The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a natural companion dog with a bit of sporty nature. As much as they love to lounge around and cuddle up next to you on the couch, they also enjoy chasing after birds in the backyard.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the largest of the toy breeds and are purebred. This makes them a rather rare breed to come by, but they are definitely worth the wait. Cavaliers are energetic, affectionate, and friendly dogs that enjoy playing all kinds of dog sports. And with their loving personality, they make for perfect family and therapy dogs. Let’s take a closer look at the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, its physical characteristics, personality, nutrition, and much more!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Characteristics (Physical)
Cavaliers are a rather compact and small breed. They are an active and graceful dog that enjoys playing games and occasionally hunting. This breed of dog is perhaps best known for its large, floppy ears that hang over the side of its head.
The body is well-balanced, and the proportions are slightly longer than the height at the withers. The head is neither too large nor too small for the Cavalier’s body. The facial expression is sweet, gentle, and innocent with its large, round eyes.
The body is rather compact yet well enough muscled to form a slight arch at the crest. The legs are also muscular and allow for a fluid and agile motion. The tail is well set and is slightly above the level of the back. The Cavalier is a very emotive dog and will show what they are feeling through the motion of their tail.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Size
Being a part of the toy dog group, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small but sturdy dog. Generally, the male and female King Charles are roughly the same sizes. This toy spaniel is about 12 to 13 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 13 to 18 pounds.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Personality
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is incredibly sweet and friendly. The Cavalier is always eager to meet new people that cross their path and will do anything to put a smile on their face. Of course, each dog is unique and has its own personality, but generally, Cavaliers are known to be welcoming, making them a terrible choice for a watchdog.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the perfect lap dog due to its size and love for affection. They are perfect for any family and are incredibly adaptable to any situation.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels do not do well when left alone for long periods, and easily feel separation anxiety. They may get anxious and bark quite a bit. Having another dog or pet around can help calm them down when you have to leave the house, or training your Spaniel at a young age can help curb their separation anxiety issues.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Exercise
Like many other small dog breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels only need a moderate amount of exercise. King Charles Spaniels are happy with going on short walks, playing different dog sports, but most of all, napping on the sofa. King Charles is very much a lap dog and will go out of their way to make themselves comfortable with you.
Even though it can be tempting to sit at home and do nothing with your dog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be prone to obesity. So it is crucial to incorporate a moderate amount of exercise into your dog’s routine such as a short walk or designated time for play.
Keeping your Cavalier on a leash is important when they are not cuddled up on the couch with you. They may use their innate scenting and hunting skills to try and find a new toy to bring home. It is best to keep your Cavalier in a fenced yard to prevent them from running off.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Training
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is naturally sweet and gentle, making them easy to train. They are always eager to please their owners, and they typically get along with strangers and other dogs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are smart and incredibly obedient.
As with most dog breeds, it is important to train a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at a young age. Early puppy socialization is important, so they are not shy with other dogs or people. When training, it is always best to use positive reinforcement rather than punish your dog for doing something wrong. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a soft personality and do not do so well with harsh punishments, so it is always best to treat this sweetie with kindness when training.
Always be consistent and persistent when training your dog. Remember that training does not happen all in one session but gradually over time. Although Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a smart breed, it will still take time for them to fully grasp new concepts, such as basic commands, behavioral issues, and other tasks.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel History
Although the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed only dating back to only a century ago, they have a long lineage of ancestors of royalty and nobility. The breed is descendants of the same toy spaniel breed seen in many 16th-18th-century Van Dyck and Gainsborough artworks. These spaniels were depicted in paintings with flat heads, high-set ears, and long noses.
From 1660 to 1685, King Charles II reigned in England and was always seen with at least two or three of the toy spaniels by his side. King Charles II also decreed that spaniels are allowed in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament. After King Charles II’s death, the spaniel breed lost popularity as Pugs became the new favorite. The King Charles Spaniels were bred with Pugs, developing many features such as their short nose and a dome-shaped head.
By the mid-19th century, English breeders began holding dog shows and refining many dog breeds. The Spaniel at the time was known to have a flat face, undershot jaw, and a dome-shaped skull. The King Charles Spaniels that were once depicted in the famous paintings centuries before were nearly extinct.
