The King Charles Spaniel: Everything You Need to Know

If you are looking for a loyal and affectionate companion that has a regal history, the aristocratic King Charles Spaniel is the perfect breed for you.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the fascinating history, unique physical traits, lovable temperament, and health issues of the King Charles Spaniel. 

History of the King Charles Spaniel

Also known as the English Toy Spaniel, the King Charles Spaniel is a small spaniel-type dog with a rich history. The Kennel Club, in 1903, recognized the breed by merging four toy spaniels, including the Blenheim, the Ruby, and the Prince Charles Spaniel, into one single title – the King Charles Spaniel.  

Origins and Development

Toy Spaniels probably originated in East Asia centuries ago. They were first seen in Europe in the 16th century and quickly became popular among royalty. Breed members were associated with King Charles II, who was infatuated with these little dogs.  

The early ancestry of King Charles Spaniel is unknown, but the breed shared many genetic similarities with ancient Asian dog breeds like the popular Pekingese and Japanese Chin.

The Urban Myth

According to an urban legend, King Charles Spaniels were allowed to enter all establishments in the UK regardless of their “no dog except guide dogs” rules. This permission was granted by Charles II himself through a special royal decree. 

Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight

The King Charles Spaniel is a small dog, typically weighing between 8 and 14 pounds and standing around 9 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder. Despite its small size, is a sturdy breed, with a compact and muscular body.

The King Charles Spaniel’s small size makes them an ideal breed for apartment living or for those who don’t have a lot of space. It is also a great choice for families with children, as they are gentle and patient with kids.

Coat and Colors

The King Charles Spaniel has a long, silky coat that is typically found in shades of black, white, or red. The different dogs included in the merge have differently colored coats, including: 

  • King Charles Spaniel – black and tan
  • Ruby Spaniel – red 
  • Prince Charles Spaniel – white with black and tan patches
  • Blenheim Spaniel – white with red patches

Facial Features

One of the most distinctive features of the King Charles Spaniel is its adorable, round face. Breed members have large, expressive eyes, floppy ears that are almost as long as the face, and short snouts/noses.  

Personality and Temperament

The King Charles Spaniel loves to be around people and makes an excellent pet for families with children. It is outgoing and curious and a great choice for multi-pet households.

Affectionate and Friendly

King Charles Spaniels are a breed that loves to be around people. They thrive on human companionship and crave attention. They often engage in silly situations just to get noticed by their beloved owners. 

King Charles Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature and are great with children. They love to play and are always up for a game of fetch or tug-of-war, but also make perfect lap dogs. 

Intelligence and Trainability

King Charles Spaniels are generally intelligent dogs that are eager to please their owners. This makes them relatively easy to train, especially if you are using positive reinforcement methods and are patient and consistent. 

They are also known for their high level of adaptability, which allows them to adjust easily and quickly to new environments. This makes them great dogs for families that like to travel or move frequently.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Pets

Early socialization is key to ensuring that your King Charles Spaniel gets along well with people and other pets. This means exposing them to new people and animals from an early age to teach them appropriate behavior around others.

With the right socialization and training, a King Charles Spaniel can be a great addition to any household. Breed members are not naturally aggressive and will usually back down if another pet becomes aggressive towards them.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

The King Charles Spaniels is prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Heart Problems: The breed often suffers from various heart issues, with mitral valve disease being the most common 
  • Breathing Issues: The flat and brachycephalic nose and airway predispose the breed to a myriad of breathing difficulties 
  • Eye Conditions: Breed members are affected by cataracts and retinal issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Dental Disease: Like all small breeds, this dog is likely to have periodontal (gum) disease and experience early tooth loss

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

As with any dog, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your King Charles Spaniel’s regular checkups and preventative care (vaccination, deworming, and flea & tick control) to help prevent health problems.

Expected Lifespan

The King Charles Spaniel typically lives for 10 to 16 years, though with proper care, some may exceed this lifespan. You can prolong your King Charles Spaniel’s lifespan by providing it with plenty of exercise, a healthy diet, and lots of love and attention.


The King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful choice for those seeking a loyal, affectionate, and regal companion. Whether you’re a seasoned pet owner or a first-time dog owner, this breed is sure to capture your heart.

With its fascinating history, unique physical characteristics, and lovable temperament, the King Charles Spaniel is a breed worth considering. Just ensure that you find a reliable breeder that tests both parents for genetic issues. 

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