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Not to be confused with the Cavalier Charles Spaniel, the King Charles Spaniel is one of the two Royal Spaniels believed to have originated in the 1800s when the noble wanted tiny dog breeds. As the name suggests, it was named after King Charles I, who was a loyal breed enthusiast. The King Charles breed is a smart, affectionate and gentle lap dog that would be a great addition to homes of the elderly, first-time owners, families with children, and those living with a sedentary life.
Are you thinking of getting a King Charles Spaniel? Here is a brief background of this aristocratic and people-pleasing toy dog.
The King Charles Spaniel is one of the two Royal Spaniels, together with the Cavalier Charles Spaniel. The two breeds actually share a common history, having to do with the time when sporting spaniels were miniaturised. During the 1800s, the noble wanted spaniels to be bred as toy dogs and pampered and carried them with around. The breed was named after King Charles I, whose fondness for this breed was passed on to King Charles II. The Cavalier Charles and King Charles were previously shown as one breed and were only recognised as two distinct breeds under the Toy group in 1945.
However, records show that the Kings Charles has been around since the 1500s, comforting ladies of the court during the time of Elizabeth I. Apart from being comforters, these dogs were used as a hand and foot warmers. The dogs in the early days had different looks, highlighted by having longer muzzles. It is believed that the Cavalier Charles breed were crossed with the Springer Spaniel, the Japanese Chin and the Pug.
Because of the Second World War, the number of the King Charles significantly declined. Good thing breed enthusiasts were able to save the breed, providing the stock of modern King Charles Spaniels. At present, the breed remains less popular than its Cavalier cousin. In fact, only a few puppies are registered with The Kennel Club each year.
The King Charles Spaniel is a refined dog with a compact and cobby body, weighing 8 to 14 pounds and standing 23 to 28 centimetres at the withers. This royal dog is often compared to its Cavalier Charles cousin but aside from the similarity of coat colours, they actually have varying breed standards. The first major difference is the distinctive dome-shape head of the King Charles. It has a well-defined stop, a wide and deep muzzle and a neat lower jaw with a slightly undershot jaw. It has large dark eyes that give off a kind and appealing expression. Its ears are long and well feathered, which are set low and hang neatly flat to its cheeks.
The coat of the King Charles Spaniel is silky, straight and long. While a slight wave is allowed, the coat should never be curly. Its ears, legs, and tails have profuse feathering but there are some dogs born with a naturally bobbed tail, which is also acceptable. According to KC standards, the accepted colours are the following:
The King Charles Spaniel is high maintenance in the grooming front. Having fine and silky hair, it needs to be brushed daily to avoid tangles and knots. It sheds all year round, more heavily during the spring and autumn so brushing should be done more. This breed would require regular professional grooming to keep its coat in top shape and would make grooming at home more manageable. While grooming this breed, it is important to check its ears for moisture and wax build-up. Brush its teeth at least twice a week to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, which are common among toy breeds. Lastly, trim its nails as overgrowth can be uncomfortable and cause scratches on people, furniture and floors.
King Charles Spaniels are gentle, happy and affectionate toy dogs, making them great companion pets, not to mention lap dogs. As such, they are a great choice for first-time owners, families with young children and the elderly. They are docile and would love nothing more than to be part of household activities. The downside is that they become clingy and could not be left alone. They tend to have separation anxiety and become destructive and noisy. When it comes to other pets, they can get on with those they are raised with but since they still have their natural prey drive, other pets must be introduced to them with caution.
Unlike most spaniels, the King Charles is low energy so it can laze around in a small apartment as long as it is given enough exercise every day. It is people oriented and would gladly welcome visitors even those it does not know. Although it can alert you when there are people in the front door, it certainly is not a good watchdog or guard dog.
This breed is an intelligent dog and a people pleaser, making it easy to train. Although it is adaptable and receptive, it is important for owners to set the rules and follow them themselves. Because of its adorable face and small size, people tend to be lax and let bad behaviour slide.
A typical serving for a King Charles Spaniel adult is 1/2 to 1 cup of excellent quality dry dog food per day. It is worth to remember that the amount of food depends on its age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. Small breeds easily put on weight so make sure to measure their food and stick on a feeding schedule. Free-feeding is a big no-no.
Typical calorie needs of adult King Charles Spaniels per day:
Feeding your King Charles Spaniel does not need to be difficult. Make sure you feed it with high quality dog food specifically formulated for small/toy dogs. Dry kibbles are great for their teeth as this type of food encourages chewing. The main ingredient of its food should be animal protein in the form of lamb, beef or chicken. Avoid cheap supermarket or generic brands as they contain artificial preservatives and flavourings that can be bad for its health. Important supplements for this breed are omega fatty acids to ensure healthy hair.
The King Charles Spaniel can suffer from a number of hereditary health and congenital issues. However, this is not to say it will suffer from one or all of these conditions. They include Diabetes Myelitis, Corneal Dystrophy, Mitral Heart Disease, Open Fontanelle, Distichia, Entropion, Keratitis, Luxating Patella, Anaesthetic Sensitivity, and Cataracts.
The King Charles has low exercise needs because they are low energy dog. A minimum of 20 minutes per day will suffice, which should be in the form of short walks, free time at a secure yard (the breed has a tendency to escape when it sees small animals) and canine sports including obedience training.
Potential owners need to understand that expenses in dog ownership do not end in buying a puppy and dog food. It certainly involves more than these two. Allow us to give you an overview on the costs you will be facing in owning a King Charles Spaniel. First off, the price of buying a well-bred pedigree puppy does not go lower than £400. Insuring it will cost you around £25 and £45 a month for basic and lifetime pet insurance coverage, respectively.
Food and treats will be around £50 per month and initial equipment will take you back £200. Probably the most expensive cost will be veterinary care, which is very important in keeping your dog healthy. Routine check-ups, initial vaccinations, annual boosters, and neutering/spaying could cost your around £1,000 in a year. This does not include medical emergencies when your King Charles becomes sick or gets into an accident.
Are you sure the King Charles Spaniel is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Having doubts the King Charles Spaniel is a suitable breed for you? Try taking our Pet Finder to help you identify other breeds based on your personality.
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