Koairley Cavaliers and Tibetan Spaniels

The History of the CKCS


The History of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

There is much debate over the exact origins of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. There are been types of 'Toy Spaniels' in existence all across Europe for hundreds of years. In England the first recorded evidence comes from the 16th Century when a doctor to Queen Elizabeth I, mentions a 'comforter spaniel' whose main use was as a hot water bottle to ladies of the aristocracy. From that time, Toy Spaniels are mentioned in the great houses of England and Scotland, but it is during the reign of Charles I and his succesor Charles II that thier popularity flourished. From writings at the time, it seemed that the two kings were besotted by the little spaniels, and they were quite spoilt at the royal court.

In the late 1670's more specific references to 'red and white spaniels' appeared. Owned by the first Duke of Marlborough, these dogs were kept for the purpose of 'cocking', and had an impeccable repuatation as fantastic sporting and hunting dogs. By the early 1800's there were mentions of a 'Carpet Spaniel' at Blenheim. A writer, Youatt, described them as "the Blenheim Spaniel from its beauty and occasional gaiety is oftener an inhabitant of the drawing-room than the field, but it occasionally breaks out and shows what nature designed it for" It seems thatwhile Cavaliers and thier predeccesors the Toy Spaniels, were quite happy to be used as bed-warmers, thier origins are as deeply rooted in hunting and sporting purposes as well.

It is thought, that up until the middle of the 1800's most of the Toy Spaniels, had long muzzles. During the Victorian period there was a rise in popularity in shorter nosed, almost flat-faced dogs. It is said that the original toy spaniels were bred with bulldogs to produce what is now known as the King Charles Spaniel, a dog that although it shares part of its name with the Cavalier, is a completely different dog altogether. The popularity for this new breed of dog with its flatter muzzle, meant that the longer nose types, slowly faded from history, almost forever.                                                                                                                                     

In 1926, the breed was basically extinct. It was not until an American, named Mr. Roswell Eldrige from New York, who had a great fondness for the little spaniels that featured in so many great English paintings, visited England that year, that the situation began to change. He was disappointed to find the 'flat-skulled, little spaniel, with the tapered muzzle' had disappeared, and so offered prizes of 25 pounds annually at Crufts for the breeder who could produce the dog and bitch most resembling those shown in the paintings from the time of Charles II. His description was of a dog with a "long face, no stop, flat skull not inclined to be domes, with spot in centre of skull." At first there was not much interest in creating such a dog, but eventually a few breeders began to take an interest in bringing the little spaniels back to life. They faced antagonism, and ridicule from the breeders of the King Charles Spaniel, but perservered none the less.

The first dog to win the award was a Bleinheim dog called 'Anne's Son' (pictured above right) and a bitch by the name of 'Ashtonmore Flora'. When faced with the task of choosing characteristics for a breed standard the pioneers of our breed used 'Anne's Son' as thier model.

By 1928, they had created the first Cavalier Breed Standard, a Standard which remains largely unchanged today, the Cavalier had become a recognised breed in the UK, and a group of breeders formed the first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club.  In 1946 the first Cavalier Championship Show was held there, with an entry of 28.  In 1945, the UK Kennel Club, eventually allowed seperate registration of the Cavalier, and the breed enjoyed growing popularity throughout the next 50 years.

Cavaliers In Australia

Cavaliers are hugely popular in Australia, and are the 3rd most popular breed in the country.  The first Cavalier came to Australia in 1960 - a pregnant bitch called "Soyland Begonia" was imported from NZ.  She also became the first Australian Champion of the breed a little time later. The first dog to come to the country was imported from the UK - "Justice of Eyeworth".  It didn't take long for the breed to win the hearts of many, and Cavalier numbers quickly added up.   In 1968 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of NSW was formed, followed by Victoria in 1971.  Now almost every state has a breed club, and the Cavalier's popularity is experiencing a boom in recent times.