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English Toy Spaniel

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The English Toy Spaniel is called a King Charles Spaniel in the UK where it comes from. It is a small (toy) sized purebred originally bred to be a companion dog and named in England for the two Kings who were devoted to them, King Charles I and II. This is a bright dog and while it may be small it has the heart of a lion when it comes to its owners safety.

English Toy Spaniels are not as common or popular as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels but there are some people who appreciate them especially for how well they travel, how gentle they are, how affectionate and devoted they are and what great companions they make. These dogs are great if you cannot be very active for whatever reason and are perfectly fine with a walk, some play and no yard, living in a small space. It does like to follow you around the home though and can suffer from separation anxiety so is not a dog for people out all the time, or who do not want a dog around their feet. It does bark so training to stop on command would be needed, and it needs socialization especially to be around children.

The English Toy Spaniel at A Glance
Name English Toy Spaniel
Other names King Charles Spaniel, Toy Spaniel, Prince Charles Spaniel, Blenheim Spaniel, Ruby Spaniel
Nicknames Charlie, ETS,
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Small (toy)
Average weight 8 to 14 pounds
Average height 10 to 11 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Silky, long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and tan, white, red
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 134th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – needs 25 to 40 repetitions before it learns a new command
Tolerance to heat Moderate – not good in anything above slightly warm!
Tolerance to cold Moderate – also not good in anything too cold!
Shedding Moderate – will be some hair to clean up around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – can gain weight if allowed to over eat and under exercised
Grooming/brushing Moderate – has long hair so regular brushing is good to keep it tangle free
Barking Occasional to frequent – can bark a lot, can be a problem with neighbors, train to stop on command
Exercise needs Slightly active – does not need a lot of exercise apart from a daily walk so good for people who are inactive
Trainability Moderately easy – can be stubborn though and is very sensitive
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Very good with some preparation
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Low to moderate – socialization is essential but this is not a dog for homes with young children especially
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good with socialization – does like to chase small things
Good with strangers Good with socialization – can be wary
Good apartment dog Very good due to size but barking needs to be controlled
Handles alone time well Low – can suffer from separation anxiety, does not like being left alone
Health issues Numerous issues, general health is low including Patellar luxation, heart problems, cleft palate, skin problems and eye problems
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $460 a year for grooming, license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $970 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Several including the English Toy Spaniel Club of America Rescue
Biting Statistics None Reported

The English Toy Spaniel's Beginnings

The English Toy Spaniel likely shares the same ancestor as the Japanese Chin or the Pekingese as it is believed to descend from small companion dogs that were popular in Japanese and Chinese imperial circles. It is in England though that the English Toy Spaniel developed into the dog we know today. In 1574 a book about English dogs by Johannes Caius mentioned toy spaniels and we know that Mary, Queen of Scots had at least one herself and that her son James I received a gift of toy spaniels from Japan in 1613.

Through the years they remained popular with royalty which kept them popular with the rich and the people too. Portraits often show families with pet spaniels, famous artists like Van Dyck, Rubens, Gainsborough and Rembrandt all have paintings with spaniels in them though they do not have the same look as the ones we know now. Both King Charles I and II loved the dog and that is why in England it is called a King Charles Spaniel. In fact Charles I and Mary Queen of Scots both went to their executions with their companion spaniels.

It was not until after the death of Charles II when Mary and William took the throne that the spaniels took on their modern look though. They brought with them Pugs so breeders mixed the two dogs together and the toys spaniels looks changed. They became smaller, with more rounded heads, eyes that protruded more and flatter noses. By the end of the 1800s the old style of spaniel with the more pointed look had disappeared.

New Lease on Life

That is until an American called Roswell Eldridge offered a monetary reward for breeders who were able to reproduce the old style of spaniel. As a result when King Charles breeders had dogs that were throwbacks to that look in a litter they kept it and used them to reproduce. This lead to the development of a separate breed from the English Toy (King Charles) which was called the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This dog was larger and had the looks of the old spaniels from King Charlie times. Differences include the Cavalier having a longer nose, flat head rather than rounded and hanging down ears set higher on the head. Charlies instead have that pushed in face, ears set low and a rounded head. Also Charlies tails were docked and Cavaliers were left long and plumed. Because the names were so similar though to avoid confusion American breeders decided to rename the King Charles Spaniel the English Toy Spaniel. English Toy Spaniels were recognized by the AKC in 1886 and it ranks 134th in popularity.

