This photo comes from W.E. Mason’s Dogs of All Nations, which was published throughout the 1910′s.
This breed of toy spaniel has a very strong influence from the pug. As I have noted before, the original toy spaniels were more like the papillon, although without the spitz characteristics. Crosses with the pug are believed to have flattened the face, but the Belgian griffons, the Japanese chin, and the pekingese could have also played a role.
There was also a short-haired companion dog that was very similar to a toy spaniel that was never given a name. Someone tried to reconstruct this breed in the 1990′s by crossing whippets and Cavalier King Charles spaniels. The breed was called Tudor hound, but I have heard nothing from that particular breeding program since the late 90′s.
Nothing is cuter than a toy spaniel with a flattened face.
They remind me of muppets.
These little spaniels originally had a function.
They were often used as hunting dogs.
Pisanello depicted two small spaniels at the foot of the horse in The Vision of St. Eustace
The spaniels were probably not contemporaries of the real St. Eustace, who was a soldier in Trajan’s army.
But they were contemporaries of Pisanello, who lived during the fifteenth century.
A closer look at these spaniels reveals that they are not that much like modern English toy spaniels:
These spaniels resemble solid red phalenes (which we North Americans consider a variety of Papillon). They are phalenes without the spitz influence.
And the fact that Pisanello portrayed them them as hunting dogs very strongly suggests that they were of some use on the hunt. Small spaniels have always been the tool of the beater, who wants to drive a bird or lagomorph from dense cover.
But their cuteness also made them very popular among the nobility as pets, and that’s why toy spaniels are not often thought of as flushing dogs. However, both English toys and Cavaliers have flushing instincts, and the papillon/phalene breed is known for being very easy to train.
Because the English toy is so brachycephalic and because the Cavalier is so unhealthy, they aren’t the first choice for anyone wanting to train a working spaniel.
But I have heard of Cavaliers being trained to hunt rabbits.
So it is possible that one could be working as a flushing spaniel.