English Toy Spaniel

Table of Contents

english toy spaniel portrait
Meet the English Toy Spaniel, a delightful and charming little dog with a royal history and an irresistible personality! These affectionate and elegant canines are known for their endearing expressions, luxurious coats, and unwavering devotion to their families.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The English Toy Spaniel is perfect for those seeking a compact, yet hearty companion. With their gentle demeanor and affectionate nature, they’re great for individuals or families looking for a low-energy, cuddly pet. They thrive in quieter homes where they can enjoy the luxury of your undivided attention.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEEnglish Toy Spaniel
OTHER NAMESKing Charles Spaniel, Toy Spaniel
ORIGINGreat Britain
BREED GROUPToy Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT9-10 inches
WEIGHT8-14 lbs
LIFESPAN10-12 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK134th
english toy spaniel standing on green grass
Photo: JZHunt/Getty Images

Appearance

The English Toy Spaniel is an adorable little package of joy wrapped up in a silky, gorgeous coat. This breed sports a compact yet robust build and typically stands about 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 8 to 14 pounds.

Despite their petite stature, these dogs have a sturdy, cobby body, giving them a charming, slightly chubby appearance that’s hard to resist.

One of the defining features of the English Toy Spaniel is its distinctive head. It’s large in relation to the body and has a unique dome shape. This, combined with a short, flat nose that seems almost pushed back into the face, gives the breed an endearing, somewhat quizzical expression.

But it’s when you look into their eyes that you truly fall in love with these dogs. The English Toy Spaniel has large, dark, expressive eyes that exude warmth and intelligence. They seem to possess an uncanny ability to communicate their feelings and desires through these enchanting orbs.

The breed’s ears deserve special mention. These are long, furry, and hang down on either side of the face, framing it beautifully. The ears, combined with the domed skull, give the English Toy Spaniel a rather aristocratic look.

However, the crowning glory of this breed is undoubtedly its coat. It’s long, silky, and comes in four delightful varieties. You might see them sporting a rich red and white Blenheim coat, or perhaps a tricolor combination of black, white, and tan. Some English Toy Spaniels have a ruby coat, which is a solid, deep red, while others boast a black and tan two-tone effect.

In terms of their tail, it’s usually docked and carried slightly above the line of the back, adding to their noble bearing. But despite their regal appearance, these dogs are far from snobbish. Instead, they have a sweet, loving, and playful demeanor that makes them an absolute delight to have around.

english toy spaniel sitting on green grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Temperament

The English Toy Spaniel, with its royal lineage and delightful quirks, is a breed that’s full of personality. But what really sets them apart is their temperament. These dogs are known for their gentle, loving nature, making them an absolute joy to have around.

At first glance, one might assume that the English Toy Spaniel’s aristocratic appearance equates to a high-strung or aloof demeanor. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, these dogs are warm, affectionate, and incredibly sweet-natured. They form close bonds with their families and are happiest when they’re in the company of their loved ones.

One of the most endearing characteristics of the English Toy Spaniel is their innate desire to please. They thrive on positive reinforcement and love nothing more than making their owners happy. This makes them not just great pets, but also loyal and devoted companions.

Despite their small size, these dogs have a big heart. They’re incredibly empathetic and are often very attuned to their owner’s emotions. If you’re feeling down, don’t be surprised if your English Toy Spaniel cuddles up to you, offering silent comfort. Similarly, they’re quick to join in when it’s time for celebration and fun.

English Toy Spaniels are generally peaceful and easygoing. They’re typically not aggressive, though they can be a little reserved around strangers. However, once they get to know someone, they tend to warm up quickly and become friendly. They’re also usually good with children and other pets, making them a great choice for families.

These dogs have a playful side as well. They love to engage in games and playtime, whether that involves a fun toy or a spirited romp around the living room. That said, they’re not hyperactive and are usually content to spend much of their time simply lounging around, preferably in a cozy lap.

One thing to note about the English Toy Spaniel is their sensitivity. They don’t respond well to harsh treatment or loud noises. They prefer a calm, quiet environment where they feel safe and secure.

In terms of their intelligence, these dogs are quite smart. They’re capable of learning quickly, which can sometimes lead to a bit of stubbornness. But with patience and consistency, they’re usually eager to cooperate.

english toy spaniel's face
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

If you’re considering bringing an English Toy Spaniel into your life, it’s important to understand what kind of environment this charming breed thrives in.

These dogs are renowned for their adaptability and can make themselves at home in various living situations, but there are a few key factors that can contribute to their happiness and well-being.