The Dog You See Today

The English Toy Spaniel or ET is a small dog weighing 8 to 14 pounds and standing 10 to 11 inches tall. It has a squared shaped compact body, and its tail was most commonly docked short however that practice has been made illegal in some countries including the UK so some are being left in their natural screw shape now. Those tails have a silky feathering as do their legs and feet. Around the chest, ears and body there is also some fringing. Its coat is long and silky and can be a little wavy or is straight. There are four patterns or colors they come in. Blenheim which is white and red. Ruby which is solid red. King Charles which is tan and black. Prince Charles which is tricolored. Some also have some white hair on the chest.

The head is round and its skull is domed. It is a large head in proportion to the rest of the dog. It has a very short muzzle, a pushed in black nose, large eyes with extra skin beneath them and wide nostrils. It also has a jaw that is squared and is deep and those eyes are black or brown in color. Its ears are set low, long and hang down close.

The Inner English Toy Spaniel


ETs are an alert breed and they make a good watchdog that will let you know of any intruders. Some might act to defend you and some may not but given its size it is unlikely to scare anyone away! Its barking can be occasional but can also be frequent so a command to stop should be a part of its training. This is not a breed that can be content to be left alone. It bonds more closely to one owner, will follow you around the house to be close to you, and does not like to be left alone. In fact it can suffer from separation anxiety if you do. It is happiest in a home with someone there, perhaps someone retired, a stay at home parent, or someone who works from home.


It can be a good breed to get for new owners as it does not require a ton of experience or knowledge, though in some circumstances it does help, such as training. When raised well and in the right home it is an affectionate dog towards its family but is more reserved around strangers. It should be fairly quiet, and certainly gentle, it will want lots of attention and is a perfect lap dog. But it also has a playful side, it is cheerful and some are more outgoing than others. It will expect to be a part of everything and will act out if it has hurt feelings of being ignored. It can be silly and clownish but is actually a bright dog and usually is eager to please.

This is a sensitive breed so harsh tones, scolding or physical punishment is not a good idea. But at the same time you need to be firm with it so it knows you are the boss. Some can have stronger stubborn moments to get around too. If overly spoiled it can develop small dog syndrome where it comes snappish, aggressive, destructive, loud and difficult to control. It is good at getting its way with its soulful eyes but do not let it manipulate you!

Living with an English Toy Spaniel

What will training look like?

The English Toy Spaniel or Charlie as it is also been nicknamed is moderately easy to train with the right approach. It can have times when it is more willful and its sensitivity means its training should be done with patience, being firm but also positive and fair. Because of its loyalty and affection for you it is likely to be very eager to please you most of the time so with some encouragement, praise and reward and the odd treat too, it will do well. Start training and socialization early, when you have it home there are things you can start, leaving it until it is a few months old can mean it learns bad habits and becomes more stubborn. Socialization will help prevent its natural shyness around other people from turning to suspicion or being nervous and snappy. It can be unsure in new situations and early socialization helps to give it confidence.

How active is the English Toy Spaniel?

Charlies are not a very active breed and they love to snuggle but that does not mean they need no physical activity at all. It should be taken out for at least one walk a day and have opportunities for play sessions each day too. It is a great apartment breed due to its size and lack of activity, it does not require a yard. However having one is a place for it to play in and romp around in safety when its properly fenced in. When you take it for a walk make sure you keep it on a leash or harness as it will likely try to chase after small flying things like birds or butterflies. Even an English Toy Spaniel will start to act out and have behavioral problems if it does not get enough physical and mental stimulation.