Modern-Day Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
In the 1920s, an American breeder named Roswell Eldridge held a contest for British breeders to see who could reproduce the toy spaniels “seen in King Charles II’s reign.” With a cash prize of £25, breeders were asked to recreate the Spaniel with a flat head, long face, and slightly larger size. By 1928, the first Cavalier Club was formed, which helped boost the breed’s popularity again.
Like many other breeds in Europe, World War II was especially detrimental to the survival of the Cavalier King Charles breed. There were only 60 registered King Charles Spaniels between 1940 and 1945 by the Cavalier Club. Thanks to many breeders after the war that set out to restore the Cavalier’s numbers, the breed slowly climbed its way back into relevance. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel finally made its way to the United States in 1956, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 1995.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health Problems
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a healthy dog breed, but they are prone to a few specific health problems. Not all Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs will experience these health conditions, but it is important to know about them and the potential symptoms you should keep an eye out for. Most Cavaliers can live a healthy and happy life with an expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Here are some of the most common health conditions a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may experience:
Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)
Mitral Valve Disease is a condition that affects the mitral valve of the heart. It begins with a heart murmur that worsens over time until the dog has heart failure. Although heart disease in older dogs is relatively common, Cavalier King dogs are prone to MVD at a young age. This condition can occur as early as one or two years of age.
Although there is still research being done on the origin of MVD, it is thought to be a genetic condition. This condition is initially asymptomatic, making it difficult to detect at first. However, eventually, your dog will develop congestive heart failure as a murmur develops. MVD is a serious condition and should be evaluated regularly by a veterinary cardiologist.
Syringomyelia is a condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord, causing an abnormal sensation in dogs. This condition is rather common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs. Syringomyelia is caused by a malformation of the skull, which reduces space for the brain.
The first symptoms of this condition occur between six months of age and four years. These symptoms include sensitivity to the area around the head, neck, or shoulders. Your dog may start whimpering or hesitate when pet around its upper body. Another common sign of syringomyelia is them frequently scratching their neck or shoulder. The best treatment for this condition is with pain relief medicine. However, if the condition is serious, your dog may need surgery.
Although this condition is similar, it is not to be confused with epilepsy. Episodic falling occurs when the dog is still conscious. This occurs when the dog’s muscles can’t relax, resulting in them falling over. The symptoms for this condition can range from being mild to more severe, like a seizure. A Cavalier King Charles dog may experience episodic falling as young as five months old.
Hip dysplasia is most common in larger dog breeds, although it can occur in small dogs like a toy spaniel. This condition affects the hip joint when the ball and socket do not fit properly, leading to a rub and grind of the two instead of a smooth sliding motion. Because of this misplacement, your dog may experience discomfort and may favor walking around on one leg.
In serious circumstances, a dog with hip dysplasia may lose the function of the entire leg if not treated. Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition passed down through generations, so it is best to look up the full medical history of a dog’s parents before adoption. The best treatment for this condition is physical therapy and medication. However, in extreme conditions, a vet may recommend surgery.
Similar to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap shifts out of place. This condition can cause a great amount of discomfort and may leave your dog limping. Patellar luxation can stem from an injury but most commonly occurs from a joint or limb abnormality.
In less severe cases, you can treat patellar luxation through medication and exercise restriction. Weight management can also help prevent further issues from occurring. However, if the condition becomes significant, this can lead to lameness in a leg, and your dog may need surgery to correct the bone or tissue structures.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also known as dry eye, is an inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues of the eye. This is a common eye condition that occurs when tears are not being produced properly, resulting in dryness of the eye. Common signs of dry eye may include eye redness, irritation, and shut eyes. Dry eye is relatively easy to treat with medication if detected early on.
How to Care for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Since the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is small, it is very adaptable to most living situations. Whether you live in an apartment or a small home, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will be more than comfortable. They are only moderately active and enjoy spending time indoors so that they will thrive in almost any home.
Keep your King Charles Spaniel on a leash when on dog walks because they may run off if they see a rodent running by and try to catch it. As far as exercise goes, King Charles Spaniels are not very needy. Usually, a short daily walk will do the trick, but make sure that they exercise enough to burn off their food because this breed is prone to overweight issues.
Cavaliers are rather dependent, and they love being with their owners constantly. Because of this, they usually suffer from fear of separation. To prevent this from becoming a habit, train them to learn how to be independent or try crate training from a young age. And if that doesn’t work out, you can always get them a companion to stay with them when they feel lonely.
