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Duke of Marlborough family with two Cavaliers

Early History of the Breed

In the last five hundred or more years, small dogs of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-type have brought immense pleasure to the lives of royalty, world leaders and countless ordinary men, women and children.

Few other breeds can claim an ancestry dating back to the 13th century; records of canine companions of humble peasants are virtually nonexistent. However, the Cavalier - or the small toy Spaniel as it was described - was the companion of the most aristocratic members of society, and they frequently included their beloved pets in family portraits, providing breed historians with excellent visual records.

A nother theory dates back to 900 A.D., when the Emperor of China sent a gift of two of his Pekingese to the Dalai Lama of Lhasa. Some believe that these two dogs are the ancient ancestors of the Toy Spaniel and that the breed was then brought to Spain by Portuguese explorers. We can be sure that the Toy Spaniel was in England by 1554. A painting by Antonio Moro (which now hans in Woburn Abbey) whow Queen Mary I and Philip of Spain with a couple of Toy Spaniels at their feet. Earlier than this, Henry VIII had made a decree that only "some small spaniels for the ladies" cold be kept at court.

I n 1570, an essay entitled De Canibus Britannicus was produced by Dr. Johannes Caius, Queen Elizabeth I´s chief physician. It catalogued all breeds of dog known at the time. He included "Spaniell gentle or comforter - a delicate, neat and pretty kind of dog ... chamber companions, pleasant play fellows" - words just as appropriate today. The doctor also attributed strange healing powers to the dogs. "We find that these littledogs are good to assuage the sickness of the stomach ... ".

n 1587, a small black and white spaniel was ruputed to have been unable to save her cherished mistress´s life. After Mary Queen of Scots´execution, her little dog was found hiding beneath her petticoats, loyal to the last. In 1648, when the second civil war led to Charles I´s being held captive in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, his Toy Spaniel "Rogue" was by his side. When Charles I was beheaded the following year, Rogue was taken by one of the Roundheads and flaunted around London. However, it was from King Charles II that the King Charles Spaniel took its name. On the day the King returned to England from exile, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary: "The King was rowed ashore in the Admiral´s barge, while I followed in a smaller boat with Mr. Mansell, one of the footman and a dog that the King loved." In fact, Charles was rarely seen without his dogs, causing Mr. Pepys to write that he was always in trouble for "playing with his dogs all the while, and not ninding his business." It is a popular myth that King Charles II passed a low giving every dog of the breed special rights and privileges.

C harles´s brother, James II, succeeded him, and he proved to be another dog lover. When he was forced to abandon ship off the Scottish coast, he gabe the order "save the dogs," addding "and Colonel Churchill" after a pause. Luckily, Colonel Churchill was saved. He later became the Duke of Marlborough and wnt on o keep his won red and white Spaniels. While abroad fighting in the Battle of Blenheim, his wife Sarah the Duchess is reputed to have been ina very anxious state at home, waiting for news. For comfort, she stroked one of their Spaniels that was soon to have puppies. She repeatedly pressed her thumb on the bitch´s head. When news of the great battle victory arrived, five puppies were born bearing red thumbprints on their foreheads. This mark became known as the Blenheim spot.

Blenheim Palace

I n the second half of the 19th century, breeders began to hold shows and think seriously about breeding the Toy Spaniel to a desired type. It was at this time that the breed´s appearance started to alter. A shorter face found favor with the breeders, a sdid a domed head and longer, low-set ears (the King Charles Spaniel). The old type of toy spaniel had almost completely disappeared by Edwardian times. In 1886, the Toy Spaniel Club was founded. Rebirth of the old-type Toy Spaniel can be traced to an advertisement in the catalog of Charles Cruft´s Dog Show in 1926: "Blenheim Spaniels of the Old Type, as shown in the pictures of Charles II´s time, long face, no stop, flat skull not inclined to be domed, with a spot in the centre of skull.

The first prizes in classes 947 and 948 are given by Roswell Eldridge, Esq., of New York, and will be continued for five years. Prizes go to the nearest to type required." 25 pounds was an enormous amount of money in those days and it ensured that his whim was not completely ignored. In the years 1926 - 1929, the winner of the money for the best dog was Ann´s Son, a key figure in the breed´s history. Ann´s Son was a Blenheim of such outstanding quality that he attracted many new admirers to the breed. The ancestry of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels today can be traced back to this dog. Ann´s Son was also used as a live illusration of the type required. Breeding away from the short flat face of the King Charles was giong to be difficult. It is thought that the introduction of some drop-eared Papillon blood was responsible for the revival of the long nose and the desired flat-top head.

T he Kennel Club didn´t separate the registration of the King Charles from the Cavalier King Charles until 1945. In the intervening years the two breeds have changed places in the popularity ratings quite dramatically. The Cavalier is quite regularly in the top five most popular breeds in Britain. In 1973, Alansmere Aquarius became the first Cavalier and the first Toy dog to win Best in Show at Cruft´s - a remarkable achievement, only six generations on from Ann´s Son. Cruft´s Dog Show still remains the most prestigious conformation competition in England. The media exposure the breed received resulted in a population explosion. The Cavalier was hailed as the ideal pet - it needed no trimming unlike the once-fashionable Poodle and it was such a convenient size. People breeding for cash were attracted and pet shops and dealers tried to buy up breeding stock. Somehow, the special qualities that made the breed so special have managed to survive.

H istory has repeated itself and the Cavalier has found its place once more in the royal household. Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret had a Cavalier called "Rowley" who quite often appeared with his mistress in photographs. Another very prominent Cavalier was the attractive Blenheim that shared the White House with President Reagan and his wife.

Claudia Hollweg



Claudia Hollweg
Telefon: 0049-(0)9221- 52 15
Telefon: 0049-(0)9131- 530 12 99
Doris & Friedrich Hollweg
Am Gründlein 11
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Telefon: 0049-(0)9221- 52 15
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