The first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came to the United States in the late 1940's from England. In 1952, a Cavalier was sent to America for Mrs. Sally Brown as a present from Lady Forwood. Although this breed was recognized in other countries, it was not sufficiently established nor recognized in the United States. Thus, Mrs. Brown was unable to register her Cavalier with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
In 1954, Mrs. Sally Brown, her sister-in- law Mrs. Gertrude (Trudy) Brown, and a small group of Cavalier owners formed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA). CKCSC, USA is the original breed club and private registry organization in the United States.
Mrs. Trudy Brown became the matriarch of the breed in the United States. Working from English Kennel Club export pedigrees, she began keeping a studbook, issuing registration papers and keeping all records for the breed. Once this record keeping process became established, they again asked the AKC to recognize the breed, and on April 1, 1962, AKC admitted Cavaliers to the Miscellaneous Class. This was the first step that all breeds were required to take in order for AKC to grant full breed recognition.
CKCSC, USA did not just sit back waiting for AKC to recognize the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed. They developed a breed standard, a point system, and in 1977 began holding shows to award breed championships. CKCSC, USA is a private registry body, and has never been the parent club for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the United States. There can be no parent club for any breed of dogs until that breed has been recognized by the official kennel club of that country. In the United States it is the AKC.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels remained in the AKC Miscellaneous Class for almost three decades, even though it was a recognized breed in nearly every other country around the world. However, in 1992, the American Kennel Club asked to meet with members of the CKCSC, USA to discuss full AKC recognition of the breed. AKC representatives explained that they had been contacted by a significant number of Cavalier owners who had expressed interest in taking advantage of American Kennel Club services and numerous competitive events. CKCSC, USA declined the opportunity to become the AKC parent club for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
What followed was a split in the “cavalier world.” A group of 12 CKCSC, USA members formed the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC). ACKCSC (which is commonly referred to as the “new club”) applied to AKC to become the parent club for the breed, and their request was granted. The forming of ACKCSC caused an uproar within CKCSC, USA. The 12 members who formed the new club were bought up on charges within CKCSC, USA, fined $2,000.00 each, thrown out of the club, and suspended indefinitely from all CKCSC, USA club, registry and show privileges. CKCSC, USA went so far as to prohibit these 12 individuals from coming within 200 yards any CKCSC, USA dog show.
In March of 1995 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a fully recognized breed in AKC, with ACKCSC as the parent club. The AKC breed standard for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was written by ACKCSC. Cavaliers were allowed to compete in the Toy Group at AKC shows starting on January 1, 1996, when they became AKC’s 140th recognized breed. This was more than 40 years after Sally Brown made her first request for AKC recognition.
Today, CKCSC, USA (commonly referred to as the “old club”) continues to operate, hold its own specialty shows, and award championships under its club rules. Looking back, there is quite a debate over whether CKCSC, USA lost a valuable opportunity to become the parent club for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the United States. To this day, there are still “tensions” between members of the “old club,” and the “new club.” The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has now gained greater popularity in the United States, and consistently has some of the highest entries at AKC shows.