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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > English Toy Spaniel Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

English Toy Spaniel Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

English toy spaniel puppy

The English Toy Spaniel, also referred to as the King Charles Spaniel in England, is a charming little dog. Although related to the Cavalier King Charles, they are not the same breed, and the English Toy Spaniel is known for being the quieter of the two breeds.

Although this breed will adapt to life in an apartment, it will not usually do well when left alone for long periods. It may not be suitable for those that work all day. Affectionate and loving, the English Toy Spaniel is friendly with most people, including strangers, but may not be the best choice for young children because it prefers more subdued surroundings.

Breed Overview


10 – 12 inches


8 – 15 pounds


12 – 14 years


Black, tan, white

Suitable for:

Seniors looking for a companion, families with older children


Loving, affectionate, gentle, sweet, somewhat reserved

They do not require much exercise and are not prone to bursts of energetic zeal. Socialize from a young age, brush regularly to remove dead hairs, and avoid excessively hot or too cold climates, and the English Toy Spaniel makes a loving companion that is especially popular with seniors and with families with grown-up children.

Read on to see whether the breed is suitable for you and your home, and what is required to take on a King Charles.

English Toy Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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English Toy Spaniel Puppies

The English Toy Spaniel is rare in the US, which means that prices are higher for these than other similar breeds. The rarity of the breed means that you may have to hunt for breeders. Join breed groups, check with kennel clubs, and ask any English Toy Spaniel owners you know.

When you meet a breeder, ensure that both parents have a Canine Eye Registry Foundation certificate. The certificate should be dated within the past 12 months and shows that the parents are free from eye disease. Both parents should also have an Orthopedic Foundation of America certificate, also from the past year, indicating that the dogs have a healthy heart.

You should also ask to meet one or both parent dogs. The mother dog, at least, should be available to meet. Ensure that she looks healthy and try to judge how friendly and alert she is. Her puppies will pick up their early socialization cues from their mom.

The cost and rarity of the breed mean that you are unlikely to find them in shelters, but it is not impossible. Try to find out why it was put up for adoption. It isn’t always the fault of the dog, but you still need to ensure that any dog you’re thinking of adopting will fit into your family.

English Toy Spaniel or King Charles Spaniel
Image by: Marria Kenig, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the English Toy Spaniel

The English Toy Spaniel has been bred for and is renowned for its friendly companionship. It is more at home in a person’s lap than out hunting in the field.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The English Toy Spaniel can be somewhat reserved around strangers, although this can be controlled through early and ongoing socialization. The breed will get along with people of all ages and will happily meet young children.

However, this breed prefers quieter surroundings at home. As such, he usually prefers not to live with young children, although there are always exceptions. The breed does not require a lot of play and may look for somewhere quiet when children are playing.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

With socialization, the English Toy Spaniel will get on with most other dogs and with cats. If you intend to keep one of this breed in a house with other animals, ensure that they meet at a young age.


Things to Know When Owning an English Toy Spaniel:

It is especially popular with seniors, can adapt to life in an apartment, and is considered a great companion dog that requires minimal exercise. However, the English Toy Spaniel may not do well with very young or boisterous children and the breed is prone to some health conditions that owners need to look out for. Below are some of the things you need to know before taking one of these breeds into your home and your family.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The exact amount of food your dog eats per day will depend on factors such as its age, current weight, any underlying health conditions, and the amount of exercise it gets. Talk to your vet to determine exactly how much you should feed your dog. They will be able to advise whether your dog is over or underweight, any dietary and nutritional requirements that need to be met, and more.

Alternatively, check the food packaging for manufacturer instructions and follow these. Weigh your dog for an accurate feeding guide and, if you are feeding your spaniel up or trying to lose weight, feed according to the size you want them to be and not the size they are.

Typically, an English Toy Spaniel of this size will eat between ½–1 cup of good quality dry kibble, per day. If you feed a mixture of wet and dry food, take this into account and reduce the amount of each that you feed. Also, determine how many treats you feed and deduct these calories from their daily food intake.

Always provide your dog with ongoing access to fresh water.

Exercise 🐕

One of the reasons for the breed’s popularity with seniors and older owners is they require minimal daily exercise. A daily stroll around the block should be enough to meet your English Toy Spaniel’s daily exercise requirements. The breed’s tendency to suffer joint problems means that the English Toy Spaniel should not be given too long a walk or too vigorous an exercise.

Training 🎾

The breed is intelligent but can be quite independent. They are usually keen to please their human, though, so will give in to positive training techniques.

