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Dog Breed Guide: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Dog Breed Guide: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed has true aristocratic ancestry. Bred to accompany noble ladies and royals, even the modern Cavalier has regal grace and a dignified appearance.

Cavalier King Charles Dog Breed Guide: Facts, Health & Care

Ranked as 18th out of 197 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the ideal lap dog for “empty nesters.” This complete guide will review the breed’s history, personality, lifestyle requirements, and more.

Breed Basics

  • Breed Group: Toy Group
  • Temperament: Affectionate, graceful, gentle
  • Life Span: 12-15 years
  • Weight: 13-18 Ibs
  • Height: 12-13 inches
  • Colors: White with chestnut markings, white with black markings, black with tan markings, and ruby
  • Origin: Great Britain

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel History

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s ancestor can be traced back to 16th century England. Initially, this dog had two purposes. Its first purpose was to warm the royal women’s laps during gatherings in droughty castles and carriage rides. The second purpose was attracting the fleas that would otherwise end up bothering the mistress or even infect her with bubonic plague.

During Tudor times, Cavaliers were highly praised, but the Stuarts wrote the breed’s name in history. The breed was renamed after King Charles I and his son – King Charles II. King Charles II was always accompanied by his Cavaliers and even issued a royal decree that allowed dogs to enter all public places, including the Parliament. When the house of Stuart fell, their dogs’ popularity followed. The decrease in popularity pushed the breed to the brink of extinction.

Later on, in 1926, an American named Roswell Eldrige offered a fabulous prize of 25ÂŁ for the person who would re-establish the breed. The result was the modern Cavalier we now know and love.
image credit: Canva

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Appearance

The King Charles Cavalier dog breed has a unique and rather contradictory appearance – it is both sophisticated and cute at the same time. It has a regal, graceful, and dignified overall appearance. The sweet and gentle facial expression is the breed’s hallmark. Some Cavaliers are more squarely built, while others are slightly longer than tall.

Size

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel males are 12 inches tall (33 centimeters) and weigh about 13-18 pounds (5.9 to 8.2 kilograms). Females are about 13 inches tall (30 centimeters) and weigh about 10-18 pounds (4.5-8.2 kilograms). Household males often weigh more but show dogs must fit the standard limits.

Coat and Color

Cavaliers have long, soft and silky coats with pronounced feathering. There are four color patterns – the most common is called Blenheim, and it includes a pearly white background with rich chestnut patches. The other color patterns are white with black markings, black with tan markings (which is also the rarest combination), and ruby. Each color pattern is associated with a different British noble family.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Grooming & Maintenance

Cavaliers are not very profuse shedders but maintaining their long silky fur clean, shiny, lustrous, and tangles-free requires regular brushing – no less than 2-3 times per week and monthly bathing. While bathing, it is advisable to treat a Cavalier with a much-enjoyed body massage.

The grooming session is not complete without ear inspection and cleaning. As in all smaller breeds, teeth issues can arise, and the best way of preventing them is by regular brushing – no less than three times per week, preferably daily. The nails should be trimmed once a month since overgrown nails can become infected and cause unnecessary pain. Make sure to put your dog at ease when grooming them.
image credit: Canva

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament & Personality

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are playful, carefree, attentive, and surprisingly intelligent dogs. Enchantingly affectionate and always happy to cuddle, they are popularly called – “ love sponges”.

These small bundles of love are always wagging their tails and offering free kisses. Members of this breed will happily descend from their royal high horses in exchange for playing in the backyard’s mud or chasing squirrels in the park.

Cavaliers are naturally amiable, friendly, and eager to make friends with everyone who crosses their path. As well-behaved dogs, they get along really well with other dogs, cats, and even smaller rodent pets. Cavaliers are patient and do not mind being “tortured” with affection, making them perfect for families with little kids.

Training your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers are smart and love pleasing their owners. However, their lack of focus and short attention spans can make the training a bit challenging. To make the training smooth and straightforward, it is advisable to keep the training sessions short and entertaining.

It is also a good idea to organize the sessions in a distraction-free area. Cavaliers are incredibly food-motivated dogs, and their fondness for treats should be used during training. Harsh treatments and scolding have adverse effects.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels benefit significantly from early socialization and puppy training classes. These classes will help them learn good manners and develop into well-behaved Cavaliers.

