Dog Breed Review

English Toy Spaniel




If “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” was a show during the 17th and 18th century, without a doubt, you would find the “small dog in a big package,” the English Toy Spaniel, a part of the show. This Toy Group Breed has long been a dog for the ruling elite.

While you may be unaware, this breed actually has a different name outside the U.S. and Canada. In fact, this lap dog goes by King Charles Spaniel, a royal enthusiast of the breed.

So where does this breed come from and what makes them such a great lap dog?

Here is what you need to know about the English Toy Spaniel.


The Royal lapdog most likely came to England by boat as far back as the 13th century. Most likely, these toy spaniel types were originally from the ruling elite in Japan. Moreover, the English Toy Spaniel most probably shares the same ancestry as the Japanese Chin and Pekingese. Many historians believe that the English Toy Spaniels were gifts from the Japanese to  European Aristocrats.

With that being said, there’s no doubt, indeed, that the ruling class of Europe had an affinity for the small dog breed. Paintings and documents confirm that there were toy spaniels alongside Queen Mary and King Phillip. Moreover, during the 16th century, the popular work of John Caius describes a new and rare spaniel type brought out of France. 

The chief voyager to Japan, Captain John Saris, allegedly brought toy spaniels back with him to England from his voyage to Japan. The great commander, Matthew Perry, who was a key part of the Mexican-American War,  claims that dogs were given as gifts from Japanese elites. This would substantiate the chances of Saris’ findings.

Paintings and depictions of a small dog with different coat types such as the Prince Charles coat type seen in paintings by Spanish and Dutch artists during the 17th century. Furthermore, during the 1600’s, King Charles the Second had an overt affection for the breed. In fact, historians claim his brood of toy spaniels would often loiter and roam the halls of Whitehall Palace. This was to the grave ad nauseam to others, but Charles would never waver his love for the English Toy Spaniel. Charle’s sister, Henrietta, had a dog with what enthusiasts call a Ruby coat. That is, a red and white coat. When Henrietta diet, Charles had no problem adding her dog to his litter.

Another popular breed with the royal class was the Pug. Although the Pug slowly began winning the laps of many women in that time, the English Toy Spaniel still made appearances in paintings. Moreover, Queen Charlotte, and the mistress of Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton, appear in paintings with their toy spaniels.

Interestingly, there were certain English Toy Spaniel types that were hunters. Unfortunately, the size and lack of stamina didn’t made them much use. Instead, the breed’s role was that of a travelling companion. In those times, women would carry their small lapdogs along with them throughout the city. 

The American Kennel Club gave official recognition to the breed in 1886. At that time, there were four types varying on coat. The Blenheim (Red and White), King Charles (Black and Tan), Ruby (Red) and Prince Charles (White, Black and Tan).

In 1904, however, the Kennel Club of England made the decision to make the four types one single breed. The American Kennel Club second that notion, yet, the Club chose the name, English Toy Spaniel, as oppose to the British’s, King Charles Spaniel.

Today, the English Toy Spaniel isn’t as popular as it was in their heyday. In fact, a breed resembling a bigger version, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is more popular than the toy version. According to the American Kennel Club, the English Toy is the 130th most popular of 194 breeds. 


This is a small breed of dog, that should stand between 9 to 10 inches. According to the standards put forth by the American Kennel Club, this breed should weigh between 8 to 14 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

For centuries, the lovable and cute, English Toy Spaniel, has been the ultimate royal lapdog. Women would fancy about with their merry and gracious canines. Still, to this day, Charlies are still hip to the lap of their master. This is a breed that adores its master and enjoys their interaction with them. You are more likely to come home and kick the old leg rest out, and see your merry Charles beg for your lap. That’s all this breed wants and needs. They crave affection and attention.

Most owners speaks of this dog’s quietness. This makes the breed perfect for all environments. You can bring this dog into the city and have them live in an apartment without problem. This is a breed that’s perfect for all experience levels. Whether this is your first time dog or another in your collection, the English Toy Spaniel is easy to get along with.

At times, the breed can be somewhat stubborn and independent. This is usually during their bouts with training. However, the English Toy Spaniel, with positive reinforcement, typically does come around.

With that said, the breed does behave well at home, with hardly any reputation to disturbing or destroying due to boredom. This doesn’t mean the dog likes being alone for long periods of time. The English Toy Spaniel wants to be a part of your family life and endeavors. 

All in all, the English Toy Spaniel is the perfect cuddle buddy, that takes their full time job as companion seriously. They are inquisitive and love to play. The breed should do fine with smaller children, just as long as children know how to treat them. They’ll do fine with other dogs, just as long as all canines have early socialization. 


Generally, you won’t have much to worry about with this breed, as many consider them to be relatively healthy. They can live between 10 to 12 years for a life expectancy. This doesn’t mean your English Toy Spaniel won’t suffer the fate of health complications.

