cavalier King Charles spaniel, breed of small dog developed in the early 20th cent. from the English toy spaniel. It stands about 12 in. (30 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 13 to 18 lb (6–8 kg). Its long, silky coat may be slightly wavy, but never curly, and forms a fringe of longer hair, or feathers, on the ears, legs, tail, and feet. Although it is usually white with chestnut markings, it may have any of the color patterns of the English toy spaniel. Around 1926 there began a revival of interest in the toy spaniel that had been popular in 17th cent. England. This dog, often depicted in the paintings of that period, was larger than the modern type and had a less domed skull and longer nose. By selective breeding of modern toy spaniels that resembled this older type, a new breed, the cavalier, was developed in the relatively short span of approximately 20 years. A widely popular dog in England that is also gaining recognition in the United States, the cavalier King Charles is exhibited in the miscellaneous class at dog shows sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.