The mouths of English Toy Spaniels turn down at the corners, but their grumpy expression belies the breed’s true nature—these are utterly sweet and jolly little dogs. True companion dogs, English Toy Spaniels are at their happiest spending time taking slow strolls or snuggling with their favorite people. Their quiet, peaceful demeanor makes them wonderful emotional support dogs. While their favorite activity is lounging, they’ll happily play short games of fetch and other dog sports.
The English Toy Spaniel has a domed head and a soft, thoughtful expression in his large, dark eyes. His muzzle is short and his body stocky and compact, and covered with a long, silky coat. This smart dog is quick to train, but Toy Spaniels are sensitive and respond best to praise and treats. They’ll also get their feelings hurt and sulk if they are left out of family activities. Once you bring an English Toy Spaniel home, you’ll have a furry shadow for his entire life.
English Toy Spaniels are also called Charlies, King Charles Spaniels, Prince Charles Spaniels, Ruby Spaniels, and Blenheim Spaniels.
The English Toy Spaniel has a luxurious coat with profuse fur growth on the chest, ears, body, and feathering on the front and hind legs and tail. The coat is silky in texture and glossy in appearance. It can be slightly wavy or straight. The colors are Blenheim (red and white), Prince Charles (tricolor, consisting of white, black, and tan), King Charles (black and tan), and Ruby (a rich mahogany).
Average Height: 9-10 inches
Average Weight: 8-14 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Described as ‘compact, cobby and essentially square’ in the breed standard, English Toy Spaniels have a merry, stout appearance. Their intelligent brow is pleasantly domed, and they have a gentle, curious expression in their bright, dark eyes. They have long, pendant ears feathered with glossy fur. The English Toy Spaniel’s muzzle is short, and the breed has a slightly undershot bite. The tail is docked from two to four inches, if following the breed standard. In motion, Toy Spaniels are elegant and lively with a well-balanced stride.
It’s likely the English Toy Spaniel is related to the Pekingese and Japanese Chin, as nobility from China and Japan commonly gave toy dog breeds as gifts to European aristocrats. The breed was beloved by English royalty by the 1500s, and was described in the 1574 book De Canibus Britannicis by Johannes Caius. The toy breed is named the King Charles Spaniel in England after Kings Charles I and II, who were both devoted fanciers of the breed. English Toy Spaniels make appearances in many famous paintings of English Royalty.
The English Toy Spaniel is closely related to the similar Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and indeed they were once the same breed. The distinction between the two arose from crossbreeding with Pugs, which gave the English Toy Spaniel a flat muzzle and domed, apple-shaped head. In 1886, the American Kennel Club officially recognized English Toy Spaniel as a distinct breed.
AKC Breed Category
English Toy Spaniels charm with their mix of quiet reserve and merriment. They love offering laid-back companionship most of all, but are not averse to joining you for a short game of fetch in the yard. Though English Toy Spaniels often choose one family member as a favorite, they'll show love to their entire pack. With strangers they are a bit standoffish. Socialization with people and other animals will ensure they are well-mannered with all.
Are English Spaniels Good with Kids? English Toy Spaniels are loving with children who are loving with them. They will protect themselves from rough treatment, however innocent. It’s preferable for them to live with older children who know how to treat dogs gently.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are English Toy Spaniels Good with Other Pets? When socialized with dogs and cats from an early age, English Toy Spaniels usually get along with them swimmingly.
English Toy Spaniels are watchful of their territory, but they aren't a highly protective breed.
Are English Toy Spaniels Good Guard Dogs? English Toy Spaniels are alert for intruders on their turf, and they'll bark raucously if they hear or see anything out of the ordinary. But beyond their keen ears, they are small and timid and don't serve as effective guard dogs.
English Toy Spaniels are low energy. If given the choice, they'll opt for a snuggle on the couch over a play session in the yard.
- Will turn to destructive and nuisance behaviors when left alone too long
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Require early socialization so they don't become nervous around strange people and dogs
- Will snap at children if mistreated during play
- Long fur requires attention to prevent matting and knots
- Prone to overheating because they are brachycephalic
- Prone to snoring
- Keep in air-conditioned rooms on hot and humid days
English Toy Spaniels are deeply attached to their families, and become anxious and miserable if forced to spend time away from them. Charlies should live indoors with their pack. Provide air conditioning for your English Toy Spaniel when it is very hot and humid outdoors, because their brachycephalic muzzles put them at risk of overheating. They shed through the year, but frequent grooming can keep fur to a minimum and a dog-proof blanket can help protect furniture.
Charlies enjoy slow walks around the neighborhood, and getting fresh air in the yard. They are not well suited to weather extremes. Keep your English Toy Spaniel's time outdoors short when it is very hot or very cold.
A laid-back fitness routine is enough to keep your English Toy Spaniel healthy. Their daily exercise needs are met with several short walks, a few excursions to explore the yard, or even games of toss in the living room.
English Toy Spaniels run out of steam after moderate exertion.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: English Toy Spaniels don't make good running buddies because they overheat easily.
- Hiking Miles: A walk to the neighborhood park is all the hiking your English Toy Spaniel needs or wants.
Generally, this breed requires about ½ to 1 cup of good quality dry dog food each day given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based on your English Toy Spaniel’s activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your English Toy Spaniel.
Before bringing home an English Toy Spaniel, make sure at least one family member can be with them at all times. Time alone puts Charlies at risk of developing separation anxiety and nuisance behaviors.
Health and Grooming
A short, daily brushing with attention to small tangles can keep your English Toy Spaniel’s silky coat from matting. A more thorough brushing once a week, and a bath about once a month keeps their coat silky and fresh smelling. Wash your Charlie’s pendant ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your English Toy Spaniel’s teeth several times a week, and trim his nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
A number of health concerns may affect the English Toy Spaniel, including:
- Patellar luxation (misalignment of the leg bones)
- Heart conditions (including patent ductus arteriosus and mitral valve insufficiency)
- Cleft palate
- Skin conditions, including seborrhea
- Leg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Fused toes
- Open fontanel
- 'Lazy tongue' (a protruding tongue)
- Early-onset tooth decay
You can minimize serious health concerns in an English Toy Spaniel by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
English Toy Spaniels are eager to please, but also have an independent streak. For the best results, keep training sessions fun and short, and offer an abundance of positive reinforcement.
Advanced training in dog sports, obedience, and agility is a good way to keep English Toy Spaniels off the couch now and then. Keep in mind, they are not athletes and their short muzzles make them prone to overheating. Always keep exercise and training sessions short, and don't train them on hot or humid days.
Sporting Dog Training
The English Toy Spaniel will hunt down the comfiest spot in the house, and chase birds and squirrels in the yard, but that's about it.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about English Toy Spaniels.
No. English Toy Spaniels have a double coat that sheds and, as a result, leaves pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
Swimming does not appeal to most English Toy Spaniels, though some may enjoy wading in the shallow water on a hot day. Brachycephalic dogs generally have trouble swimming comfortably. If you have the rare English Toy Spaniel who enjoys the water, always keep a close watch.