The Breed History
This spaniel was popular in the 17th century with English royalty. The breed was thought to have been in the British Isles for a while before it's popularity peaked. Most agree the root of the breed originally traces back to Japan and China. These original oriental spaniels were probably crossed with Cocker Spaniels, and perhaps Pugs and Springer Spaniels to make up the original progenitor, the Toy Spaniel. The Blenheim strain, a chestnut red and white type, was bred for many generations by the Duke of Marlborough. Note that the English Toy Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel share close origins (the Toy Spaniel).
Breeding for Function
Toy Spaniels were used for hunting, and this breed was favored for woodcocks. They were also selected for companionship.
Height at Withers: 10" (25.5 cm)
Weight for Females and Males: The ideal is 9-12 lb (4-5.5 kg), but they are accepted up to 14 lb and down to 8 lb.
Coat: The soft coat is long, straight to slightly wavy, with plenty of feathers on limbs. Length varies somewhat between the color varieties. Blenheim dogs have distinct color patches in a specific distribution including a "Blenheim spot", a red marking on top and centered on the skull. Prince Charles dogs are a tri-color of white with patches of black and tan. King Charles dogs are black and tan. Ruby dogs are mahogany red. On the last two color varieties, a very small white chest patch is acceptable.
Longevity: 10-12 years.
Points of Conformation: They possess a square build, with large, dark eyes. The brachycephalic head has a very short muzzle, domed skull, big black nose, prominent stop, and the head is large for the compact body size. The jaw is normally a bit prognathic. They are cobby with good bone but not coarse, and ears are pendulous with thick leather and well feathered. The topline has a moderate arch, back is short and broad and the tail is docked and carried level. Feathering on the tail hangs like a "flag" ~ 3 " long, and some puppies are born with naturally short or screw tails (these are not penalized). The feet are compact and small, fused toes can be seen, but are not faulted. They have a lively gait that is straight with a good length of stride.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
These dogs are reported to be: very friendly; these make excellent companion dogs. They should be socialized early to discourage timidity. They enjoy close companionship, and are alarm barkers. They are average shedders, and have average grooming needs. They are not particularly active, and do well in town or country, and need only light exercise.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia and Legg-Calve Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited traits causing degenerative hip joint disease and arthritis. Reported at a high frequency, but too few English Toy Spaniels have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 3.0% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few English Toy Spaniels have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Persistent Hyaloid Artery: Congenital defect resulting from abnormalities in the development and regression of the hyaloid artery. Identified in 13.07% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 11.36% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds, geographic, and generalized retinal dysplasia with detachment are recognized in the breed. Can lea to retinal detachment and blindness. Reported in 11.36% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any English Toy Spaniel with retinal dysplasia/folds.
Entropion: Rolling in of eyelids, often causing corneal irritation or ulceration. Entropion is reported in 9.66% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: Causes opacities on the surface of the cornea. Average age of onset is 2-5 years. Unknown mode of inheritance. Identified in 9.66% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Onset of cataract in the English Toy Spaniel is at an early age (less than 6 months), affecting the cortex and nucleus with rapid progression to complete cataract, resulting in blindness. Capsular and punctate cataracts are also seen. Identified in 5.11% of English Toy Spaniels CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any English Toy Spaniel with a cataract.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 3.3% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Chiari type I malformation and Secondary Syringomyelia (SM): Occipital bone hypoplasia with foramen magnum obstruction and secondary syringomyelia occurs in the breed. Clinical signs of SM can present usually between 5 months and 3 years of age, and include persistent scratching at the shoulder region with apparent neck, thoracic limb, or ear pain and thoracic limb lower motor neuron deficits. Diagnosis is by MRI.
Glaucoma, Hydrocephalus, Mitral Valvular Disease, Open Fontanelle, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, and Umbilical Hernia are reported on the ETSCA website.
Cleft Palate, Microphthalmia, and Persistent Primary Vitreous are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Tests of Genotype: None
Tests of Phenotype: Recommend patella evaluation, hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, cardiac evaluation, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies.
- Breed name synonyms: King Charles Spaniel, Toy Spaniel, Prince Charles, Blenheim.
- Registries: AKC, CKC, UKC, NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 125 (235 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: English Toy Spaniel Club of America: www.englishtoyspanielclubofamerica.org
King Charles Spaniel Club (UK): www.king-charles-spaniel-club.co.uk
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