Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the most popular breeds across the world. Find out why in our latest breed guide below!

cavalier king charles spaniel in garden

Height: 12-13 inches
Weight: 6-8 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club)

Positives and Negatives

Check out the basic traits of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel below.

Pros:

  • Family-friendly pet
  • Ideal for first-time owners
  • Intelligent & easy to train
  • Suitable for apartment living

Cons:

  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • High grooming maintenance
  • Long ears prone to infection
  • Not an ideal watchdog

cavalier king charles spaniel on snow

Overview

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a member of the toy breed family albeit one of the largest members. These wonderful lapdogs garnered the attention of royalty and nobility.

Today, the Cavalier is still used as a lapdog and was listed as the 14th most popular breed in the UK in 2019. That year, there were 3,252 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy registrations.

There are four accepted coat colours known as Blenheim, Ruby, Tri-colour, and Black & Tan. Blenheim describes a white Cavalier with Chestnut markings.

The colour name is a tribute to Blenheim Palace, the place where 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill kept his red and white hunting Spaniels. Ruby Cavaliers are entirely chestnut.

Some Cavaliers have a Blenheim Spot on their forehead. This is also known as the Duchess’ Thumb Print.

Legend has it that Sarah Churchill pushed her thumb on the forehead of a pregnant Cavalier. She was praying for her husband’s safe return from the Battle of Blenheim.

After the Battle was won, five puppies were born bearing the mark.

Not only is the Cavalier popular in the UK, but they are also one of the most popular breeds in Australia and the US.

Cavaliers are sociable, easy to train, intelligent, and adaptable, making them an ideal choice for first-time owners.

Due to their lapdog status, the breed needs constant company and could develop separation anxiety if alone for long periods.

cavalier king charles spaniel running

History

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is native to the UK and is the direct descendant of Toy Spaniels. The breed is often confused with their smaller cousins the King Charles Spaniel.

Today, people are still unable to tell the difference. Cavaliers have a longer muzzle and larger head whereas their cousins have a more compressed nose structure.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough bred red and white hunting Spaniels. These were later crossed with possibly the Pug and Japanese Chin, creating the King Charles Spaniel.

In the 1920’s Roswell Eldridge, an American was looking to recreate the old Toy Spaniels seen in the artwork of English nobility.

Cash was offered to the breeder who could create ‘Blenheim Spaniels of the Old World Type’. Prizes were handed out at Crufts.

Soon after in 1945, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels finally received their Kennel Club recognition.

They continued to grow in popularity and by the 1980s over 10,000 King Charles Spaniel puppies were being registered.

In 1928, Miss Mostyn Walker won the £25 prize for her dog Ann’s Son. It was a huge sum of money at the time.

This same year, a breed club was formed and breed standards were drawn up, based on Ann’s Son.

In 1946, the first Championship Show took place and a Challenge Certificate was issued to participant Daywell Rogers.

Many Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pedigrees across the world can trace their lineage back to him!

The breed has never won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club although a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel did win this title at Crufts in 1973. Despite their popularity in the US, the AKC did not recognise the breed until 1995.

Personality

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament:

The Cavalier Spaniel is renowned for its easy-going and laid-back personality. Aggression is not a trait in this breed!

Sociable, loyal, devoted, and loving, the King Charles Cavalier is the prime example of a perfect family pet.

Gentle and sweet-natured, it is no wonder the Cavalier remains one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide.

cavalier king charles spaniel relaxing outdoor

The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel isn’t a great watchdog. They aren’t on the alert nor do they bark very much.

A terrible choice for those hoping to warn off intruders! Graceful and elegant, the Cavalier is not the working type but instead, the perfect lapdog.

They’re always cheerful and constantly wag their tails which has earned them the title of ‘top tail-wagger.’

Recommended: The Scottish Terrier is a small yet sturdy dog that is most certainly related to the Terrier family!

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Good with Strangers?

Yes, the Cavalier is highly sociable and will make friends with every human they meet! They love nothing more than receiving extra attention and affection.

The Cavalier is one of the friendliest breeds and it isn’t in their nature to react aggressively towards those they don’t know.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Good with Children?