That said, you can reduce those chances by obtaining your English Toy Spaniel from a reputable breeder, who can provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. Couple that with regular visits to the veterinarian and your dog is more likely to enjoy a long and fulfilling life.

Most of the issues affecting this breed appear to be with their eyes and skin conditions. This is a brachycephalic breed, which means, a dog with either a short nose, soft palate, or nose that pinches in. For example, an English Bulldog or Boston Terrier, which have problems with their breathing and certain climate conditions.

The English Toy Spaniel may encounter issues like Cataracts, which is the cloudiness of the crystalline lens or Entropion, a condition, in which the eyelid rolls inward against the eyeball causing issues like irritation or scarring. Additionally, Retinal Dysplaisa, a retinal malformation from the English Toy Spaniel’s two layers of the retina don’t form properly. This condition may lead to visual impairment to complete blindness. Breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Aussie Shepherd, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Dobermans commonly suffer from this condition. Finally, a condition, Distichia, which is an extra eyelash or eyelash in abnormal location, that could lead to ulcerations, inflammation, discharges and pain is commonly found with the English Toy Spaniel. Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Shih Tzu and Dachshunds are other breeds with this condition.

Patellar Luxation is an issue for this breed, when their knee cap is either out of place or dislocating from the normal region leading to torn cruciate injuries and other joint issues. If you find your English Toy Spaniel walks odd, you may want to consult with your veterinarian.

A health complication, that is rather serious, Mitral Valve Disease, which is mitral valve failure, resulting in a lack of blood flow to the left atrium can cause heart failure and a lack of energy or weakness. Healthy diets and ideal weights are certain ways to avoid this along with medication.

An orthopedic disease found in the femur, Legg Calve Perthes, where spontaneous degeneration of the femoral head causes bone to deplete leading to arthritis can be found with the English Toy Spaniel. Lameness and pain are common results from this orthopedic disease.

Pydoerma and Sebhorra, both skin conditions, that will result in infections, irritation and other issues can also be found with this breed.


Owning an English Toy Spaniel isn’t difficult, just as long as you know what you’re getting in return. If you want a dog that follows you around, this is your breed. They shouldn’t be left out in the hot conditions or muggy weather. Remember, this is a brachycephalic breed, which means they can have issues and often do with warmer climates. By the same token, you’ll want to bundle them up in colder conditions, as they don’t have a ton of meat to protect them from colder conditions.

They should get exercise, they may be small, but this breed does like to eat and lay around. In fact, if left to their own vices, the English Toy Spaniel would lay around with their family all day. You don’t have to go crazy with the exercises, but a good walk once a day should suffice their needs.

Due to their common issues with orthopedic conditions, you’ll want to make sure you teach your children or anyone else to handle them safely. You need to be gentle and sensitive to this dog’s fragility. 

This is an indoor dog, that should access to the outdoors. You’ll need to trim their nails once a month, bathe as you deem necessary, and check their ears for bacterial infections. Also, it won’t hurt to do regular skin inspections, since the breed does have multiple associations with skin conditions.

Feeding your English Toy Spaniel

Just because your neighbor’s English Toy Spaniel eats two cups a day doesn’t mean yours should. Every dog is different. Yours too! Most recommend a half cup to 1 cup of high quality dry food per day. Of course, you can break this up into two meals per day. This helps with reducing the chances of bloat. Also, it allows your dog to get on the same schedule and make them feel a part of the family’s eating schedule.

Activity rate, metabolism and age are all contributing factors to how much food your dog gets. In generals, your English Toy Spaniel should eat a small breed formula or low activity rate formula. That said, meat should be the first choice of ingredient. Nothing out of the ordinary for this breed. You should be able to feed them lean chicken, beef, fish, veggies and fruit. Look for the good stuff, like Omega 3 and Omega 6, which will help with their coat and skin health.

As always, you should provide your English Toy Spaniel with fresh drinking water.


One of the burdens for this breed is the upkeep of their coats. In fact, centuries ago, this is one of the reason Pugs became more popular. That said, the English Toy Spaniel has a long, straight or slightly wavy coat. It should smooth or silky feeling. There will be feathering on the feet. You’ll have to trim regularly to reduce matting. You’ll want to brush two to three times per week to keep their coats in great condition.

The following coat colors are according to the American Kennel Club’s standard: Black and tan, red and white, red, white black and tan.

Closing Words

Owning an English Toy Spaniel is a joy. This is a breed that has proven to be merry and bring happiness to their master’s life. That’s what they do and they do it well. This is why the breed had such a successfng from the 17th to the 20th century.

Of course, like other breeds, there is some baggage that comes along. They are sensitive to heat, with issues affecting their skin and eyes. They are tiny and require a lot of upkeep and attention. 

Yet, if you are looking for a true companion, with loyalty to the royalty, the English Toy Spaniel is the breed for you.

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