Physical Environment

Firstly, English Toy Spaniels are very much indoor dogs. They love the comfort of a cozy home and would much rather be curled up on a soft couch than out braving the elements. This makes them excellent candidates for apartment living, as they don’t require a large yard or lots of outdoor space.

However, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a bit of fresh air. A securely fenced yard where they can explore and play at their leisure is always a bonus. But remember, these dogs are not outdoor pets and should never be left outside unsupervised.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate, English Toy Spaniels can adapt fairly well. However, they’re not fans of extreme temperatures. In hot weather, they’re prone to overheating due to their flat faces, so it’s crucial to provide plenty of shade and fresh water, and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day.

In cold weather, their short coats offer little protection, so they might need a doggy sweater for those chilly winter walks.

Ideal Owner

English Toy Spaniels do best with pet parents who are able to offer plenty of love and attention. They crave companionship and can become anxious if left alone for long periods. These dogs are also sensitive and gentle, so they respond best to calm, patient owners who treat them with kindness and respect.

While English Toy Spaniels can be a good fit for families with children, it’s important that kids are taught to handle these small dogs gently. They’re not as sturdy as larger breeds and can be easily injured by rough play.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, English Toy Spaniels typically get along well with other animals, especially if they’re introduced at a young age. That said, every dog is an individual, so introductions should always be done carefully and gradually.

english toy spaniel getting petted
Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

Grooming

The English Toy Spaniel, with its luxurious coat and elegant appearance, requires regular grooming to maintain its health and beauty. While their grooming needs are not overly demanding, it is essential to establish a consistent routine to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

The English Toy Spaniel’s medium-length, silky coat should be brushed at least two to three times per week to prevent tangles and mats, as well as to remove loose hair and distribute the natural oils throughout the coat.

A slicker brush or pin brush is ideal for gently working through their coat, while a metal comb can be used to carefully detangle any knots, paying particular attention to the feathering on the ears, chest, legs, and tail.

It is crucial to be gentle while grooming, as their skin can be sensitive, and harsh brushing may cause discomfort. Regular brushing will help minimize shedding and contribute to a healthy, shiny coat.

English Toy Spaniels do not require frequent bathing, and typically, a bath every 4 to 6 weeks should suffice. Overbathing can strip the coat of its natural oils and lead to dry skin.

When bathing, always use a mild, dog-specific shampoo to avoid irritation, and make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue. After bathing, towel-dry your dog gently, and use a hairdryer on a low setting to dry their coat completely, taking care not to overheat them.

Ear Care

The long, feathered ears of the English Toy Spaniel require special attention, as they can be prone to ear infections due to reduced air circulation.

Check and clean their ears weekly with a gentle, dog-safe ear cleaner and cotton balls or soft cloth, avoiding the use of cotton swabs that can damage the ear canal.

Look out for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or an unpleasant odor, and consult your veterinarian if you notice any issues.

Dental Care

To maintain good oral health, it is essential to brush your English Toy Spaniel’s teeth at least two to three times per week, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste.

Regular dental cleanings by a veterinarian are also recommended, as small breeds like the English Toy Spaniel can be prone to dental issues such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Nail Care

The nails of the English Toy Spaniel should be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks, depending on their growth rate. Regular nail trimming helps prevent overgrowth, which can lead to discomfort or even injury.

Use a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail clipper designed for dogs, and take care not to cut into the quick, which contains nerves and blood vessels. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, seek guidance from your veterinarian or a professional groomer.

Additional Grooming Tips

Make grooming a positive experience for your English Toy Spaniel by starting at a young age and introducing each aspect gradually. Offer praise and treats during grooming sessions to reinforce good behavior and create a pleasant association with the process.

Consistent grooming not only contributes to your dog’s overall health and appearance but also serves as an opportunity to bond with your pet and monitor their condition, allowing you to detect any potential issues early on.

english toy spaniel outdoors
Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

Exercise

The English Toy Spaniel is a relatively low-energy breed, but they still require regular exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. While their exercise needs are more modest compared to some other breeds, it is essential to provide them with daily opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, the English Toy Spaniel benefits from 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise, which can be divided into shorter sessions if preferred.

Leisurely walks around the neighborhood or a local park are ideal for this breed, as they enjoy exploring their surroundings at a moderate pace. Walking also provides an excellent opportunity for socialization, allowing your dog to meet new people and encounter different sights, sounds, and smells.

In addition to walks, the English Toy Spaniel enjoys engaging in play sessions with their family members, either indoors or in a securely fenced yard. Interactive games, such as fetch or hide-and-seek, can provide both physical exercise and mental enrichment, keeping your dog entertained and happy.

Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys are also great options for stimulating their minds and keeping them occupied when you’re not available to play.

