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Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Facts, History & Pictures

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, black and tan

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are popular dogs that come in four breed standard colors: Blenheim, tricolor, ruby, and black and tan. Black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels generally have black heads, ears, bodies, and tails, while their underbellies, legs, chests, muzzles, and eyebrows are tan.

These dogs are gentle and graceful, and they are great family pooches. The story of their history is fascinating, and their climb to popularity is heartening. If you are interested in learning more about the black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, then you have come to the right place.

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The Earliest Records of the Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in History

Since the times of the Renaissance, toy dogs have been beloved throughout Europe. This was especially true in 17th-century Britain when two monarchs became incredibly devoted to a black and tan toy spaniel. These monarchs were King Charles I and his son, King Charles II. During this time, the monarchs were so obsessed with their spaniels that some worried they were more interested in breeding their spaniels than ruling the country!

The toy spaniels remained popular among British high society well into the 19th century. In this era, the Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred at Blenheim Palace. Also during this century, the breed was crossed with an unknown Asian toy breed, likely a Pug or a Japanese Chin. This created the breed that is known today as the English Toy Spaniel, which is not the same as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Black and tan Cavalier king charles spaniel dog lying down outdoors
Image Credit: Otsphoto, Shutterstock

How the Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Gained Popularity

Once the English Toy Spaniel came onto the scene, the breed that King Charles loved so much faded into obscurity. However, they were not forgotten.

In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge sought to revive the breed. He offered a monetary prize for any breeder who could produce the old-world spaniels so commonly depicted in paintings, but no longer seen on the street. With enough incentive, breeders began to take on the challenge. It took some time, but eventually, the breed returned and was named the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

These days, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the most popular dog breeds in America. In fact, in 2021, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ranked as the 15th most popular dog breed.

Formal Recognition of Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an officially recognized breed. It was formally accepted into the British Kennel Club in 1945, while it was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995.

The black and tan coloration is a breed standard, so long as it follows certain criteria. The criteria for the black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are that they must be dark black with bright tan marks over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and on the chest, legs, and underside of the tail. Any white marks are considered a fault.

Top 5 Unique Facts About Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are Athletic

They may be toy dogs, but Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were not made just for sitting on laps. Initially, this breed was developed with hunting in mind, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels of today still retain that instinct. If a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sees a small creature or notices a scent, they may dash after it with such strong intent that even the most well-behaved dog may not return when called. For this reason, it is best to leave Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on the leash when outdoors.


2. Their Name Comes from Royalty

You probably could’ve guessed that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named after royalty just based on its name, but can you guess which royal? If you guessed King Charles II, you would be correct! It was said that King Charles II was so devoted to the breed that he took his dogs with him wherever he went.


3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are Incredibly Friendly

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their gentle, affectionate natures. They are so friendly that poor temperaments in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are considered a violation of the breed standard.


4. This Breed Excels as a Therapy Dog

Since Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are so gentle and friendly, they are known for being excellent therapy dogs. Their warm temperament makes them a great companion for anyone, especially those who need a little extra joy in their life.


5. No One Knows Why Eldridge Wanted to Bring the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Back

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel likely would not exist today if it were not for Roswell Eldridge, but interestingly enough, no one truly knows why Eldridge was so dedicated to reviving the breed. Many suspect that he was interested in revising the breed after seeing paintings of the dog and learning that he could not purchase one, but this is not known for certain.

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Does the Black & Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Make a Good Pet?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make excellent companions. They are affectionate with their families, patient with kids, and great with other dogs. They are even friendly with strangers!

When it comes to grooming the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, their silky, medium-length coat does not require too much maintenance. Regular brushing and bathing will keep the coat and skin in good condition and will give you opportunities to bond with your dog. As for his ears, they should be checked weekly for signs of infection. His nails should be trimmed at least once per month to avoid pain.

There are some health concerns that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is at a higher risk for, such as patella luxation, hip dysplasia, and syringomyelia. If at any time you suspect that your dog is unwell, reach out to your vet for a consultation.

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Final Thoughts

Black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are beautiful dogs with an incredible history, as they stood at the side of kings. If you are thinking of bringing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into your home, search your local pet shelter to see if there are any available for adoption. If you choose to find one from a breeder, be sure to do so responsibly.


Featured Image Credit: Page Light Studios, Shutterstock

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