the birthplace of the spaniel breeds, and that Asian breeders refined the dogs and exported their handiwork to England, Italy, and France.

The fad dogs among the nobles of Renaissance England were toy-sized versions of their favorite sporting-spaniel types. In Shakespeare’s time, toy spaniels were known as “the “Spaniel Gentle,” or “the Comforter.” A toy spaniel accompanied Mary Queen of Scots to her beheading in 1587. By the time Charles II assumed the throne in 1665, toy spaniels were the mascots of several aristocratic houses of Britain.

During the Victorian Era, British toys spaniels were crossed with Asian toys, probably Pugs and Japanese Chin, and became what is known in America as the English Toy Spaniel (or, in the United Kingdom, the King Charles Spaniel). This new-style toy spaniel had a domed skull and a flatter face than those of Charles’s time. Before long, the new type, the EST, came to dominate, and the traditional toy spaniel of the Restoration times was rendered nearly extinct. The old-style toy was revived in the 1920s and is today known by U.S. fanciers as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Did You Know?

Most authorities agree that the English Toy has its origins in the East, namely Japan (traveling to Europe as part of royal presents).
All English Toys seem to have been Black and Tan up to the time of King Charles II (these were later called the King Charles); the different colors emerged much later.
Celebrated professor and physician to Queen Elizabeth refers to the English Toys as "Spaniell Gentle, otherwise called the Comforter."
Evidence that the English Toy was a favorite of Mary Queen of Scots, where it is said that her favorite refused to leave her, even on the scaffold.
English Toys still possess the natural hunting instinct.
In the US, the breed has appeared in the AKC's records since the club was founded. Before 1903 all four colors were classified as separate breeds for show purposes, but were permitted to intermix for breeding. But in 1904 the AKC ruled that they should be combined into one breed, the English Toy Spaniel, and shown in two color varieties: King Charles and Ruby; and Prince Charles and Blenheim.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The English Toy Spaniel is a compact, cobby and essentially square toy dog possessed of a short-nosed, domed head, a merry and affectionate demeanor and a silky, flowing coat. His compact, sturdy body and charming temperament, together with his rounded head, lustrous dark eye, and well cushioned face, proclaim him a dog of distinction and character. The important characteristics of the breed are exemplified by the head.

HEAD

Large in comparison to size, with a plush, chubby look, albeit with a degree of refinement which prevents it from being coarse. Expression – Soft and appealing, indicating an intelligent nature. Eyes – Large and very dark brown or black, set squarely on line with the nose, with little or no white showing. The eye rims should be black. Ears – Very long and set low and close to the head, fringed with heavy feathering. Skull – High and well domed; from the side, curves as far out over the eyes as possible. Stop – Deep and well-defined.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck – Moderate in length; nicely arched. Topline – Level. Body – Short, compact, square and deep, on cobby lines, with a broad back. Sturdy of frame, with good rib and deep brisket.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well laid back; legs well boned and strong, dropping straight down from the elbow; strong in pastern. Feet, front and rear, are neat and compact; fused toes are often seen and are acceptable.

HINDQUARTERS

Rear legs are well muscled and nicely angulated to indicate strength, and parallel of hock.

COAT

Profusely coated, heavy fringing on the ears, body, and on the chest, and with flowing feathering on both the front and hind legs, and feathering on the feet. The coat is straight or only slightly wavy, with a silken, glossy texture. Although the Blenheim and the Ruby rarely gain the length of coat and ears of the Prince Charles and King Charles, good coats and long ear fringes are a desired and prized attribute. Over-trimming of the body, feet or tail fringings should be penalized.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
BLACK WHITE & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 034
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
RED & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 146