English Toy Spaniel

Table of Contents

The English Toy Spaniel, also known in England as the King Charles Spaniel, is a breed distinguished by its endearing charm and calm demeanor. This breed is notably less active than the similarly named Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, making it a favored companion for those who enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. The English Toy Spaniel thrives in an environment where it can enjoy the company of its owners without being left alone for extended periods, as it may struggle with isolation.

Standing petite at 10 to 12 inches tall and weighing between 8 to 15 pounds, the English Toy Spaniel has a life expectancy of about 12 to 14 years. They are typically found in elegant coat colors including combinations of black, tan, and white. Their sweet and gentle nature makes them particularly suitable for seniors or families with older children who can appreciate a more subdued and affectionate pet.

While they have modest exercise needs, the English Toy Spaniel does require regular gentle walks and enjoys interactive play that stimulates their mind. They are sociable dogs that benefit from early socialization and consistent, loving interaction. Grooming is also a necessity, as regular brushing helps to remove dead hairs and maintain their coat’s health. This breed is well-suited to temperate climates and should be shielded from extreme weather conditions. With their reserved yet affectionate temperament, they are especially popular with seniors looking for a companionable pet, as well as with families with grown children.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The English Toy Spaniel is best for seniors or homebodies, fitting well in apartments and requiring minimal exercise. They are affectionate and prefer a calm environment, making them suitable for families with older children.

English Toy Spaniel Traits

Breed Characteristics

The English Toy Spaniel is known for its affectionate, gentle temperament and aristocratic bearing, with a distinctively domed head, expressive dark eyes, and a lush, feathered coat. They are adaptable, suited for calm environments, and are congenial with people and pets alike.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The English Toy Spaniel has a distinguished and regal appearance with a square, compact body structure. They have a domed skull with a deep stop, large dark eyes, and a short, upturned nose, giving them a somewhat snub-nosed, expressive face. Their ears are long, set low, and lavishly feathered, complementing their silky coat that may be straight or slightly wavy.

The breed is recognized in four color patterns: Blenheim, Prince Charles, King Charles, and Ruby, each with specific and rich color markings. Their luxurious coat and elegant demeanor reflect the breed’s history as a favored lapdog of English aristocracy.

1. Ears
Set low and close to the head, very long, and heavily feathered.
2. Eyes
Large, dark brown or black, set squarely with little white showing.
3. Nose
Jet black with wide-open nostrils, turned up to meet the skull.
4. Height
10 to 12 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Long and silky, with heavy feathering on ears, legs, and tail.
6. Coat Color
Comes in Blenheim (red and white), Prince Charles (tri-color), King Charles (black and tan), and Ruby (rich mahogany red).
7. Tail
Set at back level, carried at or just above the level of the back, with optional docking.
8. Weight
Ranges from 8 to 14 pounds.

English Toy Spaniel Temperament

The English Toy Spaniel is a docile and affectionate companion, preferring calm surroundings and enjoying relaxed play. They’re known for being warm and friendly with their family, though somewhat reserved with new people.

  • Affectionate Nature: English Toy Spaniels are immensely affectionate with their family members, often forming strong, devoted bonds. They are known for their love of cuddles and will frequently seek out the lap of their preferred person.
  • Sociable Demeanor: They generally exhibit a friendly demeanor towards people. Their sociable nature makes them good companions, but they tend to have a soft spot for their primary caretakers.
  • Gentle Disposition: The breed has a gentle and serene disposition, preferring quiet and calm settings over loud or chaotic environments. This makes them suitable for laid-back households.
  • Reserved With Strangers: While they are friendly, English Toy Spaniels can be reserved when meeting new people. They often approach new interactions with caution but will warm up once they feel comfortable.
  • Loyal Companions: Loyalty is a hallmark of the breed’s temperament, and they are known to be quite dedicated to their family. This loyalty also translates to a desire to be near their owners as much as possible.
  • Adaptable: English Toy Spaniels are adaptable dogs that can thrive in various living situations, including apartments, as long as they have company and are not left alone for extended periods.
  • Playful Spirit: Despite their calm nature, they do have a playful side and enjoy interactive play sessions. However, their playfulness is usually not overly boisterous.
  • Intelligence: They are intelligent dogs, capable of learning and responding to training, although they may display an independent streak that requires patience and consistency from their owners.
  • Sensitivity: English Toy Spaniels are sensitive to the tone of voice and mood of their owners, making them quite empathetic and in tune with their human family’s emotions.