Caring for the English Toy Spaniel

Grooming needs

This dog does shed a moderate to high amount so expect hair around the home and the need for vacuuming regularly. While the English Toy has a long coat this does not automatically mean it needs long grooming sessions each day. It does need some regular care though, you should be prepared to comb and brush it at least once week, more often will keep it looking better and mean there is less hair around the home. Pay special attention to the areas at the back of its legs and behind its ears. Bathing should be done just when it needs one to prevent drying its natural skin oils, but in between baths you can give it a face wipe each day. Once a week it should also have its ears wiped by you using a damp cloth or cotton ball with dog ear cleanser solution. At the same time you can check the ears for signs of infection, such as swelling and redness, bad odor or a discharge, but never insert anything into them.


Other grooming needs include brushing its teeth at least two to three times a week, daily if possible. Taking care of its teeth is especially important as like many small breeds it can be prone to dental problems. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long using proper dog nail clippers and taking care not to cut too close to the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. Cutting there will hurt your dog and cause bleeding. If you are in doubt have a groomer or vet do it.

Feeding Time

English Toy Spaniels will eat between ½ to 1 cup of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into two meals. That can vary depending on the size of the dog, age, health, activity level and metabolism rate. Some Charlies can be picky eaters so you may need to try a variety of types before you find one it is happy with. Sometimes Charlies stop eating and it can be hard to know why. If that happens check its teeth, as often it is a sign something is wrong there.

How is the English Toy Spaniel with children and other animals?

This dog is not one to have in homes that have young children. It does not like how they grab and pull, rush at them and tease them and it is a breed that will snap or bite if it feels mistreated. With older children it is a lot more at ease as they tend to know how to handle them in a kinder way. To make them more at ease with children make sure they are very well socialized and if raised with them it is more likely to be affectionate with them. Also make sure young children are always supervised and all children are taught how to touch and play appropriately with them. With other dogs they are friendly with socialization. It also tends to get alone well with other pets apart from birds and outside butterflies too. It likes to chase them, so should be in a leash when out walking.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The ET should live for between 10 to 12 years but there are a few health issues it can have problems with some minor and some less so. These issues include overheating, eye problems, patella luxation, heart problems, ear infections, PDA, a cleft palate, cryptorchidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes, Seborrhea, Fused Toes, Hydrocephalus, Open Fontanel and Umbilical hernias.

Biting Statistics

In closer examination of reports on dog attacks doing bodily harm in Canada and the US over 35 years, there is no mention of the English Toy Spaniel. This is not a dog to be concerned about in terms of being overly aggressive but it should not be discounted just because of its size. Any dog can have bad days, be triggered by something unidentified, or over react to something. Some dogs can do more damage than others and those dogs tend to make reports more. The English Toy Spaniel may not be able to do enough damage to cause bodily harm but it does act to defend itself if it is not happy about something. It is very important to well socialize and train whatever dog you end up buying. It is also important you see that it gets the exercise it needs, mental stimulation, care and attention it needs. While these things will not prevent all incidents, it can help lower the chance.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

There are less than 250 English Toy Spaniel puppies being registered each year. This is not going to be an easy dog to find if this is the one you have your heart set on. A pet quality ET will be about $800 or more, and then a show quality dog from a top breeder is likely to be two or even three times that. Prices do vary from one breeder to another, and sometimes it can be hard to judge which breeders can be trusted and which prices are fair. Do your homework and avoid places like pet stores, puppy mill supplied sellers and even back yard breeders. Rescues and shelters are another option though finding a purebred Charlie is unlikely.


When you have a dog there are some initial costs to cover. It should be taken to a vet for a physical examination and other needs such as blood tests, shots, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and deworming. This will cost around $260. Then there are the items a dog needs like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and so on for a cost of around $130.

Ongoing costs cover things like health care, food and miscellaneous needs. Pet insurance and basic health care like vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and check ups at the vets is going to cost you around $435 a year. A good quality dog food and dog treats are going to be around $75 a year. Then other costs like toys, license, miscellaneous items, basic training and grooming are another $460 a year. This gives a yearly estimated cost of $970.


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