With proper training, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can compete and win awards in many canine sports like agility, obedience, and rally. Lately, their popularity as therapy dogs is on the rise.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Exercise Requirements & Energy Level

Do not be fooled by their diminutive size and sophisticated physical appearance – Cavaliers are energetic, active, and sportive dogs. They equally enjoy romping outside as relaxing in your lap. Generally, members of this breed benefit from daily walks in the park, playing exercises, and playdates.

It should be well-noted that Cavaliers are true to their hunting and scenting heritage. If they happen to spot an exciting creature or trail, they are likely to pursue and disregard your calling. Therefore, Cavaliers should always be kept on a leash.

image credit: Canva

Common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health Issues

Generally speaking, the top 3 health issues in this breed include heart murmurs, slipping kneecaps, or luxating patella and cataracts. Heart murmurs develop due to congenital deformities or mitral valve disease. Cavaliers have the highest incidence of mitral valve disease in the canine world. Luxating patella usually occurs due to malformation of the knee cap or the adjacent ligaments.

The condition affects the quality of life but can be surgically corrected. A cataract is one of the several eye diseases common in this breed. The frequent incidence of this condition may be age-related. Finally, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often develop a dermatological issue named in their honor as persistent scratching in Cavaliers.

  • Health Concerns
  • Heart murmurs
  • Eye problems: cataract, progressive retinal atrophy, keratoconjuctivitis sicca, entropion, corneal dystrophy
  • Luxating patella, shoulder luxation
  • Inguinal and scrotal hernias
  • Blood issues: low number of abnormally big (giant) platelets.
  • Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation.

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement here.

Diet & Nutrition Needs: Feeding your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should eat high-quality dog foods such as Alpha Paw’s dog food. 

Once again, do not be fooled by their size – Cavaliers are zealous eaters. Consequently, they are prone to becoming overweight and even obese. Bearing in mind their delicate frame and fragile bones, being overweight can be detrimental to their overall health. Therefore, their food intake must be carefully monitored.
image credit: Canva

Tips for Adopting & Raising a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels usually cost between $800 and $2500, but the average purchase cost is around $1500. The expenses of parenting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the first year are roughly $3000. After the first year, the annual costs will be around $1100 or $90 per month. In total, the average cost of owning a Cavalier is estimated to be $17300.

Deciding to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a considerable commitment in responsibility, time, and money. However, their immense affection and unparalleled loyalty are worthy of the challenge.

Since Cavaliers are prone to heart problems, it is of paramount importance to arrange regular check-ups at the vet’s office – preferably twice a year. Early diagnosis will make future management more straightforward and more efficient.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel FAQs

Q: How much do King Charles Cavaliers cost?
A: Cavaliers come with a hefty price tag – from $800 to $2500. Generally, you can find a good pup from a reputable breeder for less than $1500. Keep in mind that the stated amount of money covers only the initial purchase cost.

Q: Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels bark a lot?
A: Because of their docile nature, Cavaliers are not prone to excessive barking. However, a Cavalier with separation anxiety is likely to manifest a plethora of behavioral problems, including excessive barking.

Q: Are Cavaliers hard to potty train?
A: Cavaliers are naturally smart and clean dogs which makes the potty training rather straightforward. However, if using a crate as a form of punishment, they may start eliminating while inside as a form of protest.

Q: Can Cavalier King Charles be left alone?
A: Sadly, the answer is no. Cavaliers are extremely dependent dogs that thrive on constant human companionship. They cannot be left alone for more than a couple of hours. This breed is best suited for “empty nesters” and retired, senior citizens who can afford spending the whole day cuddling with their Cavaliers.

Q: What is the rarest color for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels?
A: The rarest color for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, accepted by the AKC is black and tan.

Official Resources: Breed Clubs, Rescues & Helpful Links

Official Breed Club: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of America
Rescue A Corgi: Rescue Committee of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of America
Official AKC Profile: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Information
Breed Standard: Official Standard for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Find a Puppy – AKC Marketplace: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel AKC PuppyFinder

Recommended Products for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Magic Mouthwash for Dogs
Eco Doggy Bags
Dog Car Safety Seat

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