How to Care for a English Toy Spaniel

Caring for an English Toy Spaniel involves providing them with a loving and calm environment, regular but gentle exercise like short walks and play sessions, daily grooming to maintain their silky coat, and routine health check-ups to monitor for common breed issues. Proper socialization, a balanced diet appropriate for their size, and dental care are also important. With their moderate energy levels and affectionate nature, English Toy Spaniels make excellent companions for those willing to invest time in their care and companionship.

Caring for an English Toy Spaniel’s grooming needs is a delicate task that ensures their coat remains healthy and their appearance tidy.

  • Regular Brushing: Brush your English Toy Spaniel’s silky coat at least twice a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair. Use a soft-bristle brush or a pin brush designed for long-haired breeds.
  • Bathing: Bathe them every 4 to 6 weeks or as needed. Use a gentle dog shampoo to preserve the natural oils in their fur.
  • Ear Care: Their long ears can trap moisture and dirt, leading to infections. Check and clean their ears weekly with a vet-approved solution.
  • Eye Cleaning: Wipe around their eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth to prevent tear stains and remove any discharge.
  • Nail Trimming: Clip their nails regularly, typically every 3 to 4 weeks, to prevent overgrowth and splitting.
  • Dental Hygiene: Brush their teeth several times a week with canine toothpaste to maintain oral health and prevent tartar buildup.
  • Professional Grooming: Consider a professional groomer every few months to trim the coat, particularly the feathering on the ears, legs, and tail, to keep it manageable and neat.
  • Monitoring Skin Health: Check for signs of skin irritation or allergies during grooming sessions, as the breed can have sensitive skin.

By maintaining a consistent grooming routine, your English Toy Spaniel will not only look their best but also remain healthy and comfortable.

Training an English Toy Spaniel requires patience and understanding due to their sensitive and sometimes reserved nature. Here’s how to approach their training:

  • Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and play as rewards. English Toy Spaniels respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, encouraging them to repeat good behavior.
  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent approach to commands and expectations. Inconsistency can confuse your dog and hinder their learning.
  • Short Training Sessions: Keep training sessions short and engaging to hold their interest. English Toy Spaniels can become bored with repetitive or lengthy training routines.
  • Socialization: Early socialization is crucial to help your English Toy Spaniel become a well-adjusted adult. Expose them to various people, pets, and environments in a controlled manner.
  • Gentle Discipline: If correction is necessary, use a gentle but firm tone. Harsh treatment can lead to fearfulness or stubbornness in this breed.
  • Obedience Training: Basic obedience training is essential. Teaching them commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down” will help manage their behavior.
  • Crate Training: Consider crate training to provide a safe space for your dog and to assist with house training.
  • Leash Training: Due to their hunting heritage, English Toy Spaniels might chase after small animals. Leash training is important for their safety.
  • Avoid Negative Experiences: Training should always be a positive experience. Negative encounters can have a lasting impact on this sensitive breed.
  • Patience is Key: Be patient and give them time to learn. Some may take longer to train than others, but with persistence, they will understand what’s expected of them.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create a strong bond with your English Toy Spaniel and ensure they grow into a well-behaved and happy canine companion.

