The ancestors of the Cavalier can be seen in many pictures of the aristocratic families of England during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Cavalier or English Toy Spaniel was a favorite of King Charles I; the name King Charles Spaniel became quite popular during his reign.
The Blenheim color of the Cavalier derived its name from the spaniel fancier John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. It has been told of a spaniel accompanying the Duke to the Battle of Blenheim. Legend says that a spaniel bitch sat on the lap of Sarah the Duchess, as she held the bitch with her thumb pressed on the top of the bitch's head. Later, when the bitch whelped, the puppies had a small spot on the top of their head, the size of Her Grace's thumb. Hence, the "Blenheim spot" or lozenge (diamond) which is still a part of today's Cavalier.
In 1923, the name Toy Spaniel was changed to King Charles spaniel with its popular dome head and flat face. The Cavalier was nearly extinct at this time as breeders bred for the flat face style King Charles spaniel. Then, in the early 1920's, an American by the name of Roswell Eldridge went to England to purchase a pair of long nosed spaniels as he had seen in paintings. In 1926, after his inability to locate this type of King Charles spaniel, he offered 25 pounds at Croft’s for the next five years to go to the best dog and best bitch of the long nosed older type of King Charles spaniel. This type became the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and in 1928, a small group of breeders formed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club in England.
Popularity of the Cavalier spread throughout England and the United States, and in 1956, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (CKCSC), USA, Inc. was formed. The breed was later entered into the AKC's miscellaneous class as they worked towards full recognition of the breed. The issue of AKC recognition was voted on in the 1970's and 1980's by the CKCSC, USA, Inc. and was turned down each time. In 1992, AKC invited the CKCSC, USA, Inc. into the AKC as a fully recognized breed and informed them they would very much like to work with them. AKC also said that if the CKCSC, USA, Inc. decided against recognition once again, the breed would then be recognized through another parent club. Despite the obvious future of the breed, the club voted overwhelmingly against recognition.
A new club was formed by organizing the breeders of the year in the U.S., the top stud dog owner, specialty breed judges, and some of the top show kennels in the U.S. These people cared deeply about the potential over breeding or change in type that AKC recognition could bring, and through formation of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, Inc., protection of the breed continues through the start of a new era. AKC voted to recognize the Cavalier beginning with registrations March 1, 1995, and showing in all breed competition beginning January 1, 1996.
Today, the Cavalier ranks as the most popular small companion dog in England and is being bred by back yard breeders with no other objective but to make money. We hope that through intense education and encouraging limited registration, the same situation does not happen in the U.S. This breed is truly a sweet, friendly, companion lap dog, not shy or yippy. It is the goal of Castle Creek Cavaliers to do our best to maintain the uniqueness of this breed through health testing, selective breeding, and selling all pets on a limited registration with a signed spay/neuter contract agreement. Excerpts taken from: Evans, John. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. New York: Howell Book House, 1990.