Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Everything You Need to Know

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a tiny, noble, active, and amiable companion that lives to its name and is one of the giant toy breeds. Cavaliers are as athletic as a true sporting breed who enjoy running, hiking, flyball, rally, and agility. Although these therapy dogs are born to be companions, Cavaliers retain their spaniel ancestors’ sporty nature. They might look identical to King Charles Spaniels, but Cavaliers are a distinct species. Cavaliers are fun-loving canines and love to be around their human family. Also, their mischievous personality makes them the best partner to spend a relaxed evening after a long day at work.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Overview

Cavaliers are happy, charming, and energetic little dogs that love to play in parks or fields. Initially, they were bred as hunting dogs and were used to chase birds into flight to shoot. They are the best of two worlds, connecting the delicate attentiveness of a toy breed with the athleticism and stamina of a sporting spaniel. Their all-around beauty, regal elegance, and even temper mark them as one of dogdom’s noblemen.

Cavaliers require moderate grooming, but they are relatively easy to maintain and train because of their smartness and eager-to-please attitude. However, they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation. So, be prepared to spend lots of time exercising and playing to build a bond and happy life with these doe-eyed adorable puppies.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Pros and Cons

Affectionate, easy-going, and lovableDifficult to housetrain
Energetic, active, and athleticProne to genetic health issues
Good with children and other petsProne to separation anxiety

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Basic Information

  • Name: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Origin: England
  • Group: Toy group
  • Size: Small
  • Height: 12 – 13 inches 
  • Weight: 13 – 18 pounds
  • Coat: Medium, long coat
  • Color: Black and tan, ruby, red and white (Blenheim), and tricolor (chestnut markings on a pearl white background).
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, conformation, obedience, herding.
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Occasional
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 1-8 puppies
  • Other Names: Cavalier, CKCS, Charlies, Cavies, Comforter Spaniels
  • Original Pastime: Flushing small birds
  • Life Span: 9 – 15 years

History of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

As its name indicates, the Cavalier is derived from Spaniel roots. Emerged as a distinct dog breed from King Charles Spaniel, Cavaliers descend from Toy Spaniels, a royalty favorite during the Restoration and Renaissance periods 400 years ago. England’s King Charles Spaniel and the U.S’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are mistaken as the same breed. However, they are two different breeds with a shared ancestry and an uncertain history. The AKC ranks Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as the 19th most popular dog in the United States loved and pampered by people.

Cavaliers were initially bred to heat laps in drafty castles and on frigid carriage rides. Also, they attract fleas and spare their owners from the flea-transmitted bubonic plague. The modern Cavalier emerged in England in the 20th century. There have been a few incidents where Cavaliers have been used for hunting, usually associated with larger spaniel breeds. But, nowadays, it is hard to find a Cavalier working in the field. These puppies are serious snugglers and take their position as lap warmers and companions seriously. In addition, some Cavaliers still make appearances in dog sports like obedience and agility.

The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized the Cavaliers in 1955 and the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1995.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Highlights

  • Cavaliers are cheerful, bouncy, enthusiastic, and easy to train.
  • They may try to chase birds, rabbits, and other small prey because they are Spaniels at heart.
  • They have a high energy level and require lots of activities and mental stimulation to evade boredom.
  • They seek frequent attention from their human family.
  • Improper breeding leads to varying temperaments, including hyperactivity, excessive barking, and aggression.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Personality

Cavaliers are known for the following personalities: 

  • Loyal and confident 
  • Affectionate and lively 
  • Smartness and playful 
  • Friendly and outgoing 
  • Intelligent and people-pleasing 
  • Independent and charming 

Cavaliers are recognized for their unique companionship and charming personalities. In addition, they make exceptional family pets and are patient with children and the elderly. They are not excessive barkers but will alert the presence of outsiders. However, they are not guarding dogs as they welcome most people warmly. These regal, sophisticated, intelligent dogs make good travel companions.