Dog Sports

Although the English Toy Spaniel may not be as athletically inclined as some other breeds, they can still participate in dog sports and competitions, such as obedience, rally, or agility. These activities can provide additional exercise and mental stimulation, strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and offer a fun way to showcase their skills and intelligence.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to keep in mind that the English Toy Spaniel’s short muzzle can make them more prone to overexertion and overheating, especially in hot weather. Make sure to monitor your dog during exercise, taking breaks as needed, and providing access to fresh water and shade.

Training

Training an English Toy Spaniel can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as they are generally eager to please and responsive to their owner’s commands. While they may not be as highly driven to work as some other breeds, their intelligence and affectionate nature make them capable of learning and performing various tasks and tricks.

When it comes to training, consistency and patience are key. The English Toy Spaniel responds best to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, treats, and playtime, rather than harsh corrections or punishment. These gentle dogs are sensitive to their owner’s emotions and tone of voice, so it is essential to maintain a calm and encouraging demeanor during training sessions.

Early socialization and basic obedience training should begin as soon as possible, ideally while your dog is still a puppy. Exposing your English Toy Spaniel to various environments, people, and other animals will help them develop into a well-rounded and confident adult.

Puppy kindergarten or basic obedience classes can provide a structured environment for learning essential commands, such as sit, stay, come, and heel.

One aspect to consider when training an English Toy Spaniel is their occasional stubborn streak. They may sometimes display a selective hearing or independent mindset, which can require additional patience and persistence on the part of the owner. In these instances, it is crucial to remain consistent, firm, and patient, gradually reinforcing desired behaviors and discouraging undesirable ones.

As with any breed, the key to successful training is to make it a fun and engaging experience for both you and your dog. Short, regular training sessions, typically lasting 10 to 15 minutes, can help maintain your dog’s interest and prevent them from becoming bored or disengaged. Incorporating training activities into playtime or daily routines can also make the process more enjoyable and effective.

english toy spaniel in front of a christmas tree
Photo: JZHunt/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the overall health and well-being of your English Toy Spaniel. To meet their dietary needs, opt for high-quality dog food that follows the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines, which ensure that the food contains the essential nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet.

You can choose from dry food, wet food, or even a raw food diet, depending on your preference and your dog’s specific needs.

The amount of food you feed your English Toy Spaniel will depend on factors such as age, activity level, and weight. Generally, an adult English Toy Spaniel weighing around 10 pounds requires approximately 300-400 calories per day. This caloric intake can be divided into two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Puppies may require more frequent feedings, typically three to four times per day, as they have smaller stomachs and higher energy demands. As your dog grows and their activity level changes, you may need to adjust their food intake accordingly. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate feeding schedule and portion sizes for your individual dog.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but it’s essential to use them in moderation, as excessive treats can contribute to obesity and other health issues. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Choose healthy options, such as small pieces of lean meat, fruits, or vegetables, and avoid feeding them table scraps or foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, or onions.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your English Toy Spaniel. Monitor their water intake, and clean and refill their water bowl daily to ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Health

The English Toy Spaniel is generally a healthy breed, with a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. However, like any other breed, they are predisposed to certain health issues. It is essential to be aware of these potential risks and monitor your dog’s health throughout their life.

Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive care can help maintain their overall well-being and catch any problems early on.

Here are common health issues associated with the English Toy Spaniel breed:

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) dislocates or slips out of place, causing discomfort and mobility issues. Mild cases can often be managed with pain medication and weight management, while more severe cases may require surgery.

Heart Issues: English Toy Spaniels can be prone to heart conditions such as Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently. Regular veterinary check-ups, including heart exams, can help detect any issues early and allow for appropriate treatment if necessary.

Eye Problems: This breed can be susceptible to various eye issues, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. Regular eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help identify these conditions early and initiate appropriate treatment or management.

Brachycephalic Syndrome: Due to their short muzzle, English Toy Spaniels can experience respiratory difficulties associated with Brachycephalic Syndrome. Symptoms may include snoring, noisy breathing, or exercise intolerance. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to improve airflow and alleviate symptoms.

Dental Issues: Small breeds like the English Toy Spaniel are more prone to dental problems, including tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss. Regular dental care, including teeth brushing and professional cleanings, can help maintain good oral health and prevent complications.

In addition to knowing these common health issues, it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight for your English Toy Spaniel, as obesity can exacerbate existing health problems or contribute to the development of new ones. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and monitoring your dog’s weight will help prevent obesity and its associated risks.

