First, you mix soulful eyes, a beautiful coat, and a sweet yet pleasingly active personality. Add a dash of some royal drama and a cup of comfort that developed gradually over a few centuries, and there you have it. All hail his royal furriness the King Charles Cavalier. Mary Queen of Scots is credited with bringing this breed to Britain after she encountered them in France as a young girl. It is said that when she was beheaded, her faithful pup would not leave her side and later had to be removed from under her dress.
This regal breed who sat on many royal laps, was first seen in Europe during the 16th century. These dogs were originally bred to be companions, flea catchers and bed warmers. They earned their stay by entertaining women, playing with the children and acting as living heating pads. The Cavalier even had a vital function of attracting fleas away from their humans. The fleas would bite the dogs first while they rested on their laps, thus saving their humans from the plague or other diseases. The King Charles were only owned by royals or very wealthy people, and were made famous by their association with King Charles II of Great Britain and Ireland (the breed's namesake). So that is where the "King Charles" in the breed's name originated. Where did the word Cavalier come from?
The dictionary defines the word Cavalier as a courtly gentleman, a dancing partner, or supporter of King Charles I of England. History tells that King Charles II allowed his Cavaliers to accompany him everywhere. He was often seen with no less than 3 to 4 dogs at his heels. He was so fond of this breed that he wrote a decree which is still in effect in England today, allowing the King Charles Cavalier to be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament. King Charles II was so obsessed with his comforter cavaliers that he was accused of ignoring his kingdom. He was known as the Cavalier King and when King Charles II was on his deathbed, there were a dozen Cavaliers there to comfort him. This breed became so identified with King Charles II that they were dubbed King Charles Cavaliers.
After the death of King Charles II, the Duke of Marlboro became the breed's main advocate. The duke favored red and white colored dogs and the color combination was named Blenheim. The Blenheim spot refers to a red spot on the top of the dogs head. Legend has it that while the Duke of Marlboro was away fighting the battle of Blenheim, his worried wife, the duchess, would repeatedly press her thumb on the top of a pregnant Cavaliers head. When the pups were born in Blenheim palace, they all had the spot.
Over the years, The King Charles Cavaliers went through a bit of a transformation, and by the 1900s, the breed no longer looked like it use to. It was smaller and had a flatter face. In 1926 a wealthy American ran a contest and offered a large cash prize to best old world type Cavalier. It took 5 years for a dog named Ann's Son to be crowned the winner. World War II interrupted the development of this breed and almost lead to the extinction of the Cavalier. At one point, there were only 6 known to exist. The first Cavaliers didn't make there way to America until 1952, and in 1996, the breed became the 140th breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. The King Charles Cavalier comes in four color patterns Blenheim (red and white), Ruby (red), black and tan and Tri (black, tan and white). Cavaliers make great therapy dogs, are great for the elderly, and everybody else, making them pawsomly amazing dogs.