The Cavalier is a solidly built spaniel-like dog, slightly longer than tall, with dark eyes, floppy ears, and a long tail. Long feathering on the feet is an impressive trait and is left uncut for the show ring. They have the same delicate, melting expression as other spaniels like the Cocker, which indicates they have a steady doe-eyed look which adds to their adorable charm.

  • Weight: 13-18 pounds
  • Height: 12-13 inches

Cavaliers have a medium-length, smooth, silky coat in four colors with different patterns:

  • Blenheim: Reddish-brown and white, red patches on a white body, and partial red mask on ears.
  • Tricolor: Black and white with tan points
  • Ruby: Solid red
  • Black and tan: Black with tan markings

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingHigh
Good for new ownersHigh
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceMedium
Heat toleranceLow

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Physical Features

Head: The sweet, gentle, melting expression is a significant breed characteristic. The head is proportionate to dog size, neither too large nor too short for the body. They have large, round dark brown eyes, floppy ears, slightly tapered muzzles, black noses without flesh marks, and regular, complete scissors bites.

Neck: Moderate length, slightly arched without throatiness, well-built to form an arch at the crest. The neck is set smoothly into nicely sloping shoulders to give a graceful look.

Tail: Well-set tail but never much above the back level and in constant motion when the dog is in action. 

Forequarters: The shoulders are clean-cut and well-laid back, allowing the dog to move his forelegs quickly with forward reach. The forelegs are straight, with elbows close to the sides. 

Feet: Compact, cushioned, and well-feathered.

Hindquarters: The hindquarters structure should come down from the broad pelvis, relatively muscled; stifles well turned and hocks nicely let down. When viewed from the rear, the hindlegs should stand parallel to each other from hock to heel. 

Coat: Slightly wavy, long, silky, and free from curl. 

Color: Recognized colors are:

  • Blenheim – Rich chestnut markings are well broken on pearly white ground. 
  • Tricolor – Black and white well-spaced, broken up, with tan markings over eyes, cheeks, ears, legs, and on the underside of tail.
  • Ruby – Whole-colored rich red.
  • Black and Tan – Raven black with tan markings above the cheeks, eyes, inside ears, chest, legs, and underside of tail. 

Gait: Free-moving and elegant in action, with good reach in front and sound, driving rear action. 

Faults (AKC Standards)

  • Crooked jaw
  • Undershot bite
  • Weak or crooked teeth

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament

Cavaliers are known for the following temperaments: 

  • Loving and loyal 
  • Therapy dogs
  • Active and sporting
  • Energetic and smart 
  • Affectionate and intelligent 
  • Calm and eager to please 
  • Excitable and quick learner 
  • Caring and playful 
  • Confident and adaptable 

Perfectly groomed, elegant, and athletic, Cavaliers are winning hearts. These cheerful, happy little critters fit your home perfectly. They crave human attention and are friendly with strangers. However, these lap dogs are highly energetic and need lots of activities to be happy and healthy. As a result, these fearless little pups are commonly unphased and approach everything and everyone with curiosity, delight, and enthusiasm.

With a constantly-wagging tail, Cavaliers are adaptable and happy to live in an apartment as long as they get good everyday walks. Spaniels at heart, these breeds love to play and run and will do well with chase or fetch games and agility, obedience, and field competitions. 

Letting your dog go off-leash is not a good idea. Their hunting and scenting instincts might be triggered by an unfamiliar smell causing them to run off and get hurt or lost. If you socialize them with other pets from an initial age, they will heartily welcome outside or at the park throughout their lives. But, ensure to avoid being trained to chase them as these breeds have a prey drive and will not quickly get along with smaller pets like gerbils and ferrets.

If you are getting a Cavalier puppy, ensure you have enough time and energy to keep them engaged. They might exhibit separation anxiety, which most commonly manifests as nervous barking. In addition, you can change their stubborn temperaments with proper and continuous training.  

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Training

Cavalier’s energetic disposition and inquisitiveness make these breeds fun and easy to train. In addition, they are well-known for having sweet, gentle, and affectionate behavior, making them exceptional therapy dogs for the disabled or elderly. Training should be easy as long as positive reinforcement and consistency are the strategies. They make an excellent companion for novice owners since they don’t require a substantial hand. Also, they don’t respond to mistreatment and violence.

