Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

When it comes to companionship, look no further than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This Toy Group breed’s specific purpose is to warm its master with love and affection. Great with children and a top choice for the elderly, it’s easy to see why the breed is a popular choice.

Sporty and loyal, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel isn’t just a classy looking breed, it is a classy breed. Although Cavaliers are in the small breed class, they are, however, rather big for the Toy Group.

So what makes this breed such a popular choice among families and senior citizens around the world?

Here is everything you need to know about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

History

Here’s a little confusion for your read. Today’s Cavalier is really the old version of the King Charles Spaniel, while today’s King Charles Spaniel is a cross between Pug and Japanese Chin. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1920’s, that these two breeds were given distinctions.

However, this breed does descend from the toy spaniels brought by the French to Scotland around the 1500’s. Moreover, the Queens of Scots would use these toy spaniels as you would use a bed comforter in combination with flea fumigation. Yes, you read that right. The early days of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel were to warm the laps and feet of the royal class, while keeping fleas away from their humans.

One of the most prominent members of the ruling class, who had a great affinity for the breed was King Charles II. Actually, the King had such an infatuation with the Cavalier, that he reportedly wouldn’t go anywhere without them by his side. Most historic accounts say Charles II had two to three with him at all times. 

Interestingly, some believe that King Charles the Second put more focus into the breed itself than he did with his kingdom. That may be true, although there is no way to confirm that. One of the leading myths is the decree he wrote, that would allow the Cavalier entry into any public building, including the Parliament House. Unfortunately, this is just a rumor, however, if your Cavalier is a guide dog, then access is permissible.

That said, the King Charles II era began to crumble, and along with his era crumbling, so didn’t the presence of this breed. Furthermore, breeds like the Pug would become the popular choice of the royal class.

The Americans And Their Love For The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Perhaps the most important segment to this breed’s history is the resurgence of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Most enthusiasts give credit to Roswell Eldridge, a breeder from America. Upon his visit to exhibitions in England, Eldridge was met with disappointment because he couldn’t find any of the old versions of this breed, that he saw in paintings with King Charles II and other members of the ruling class.

For 25 pounds, Eldridge made the decision to offer breeders in England the opportunity to breed that specific type, the Blenheim coat type.

Eventually, after much opposition, a dog matching the description in the 16th-18th century paintings became reality. Of course, this was a month after the death of Roswell Eldridge, but it did inspire a club to form. And with that club, a breed standard would emerge giving the breed validation. The club made the decision to name the breed after the Cavalier King himself, King Charles II.

Like other breeds, World War 2 wasn’t so kind to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. According to the Animalist, there were only six left after the war. In fact, many Cavalier enthusiasts believe today’s version of the breed owes its ancestry to those six dogs.

Meanwhile, the first imports on record to enter the United States took place in the 1950’s. Even though the breed would gain official recognition with the British Kennel Club in 1944, it would take decades to do so in America. Why?

There was concern about the breed’s popularity inviting bad breeding practices. Also, there was some infighting and feuding between the Cavalier club in America and kennel clubs. However, the breed did gain recognition with the UKC in 1960.

It wasn’t until 1995 that the American Kennel Club would give the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel official recognition. 

Today, the breed ranks 19th most popular breed in the United States. Furthermore, the breed is a top ten contender in Britain.

Size

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belongs to the Toy Group. The breed should stand between 12 to 13 inches. 

According to the breed’s standards, a Cavalier should weigh between 13 to 18 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

There’s a reason the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is so popular around the world. They are loving and full of affection. In fact, their personality may be their best trait. You can count on finding a Cavalier licking their owner’s face and finding a home on their lap.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wants nothing more than to be your lap dog. They are great with older people, just as they are with smaller children. Cavalier Spaniels are even great with cats and have no problem integrating with other dogs. This is a breed that is very playful and kind.

Social and open to most strangers, you really can’t find an enemy of this breed. While they may not make the best guard or working dog, the Cavalier is quite the athlete. They do love sports, and that could be more to do with the breed’s affection for obedience and detail.

This is an intelligent breed, that loves learning. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can retain plenty of information and you won’t have to worry about them losing what you teach.

As a dog with medium energy, you can expect the Cavalier to want and need a bit of exercise. Of course, nothing crazy as other breeds. They do enjoy regular walks and inquiring in the backyard. They may dig up and bark at times, but usually they have great manners and aim to please their human.

