Top Notch Toys June 2017

DEFINING THE CAVALIER by STEPHANIE ABRAHAM

T he Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed rich in history, allied with the roy- als in England as they were passionately championed by King Charles I and Charles II. His exact ori- gins are not known, but he descends from the toy spaniels favoured by the English courtiers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. He is pictured in the paintings of many an old mas- ter—Titian, Gainsborough, Van Dyck, among others. Known familiarly as a toy “Comforter” spaniel, the Cavalier was never bred to be anything other than a small, beloved gentle pet, a With thanks to the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club for permission to rework my article from its website, www.ackcsc.org.

the popularity of the close relative, the English Toy Spaniel, threatened to eclipse him. But a dedicated group of fanciers rescued him from obscurity in the late 1920s and 30s and the Cava- lier is now the most popular toy dog in Britain. Bred in all 4 colors—Blenheim (rich chestnut and white), Ruby, Black & Tan and Tricolor (black & white with tan points)—the Cavalier suits most esthetic tastes. One of the physi- cal hallmarks of the breed is his ‘royal’ appearance, with large, dark, soulful eyes and glamorous feathering and silky smooth coat. In the show ring, NO trimming is allowed, as it is consid- ered essential that the breed be left in its natural state without artifice. Easy to groom, he requires only bathing and regular brushing. According to the

lap dog to be sure, but also sporting in nature in that he could run “all day behind a horse” and enjoy a day’s activities outside the palace walls. “In 1486 Dame Juliana Berners wrote a monograph called ‘The Boke of St. Albans’ where she included in a list of dog breeds ‘small ladyes puppees that beare awaye the flees…’ The pal- ace physician to Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) called these small Spaniels ‘delicate, neat and pretty kind of dogs, called the Spaniel comforter… These dogs are… pretty, proper and fine and sought for to satisfy the deli- cateness of dainty dames’.” (De Cani- bus Britannicus, 1570). 1 These breed characteristics endure to this day and indeed are essential to a sound and happy Cavalier. The breed was almost lost in the early 20th century when

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