The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a confusing breed because it has been around for centuries but only recognized by the American Kennel Club since the 1990s. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gets its name from the English King Charles II, who declared the breed was permitted in any public space during his reign. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has become one of the top 20 breeds in the U.S. despite its recent admission to the AKC.
A Royal History
The origins of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are murky and difficult to trace. Historical references detail the passage of the breed from mainland Europe to Scotland in the 16th-century. Details of the movement of the breed are scarce until the reign of King Charles II. What is known is members of the Royal Family would hold these dogs in their laps for warmth and to draw fleas away from them. The movement of the Plague was halted in Royal households by dogs attracting fleas away from humans. The 17th-century monarch has given his name to the breed because of his devotion to it.
King Charles II
The love for the King Charles II Spaniel of the monarch was so great he is known to have traveled with at least three dogs at all times. The King of England even passed a royal decree stating the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel could not be barred from public lands, including the Houses of Parliament.
Falling out of Favor
The death of King Charles II in 1685 at the Palace of Whitehall led to a decline in the popularity of his favorite canine breed. The aristocracy of England would shift their attention to small dogs, such as pugs that remained popular in the 18th and 19th-centuries. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would go through several changes before the 20th-century to return to popularity. The nose of the spaniel was deemed too long in comparison to the Pug, which led to the development of a shorter nose for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
A Return to Popularity
It took until the 20th-century for the return of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to popularity. The breed had been changed to be smaller in size, with a shorter snout and rounded head. In the 1920s, American, Roswell Eldridge traveled to England to seek examples of the 17th-century form of the Spaniel. By the mid-1920s, Eldridge was offering 25 English pounds to breeders recreating the earlier form of the breed. Roswell Eldridge would die before seeing the culmination of his work to restore the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel kennel club opened in 1928, with the American Kennel Club only recognizing the breed in the 1990s.