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English Toy Spaniel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

English toy spaniel puppy

English Toy Spaniel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & More

A lap dog through and through, the English Toy Spaniel is a gentle and undemanding breed. They tend to be easy to get along with and have an enhanced sense of dignity and confidence. This dog has a small frame and luxurious hair that’s wavy and silky. English Toy Spaniels can come in four different colors and have adorably rounded heads with long-hanging ears. Read on to learn more about this cute and loving breed!

Breed Overview


9–10 inches


8–14 pounds


10–12 years


Black and tan, black, white and tan, red, red and white

Suitable for:

Houses, apartments, active and low-key families, singles, seniors


Reserved, loving, loyal, gentle, affectionate, playful

The English Toy Spaniel is the type of pup that loves attention and interaction when dealing with their human companions, but they can be a bit shy and reserved when meeting new people or spending time in public settings. They are typically charming once they get to know the people whom they are interacting with, though, and their joyous playfulness emerges when they spend time with children of any age.

English Toy Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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English Toy Spaniel Puppies

english toy spaniel puppy
Image Credit: Mariia Kenig, Shutterstock

As puppies, English Toy Spaniels are curious, playful, and sociable with their litter mates. Weighing no more than 14 pounds when fully grown, the average English Toy Spaniel puppy is tiny and fragile, so extra care must be taken when handling them. Young children should always be supervised when spending time with these puppies to minimize the risk of accidental injuries. Like most small dog breeds, the English Toy Spaniel tends to physically develop to their adult size by the time they are about 1 year old.

English Toy Spaniel Origin & History

The English Toy Spaniel has been around at least since the time of the Tudors in Britain, but it is theorized that the breed originated beforehand in either China or Japan. Some experts believe that the breed was created in Spain and then imported into Asia, where they were refined through breeding practices. This version was then exported from Asia to countries around the world, including Italy, England, and France. Notable people in history favored the breed, including King Charles II and Queen Victoria.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the English Toy Spaniel 🧠

When it comes to personality, the English Toy Spaniel seems to have two sides. While spending time indoors, they tend to be calm and sometimes even lazy. Once their paws step outside, though, they become quite lively, energetic, and explorative. These cute little dogs don’t require that much outdoor activity, but they will never turn down the opportunity to go on a walk, visit a dog park, or take a short hike.

The breed is considered docile, but they don’t like teasing, especially when it comes to things like tail pulling or playing “keep away” with toys or treats. They are fragile and should never be exposed to extensive handling or roughhousing children. English Toy Spaniels are charming dogs with generally easygoing temperaments when they are treated with dignity and respect. They’re smart pups that don’t mind meeting new people, but they can be reserved until they’re comfortable with their social situations.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏠

The English Toy Spaniel can be good for families, but they might not do well with young kids who can be unintentionally rough with them. It’s easy to break a bone in this dog’s body when they’re played with roughly, especially as a puppy. However, they do well with children who understand their delicate nature and are not liable to get too rambunctious during playtime. This breed is an excellent pet for adults and seniors, and they can thrive in apartment and house settings.

English Toy Spaniel Tongue out
Image Credit: Mark_KA, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

This breed is generally friendly with strange dogs that they meet in public settings, and they don’t typically mind greeting canine visitors to their homes if they’re familiar with each other. They can also get along with cats in the household, though they might get excited and try to chase outdoor felines that are running away from them. Like most dogs, the English Toy Spaniel is likely to see smaller animals like hamsters as prey, so it’s a good idea to keep little pets away from them.dogster paw divider

Things to Know When Owning an English Toy Spaniel

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

English Toy Spaniels should eat a quality commercial or veterinarian-approved homemade diet that meets AAFCO standards.1 Most commercial brands that meet these standards include a statement saying so on their packaging, for the convenience and peace of mind of dog owners. Choose a formula that is designed specifically for small breeds to ensure that all the English Toy Spaniel’s nutritional requirements will be met throughout their life. These dogs are prone to developing obesity, so it’s important to limit treats and table scraps and to never allow free feeding throughout the day.

Exercise 🐕

While the English Toy Spaniel is energetic, they don’t require much daily exercise to stay fit and healthy. A short walk of between 20 and 30 minutes each day, along with plenty of potty breaks, is all it takes to keep this dog physically and mentally satisfied. This breed does not tolerate hot weather well, so keep walks short during the summer months. They can also get exercise by playing with toys indoors and hanging with the kids in a fenced yard.

English Toy Spaniel, Ruby colour
Image Credit: Marion Smith – Byers, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

These dogs are smart but stubborn, which can make training a bit of a challenge. However, persistence, patience, and commitment to short, regular training sessions can go a long way in achieving success. The typical English Toy Spaniel does best with positive reinforcement. Treats and clickers can be helpful during training. It’s a good idea to choose a quiet space that is free of noise and commotion for training.

Grooming ✂️

This toy breed has long silky hair that’s usually thick and wavy. Therefore, it can get matted and tangled without proper care. An English Toy Spaniel should be brushed at least two times a week to keep tangles and mats from developing. If tangles are forming, work on them with a pin brush every day until they disappear.

Some people decide to have their English Toy Spaniel’s hair trimmed to maintain a groomed look, but this is not necessary unless the hair interferes with mobility or vision. Bathing can take place about once a month to keep the hair and skin clean and supple.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Unfortunately, this breed is genetically susceptible to developing various health issues that should be screened for as they age. Quality breeders should test their breeding stock for the following health conditions to help ensure that they don’t perpetuate the problems for generations to come.

Minor Conditions
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
Serious Conditions
  • Luxating patella
  • Cardiac disease
  • Entropion
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Knee dislocation

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Male vs. Female

Both male and female English Toy Spaniels are gentle and refined, though some say that males tend to be goofier and more excitable when in social situations. Females can be more independent, which is common among most dog breeds. Overall, though, there are no huge differences between the sexes that should affect how an English Toy Spaniel adjusts to a new home and their human family.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the English Toy Spaniel

1. They Were Once Revered Royal Companions

England calls the English Toy Spaniel the King Charles Spaniel (though not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) because the breed was extremely popular with King Charles I and most of British royalty.

2. They Are Found in Renaissance Paintings

Due to their popularity among royals, English Toy Spaniels have been featured in various Renaissance paintings, such as “Venus of Urbino.” A painting of King Charles I’s oldest five children also features a small dog that’s believed to be an English Toy Spaniel.

3. They Are a Brachycephalic Breed

Like the Bulldog, the English Toy Spaniel has a short snout, which makes them a brachycephalic breed. Brachycephalic dogs can have trouble breathing because their airways are structured in a way that causes them to be constricted. They can also have problems maintaining their body temperature and can quickly overheat in hot weather.

Black English Toy Spaniel
Image Credit: Mariia Kenig, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

The English Toy Spaniel is a delightful breed that’s ideal for apartment and house living. They can get along with kids and other animals, and they make great pets for seniors too. They do require a bit more grooming than breeds with shorter hair, but their little bodies mean that there is only so much hair to maintain.

See also:

Featured Image Credit to: Mariia-Kenig, Shutterstock

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