By being aware of the potential health issues faced by English Toy Spaniels and providing regular veterinary care, preventative measures, and a healthy lifestyle, you can help ensure the well-being and longevity of your beloved companion.

english toy spaniel lying down
Photo: JZHunt/Getty Images

History

The English Toy Spaniel boasts a rich history dating back several centuries. This small, affectionate breed has captured the hearts of royalty, nobility, and commoners alike, earning their place in both popular culture and canine registries.

The origins of the English Toy Spaniel can be traced back to the toy spaniels that were popular in Renaissance Europe. These small dogs were believed to have originated from the Far East, possibly Japan, and were brought to Europe through trade routes. Toy spaniels quickly gained favor among the European aristocracy, particularly in England, where they became favored companions of the royal court.

One of the most notable admirers of the toy spaniel was King Charles II of England, who reigned from 1660 to 1685. He was so enamored with these dogs that he seldom appeared in public without at least one by his side.

It is said that King Charles II even issued a decree allowing toy spaniels access to all public buildings, including Parliament. The breed’s close association with the king led to their eventual name, the King Charles Spaniel.

Throughout the years, toy spaniels continued to evolve as they were bred for specific traits, such as a shorter muzzle and domed head. These changes in appearance were influenced by the introduction of other breeds, such as the Pug and the Japanese Chin. By the mid-19th century, the toy spaniel had developed into a distinct breed with a unique appearance, different from their earlier ancestors.

In popular culture, the English Toy Spaniel has been immortalized in numerous paintings and literary works. They were often depicted in portraits of the British royal family and nobility, showcasing their status as cherished companions.

Famous artists, such as Sir Edwin Landseer and Sir Joshua Reynolds, have included English Toy Spaniels in their masterpieces. In literature, the breed has been mentioned in works by authors like William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, further cementing their place in history.

The English Toy Spaniel first arrived in the United States in the late 19th century. In 1886, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), making it one of the earliest breeds to be registered by the organization.

The breed’s popularity in the United States has waxed and waned over the years, but they continue to be cherished for their affectionate nature and elegant appearance.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the English Toy Spaniel in the United States is the English Toy Spaniel Club of America (ETSCA). Founded in 1956, the club is dedicated to the protection and advancement of the breed.

The ETSCA provides valuable resources for breed enthusiasts, including information on breed history, health, and responsible ownership. Their website can be accessed here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the English Toy Spaniel’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

english toy spaniel puppy
Photo: JZHunt/Getty Images

Acquiring

If you’re considering adding an English Toy Spaniel to your family, it’s crucial to prepare and do your research. Start by ensuring your home environment is suitable for this gentle, loving breed. They’ll need a safe, comfortable space and plenty of love and attention.

If you choose to buy a puppy, ensure you choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health and temperament over appearance. Ask to see health clearances and meet the parents if possible.

However, remember that there are many wonderful dogs waiting in shelters for their forever homes. Rescuing an English Toy Spaniel can be a rewarding experience. Groups like the American Kennel Club and the English Toy Spaniel Club of America can help connect you with rescue organizations.

Whether you choose to buy or rescue, bringing home an English Toy Spaniel is a decision that will fill your life with affection, companionship, and joy!

FAQs

Is the English Toy Spaniel the same as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

No, the English Toy Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are two distinct breeds. While they share similar ancestry and appearance, the main difference lies in their size and facial features. The English Toy Spaniel is smaller, with a more compact body and a shorter, flatter muzzle, while the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is slightly larger and has a longer muzzle.

How big do English Toy Spaniels get?

English Toy Spaniels typically stand between 9 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 8 to 14 pounds. Their small size makes them suitable for apartment living and easy to travel with.

Do English Toy Spaniels have health problems?

Like all breeds, English Toy Spaniels can be prone to certain health issues, including patellar luxation, heart issues, eye problems, brachycephalic syndrome, and dental issues. Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive care can help maintain their overall well-being and catch any problems early on.

Do English Toy Spaniels bark a lot?

English Toy Spaniels are generally not excessive barkers. However, they may bark to alert their owners of strangers or unusual noises. Proper training and socialization can help manage their barking behavior and ensure that they remain well-behaved companions.

Are English Toy Spaniels good with children?

English Toy Spaniels are generally good with children and make loving family pets. However, due to their small size and delicate nature, they may be better suited for families with older, more responsible children who understand how to handle them gently.

How much exercise do English Toy Spaniels need?

English Toy Spaniels require moderate daily exercise, typically around 20 to 30 minutes. Leisurely walks and play sessions with their family members are ideal for this breed, as they enjoy exploring their surroundings at a moderate pace.

Are English Toy Spaniels easy to train?

English Toy Spaniels are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and playtime. Consistency, patience, and early socialization are key to successful training with this breed.

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