This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
The origin of the present black-and-tan King Charles is so complicated that in order to explain it I am obliged to write a separate chapter, in which I shall deal with the different varieties that are akin to it The breeds we have to unravel are as follows:
In England this was a variety of Cocker. As represented by Buffon, it was probably a degenerate descendant of an English exportation.
There were two sizes of this dog. The largest was an English sporting breed, a variety of the Gredin or Cocker, and the smaller were dwarf specimens. Both the Gredin and the Pyrame in England were gun Spaniels, black or black-and-tan and sometimes other colours; they had short hair on the body, no feathering to speak of, and short straggling hair on the ears, which were formed like those of a Spaniel.
This was a perfectly black dog with a white breast, and was probably connected with the small Water Spaniel and was not a Cocker, but a separate breed of very small dog. It had webbed feet and a comparatively short blunt nose, with rather a high skull and deep stop, a curly coat, and long ears and feathering.
Probably closely akin to the curly King Charles. He was of all colours, but often black, and was said to be a variey of the small French water Spaniel or Poodle. There was a Spanish importation of Truffle dogs into England at the time of Charles I, which may very likely be the origin of the curly King Charles.
This was a small curly Black-and-tan, and possibly liver-coloured dog, a cross between the curly King Charles and the Pyrame. This was bigger than the ordinary curly King Charles.
The modern representative of the real old type of curly King Charles, some specimens may be throwbacks to the same, after crossing with various small Spaniels.
A cross between the Pyrame and the curly King Charles, with the Pyrame predominating. Possibly recrossed later with Bulldog.
It will be seen that No. 6 is the true type of dark-coloured Toy Spaniel, the tan on the face and paws of No. 7 being evidence of the Pyrame cross, the smashed face, heavy jaw, and bowed out forelegs of some strains being presumptive evidences of the Bulldog cross. The webbed feet come from the original stock. In my opinion the red-and-white and tricolour Toy Spaniels have no Bulldog blood except what may come to them through the King Charles cross, but the Tricolours have probably been at times crossed with Japanese.
Until the beginning or middle of the last century the King Charles was quite unrelated to the Red-and-white or to the Tricolour, and was an entirely black species with no tan until about 1820. I do not count Symonds among my authorities, as he was speaking of the sporting Pyrame, though he called it the King Charles.
The first picture on record of a dark-coloured Toy Spaniel is Mignard's picture of the Dauphin (Louis XV) and his family about the year 1650. In this picture the little dog is very small and is perfectly black, with a pretty Spaniel head, large eyes, long ears (set high), and a moderately short pointed nose - a beautiful little dog of most elegant and delicate type. Button's Gredins of over a century later were a sort of degenerate caricature of this dog, which Smellie frankly states to be nothing but "Mongrels."
There are many editions of Le Clerc Button's "His-toire Naturelle," both in French and in English. In an edition of 1755 there is a plate of a black dog called the Gredin which has often been quoted as the direct an* cestor of the King Charles. I cannot find any serious foundation for this theory and believe it to be an error, though I daresay the breeds are connected through in-tercrossing and a common ancestor.
The dog has little resemblance to our King Charles. Plate XIII shows him to be tall on the leg, with some Pomeranian character in texture of coat, carriage of tail, and shape of head, though the hair both on tail and body is short. He has a flat narrow head and a very long nose, and is both narrow chested and flat in the ribs, whereas our curly King Charles is broad, short-backed, and cobby. The Pyrame on the same page is black-and-tan, but has not the character of Mignard's Spaniel, and the specimen drawn by Button was probably a degenerate of the Pyrame breed, which I believe to have been the sporting breed mentioned by Symonds, occasional small specimens of which may have been kept as pets. Buffon states in 1755 that the Pyrame is a variety of Gredin, but several authors distinctly class the Pyrame, the King Charles, and the Gredin as three separate breeds. I think that the selection of the Gredin as the original King Charles is due to an error made by Smellie, who translated Buffon into English in 1788.
In this work he gives the same plate of the Gredin, only he labels it, for no apparent reason, with the fancy title of the King Charles. He gives no explanation of the liberty he has taken with Buffon's names, and I can only suggest that he did not feel equal to translating the word "Gredin" into its English equivalent of "scoundrel" and calling it the Scoundrel dog, and therefore chose a more elegant name, classing it with the other black Spaniels of this name. Smellie appears to have been the first writer to use the term "King Charles" as applied to a breed of dogs. He quotes Buffon as saying: "The great and the small Spaniel, which differ only in size, when brought into" Britain have changed their white colour into black and become by the influence of climate the great and the little King Charles dog. To this may be joined the Pyrame (this dog, though very common in England, has no English name), which is only a King Charles dog, black like the others, but marked with red on the four legs and spot of the same colour over each eye and on the muzzle." What Buffon really says is this: "Le grand et petit barbet" (and in one edition: "Le grand et le petit epagneul")..."sont devenus grands et petits Gredins auxquels ont doit ajouter le Pyrame qui n'est q'un Gredin noir comme les autres." . . . The words altered I have given in italics.