They were named for the Cavalier King, (King Charles II) who ruled Great Britain in the 1700s.
The Duchess of Marlborough is credited with imprinting the characteristic lozenge or thumbprint mark on the top of the Blenheim Spaniels head. As the story goes, she rubbed a pregnant spaniels head with her thumb out of worry for her husband while he was in France, leading his troups to victory against Louis XIV at the battle of Blenheim.
After news that the battle of Blenheim had been won five puppies were born, all with the mark of the 'Duchess Thumb Print" on top of their heads. Since then, it is desired, and considered good luck for Blenheim Cavaliers to bear the Thumb Print or Duchess Spot. The Blenheim name was than applied to the red and white Cavaliers with this spot after his victorious return from battle.
King Charles I was devoted to his toy spaniel Rogue, who accompanied the king to his execution in 1649.
James II, brother of Charles II, was equally infatuated with toy spaniels. During a severe storm at sea, James is reputed to have shouted "Save the dogs and the Duke of Monmouth" [the king's son].
Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587 with a black and white toy spaniel under her skirts. Her beloved companion reputedly refused to leave her side and died from grief a few days after her death.
The Cavalier has remained a desired companion for hundreds of years.
20th century devoted owners include Coco Chanel, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Michael Jackson and former President Ronald Regan to name just a few.
Cavaliers were cast into the spotlight again on September 14, 2003 when Sex in the City aired their first episode to introduce Charlotte York's companion "Elizabeth Taylor". Charlotte, going through a devastating personal issue, meets a woman named Trudy in the park who is less-than-friendly to her King Charles Spaniel and decides to give her dog to Charlotte after seeing how the two bond. The Cavalier Spaniel saw a 34% increase in popularity the following year according to the AKC top 100 of 2004.
In the seventeenth century, a "cavalier" was a knight who rode on horseback and who was loyal to King Charles I and Charles II of England. The cavaliers were considered the top of the order of knights. The cavaliers, the royal families and noblemen throughout England and France loved these little spaniels, who were named after King Charles II. They were considered house pets and appear in numerous paintings of their day.
|Other celebrity Cavalier owners...