The English toy spaniel and the cavalier King Charles spaniel share identical early histories. They began as one breed, probably resulting from crosses of small spaniels with Oriental toy breeds. Some evidence supports the theory that Mary, Queen of Scots, brought the first toy spaniels to Scotland with her from France. These "comforter spaniels" became very popular with the wealthy classes, and served as foot and lap warmers as well as delightful companions. They reached their height of early popularity during the 17th-century reign of King Charles II, who so doted on his dogs that the breed was soon called the King Charles spaniel — the name by which it is still known in England. These early dogs were all black and tan; other colors were developed later, with the first Duke of Marlborough credited with developing the red-and-white "Blenheims," named after his estate. The red-and-white coloration may have come from crosses with Chinese cocker spaniels. The duke's spaniels were said to be good dogs for hunting woodcock. Most proponents of the breed were more interested in having an eye-catching lap dog than a hunting dog, and in the ensuing centuries the King Charles spaniel was bred down in size and selected for a rounder head and flatter nose. In America, the name was changed to English toy spaniel. The breed is shown in two varieties: the red parti-colored Blenheim and black-and-tan parti-colored Prince Charles; and the red solid-colored Ruby and black-and-tan solid-colored King Charles. The breed has continued to find favor with owners desiring an aristocratic but fun-loving lap dog.
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