Yes, this breed is an excellent choice for children. They are renowned as one of the best family pets thanks to their gentle and sociable nature.

Their athletism perfectly matches a child’s energy! Small in size, the Cavalie is unlikely to accidentally injure children during play.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Ok with Other Dogs?

Yes, Cavalier Spaniels enjoy the presence of other canines. They will politely introduce themselves to any dog that crosses their path.

This breed is an absolute pleasure to walk in the park and thrives when socializing with both humans and dogs. Cavaliers can live alongside other pooches and felines.

Exercise

This toy breed will be happy with thirty minutes of exercise each day. Ensure some of this is vigorous to burn their energy.

Although suitable for apartment living, the Cavalier is prone to weight gain, so they must receive the right amount of activity.

Despite their lapdog status, they have picked up some of the Spaniels hunting instincts and will require mental stimulation.

Known for its sociability, the Cavalier thrives off interactive games with its owner.

This breed shouldn’t be allowed off-leash as they may instinctively track and hunt which could cause them to wander off. Cavaliers enjoy dog sports and excel in flyball, rally, and agility.

cavalier king charles spaniel resting

Recommended next: The Afghan Hound is instantly recognisable thanks to its unique coat, curly tail, and long ears!

Health

Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel below:

  • Patella Luxation- The kneecap temporarily dislocates out of place before quickly relocating back into position. Affected dogs won’t be able to fully extend the leg.
  • Mitral Valve Heart Disease- This condition is prevalent in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Affected dogs will develop a murmur between the ages of 4-6 years. Symptoms include breathlessness, coughing, and lack of energy.
  • Syringomyelia- Dogs will experience sporadic neck or even back pain. Symptoms include sensitivity in the affected area, yelping, and holding their head at a higher angle.
  • Cataracts- This condition is caused by a change of lens, which produces an abnormal cloudiness within the eye. If the opacity is large enough, this will block light from reaching the retina, eventually leading to blindness.
  • Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome- Prevalent in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this condition is inherited and affects the eyes, feet, and skin. Diagnosis can take place between 2-10 weeks of age.
  • Episodic Falling- Commonly seen in King Charles Spaniels, this condition will cause muscle stiffness, leading to collapse. Stress, activity, and excitement can all be triggers.

Intelligence & Training

Intelligent and easy to train, the King Charles breed is an ideal choice for first-time owners. Compared with other Spaniels, this breed certainly has better listening skills!

Affectionate and reliant upon their owner, the Cavalier looks for guidance as opposed to stealing the pack leader position. Kind by nature, these pets make excellent therapy dogs!

That said, these cuties can easily run rings around their owners so there is a need for boundaries.

Sociability isn’t an issue for the Cavalier but they should still be introduced to new people, places, and pooches growing up.

cavalier king charles spaniel looking up

Positive reinforcement, partnered with the Cavaliers eager to please personality makes training feel like a breeze!

The Cavalier King Charles is prone to separation anxiety. Owners hoping to leave their dog alone for a few hours should practice first.

Some Cavaliers can become incredibly stressed when away from their human companions. Crate training is one way to set up a safe space a canine can feel comfortable in whilst their owner is gone.

Recommended: Hailing from France is the Dogue de Bordeaux. Learn all about this breed’s history, personality, health, and more in our guide.

Grooming

Cavalier Spaniels have a beautiful silky coat that will need a high amount of maintenance to keep it in tip-top condition.

By giving them a daily brush, knots and tangles can easily be prevented. It also spreads the dog’s natural oils across the coat. Slicker and bristle brushes are the best tools to use.

At least once every 3 months this breed should be hand-stripped. Owners may find it easier to seek a professional groomer that has experience in this area.

cavalier king charles spaniel on lawn

Baths can be given every 2-6 weeks but no sooner. Ensure their coat is dried thoroughly with a blow dryer.

The Cavaliers long ears can be prone to infection so it’s important to keep on top of weekly ear cleaning.

Fur between the paws should be trimmed when overgrown and nails filed every two weeks.

Don’t forget dental hygiene! Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with shorter muzzles are more prone to teeth problems. Brush these at least three times a week if not daily.

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