Born and bred for royalty, the English Toy Spaniel is the perfect lapdog. Popularly known as King Charles Spaniel or Charlie, this small-sized dog is quiet and a bit reclusive. But beneath its cool and aristocratic exterior is a dog who can be content to spend an entire afternoon just cuddling with their favorite human. Want to be the lucky parent of this special dog? There’s definitely more to this pint-sized pooch.
The origin of Europe’s toy spaniels has been a point of contention. Some say that they were originally from the ancient civilizations of the East - China, and Japan. While others speculated that the breed came from Spain, which was thought to be the birthplace of spaniels, and they were later on imported to Asia where many breed enthusiasts developed them.
Regardless of its origin, the English Toy Spaniel became known as the dog of choice for aristocrats, with Mary, the Queen of Scots and her successors, King Charles I and King Charles II, as the most popular fans of the breed. In fact, some of the famous anecdotes about this breed include their unwavering loyalty when the toy spaniels of the Queen of Scots and King Charles I accompanied them to their beheading, refusing to leave their side even in the face of death. It was thought that the queen’s trusted furry companion died of grief a few days after her beheading. During the time of King Charles II, this kind of pooch was the only breed that was allowed into the House of Parliament.
Over the years, the breed underwent some transformation, having been bred with Asian dogs like the Pug and Japanese Chin, giving the breed its snub-nosed appearance. This cross-breeding practice gave way to the English Toy Spaniel in America today. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 19th century when Roswell Eldridge offered reward money to breeders who can reproduce the old-style toy spaniel. Then the long-nosed variety of long ago made its comeback and is now known today as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The English Toy Spaniel is your quintessential companion dog. Sometimes mistaken for being a snob because of its regal appearance and timid nature, this breed can be quite affectionate, playful, and loyal to a fault with its favorite human. It can be quite content to doggedly follow you around the house or cuddle with you on the couch. They can be friendly with other dogs and children when socialized properly early on. However, they may not be the best companion when you have children in the house. Children’s exuberance and hyperactive nature can be too overwhelming for this quiet dog.
This breed’s physical trait is quite distinct with its domed head, square and flat nose, long fringed ears, short face, beautiful dark eyes, and chubby cheeks. They reach an average height of 10-11 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 8-14 lbs. Their lush coats have four varieties: red and white (Blenheim); solid red (Ruby); black and tan (King Charles); as well as black, white, and tan (Prince Charles).
Although they’re generally known to be a robust breed with a life expectancy of 10-12 years, the English Toy Spaniel may suffer from some health issues. Here are some medical conditions that you have to be mindful of with this fur baby.
This condition is quite common in small breeds and is sometimes known as “slipped stifles”. This problem occurs when the pooch’s kneecap or patella is dislocated from its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone. You will notice lameness and abnormal hindlimb movement if your furry pal has this condition. Patellar luxation could lead to arthritis and in severe cases, surgery may be needed to ease the dog’s pain.
Mitral Valve Insufficiency
The mitral valve is like a flap between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart and its main function is to prevent backflow of the blood from the ventricle to the atrium. When this valve fails, this could lead to several conditions like heart murmur, enlarged heart, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and congestive heart failure if it progresses. Symptoms of this illness include coughing at night, shortness of breath, lethargy, weight loss, and lack of appetite. The condition can be managed with medication and exercise restrictions. In severe cases, surgical replacement of the damaged mitral valve might be the only option.
When there’s an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain due to trauma or a congenital defect, it could lead to a condition known as hydrocephalus. Symptoms of this problem may include head swelling, blindness, sleepiness, and seizures. If not corrected, the intense pressure in the brain could lead to death. To treat this condition, drug therapy can help correct mild cases. However, surgery may be needed in severe cases to remove any obstruction or to insert a shunt to redirect the fluid and reduce the pressure.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is congenital heart disease and small breeds and female dogs are more at risk for having this condition. Ductus Arteriosus is an arterial shunt that allows blood to bypass circulation to the lungs during the dog’s fetal development since it isn’t using its lungs yet and receives the oxygen it needs from the placenta. Normally, the ductus arteriosus should close during birth, when the puppy takes its first breath. When the shunt remains open, it will cause a wide range of symptoms like heart murmur, difficulty breathing, and abnormal pulses. Blocking off the shunt or tying it off through surgery are the possible treatment options for this health problem.
This is a degenerative disease that’s caused by the disintegration of the head of the femur bone (bones in the hind legs). This condition subsequently leads to the disintegration of the hip joint and arthritis. There is no known cause of this condition and symptoms could include a gradual onset of lameness, pain, carrying the affected limb, and muscle loss of the affected limb. The vet will usually prescribe pain killers to manage this disease. Surgery is necessary to excise the affected bone head. Afterward, physical therapy is needed to rehabilitate the limb and get the pooch back to its normal range of motion.
Tips for Taking Care of an English Toy Spaniel
Contrary to some beliefs, taking care of an English Toy Spaniel should be fairly easy as you don’t have to lavish it with gifts fit for royalty to thrive. However, as a parent of this precious breed, you have to be mindful of these considerations:
Choosing a puppy
Your responsibility starts from the time you choose a puppy. Make sure you’re dealing with reputable breeders. Ideally, the breeder should be able to produce health clearances from organizations like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and Canine Eye Registry Foundation to make sure that your pup is in tiptop health.
The English Toy Spaniels are average shredders and thus, they don’t take too much time with grooming. You can give it a bath once or twice a month with high-quality shampoo to keep its fur soft and silky. Brush its lush coat at least twice a week using a soft bristle brush or a pin brush to prevent it from tangling. You have to trim its fur, especially around the face and feet to keep it neat. Then, clean its ears using a cotton swab regularly and while you’re at it, check the eyes and ears as well for any suspicious discharges.
This pint-sized pup won’t break the bank with its ration of dog food. Ideally, it just needs 0.5 to 1 cup of dry dog food, divided into two meals every day. Don’t give too much table scraps especially those with bones as these could cause health problems for your furry pal.
This breed can be naturally stubborn but it’s not something that no good amount of training can correct. English Toy Spaniels, like most other breeds, respond well to positive reinforcements. Housetraining, socialization activities, and obedience training must start while it is still a puppy. You need to keep it on a leash when you go out as it could get injured especially in the presence of other big breeds.
Ideal Living Conditions
English Toy Spaniel does well in an apartment. They don’t need much exercise as they can be prone to joint injury. In fact, you need to restrict their time outside especially during summer. With their short snout and their lush coat, they’re not very tolerant of the heat. They also need to be constantly with their favorite human and when left inside the house for long periods of time, it could suffer from separation anxiety. For these reasons, this breed is suitable for you if you work from home or if you can bring your pooch to the office.
The English Toy Spaniel has been a popular breed of choice for the nobility throughout the ages. Fortunately, this noble dog can be a faithful companion to commoners. Given the right care as well as adequate love and affection, this pup is what devotion looks like.