Here are some of the training activities that you need to do with your Cavalier:

Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
IntelligenceMedium to high
Prey driveMedium
Mouthiness tendenciesMedium
Barking and Howling tendenciesLow to medium 
Wanderlust tendenciesLow to medium 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Exercise Needs

Cavaliers are active, energetic dogs with high stamina and enjoy outdoor games. However, they need proper exercise to keep their mental and physical stimulation for optimum health. Depending on their age and energy levels, they need around 20 – 30 minutes of daily exercise or interactive play sessions. Also, take them on short brisk walks as this is a perfect way to fight their tendency to become obese. They may become restless or destructive without proper workouts. 

Although Cavaliers were bred to be lap dogs, they descended from sporting canines and enjoyed moderate exercise and outdoor activities. However, they should not be allowed off-leash as they retain hunting and scenting instincts, and they may not come when called if they have found an impressive track to follow or a creature to pursue. 

You can meet your Cavalier’s daily exercise essentials by:

  • Teaching new tricks
  • Walking 
  • Fetching 
  • Playing with puzzle toys
  • Frisbee 
  • Flyball 
  • Agility training 
  • Hiking 
  • Dog park 

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelMedium to high
Exercise needsMedium to high
IntensityLow to medium

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Grooming

Cavaliers are a double-coated, non-hypoallergenic breed that shed a moderate amount year-round, so you will always find some hairs on your clothes or around the house. Also, they shed a little more seasonally; twice yearly, they shed their undercoat to prepare for summer or grow a thicker one for winter. 

Cavalier’s grooming requirements are as follows:

  • Brush their coat once or twice weekly.  
  • Bathe once or twice monthly with a mild, soap-free, aloe or oatmeal-based shampoo.
  • Brush their teeth once a week.  
  • Trim their nails once a month.  
  • Regularly check their ear for infections such as discharge, spots, redness, or foul odor.
  • Cavaliers are prone to many eye disorders, so monitoring their eye color and appearance is crucial.

Grooming Overview

Easy to groomMedium to high
Drooling tendenciesLow
Amount of sheddingMedium

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health

Cavaliers are notably predisposed to Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), which leads to heart failure. Also, inappropriate breeding increases the possibility that a Cavalier will develop some other disorders. So, it is essential to find a responsible breeder who maintains canines with healthy hearts. It’s always wise to be mindful of their health necessities. To maintain your dog’s health, take them for regular check-ups and keep them updated with their vaccines.

Health Overview

General healthMedium to high
Weight gain tendenciesMedium to high

Mitral Valve Disease: In this disorder, the weakening of the heart valves causes blood to flow back into the atrium, leading to cardiac collapse. Vets can detect it early, so it’s essential to keep up with their routine examinations. 

Syringomyelia (SM): A condition that affects the spine and brain and appears to be expected in Cavalier breeds. It is caused by a skull malformation, reducing the space for the brain. Symptoms include discomfort, severe pain, and partial paralysis. 

Episodic Falling: A condition often confused with epilepsy, but the canine stays conscious during the falling or seizure. Symptoms include occasional falling episodes and seizure-like episodes that can last for hours. 

Hip dysplasia: A hereditary condition in which the thigh bone fails to fit into the hip joint. One or both legs of your dog may become lame or ache. X-ray is the best way to analyze the situation. It is not advisable to breed dogs with hip dysplasia.

Patellar Luxation: When the dog patella (kneecap), which commonly lies in the cleft of the femur (thighbone), slips out of position, it is referred to as the luxating patella. Your puppy may feel periodic hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or locking up the leg at an irregular angle if the patella luxates. 

Dry Eye: In this painful condition, there’s lacking production of the tear glands. This leads to the affected eye seeming dry or having a blue haze. The treatments for dry eyes include medication like eye drops. If left untreated, it can result in blindness.

Dental Disease: It affects 80% of canines, generates tartar build-up on the teeth, causes infection of the roots and gums, and in complex situations, causes loss of teeth and damage to the kidneys. 