Early socialization is a good idea. Otherwise, the spaniel can be timid around strangers, although it will rarely be aggressive or scared. Socialization ensures that a dog can cope with new situations and with meeting new people.

Grooming ✂️

The coat of the English Toy Spaniel can be long and straight but may also have a slight curl or wave to it. Although the dog’s hair is quite long and luxurious, the breed does not have extensive grooming requirements. Brush once a week to remove dead hair and to ensure he remains comfortable.

You will need to wash the Spaniel’s face every day to get rid of tears that form, especially overnight. And you will need to clean the ears out with a cotton swab.

Cut the nails every two months. Because the English Toy Spaniel does not go on long walks, it will need regular nail clipping. Start when your dog is a puppy, to make it easier for both of you. Otherwise, have a professional groomer do it for you.

Finally, you will need to brush your dog’s teeth, at least three times a week and ideally daily. Again, it is best to start this when the dog is a puppy.

English Toy Spaniel or King Charles Spaniel
Image Credit: ZANTACUZ, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

The English Toy Spaniel is prone to several genetic and other health conditions, including those that are common in small and toy breeds.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Cleft Palate
  • Seborrhea
  • Fused Toes
Serious Conditions
  • Entropion
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency


Male vs Female

The male Spaniel tends to grow a little larger than the female, but not much. There is also some anecdotal evidence that males are more loving but can be more aggressive, while females are prone to mood swings, but character traits are usually more dependent on the individual than the gender.

3 Little-Known Facts About the English Toy Spaniel

1. They Have Four Color Variations

The English Toy Spaniel comes in four color variations.

  • The King Charles is black and tan
  • Black, white, and tan is called the Prince Charles
  • The red and white variant is referred to as the Blenheim
  • The red variety is called the Ruby

Although the names are very similar, the King Charles Toy Spaniel should not be confused with the Cavalier King Charles. Although these two breeds are related, they are not the same.

Both breeds originate from Toy Spaniels favored by Queen Mary I in the 16th century. They were considered the same breed until the 1920s when the Toy Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel were treated as being separate breeds.

Today, the Cavalier is slightly larger than the Toy Spaniel and while the Cavalier King Charles should have perfectly straight hair, the toy spaniel variety can have slightly wavy or curly hair. The King Charles has more wide-set eyes and a shorter muzzle than the Cavalier, as well.

The Cavalier King Charles and the King Charles Toy Spaniel are both named “King Charles” for the monarch’s love of the black and tan coloration in the breed. They also share similar temperaments, being relaxed and affectionate dogs. The Cavalier is easier to obtain than the rarer and slightly more expensive Toy Spaniel, however.

2. They Are A Companion Dog

Although a Spaniel would traditionally be a breed of dog used for flushing games out of brush and undergrowth, the toy classification means that the dog was bred for companionship.

Today, the English Toy Spaniel is still kept as a companion dog and is especially popular with seniors. It does not require a lot of exercise and will not benefit from intense physical activity, typically preferring to spend time sitting on their owner’s lap or following them around.

The breed may also do well with families and will usually get along well with children. However, the breed is not overly playful and quite enjoys peace. It may not mix well with rambunctious and loud, younger children.

With that said, the happy nature of the breed is usually predominant, so it will get along well with strangers (with early socialization) and other dogs, as well as with family.

3. The English Toy Spaniel Is Prone to Patellar Luxation

This condition is common in smaller breeds, and especially in the Toy Spaniel. Known as slipped stifles, patellar luxation means that the thigh, knee, and tibia are not properly lined up. It can lead to lameness, and it may cause some discomfort and pain for the dog. It will often lead to arthritis and while the disease can be evident at birth, it will often not develop until the dog gets older.

Patellar luxation is graded according to the severity of the condition. Grade I is an occasional turning of the tibia. It may cause occasional and short-term lameness, while Grade IV, which is considered ongoing and severe, can cause severe pain. The patellar can’t be manually realigned with Grade IV patellar luxation.

The treatment for mild and moderate patellar luxation usually consists of physiotherapy and exercise. More severe cases may demand surgery and surgical procedures. In all cases, ongoing pain relief may be necessary.


Final Thoughts

The English Toy Spaniel is a small companion dog. It gets on well with most people but is not best suited to living with young and loud children, typically being better suited to life with senior owners. The breed does not require a lot of exercise, enjoys spending time with its owner, and can suffer separation anxiety if left alone for too long a period.

An eagerness to please counteracts the Spaniel’s independent nature, which means that this breed is usually easy to potty train and behaviorally train, but it will require early socialization to ensure that it reacts well to strangers.

Featured Image Credit: Mariia Kenig, Shutterstock

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