This article also relates to: English Toy Spaniel
Thought to share common ancestry with Pekingese breeds in the Far East, the King Charles Spaniel first began appearing in Europe during the 16th century and is widely recognised as having been a royal favourite, passionately admired by King Charles II of England, as well as the notorious Mary Tudor in the mid-1500s; very often the King Charles Spaniel was given as a gift amongst European royalty and features in paintings and literature of the time. The breed rose to enormous popularity in the early 19th century as it began being cross-bred to achieve more subtle facial characteristics, however, by the onset of the 20th century, interest had returned to restoring the original pure-breed.
Admired for its distinctive appearance, the King Charles Spaniel is believed to have acquired its unusual facial characteristics, such as its short nose, high domed head and large eyes, from Eastern Continental breeds that were progressively cross-bred in Europe. Characteristic features also include a long, glossy coat that is easy to manage and maintain, a quiet temperament, dark colouring around the mouth and a turned up muzzle. Not particularly energetic, the King Charles Spaniel is very often used as a therapy dog in nursing homes and hospitals. The soft expression given by the large eyes makes it an appealing breed to look at and an easy one to grow attached to.
Often mistaken for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, yet with significant differences between the two breeds. The shape of the skull, position of the eyes, length of the muzzle and general body size are all contrary features, for instance. The King Charles Spaniel weighs an average of 3.6-6.4 kg and has a life expectancy of roughly 12 years when cared for accordingly. The temperament of the breed is affectionate and companionable, so it is often called a 'lapdog,' whilst being docile, obedient and intelligent.
There are a number of health afflictions commonly associated with the breed, including optical complaints such as cataracts, keratitis and corneal dystrophy, as well as cardiac disorders and deficiencies that are a relative cause for concern. Further insight suggests that the King Charles Spaniel has an inherent predisposition to strokes, as well as hereditary loss of hearing.