A balanced diet is essential for the health and wellbeing of an English Toy Spaniel. Here are some in-depth considerations for their diet and nutrition:

  • Balanced Diet: Provide a well-balanced diet that’s appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. Commercial dog foods labeled for small breeds can be a good fit, offering the right nutrient balance.
  • Consistent Feeding Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule. Typically, adult English Toy Spaniels should eat twice a day, while puppies may require more frequent meals.
  • Monitor Portion Sizes: Be mindful of portion sizes to prevent obesity, a common issue in small breeds. Follow the recommended guidelines on food packaging and adjust as necessary based on their activity level.
  • Fresh Water: Ensure they have constant access to fresh, clean water.
  • Treats in Moderation: Use treats sparingly and ensure they’re suitable for small dogs. Treats should not make up more than 10% of their total calorie intake.
  • Sensitive Stomachs: Some English Toy Spaniels may have sensitive stomachs. If you notice any digestive issues, consult with a veterinarian to adjust their diet accordingly.
  • Special Dietary Needs: As they age, their dietary needs may change. Senior dogs, for instance, may require food with higher fiber content and less fat.
  • Avoid Human Food: Some human foods can be toxic to dogs. Avoid giving foods like chocolate, grapes, onions, or anything with xylitol.
  • Regular Weight Checks: Regularly monitor their weight and adjust their diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Professional Advice: When in doubt, seek advice from your vet or a pet nutritionist, especially when considering changing their diet or if your dog has special nutritional needs.

Proper attention to the English Toy Spaniel’s diet will help prevent health issues related to poor nutrition and maintain their overall health.

Caring for an English Toy Spaniel includes ensuring they receive the right amount of exercise. Here’s a deeper look into their exercise needs:

  • Daily Walks: Provide daily walks to keep them physically fit. Two 15-minute walks a day are usually sufficient.
  • Playtime: Incorporate playtime into their routine. They enjoy fetch and other interactive games that engage their mind.
  • Mental Stimulation: Mental exercise is as important as physical. Puzzle toys and training sessions can keep their mind active.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Due to their small size, they should not be overexerted. They are not built for rigorous exercise regimes.
  • Safe Environments: Always keep them on a leash or in a secure area, as they may chase small animals due to their hunting instincts.
  • Consistent Schedule: Establish a consistent exercise schedule to help them burn energy and reduce the risk of behavioral issues.
  • Weather Considerations: Be cautious in extreme weather; they can be sensitive to both heat and cold due to their coat and size.

Moderate, regular exercise tailored to their size and energy level will contribute to the English Toy Spaniel’s overall health, prevent obesity, and keep them content.

The ideal environment for an English Toy Spaniel is one where they can feel secure, loved, and engaged without being overwhelmed. This breed thrives in a calm and stable home where they can receive plenty of attention and companionship. They adapt well to apartment living due to their moderate exercise needs but should have a comfortable space to retreat to, such as a cozy bed or crate.

A fenced yard is beneficial for safe, off-leash play, but it’s not a necessity if they are walked regularly. Since they are prone to separation anxiety, they do best in a home where someone is frequently present. It’s also important to protect them from extreme temperatures, so an environment with climate control is ideal.

Overall, they need a gentle, loving household that understands the breed’s need for affection and structure. A setting that can provide consistent care, gentle exercise, and lots of love will help an English Toy Spaniel flourish.

English Toy Spaniel Heatlh

The English Toy Spaniel, like many purebred dogs, has particular health concerns that owners should be aware of and manage with proactive veterinary care.

1. Common Health Issues:

  • Heart Conditions: They can be prone to heart murmurs and other cardiac issues.
  • Eye Problems: Cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy are known eye conditions in the breed.
  • Ear Infections: Due to their long ears, they may suffer from ear infections without proper cleaning.
  • Respiratory Issues: Some may have a small windpipe or be prone to snoring or wheezing because of their short muzzles.
  • Patellar Luxation: A condition where the kneecap dislocates out of its normal position.
  • Dental Issues: They can develop dental problems without regular teeth cleaning.

