Koairley Cavaliers and Tibetan Spaniels

The Blenheim Spot & Charming Cavalier Facts

There are many myths, stories and legends that have been passed down through hundreds of years of the Cavaliers long history and become part of the breed's folklore. Here are a few of the more well known ones.

The Legend of the Lozenge

Probably the most famous of all Cavalier stories, is the story surronding how they gained thier prized lozenges called Blenheim spots, a highly desirible feature of Blenheim Cavaliers. Pictured left and below, you can see Maddy and Sammy modelling thier 'Blen Spots', which contrary to popular belief, it is not a necessary feature for a show blenheim dog to have a lozenge, just a highly prized twist of fate.  

The year was 1701, and the Spanish War of Succession had just broken out.  John Churchill, later to become the 1st Duke of Marlborough, was one of the more prominent leaders in the war.   His most successful campaign was the Battle of Blenheim, which took place in March 1704.  The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough were renowed for thier love of thier toy spaniels, and they are credited for breeding the first chestnut and white spaniels, which is why the chestnut and white dogs even today are known as 'Blenheims'.  It is said that he ALWAYS had a small spaniel accompany him, even into battle. 

But while he was away, it is said that his wife Sarah, was so anxious about his welfare, that she would constantly hold a small pregnant bitch to help comfort her nerves.  She would press her thumb nervously into the small dog's head, and when the litter the dog was carrying was born they all featured a small spot in the centre of thier skull, in the mark of the Duchesses thumb print.  It was come to be known as the blenheim spot, and although the story has no genetic basis, it is a charming reflection upon the dog's temperament, as the thumb-print in those days represented faithfulness.

Cavaliers have captured many hearts

 Henry VII, who ruled England in the early 1500's, was known to despise dogs, and banned all but the small toy spaniels from entering his court. His daughter Mary I (also known as Bloody Mary) also was painted with her husband and a small spaniel by her side. His other daughter, Elizabeth I, is thought to have owned one, and her court physician even promoted thier use to relieve pain and symptoms in diseased and weak people.

There is also a widely known story of a small black and white toy spaniel found under the petticoats of the executed Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 - apparently the faithful dog was covered in the blood of it's owner.

Obviously, one of the most famous Cavalier owners of the past was Charles I, and Charles II. When Charles II returned from exile in 1660, it was written that he  “took great delight in having a number of little spaniels follow him and lie in his bed chamber where he suffered the bitches to puppy, which rendered it very offensive and indeed, the whole court stinking”.  It is even said that he had a law passed to exempt his Spaniels from a law dictating that no dogs could enter the halls of parliament because he could not bear to be without them.

Queen Victoria was also taken by the little spaniels. Her first faithful companion was a small Toy Spaniel called Dash (pictured right), her second was a black and tan called Tilco.  Dash is probably the more famous of the two, and is mentioned often in her personal diaries during her secluded childhood and early reign.  It is even said that after her coronation, she rushed back to her apartments to give Dash his routine evening bath.   Dash is said to even played a part in bringing her together with her husband, Albert.  It is said that although Victoria was already smitten with the handsome Albert, it was his reaction and behaviour with Dash that sealed her approval for him.  Dash was buried by a devastated Victoria in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where she provided an epitaph that reads "His attachment was without selfishness; His playfulness without malice; His fidelity without deceit. Reader, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of Dash."  If you would like to see a movie that features a little bit of Dash, we would recommend The Young Victoria.


Modern owners of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel include Ronald Reagan, Lauren Bacall, Courtney Cox, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sylvestor Stallone, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney.

Tri-Colours have 'Second Sight'

This is a myth that surronds all dogs that have tan markings above thier eyes and therefore applies to the tri-colour and black and tan marked Cavaliers .  It is said that these dogs have a 'second sight' that allows them to see ghosts, phantoms, apparitions and other spirits unseen by the rest of us.  It is not known the origin of this myth, but many Cavalier owners report that thier tri's and black and tan's often respond to things that thier other dogs show no interest in, as if they are barking at thin air.  Our two tri-girls do this as well, although we have always explained it by the fact that they just get easily 'confused' - maybe we were wrong!