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.
On the face of it, it hardly appears likely that climate should change a curly, white, thick-coated dog like the Barbet into a pitch black, short-haired, smooth dog. Other translators distinctly say that the Gredin had no English name.
There is an old print of the King Charles - not the Gredin, but the real black English Toy Spaniel. It is shown with the Pyrame and classed as a separate breed. In 1820 the King Charles was a very pretty curly dog of which the present Miniature Toy Trawler is an exact and faithful likeness.
The black-and-tan German Toy Spaniel (see Vero Shaw) was the same type as the Truffle Dog, curly King Charles, and Toy Trawler, and was far more profusely coated than our modern dogs.
The only excuse for Smellie's mistake is that, in a very early edition, which I could not find in the British Museum, Buffon states that the Gredin was of English origin, but he never mentions King Charles, and there is no evidence whatever that this King ever kept any dogs like the Gredin or Pyrame. In fact, the evidence is all the other way, the earliest English authorities, with the exception of Symonds, agreeing that the King Charles was a small, black, very curly Spaniel.
Gmelin describes the Gredin as the short-haired Bo-lognese dog. He says: "Small roundish head, short nose (or may mean jaw) long hairs on the ears, under the throat, the chest, the belly, and on the hind parts of the four legs (feathers, in fact) and on the right side of upturned tail. It is of various colours and sizes. To this class also belongs the so-called Pyrame, which is small and has fiery spots on black ground, then again the larger race which resemble the poodle by nature, in that the hairs and the inside of the mouth is quite black, and which are called in England King Charles dog." The reference to a Poodle suggests a curly coat, and certainly refers to the curly King Charles.
The so-called King Charles was originally black, not black-and-tan. Vero Shaw, in speaking of the King Charles of 1879, says that unless it is periodically crossed with red dogs the tan markings disappear altogether, and so also says Mr, Nave. I believe this to be perfectly correct,1 and it is valuable evidence that the foundation stock of the King Charles was not the Pyrame, as the persistent reversion to pure black would never occur unless the original stock were black, and it merely means that the Pyrame cross is gradually getting bred out, and breeders have found a substitute for it in the red Spaniel; for I consider the modern King Charles is descended from the original King Charles crossed with Pyrame.
In 1824, Symonds' "Treatise on Field Diversions" shows some sportsmen shooting snipe with dogs precisely like Marlboroughs. He says:
"The Cocker or gun Spaniel of true perfect breed is of one general or whole colour, either black or black-and-tan, commonly called King Charles breed, or red in different shades paler or deeper, and as in horses we would call a blood bay or a bright bay. I have known some (very rarely) absolutely so without the admission of a different hair, though for the most part there is some white on the breast and bottom of the throat Coat loose and soft, but not waved, back broad and short; legs short with breeches behind. There is a great variety at this time in different mixtures of red and white, brown and white, black and white, grizzled, etc., some with a short, hard coat, others with a waved coat, willing to curl, but in all these pied or parti-coloured there is some tincture remaining of the Beagle or Water Spaniel, that through distance of time, and passing from friend to friend, cannot be easily traced back."
1 Unless the greatest care is taken in selecting specimens with very bright tan.
He says that a Beagle cross is "lost" in three or four generations.
Symonds dealt only with field dogs, and the breed thus referred to as the "King Charles" was evidently not the pet Spaniel, but was the black-and-tan Spaniel mentioned by Buffon as very common, but having no name in England, though being akin to the French Pyrame. We may therefore call it the English Pyrame, which is described by Youatt as a fairly large breed of Spaniel. It must be remembered that before the date of Symonds we have records of the curly black pet Spaniel with webbed feet, and that in Rees' "Encyclopedia" we have this and the Pyrame in the same picture. That these breeds were subsequently crossed is evident, the preponderance of Pyrame on one hand producing the Duke of Norfolk's black-and-tan Sussex Spaniel, and the preponderance of small King Charles producing the black-and-tan King Charles of 1830, which, though a pet Spaniel, retained some sporting instincts and a pointed nose. This breed has since been ruined by a heavy cross.
It seems as though our ancestors could not be content to "leave well alone," but mixed the liver-and-white Holland Spaniel with the Springer, producing the Marlborough, the black Spaniel with the Pyrame, and the black-and-white French Spaniel with the red-and-white Italian Spaniel.
Buffon's Pyrame bears every evidence of being a mongrel breed, but the English Pyrame appears to have been a true breed of sporting Spaniel, and this black-and-tan breed is also referred to by Ackerman in 1809.
John Wright, in 1831, testifies to the Pyrame being a sporting Spaniel. In 1801 Sydenham Edward's "Cynographia Britannica" says that the Cocker was sometimes black with tanned legs and muzzle. . Here again we find the English Pyrame. Youatt, in 1845, says that the King Charles is a Tricolour and belongs to the Cockers. In his picture of Blenheims and Cockers the type of the Marlborough is identical with that of the Cocker, and among the dogs is a small, curly black Spaniel, like the one given by Rees as the King Charles. Youatt speaks of the Black-and-tan and the curly King Charles as separate breeds. The earliest edition of Buflfon states that the black Gredins were imported to England from France as white Spaniels and changed into black owing to the climate (which even in such a climate as ours seems rather odd!), yet in the very same edition he says that the Gredins originated in England and were imported from thence, ready made black, to France. It is, therefore, impossible to consider him a reliable authority in this matter, but I believe the latter statement to be the truth.