Dog Breeds: English Toy Spaniel: Features & Care

black-and-brown English toy spaniel on grass

The popular Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a relative of the English toy spaniel, is a little toy with a silky, medium-length coat. Large, dark, expressive eyes, long, hairy ears, and a domed skull are all characteristics of English toy spaniels. King Charles (black and tan), Blenheim (red and white), Prince Charles (black, white, and tan), and Ruby are the four different colors of their coat, each with its own name (solid red). In addition to their adorable looks and small stature, English toy spaniels were beloved by British aristocracy for their devotedness to their owners and love of cuddling.

Breed Overview


Height: 9 to 10 inches

Weight: 8 to 14 pounds 

Coat: Medium-length, silky double coat

Coat Color: Black and tan; black, white, and tan; red; or red and white

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Temperament: Affectionate, playful, companionable

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: England

Characteristics of the English Toy Spaniel

With its family, the English toy spaniel often has a loving and lively demeanor, although it might be a little reserved with strangers. Its attitude may also have a stubborn tendency, which might make training more difficult. However, as a whole, this breed is content, sociable, and moderately quiet.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the English Toy Spaniel

Toy spaniels can trace their history in Great Britain back to the 1500s. The ancestors of these small dogs likely came from Asia and potentially other parts of the world, including Spain.

Toy spaniels were a favorite of British monarchy, and the breed is frequently seen in historical paintings of nobles and royals. In fact, due to their devoted lapdog behavior, the dogs were known as "the comforter" and "spaniel gentle" during the time of Shakespeare.

The English toy spaniel breed was created in the 1800s by crosses between British toy spaniels and Asian toy breeds, most likely the Japanese chin and pug. Compared to earlier British toy spaniels, these dogs had a flatter face and a more domed head. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a relative of the English toy spaniel, was an attempt to develop a dog that was more like the early toy spaniels.

The American Kennel Club first recognized the English toy spaniel breed in 1886. But it's still a relatively uncommon breed in the United States today.

English Toy Spaniel Care

The English toy spaniel has a moderate energy level and loves to play. Its coat does require some upkeep, and it should receive training and socialization starting at a young age.


Plan to exercise your dog for at least an hour each day. This breed is usually quiet inside as long as it receives adequate exercise. For this young dog, a morning and evening walk and some fun during the day should be plenty. Dog sports and puzzle toys may both assist to cognitively challenge your dog.

It's crucial to remember that English toy spaniels typically struggle in hot temperatures due to their small faces, which can make breathing difficult. Therefore, while it's warm outside, exercise briefly.


At least twice a week, brush your English toy spaniel's coat to remove loose fur and avoid mats and tangles. To remove any tangles, it's best to have a comb and a soft-bristle brush on hand. Every month or so, give yourself a wash and be sure to thoroughly brush your coat afterwards. Likewise, thoroughly dry your dog's ears after a wash. Additionally, check them at least once every week for discomfort, debris, and wax accumulation.

Moreover, check your dog’s nails monthly to see whether they’re due for a trim. And aim to brush its teeth every day using a canine toothpaste.


To establish positive behaviors and stop harmful habits from developing, start training and socializing your English toy spaniel as soon as possible, ideally when it is a puppy. A puppy class may instruct puppies in etiquette and fundamental obedience instructions. Use rewards and praise together with other positive reinforcement training techniques at all times. This breed may shut down and refuse to learn if given severe corrections since they might be particularly sensitive to them.

Teaching your dog to behave properly when you leave the house is a training skill that you may need to focus on more than usual. Since English toy spaniels want to be with their owners, being left alone may cause in them, which might lead to harmful behaviors like unwanted chewing. Your best bet is to get advice on how to handle this from a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist. However, this breed thrives in a home where someone is there for the majority of the day.

Common Health Problems

The English toy spaniel is overall a healthy dog breed. But it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including: 

Diet and Nutrition

Keep fresh water readily available for your English toy spaniel at all times. Additionally, give it two measured meals each day of a high-quality, nutritionally balanced canine cuisine. The best diet is frequently one designed especially for little or toy animals. To ensure that you are addressing your dog's specific needs, talk to your vet about the sort of food you are feeding him as well as the quantity. Pay attention to snacks and any additional food as well. For a little dog, even a single pound of excess weight might be problematic.

Where to Adopt or Buy an English Toy Spaniel

In comparison to the well-known Cavalier King Charles spaniel, the English toy spaniel is a rather rare breed. As a result, finding a dog could be difficult. However, it's still worthwhile to look in your neighborhood's animal shelters and rescue organizations for a homeless English toy spaniel. Try to get your name added to a breed waiting list. Depending on where you reside, it could be tough to locate breeders. The typical price range for a puppy from a reputable breeder is between $1,000 and $1,800.

For more information to help you find an English toy spaniel, check out: 

  • English Toy Spaniel Club of America
  • English Toy Spaniel Rescue

English Toy Spaniel Overview

  • Typically a cuddly lapdog

  • Affectionate and playful

  • Relatively quiet

  • Often doesn’t do well when left alone 

  • Intolerant to hot weather

  • Can be stubborn about training

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before taking an English toy spaniel home, conduct extensive study on the breed to ensure that it is suitable for your lifestyle. Ask around to trustworthy breeders, rescue organizations, breed owners, and veterinary specialists. If you can, spend some time with English toy spaniels as well.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • What's the difference between an English toy spaniel and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel?

    The Cavalier King Charles spaniel and the English toy spaniel are kindred breeds that have a similar appearance. In contrast to the Cavalier, the English toy spaniel is slightly smaller and has a more rounded head and flatter face.

  • Are English toy spaniels good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized English toy spaniels generally are very good around children. But they should never be subjected to rough handling, which might harm them or trigger aggression.

  • Are English toy spaniels good apartment dogs?

    Typically, English toy spaniels are appropriate for apartment life. They don't require a lot of room because of their modest size and average energy level. Additionally, they don't often bark excessively.


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