Sunday, August 30, 2015

What's In A Name: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

While the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed, recreated less than a century ago, his prototype is the toy spaniel that has existed for centuries as a companion to royalty and nobility.

It's said that King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685, never went anywhere without at least two or three of these spaniels. He even decreed that the spaniels should be allowed in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament. It's claimed that the decree is still in effect today in England, although no one has tested it recently to see if it's true.

After Charles II's death, the King Charles Spaniels' popularity waned, and Pugs and other short-faced breeds became the new royal favorites. The King Charles Spaniels were bred with these dogs and eventually developed many of their features, such as the shorter nose and the domed head. The King Charles Spaniels depicted in paintings from earlier centuries were almost extinct.

In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge started searching in England for toy spaniels that resembled those in the old paintings. He searched for more than five years, even taking his search to the Crufts Dog Show, where he persuaded the Kennel Club to allow him to offer 25 pounds sterling — a huge sum at the time — for the best dog and best bitch of the type seen in King Charles II's reign. He offered this prize for five years.

In 1928, Miss Mostyn Walker presented a dog named Ann's Son for evaluation and was awarded the 25-pound prize. Roswell Eldridge didn't live to see the prize claimed, as he had died just one month before Crufts. Interest in the breed revived, and a breed club was formed. The name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was chosen to differentiate the breed from the flat-faced King Charles Spaniel (known as the English Toy Spaniel in the United States).

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