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.
For instance, Jonston, 1755, quotes Aelian, who lived in A.D. 250, for certain things which do not appear to be in the original Latin. Instead, therefore, of the information being 1659 years old it is only one hundred and fifty-four years old, Jonston's book being
1The translation of this word is "a fop."
Aelian plus Jonston. Later on comes Aelian plus Jon-ston plus Jacobs, and so on.
At the end of the seventeenth century there are French portraits of Henrietta of Orleans, sister of Charles II, who was brought up in France from a baby. She is painted with red-and-white Spaniels. At the same period we find the Dauphin with a black dog and a black-and-white one, and Louis XIV with a most beautiful black-and-white Toy. The black-and-white dogs were akin to the Holland dogs, and we see them also in Watteau's pictures, "Embarquement pour Cythere," and "The Toilet," etc. That the black-and-white and red-and-white varieties were brought by Henrietta to England seems clear. There is no evidence that such breeds existed in England before this time. Henrietta was Charles II's favourite sister, and when she died an early death through poisoning, it is more than probable that he took over her little dogs and bred them with those she had presumably previously introduced into the English Court, which she had visited at the age of fifteen and later. I can find no pictorial evidence that King Charles II ever kept black-and-tan dogs in his life, and all the early evidence is merely traditional, and shows that if there were any black Spaniels in England at that time they were of a breed totally different from both the black-and-tan Pyrame Spaniel and the red-and-white or black-and-white French importations.
I imagine, however, that there must have been black Toys at the English Court, and that the one in the Dauphin's picture was brought from England, as there is no previous trace of a black Spaniel in France unless it may have been the Truffle dog or the short-haired Gredin.
It will be seen from the Titian and Veronese pictures that the red-and-white Toy Spaniel existed in Italy as a Toy nearly a couple of centuries before the Duke of Marlborough was born, and it is certain that the dogs kept by Charles I were the English Cocking Gun Spaniel or Springer and not Toy Spaniels. The names of Cocker or Cocking (i.e., wood cocking) Spaniel and Springing Spaniel or Springer were indifferently applied to the early gun and field Spaniels. It was only later that the names were divided and applied to different types.1
The Shooting Directory of 1804 confirms my opinion with the following passage: "Another variety of cocker much smaller (i.e., than the Water Spaniel and Sussex Spaniel) is the Marlborough breed kept by His Grace the Duke of Marlborough. These are red-and-white with very round heads and blunt noses, and highly valued by sportsmen." This description might be mistaken for our modern type but for the plate, which gives the heads as those of Cockers with high skulls and what we should call very long faces. The Sporting Directory, speaking of Charles I's dogs, says: " These do not appear to have been the small black kind known by his name, but Cockers, as is evident from the pictures of Van Dyck and the print by Sir R. Strange, after this master, of three of his children, in which they are introduced." A reference to Van Dyck's picture will show that he certainly did not intend to represent Toy Spaniels.
Blaine, in his "Diseases of Dogs," 1832, says: "Among the experienced fanciers of the small yellow-and-white Spaniels which much resemble those known by the name of the Marlborough breed, this is partially exemplified. These elegant animals are very common among the 'Spitalfields' weavers; and to such a perfection have they brought the art of breeding them, that it is affirmed they can insure, almost to a certainty, the requisite quantity of colour, the length of coat, its texture, and its disposition to curl or to remain straight."
1 The dog which was drenched in the blood of Mary Queen of Scots may have been any kind of pet dog, as I can find no record of its shape or colour, and I shall deal with Dr. Caius and the Comforter directly.
This is a most valuable reference, as it is evidence that the Toy yellow (or red)-and-white Spaniel was not considered the same breed as the Marlboroughs, though it much resembled them. In my opinion the Italian Toy Spaniel was much yellower in colour than our present dogs. It is also useful as showing that the coats were sometimes curly and sometimes straight. A reference to the needlework pictures of 1736 (a century after Van Dyck) will show that the very round skull of the Italian Toy Spaniel was a marked characteristic, and that the noses were short. The dogs had not the faintest resemblance to Van Dyck's dogs in the picture of the children of Charles I, but please note the likeness in pose of the dog in one of the needlework pictures to the one in the French picture of Louis XIV, and to the cinematograph of Champion Windfall.
The reason why the Spitalfields weavers were so successful in breeding the "Blenheim" Spaniel was probably that, coming from France, where the dogs had spread from Italy, they knew what the type should be like, whereas our English breeders did not. Possibly the weavers may also have brought a few with them.
I regret to have to point out that the famous "spot" is not necessarily a characteristic of the true Veronese Spaniel, but of the Springer, where it still exists to the present day. The present Toy Blenheim got its spot from the Marlborough cross and from the black-andwhite Holland Spaniel, which curiously enough possessed it as early as 1500. This also accounts for the rareness of the "spot" in the short-nosed specimens and its comparative prevalence in the longer faced individuals. There is still a small breed of Welsh Springers which are almost Toys. Nearly all of them have the spot. It seems certain, therefore, that here is the main source of the "Blenheim" spot. The spot also runs in some strains of setters and bull dogs. (See some of the "Stone" dogs.)