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History of the breed

 The Pedigree Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed,

having been recognised as an established breed since 1928 and

first Registered by the Kennel Club in 1945.

Cavaliers Print - Inman

Our Cavaliers

However, the history behind the breed goes back to the King Charles Spaniel (now a separate breed), which is recorded throughout Europe as “smalle ladyes puppees” and King Henry VIII decreed that no dogs were allowed at Court except “some small spanyells for the ladies”.

Following the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587, a small black and white spaniel was found under her petticoats.  However, the breed is particularly associated with the court of King Charles II circa 1660 and there are many paintings and writings of that time depicting the fore-runners of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

 

Heronbank Cavaliers

Heronbank Cavaliers

Legend has it that King Charles II issued a Royal edict that no King Charles Spaniel can be denied entry to any public place and they alone have the right to run loose in London’s Royal Parks.

King Charles Spaniels of that day were small and fine boned, with domed heads and very short muzzles, much like the King Charles Spaniels of today.  However the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has evolved to be a little larger and taller, with flat heads and slightly longer muzzles.

Two of the early Pedigree Cavalier Champions were “Daywell Roger” and “Ann’s Son” to which our own cavaliers can be traced.

There are four colours in the modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

Blenheim (named after Blenheim Palace)

Toby 3

Toby

Tan and white, sometimes with the “thumb-spot” between the ears.

 

This colour usually results from a mating of blenheim to blenheim or blenheim to tricolour, but can also result from tricolour to tricolour if the recessive blenheim gene is present in a parent.  It is good practice to introduce the tricolour gene in alternate generations at least, as if blenheim to blenheim is used in successive generations, the tan can become pale and lemony.  Blenheim is the most resessive gene in cavaliers.

 

Tricolour

Heronbank Zenith

Heronbank Zenith, son of Heronbank Celestial Comet

As the name might suggest, this is three colours, black and white with tan markings over eyebrows, on cheeks, inside ears and under tail.

 

This colour usually results from a mating of blenheim to tricolour, or tricolour to tricolour.  The tricolour gene is dominant over the blenheim and ruby genes.

 

The Blenheims and Tricolours are known as Party-colours.

 

Black and tan

Heronbank Cavaliers - Merlin

Heronbank Perfection – “Merlin”

 

Predominantly black with tan markings over eyebrows, on cheeks, inside ears and under tail.

 

This colour usually results from a mating of ruby to black and tan, or black and tan to black and tan.  The black and tan gene is dominant over all the other colour genes.

 

Ruby

Amber

Amber

All over tan.

 

This colour usually results from a mating of ruby to ruby or ruby to black and tan.  The ruby gene, is a recessive gene but is dominant to blenheim.

 

The Black & Tans and Rubies are known as Whole-colours.

 

A Summary of the various colour combinations follows:-

BLENHEIM TRICOLOUR BLACK & TAN RUBY
BLENHEIM THIS IS THE WEAKEST GENE AND THIS MATING WILL ALWAYS PRODUCE BLENHEIM PUPPIES – WHICH WILL GET PALER IN SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS UNLESS A TRICOLOUR IS INTRODUCED FROM TIME TO TIME BLENHEIM AND TRICOLOUR PUPPIES WOULD NORMALLY RESULT FROM THIS MATING BLACK & TAN IS THE MOST DOMINANT GENE, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE BLACK AND TAN PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, TRICOLOURS AND BLENHEIMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. THIS MATING, BETWEEN THE TWO WEAKEST GENES, CAN ONLY PRODUCE BLENHEIM AND RUBY PUPPIES – WHICH WILL GET PALER IN SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS UNLESS A TRICOLOUR OR BLACK AND TAN IS INTRODUCED FROM TIME TO TIME
TRICOLOUR BLENHEIM AND TRICOLOUR PUPPIES WOULD NORMALLY RESULT FROM THIS MATING BLENHEIM AND TRICOLOUR PUPPIES CAN RESULT FROM THIS MATING BLACK & TAN IS THE MOST DOMINANT GENE, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE BLACK AND TAN PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, TRICOLOURS AND BLENHEIMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. TRICOLOUR IS THE DOMINANT GENE OVER RUBY, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE TRICOLOUR PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, BLACK AND TANS AND BLENHEIMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE.
BLACK & TAN BLACK & TAN IS THE MOST DOMINANT GENE, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE BLACK AND TAN PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, TRICOLOURS AND BLENHEIMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. BLACK & TAN IS THE MOST DOMINANT GENE, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE BLACK AND TAN PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, TRICOLOURS AND BLENHEIMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. BLACK & TAN IS THE MOST DOMINANT GENE, AND THIS MATING WILL NORMALLY PRODUCE BLACK AND TAN PUPPIES ALTHOUGH RUBY PUPPIES ARE A POSSIBILITY THIS MATING CAN PRODUCE ALL BLACK AND TANS, BEING THE DOMINANT GENE, OR A MIX OF BLACK & TANS AND RUBIES
RUBY THIS MATING, BETWEEN THE TWO WEAKEST GENES, CAN ONLY PRODUCE BLENHEIM AND RUBY PUPPIES – WHICH WILL GET PALER IN SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS UNLESS A TRICOLOUR OR BLACK AND TAN IS INTRODUCED FROM TIME TO TIME TRICOLOUR IS THE DOMINANT GENE OVER RUBY, AND THIS MATING WILL PREDOMINANTLY PRODUCE TRICOLOUR PUPPIES, ALTHOUGH RUBIES, BLACK AND TANS AND BLENHEIMS ARE POSSIBLE. THIS MATING CAN PRODUCE ALL BLACK AND TANS, BEING THE DOMINANT GENE, OR A MIX OF BLACK & TANS AND RUBIES THIS IS THE WEAKEST GENE OF THE WHOLE COLOURS AND THIS MATING WILL ALWAYS PRODUCE RUBY PUPPIES – WHICH WILL GET PALER IN SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS UNLESS A BLACK AND TAN IS INTRODUCED FROM TIME TO TIME

 

Good breeding practice is based on

selectively breeding into reputable bloodlines

which are, as far as possible, free from disease and defects.

 

In-breeding is not desirable, or necessary these days, as there is a wide gene-pool to choose from, but in the early days in-breeding was practiced as there were so few pedigree cavaliers available.  If this practise had not been carried out, the development of the Cavalier would have taken much longer.

Old wives tales like “having a litter will cure False pregnancies” and “a litter is good for the bitch and prevents pyrometra” are totally false.  As responsible breeders, we only breed once each year, from the bitch’s second or third season, up to 5 years old, and then our bitches are spayed.  Spaying is the only reliable way of stopping false pregnancies and curing pyrometra.