The English Toy Spaniel is one of the most easy-going and amiable of all Toy breeds. They are known for their cheerful, playful dispositions and love of lounging on laps. They are discriminating about who they choose to adore. However, once they make up their minds, they are passionately affectionate. To be chosen by a Charlie is a life-long, extremely rewarding experience. Charlies make wonderful family dogs, as long as they are raised properly. They are naturally well-behaved, quiet for a Toy breed and not overly demanding. They can be shy with strangers but are boisterous with immediate family members. English Toys love their people, but they also are fairly independent and need plenty of alone time. They are fairly fragile and do not appreciate rough handling. Charlies will snap or bite if they are uncomfortable, frightened, threatened or mistreated. They certainly are not mean, and they don’t make good guard dogs. However, they do make great companions for the elderly and for city-dwellers, especially since they are not an especially barky breed. They can become overwhelmed in chaotic households, especially ones with young, unsupervised children. English Toy Spaniels usually get along well with other dogs, if they are properly introduced. They are willing to please, but can be a bit stubborn.
English Toy Spaniels make great apartment dogs. They are lazy by nature and only need a bit of exercise to stay healthy and content. A daily walk around the block or a romp in a well-fenced yard usually is enough exercise for a Charlie. They still need to be socialized with strangers and given time to play with other dogs. Charlies normally prefer the company of people over that of other animals. However, they are not naturally aggressive and, with proper supervision and training, will play well with others. Because their soft wavy coats are prone to matting, Charlies do best playing on grass in areas that are free from mud, sticks and other debris. Toy Spaniels are not known as fans of water, but some do enjoy a quick swim in warm weather.
English Toy Spaniels are bred and born to please. However, because they have a hard time focusing on specific tasks for any prolonged period of time, they can be a bit difficult to train. English Toys enjoy eating, so training them with a combination of tasty rewards and consistent positive reinforcement works best. These are extremely intelligent animals. When they learn a trick or task, they usually remember it for life, as long as the command is frequently reinforced. English Toy Spaniels do not respond well to physical punishment, loud voices or other forms of negative reinforcement. Use of harsh training techniques will damage the trust that is essential to a healthy relationship between dog and owner.
English Toy Spaniels have almost no bark and little, if any, bite. When confronted, they are more likely to cower than stand and fight. These are not guard dogs. They can be good watch dogs, because they will use their voice to announce the arrival of guests at the front door. Most of the time, however, they are quiet. English Toys give energetic, enthusiastic greetings to their owners, expressing their boundless delight at welcoming “their people” home. These are lap dogs. They prefer to sleep in bed with their owners and do not do well in crates. They love to eat and can become fat if overfed. This breed is predisposed to developing separation anxiety if isolated from their people for long periods of time. Because of their portability and relative quietness, they make terrific traveling companions. Charlies aren’t the best dogs for households with young children, because they can become nippy when irritated by unsupervised kids. Children can hurt Toy Spaniels, and even kill them, by squeezing them or falling on top of them. Charlies can be very clownish and entertaining. They have just enough of the spaniel hunting instinct to get themselves into trouble, and so should never be off-leash unless they are in a safely fenced area.