A true family dog, that needs a loving master, expect them to use their dark brown eyes and keen expression to gain all of your love. Adapts well to most atmospheres and should live in temperate conditions.

Health

Although their chipper personality is the breed’s strong suit, their health may be the downfall of the breed. At some point, there are certain health conditions that do arise with this breed. If all goes well, you can expect the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to live 12 to 15 years. 

Ultimately, if you buy a Cavalier, you need to make sure both parents of the puppy have health clearances and that you buy from a reputable breeder. Moreover, when you couple reputation with regular visits to the veterinarian’s office, you enhance your dog’s well being.

Like most breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may encounter a bout with Hip Dysplasia. The breed did rank 78th worst in the Orthopedic Foundation for Animal’s survey. Hip Dysplasia is a malformation in the hip joints, that can lead to lameness, pain and other serious conditions.

Patella Luxation is another concern for this breed, that leads to the same issues Hip Dysplasia causes. Breeds like Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers are the most likely to inherit this condition along with large breeds and Labs.

Cataracts can be a concern. In fact, according to the breed’s Wikipedia page, 30% of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are likely to have issues with their eyes including Cataracts. This cloudiness of the crystalline lens is the leading cause of blindness in dogs, according to Washington University. Breeds like Cocker Spaniel, Havanese, Poodles, Golden Retriever, Boston Terrier and Bichon Frise have issues with this condition as well.

Heart failure is the leading cause of death with this breed.  You should watch out for Cardiac Mitral Valve Disease. This is the breed’s main event for health concerns. This progressive heart disease is the most common heart disease in adult dogs, which is a result of a leaking or deteriorating heart vale. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is twenty times more likely than any other breed to inherit this heart disease.

Cancer, Cardiomyopathy and obesity are other issues to watch out for.

Care

Sure, there are some grooming chores you need to incorporate with this breed, but for the most part, this is an easy breed to care for. 

They do require moderate exercise. A simple walk or two per day will help the breed break itself from boredom. This isn’t a dog that wants to be left alone for long periods of times. It is best that you surround the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with other dogs or assure adequate companionship.

Fencing is important, as this small dog may try to wander off with its leading nose. They are gentle and caring, and should do fine anywhere including apartments.

A healthy diet is necessary as the breed is prone to obesity. Trimming their nails regularly will help prevent overgrowth and splitting. You can bathe them as you see necessary. You will need to inspect their ears for any sort of bacteria infection. This breed should be an indoor dog especially during heat waves.

Feeding

It’s important that you feed your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a diet that has balance and meat as the first ingredient. Most recommend lean meat like chicken, beef, turkey and lamb. You can feed this breed veggies like green beans and broccoli. Furthermore, fruits and other supplements that promote joint health and a healthier heart are also essential.

Every dog is different, so what and how much your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel eats won’t apply to the Cavalier down the road. Age, activity rate and metabolism all play a role in the volume of food your Cavalier gets daily. Most seem happy with 1/2 to 1 cup of high quality kibble per day. Of course, you can break that up into two or three meals a day as well.

A typical companion dog weighing between 12  and 18 pounds should get 470 to 610 calories per day. Likewise, the same weight for a Cavalier with light working duty should get 530 to 680 calories per day.

Of course, you should always provide your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with fresh drinking water.

Coat

You will need extra effort with this breed. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel requires occasional grooming as it is a season shedder. Their silky coats can be wavy at a medium length. Also, there should be feathering on the chests, ears, legs, tail and feet. Feathering on the Cavalier’s ears will need regular updating, as the hair tends to mat and tangle up. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the Cavalier has four coat colors; Ruby, Blenheim, black and white, black and tan. 

Fun Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Facts

  • According to England’s Mirror newspaper, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the country’s tenth favorite breed.
  • Today’s Cavalier descends from the Japanese Chin and Pug.
  • Ann’s Son is the name of what most consider the first modern version of this breed.
  • This breed made apperances on HBO’s “Sex and the City” as a pet to one of the main character’s.
  • The Cavalier is the 140th breed to get AKC recognition.
  • Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Diane Sawyer, Mickey Rooney, Princess Margaret and Liv Tyler are all famous owners of the Cavalier.

Closing Words

If you’re a couch potato, or if you have a large family with small children, or perhaps you’re retiring and need company, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the perfect dog for you.

With their keen expressions, joyful disposition, and affinity for affection, the perfect companion and lap dog, without a doubt, is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.