The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful small spaniel with dark, gentle, expressive round eyes. Cushioning underneath the eyes helps give the breed its characteristic soft expression. The long ears are well-feathered. The body is slightly longer than it is tall, with a level topline. A scissors bite is preferred. The tail is sometimes docked to no less than two-thirds its original length (but many owners don't bother).
The silky coat, sometimes with a slight waviness, comes in solid ruby, black and tan, tricolor, and Blenheim (rich chestnut on a pearly white background) colors. On Blenheim dogs, a chestnut-red spot on top of the head between the ears is preferred, but not essential. Chest, ears, legs, and feet should all be feathered. Some larger males may weigh up to 25 lbs.
Long a royal pet, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named for King Charles II. History tells us that Charles II was rarely seen without at least one of two Cavaliers at his heels. He wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament. Small spaniels were also owned by James II and appear in paintings by Watteau, Gainsborough, Van Dyke, and others. During the reign of William and Mary, these spaniels were interbred with Pugs, resulting in a significantly altered head shape with flattened face, domed back of the skull, and round, protruding eyes. The result of this interbreeding is now known as the English Toy Spaniel in the United States. Mr. Roswell Eldridge, in the 1920s, offered a reward for spaniels of the older, original type with a longer face, undomed skull, and unbulging eyes. The results of his advertisement, through careful breeding, became the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel joined the Toy Group of the AKC in 1996.