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.
Buffon says that the Spaniels and Water dogs were short and blunt in nose. In another place he explains this by saying short and blunt compared to the Greyhound, Russian Wolfhound, etc. - not short in nose as we now understand the term. The pictures show his meaning quite clearly.
The Field of 1859 says: "The King Charles and Blenheim Spaniels as bred by the fancy are snub-nosed, round-headed animals like Pugs, with silky ears and coats, but they are remarkably graceful animals."
Stonehenge says that the low carriage of the tail is a peculiar feature of all true Spaniels, and was formerly insisted on as a point of great importance in the Toy Spaniel. This is not correct according to my researches, as the reverse, indeed, is certainly the fact, all the oldest authorities agreeing that the tail should be raised. The old pictures confirm this. See Veronese and Watteau.
There is a great wish on the part of some breeders, especially Miss Dillon, that the Toy Spaniel's tail should not be docked. My opinion is this. By all means let the tail alone, but if so it must be carried over the back, as in Veronese's time, and like the Japanese. There is no middle course, a long tail carried drooping in the mud, or straight out with a hook at the end, is simply impossible. It is neither one thing nor the other, and if the tails are not to be carried over the back they should be docked. A photograph is given of a modern Blenheim with an undocked tail, but this is a most unusually good specimen.
Sydenham Edwards, 1800, says the Marlboroughs are a small variety of Cocker with blunt noses and very round heads, and highly valued by sportsmen. He gives a lovely colored plate of gun dogs, much the type of Stubbs Spaniel, but does not give the Marlboroughs.
In an engraving of the Hon. Mrs. Monckton, 1779, there is a Cocker with the spot and a very pointed nose.
In a picture by Gainsborough, of Queen Charlotte, there is a very pretty, smallish Spaniel with spot, of the Marlborough Cocker type probably crossed with Toy. The engraving by Gainsborough Dupont can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery.
The following quotation is from Idstone, 1872:
"Thirty years ago (i.e., 1842) they were rare in the provinces, but so long ago as that I had several of great excellence, which were the offspring of a celebrated dog, named Cherry (about 1845). His produce had but one fault, they carried their tails a trifle high, but a superb black-and-white-and-tan bitch named Cora, weighing not over six pounds, was free from this or any other fault." This is evidently due to Stonehenge, who was the first to suggest that Toy Spaniels should not carry their tails high.
He continues: "Originally the King Charles was a liver-and-white dog, and I imagine, indeed I am almost certain, that the dogs belonging to the Merry Monarch were so marked. How or where the colour altered I do not know."
He thinks they originated from Japan, and says that the first imported Japs were pale yellow and white. These were probably Chinese dogs.
Robert Fortune says that the Jap dogs in Japan are dwarfed by a spirit called "Saki," no doubt a sort of gin, but I myself was told by a lady who lived in Japan that the small size was obtained by another practice, which I shall not specify, as there might be people unprincipled enough to try and reproduce it over here. This practice would account for the extraordinary delicacy of the breed, but I think myself the breed is naturally a small one.
Idstone says that the King Charles in his day was almost universally black-and-tan, the Tricolour being out of fashion. He says he considers the Tricolour the handsomer dog of the two. "Should have a white leaf down the centre of the forehead, tan spots over the eyes, white lips, tan cheeks, and freckles of tan on the lips, a white collar and mane, white forelegs sparingly freckled with tan and black. The edges of the thighs should be white, belly white, and end of the tail also. The inner part of the ears should be tan; the mane long, profuse, and like floss silk. The thighs and hind quarters must be feathered heavily. Also the tail with a flag end; feet profusely feathered, tan, wherever visible, brilliant and rich. In the heavy feather of the hind quarters and tail there should be a harmonious amalgamation of the three colours. The face should be short; the eye large, black, and prominent, the corner of it wet; the skull round, the ears large; there should be a deep, pronounced stop between the eyes, the ears should be large, flabby, and well coated; the formation of the dog low on the leg, the coat very silky, and a sprightly temper is indispensable"
The Black-and-tan and Tricolour should, he says, never exceed seven pounds for exhibition.
Idstone says that the pale lemon colour in Blenheim comes from in-breeding. He also says that the King Charles cross is indulged in too freely, getting rid of the spot, which is a point of the utmost importance.
He also thinks the breed comes through Spain from Japan. I can find no trace of this in pictures or literature. Velasquez depicted the Alicantes, not Blenheims.
Idstone says: "The main points of beauty are as follows: The high skull, the full, black, wet eye, the short nose, the large, broad, heavy, well-feathered ear; compact form, close to the ground; pure, brilliant, rich red and distinct white markings, especially the broad leaf down the forehead, the round spot on the skull, the white neck and mane; a texture like floss silk; legs all well coated at the back, and deeply feathered toes. They are restless in their habits, capital guardians, always vigilant, but snappish and capricious, showing a dislike to children, and want of discrimination between friend and foe. They resent any fancied slight or injury, and are not particularly forgiving.
"The crossing with King Charles and Blenheim has so confused the two breeds that the three colours often appear in one litter.1
1 Only under certain unvarying conditions.