The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a Companion dog and thought to originate in the Far East but the history is only documented from the 16th Century. There are four colours, Blenheim, Ruby, Black and tan and Tri-colour.
They have always been popular with Royalty since Queen Mary 1st,Queen of Scots, (1516-1558) owned one and when she was beheaded her black and white spaniel was found under her skirts, and died a few days later from grief.
In the 17th Century, King Charles 2nd always had 2 or 3 Spaniels with him which were red and white in those days (later Blenheim) and had more pointed noses, he used them for hunting woodcock but only for short periods as they were said to have too short legs and tired too easily for a full days work. There are pictures by artists of that period, Titian, Vecchio and Veronese showing the red and white Spaniels.
He made a decree that the dogs were to be allowed into any buildings including Parliament which still applies today.
King Charles 1st had a spaniel called Rogue who accompanied him to his execution in 1649, and both King Charles 2nd and his brother James 2nd owned the dogs.
By the 18th Century and a change of royalty, King Charles spaniels were losing popularity and in the early 1800s started to be inbred with Pug dogs to reduce the size of the pointed nose and size of the dog, ladies carried these much smaller dogs around on their travels which led to them being called Comforters. By 1830 the inbreeding had caused the nose to become so short the dogs were not able to smell as well, which are now the King Charles Spaniel.
In the 20th Century an attempt was made to restore the breed to what is was in King Charles 2nd time. It took several years and the first of the new Cavalier King Charles originated in the USA in 1928. It was recognised as a breed in it’s own right by the UK Kennel Club in 1928 and the US Kennel Club in 1997.
John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough lived at Blenheim Palace which gave the red and white dogs their name
Queen Victoria loved the dogs, her first one, a tri-colour was called Dash
The first Ruby colour named Dandy was owned by Mr Garwood in 1875
The black and tan colouring was called Prince James and the tri-colour Princes Charles
Well known owners are President Reagan, Frank Sinatra and Princess Margaret as well as many other people in the public eye