Nutrition and Feeding for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can put on too much weight if their diet is not monitored. So it’s important to carefully track your Charles Spaniel’s meals, so they don’t suffer any other health conditions. The recommended daily amount for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is about 1/2 to 1 cup of high-quality dry dog food a day, divided into two meals. However, a dog’s nutrition can depend on several factors, including its size, age, metabolism, and activity level.
It is best to split your dog’s food into two feedings a day rather than leaving out their food all day. This can lead to them constantly snacking and may lead to weight issues. If you suspect your dog is gaining weight, give them the eye test and look at their waist. If you place your hands on their back and cannot feel their ribs when pressing lightly with your thumbs, you may want to readjust their feeding schedule. Generally, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not as active as other dogs and don’t need much food. Although you may want to give your dog treats during training or because they’re so cute, it’s probably best to feed them in moderation.
Because the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has long, floppy ears, it might be a good idea to pull their ears back with a scrunchy so they can eat without their ears flopping about and getting soaked from the water bowl.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a medium-length coat that is silky and slightly wavy. Adult Cavaliers have feathering on their ears, legs, feet, chest, and tail. Cavalier King Charles dogs come in four colors:
- Blenheim* (chestnut on a pearly white coat) *most common color
- Tricolor (black markings on a white coat with tan markings on the eyes)
- Black and tan
- Ruby (reddish-brown color with no white markings)
Cavalier dogs are relatively easy to groom and only shed an average amount. To avoid their coat getting tangled or knotted, brushing about three to four times a week should suffice. Brushing will also help any loose hairs from ending up on furniture or in other areas of the house. You should trim their hair between the pads of their feet, so they don’t trip or pull on their coat. Trimming the hair on the feet also prevents them tracking dirt in the house, especially if they love playing outside.
When grooming, it is also important to look for any sores, rashes, or other infections. They may be small injuries from playing outside or a more serious skin condition that you will need to keep an eye on. You should only bathe your Cavalier when necessary because if you do it too often, you can wash out many of the essential oils that benefit their skin and coat.
In addition to taking care of their coat, make sure to brush their teeth. Brushing at least two or three times a week will help remove tartar buildup and other dental problems from surfacing. Keeping your dog’s nails trim is another important aspect of grooming. It is best to keep their nails short so they avoid catching it or scratching you when they cuddle.
Children And Other Pets
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make for great playmates for kids because of their smaller size. They are not too big to overpower small children, and their personality is friendly and will not snap if they begin to get too rowdy. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will play ball, participate in dog sports, or be the couch potato without any worries.
However, it is always important to supervise your children to ensure that they can play with a dog respectfully. Make sure your kids aren’t biting the dog, pulling on their ears or tail, or other things that may annoy your Cavalier King. As for other dogs, Cavalier Kings make for excellent companions. When introduced at an early age, they can bond with other pets around the house, including cats. You may even find your Cavalier King playing with your cat and chasing them around the house. Having multiple pets at home is also nice because the Cavalier King Charlies Spaniel may get lonely.
If you are looking to adopt your own Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, there are a few amazing rescue groups you can contact to help you. Cavalier Rescue USA is an excellent organization dedicated to rescuing Cavalier Kings and bringing them to loving and caring homes. The Cavalier Rescue USA works with adoption organizations from all over the country to help you find the perfect puppy!
The Cavalier Alliance is another great organization that focuses on rescuing senior Cavalier Kings and dogs with special medical needs. The organization was formed in 2014 and is dedicated to helping out all Cavalier Kings, no matter their health status.
There are two main breed organizations for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, Inc. and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA. The American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC) is officially a part of the American Kennel Club and is dedicated to educating and maintaining the breed standard of the Cavalier King. A wide range of events, such as competitions and meetups, bring the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel community together.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA was founded to promote the health and well-being of the Cavalier King through different events and charities. This organization is dedicated to fighting many of this breed’s health issues, such as MVD, Syringomyelia, and other cardiac diseases.
More About This Dog Breed
If you’re thinking about buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for yourself, prepare to spend about $1000-2000. Remember to look for reputable breeders so that your new dog won’t have any health or behavioral problems. You can find a directory of breeders on the ACKCSC website!
Of course, you can always choose to adopt, which can be considerably cheaper. Local rescue groups may be the best avenue to find any King Charles Spaniels in shelters near you.