King Charles Spaniel illustration
Toy

King Charles Spaniel

Historic Royal Spaniel who is reserved, gentle and affectionate

Breed characteristics

Size
Small
Exercise
Up to 30 minutes per day
Size of home
Flat/ Apartment
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 12 years
Vulnerable native breed
Yes
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
No garden

About this breed

The two ‘Royal Spaniels’ – the King Charles and the Cavalier – share a common history in the miniaturisation of sporting spaniels (see Cavalier King Charles Spaniel).

With the advent of the early dog shows, a Toy Spaniel club was formed and with this came the first Breed Standard. The Kennel Club planned to name the breed the Toy Spaniel but King Edward VII was keen to have the royal connection maintained so the King Charles Spaniel was adopted as the title for the breed.

Today the King Charles with its domed skull, shorter muzzle and slightly smaller stature is easily distinguished as a separate breed from its cousin the Cavalier, but until 1945 they were shown together as one breed. In the early 20th Century, when short-faced Toy breeds were becoming increasingly popular, these features were selectively bred for by some breeders and until World War I this type was more successful in the show ring. In 1926 a group of breeders preferring the ‘old type’ with the flatter skull and the longer tapered muzzle started to break away in a bid to maintain their preferred type. This lead to their separation, and eventually in 1945 The Kennel Club recognised the King Charles and the Cavalier King Charles as two separate breeds, with the smaller variety, with the domed skull and shorter face, retaining the name which had been bestowed on the toy spaniels by King Edward VII.

From the 1960s the Cavalier became increasing popular and this lead to a decline in the numbers of King Charles. However, in recent years, the King Charles has seen a remarkable revival with breeders working successfully to improve soundness of movement and a more outgoing temperament within the breed.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Toy breed group

The Toy breeds are small companion or lap dogs. Many of the Toy breeds were bred for this capacity although some have been placed into this category simply due to their size. They should have friendly personalities and love attention. They do not need a large amount of exercise and some can be finicky eaters.

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Black & Tan
  • Blenheim
  • Ruby
  • Tricolour

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Currently there are no additional health screening schemes or DNA tests for this breed. You may want to speak to your breeder, vet or local breed club about any health issues in the breed.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the King Charles Spaniel.

Breed watch

Category 2        

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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