2. Preventative Measures:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups to monitor heart and eye health.
  • Routine ear cleaning to prevent infections.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the strain on the heart and joints.
  • Dental care, including professional cleanings and at-home tooth brushing.

3. Diet and Exercise:

  • A balanced diet to support overall health.
  • Moderate exercise to maintain fitness without overexertion.

4. Genetic Screening:

  • Responsible breeders should screen for common genetic health problems.

Owners should be vigilant for any signs of health issues and maintain regular veterinary care to ensure their English Toy Spaniel lives a long and healthy life.

English Toy Spaniel Breed Comparison and Consideration

When comparing the English Toy Spaniel to other breeds, it’s important to consider its calm and affectionate nature, ideal for those seeking a less active, more laid-back companion. Smaller and more reserved than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they’re suitable for quiet households. Their grooming needs are higher than some breeds, akin to the Shih Tzu, requiring regular care. Health considerations are crucial, as they have specific breed-related issues.

The English Toy Spaniel fits well in smaller living spaces and thrives in environments where it can enjoy close companionship, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a gentle, loving pet.

English Toy Spaniel vs. Other Breeds:

  1. English Toy Spaniel vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

    • Appearance: Both breeds have similar affectionate expressions, but the English Toy Spaniel is smaller with a more domed head and shorter muzzle.
    • Temperament: Cavaliers tend to be more active and sociable, while English Toy Spaniels are calmer and more reserved.
    • Maintenance: Both require regular grooming, but the English Toy Spaniel’s coat may need more frequent attention.
  2. English Toy Spaniel vs. Pekingese:

    • Appearance: Pekingese have a flatter face and longer coat, while English Toy Spaniels have a defined stop and shorter coat.
    • Temperament: Both breeds can be independent, but Pekingese might be more aloof with strangers compared to the typically friendlier English Toy Spaniel.
    • Size: Both are small breeds suited to lapdog life, but English Toy Spaniels can be slightly larger.
  3. English Toy Spaniel vs. Shih Tzu:

    • Appearance: Shih Tzus have a longer, denser coat and a broader facial structure, while English Toy Spaniels are smaller with finer features.
    • Temperament: Shih Tzus may be a bit more outgoing and less reserved than English Toy Spaniels.
    • Maintenance: Both breeds have high grooming needs, but Shih Tzus may require more frequent brushing due to their thicker coat.

Considerations Before Choosing an English Toy Spaniel:

  • Activity Level Compatibility: They are best for those seeking a less active breed that enjoys quiet time.
  • Grooming Commitment: Be prepared for regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition.
  • Space Requirements: They do well in smaller living spaces, including apartments.
  • Health Awareness: Regular vet check-ups are important due to breed-specific health concerns.
  • Training Approach: Gentle and consistent training works well for their sensitive nature.
  • Life Expectancy: English Toy Spaniels typically live 12-14 years, requiring a long-term commitment.

When considering an English Toy Spaniel, weigh their quiet and gentle nature against other breeds to ensure their characteristics suit your lifestyle and preferences for a harmonious match.


They are better with older children who know how to gently interact with small dogs.

Like many breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions, including heart problems, eye issues, and ear infections.

They have a moderate shedding level; regular grooming can manage it.

They typically weigh 8 to 14 pounds and stand 10 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder.

They prefer company and can develop separation anxiety if left alone frequently.

Top Takeaways

English Toy Spaniels are cherished for their affectionate and mild-mannered nature, making them excellent companions, especially in quiet households or apartments. Their long, silky coats require consistent grooming, and while they enjoy a leisurely lifestyle, daily walks and play are enough to keep them healthy. Early socialization can help them become well-rounded dogs. Prospective owners should be aware of their predisposition to certain health issues and the importance of regular veterinary care. Loyal and loving, these dogs are well-suited to those who can provide a nurturing environment with plenty of company.

Top English Toy Spaniel Names

These are the top English Toy Spaniel names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

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