Ear infections: The floppy ears are prone to infections. The best way is to keep the ears clean and dry. 

Obesity: Cavaliers are predisposed to obesity that causes hip and elbow dysplasia. This disease negatively hits a dog’s fitness and durability. Obese puppies exhibit an increased risk of heart disease, digestive conditions, diabetes, joint problems, and hypertension. 

Parasites: Cavaliers can be infested with fleas, worms, bugs, and ticks that can get into their systems through polluted soil, unclean water, or an infected mosquito. Signs include pain, discomfort, and even death. 

Spay or Neuter: In spaying, the uterus or ovaries in female dogs is removed, and in the neuter, the male dog’s testicles are released. It is done to eliminate the chance of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and lessen the likelihood of cancer types.

Epilepsy is the most prevalent neurological disease in canines, affecting about 0.75 percent of the population. Epilepsy is a broad name for conditions indicated by repeated, uncontrollable seizures generated by a brain defect.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): In between the vertebral column’s bones, IVD allows vertebral movements, which usually work like shock absorbers. They are formed with two layers, the inner soft jelly-like layer and the external fibrous layer. This condition happens when the inner jelly-like layer forces the spinal cord, resulting in spinal cord compression; signs include paralysis, neck and backache, and loss of bladder, sensation, and bowel control. 

Cataract: A disorder seen as cloudy spots on the eye lens that grow gradually. This condition can develop at any age and often doesn’t affect vision; however, rare cases cause vision loss. Fortunately, you can remove cataracts surgically with good results.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A degenerative eye disorder that causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eyes. It can be detected earlier. A very later stage is blindness. Puppies with this condition can survive for several years since they have other senses to compensate.

Ichthyosis: Canines with this disease will thicken the skin and flak the paw pads.

Hereditary Nephritis: This disorder mainly appears at a young age due to undeveloped kidneys or kidney malfunction resulting in a high UP: UC (Urine protein: Urine creatinine) ratio and kidney failure.  

Brachycephalic Syndrome: The dog’s nostrils will narrow to a level that can obstruct the nasal airways. This will lead to difficulty in breathing. 

Recommended Health Tests

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Diet and Nutrition

Cavaliers thrive on a complete and balanced diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and formulated specifically for toy breeds, as the kibble size is smaller and helps digestion. In addition, these breeds are relatively easy to feed, not requiring any supplements or special diets. The main thing to consider with the Cavalier is not to overfeed, as they tend to become overweight. Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, and Purina are the most recommended dog food brands.

  • Cavalier puppies: Three to four times a day
  • Cavalier (adult): Twice a day

The amount of food depends on the specific food your dog consumes. You can ask your vet, follow the package instructions, or contact the canine food manufacturer, as AAFCO-approved diets have veterinary nutritionists who assist in determining dietary requirements. Also, consider feeding your adult and senior dog a low-fat or low-calorie diet, as maintaining lean body weight is best for canines prone to orthopedic problems. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Living condition

  • Well suited to apartment life as long as they are given daily walks and regular play sessions.
  • Cavaliers have a strong chase instinct, so they must be leash-walked and have a fenced yard.
  • Sensitive to extreme temperatures; avoid any prolonged exposure and alert to the signs of heat stress.

Did you know?

  • The name “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel” is derived from King Charles II of Great Britain; his dad’s supporters were known as Cavaliers during the English Civil Wars. King Charles II continued using “Cavalier” as his political designation.
  • Breeders chose the name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to distinguish them from the flat-faced King Charles Spaniel or the English Toy Spaniel.
  • Cavalier is ranked 44th in Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs,” titled as having “average” brilliance in working or obedience. However, these breeds are victorious in obedience and agility and make exceptional therapy dogs due to their gentle nature. 
  • The character of Charlotte York in the show “Sex and the City,” adopted a Blenheim Cavalier King Charles pup, which she named Elizabeth Taylor Goldenblatt.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Groups

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Recognition

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA

Adding a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to Your Family

A Cavalier costs range from $1000 to $2500, not including miscellaneous expenses.

To buy a puppy online: 

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