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Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height – 12 to 13 inches
  • Weight – 13 to 18 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Wavy, medium-length fur
  • Coat color – The most commonly recognized coat colors are Blenheim (white body with chestnut or ruby markings), tricolor (white, black, and ruby/chestnut),  black and tan, and ruby.
  • Exercise needs – Moderate
  • Intelligence – Average
  • Barking – When necessary but infrequent
  • Life span – 12 to 15 years
  • Temperament – Affectionate, playful, and sociable
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – United Kingdom

Cavalier King Charles spaniel fun facts 

  • Those irresistible brown eyes are a breed hallmark — The Cavalier’s big round eyes and endearing expression highlight the breed’s sweet and gentle nature.
  • They make fantastic therapy dogs — These pups are great at reading and understanding your emotions. Given their companionable nature, it’s no surprise that Cavaliers make great therapy dogs.
  • They’ve got royal connections — Both King Charles I and his son, Charles II, were devotees of the breed. Charles II loved them so much that it was reported he worried more about his breeding projects than ruling Britain.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels

Cavalier King Charles spaniel temperament and characteristics 

This popular dog was bred to please. When these pups aren’t curled up in your lap, they enjoy going for walks, hikes, or other family adventures. Thanks to their spaniel ancestors’ sporty nature, Cavaliers are often great at dog sports like agility or flyball, and some are still used as hunting dogs. However, you won’t need to build an entire training course to keep this breed happy. Most of these loving dogs are content just to be with you, whether you’re on the couch or in the great outdoors.

Cavaliers are eager to please and easy to train, making them great dogs for first-time owners. They’re outgoing, adaptable, and usually do well with kids and pets of any kind. They love to be around people and will often accept a good belly rub from anyone. However, while these pups are generally well-behaved with strangers, it’s important to socialize and train them early to keep them on their best behavior. As loving companion dogs, they often have separation anxiety and are much happier with someone who loves to keep them company.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel relaxing

Common Cavalier King Charles spaniel health problems

Like other breeds, Cavs can be prone to certain health risks. But there’s no guarantee that your pet will be diagnosed with any of these health conditions. However, it still helps to be prepared and understand the best steps you can take to catch any problems early on. 

  1. Canine hip dysplasia. Because this breed is so small, you may not notice any symptoms until adulthood. They may have stiff back legs, difficulty getting up, or trouble enjoying their usual physical activities. Thankfully, hip dysplasia in dogs is often easily treatable.
  2. Heart disease. Cavaliers can sometimes develop mitral valve disease. This heart condition usually starts as a heart murmur in puppies and develops into heart failure over time. While this is a serious condition, routine trips to the vet can often catch it early and help you create a plan of action.
  3. Deafness. Unfortunately, this breed is predisposed to two types of hearing loss: congenital deafness and progressive hereditary hearing loss that begins in puppyhood. With a bit of extra care and attention, deaf dogs can still live long and happy lives.
  4. Syringomyelia (SM). This disease is caused by a small bone on the back of the skull blocking spinal fluid from moving freely. It creates fluid pockets in the spinal cord that can cause neck or shoulder pain and tender spots. However, there are many treatments available, and SM is rarely fatal.

Cost of caring for a Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Expect to pay as much as $2,000 to $3,000 during your dog’s first year. This includes the cost of the puppy itself (if you choose to go through a breeder), and all the supplies you might need, including vaccinations and health screenings. These tests may include a heart clearance test, vision and eye checks, and an X-ray to check their hips. After the first year, this cost drops to about $1,000 annually for food, flea and tick medications, and routine vet visits and pet expenses to keep your cuddle buddy happy and healthy.

To help reduce out-of-pocket expenses, pet insurance or even a pet savings account can help cover any unexpected costs. However, these often work best for pet owners who sign up their pets early. Before adopting one of these adorable dogs, make sure to budget for any necessary expenses.

History of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles spaniels have been adored by royalty for hundreds of years. In the 17th century, they became popular when King Charles I and his son, Charles II, fell in love with the breed. The toy spaniel that found its way into the hearts of kings spread through the noble families. One of these families was the Marlboroughs, who bred and raised puppies at Blenheim Palace. The family preferred a white color with red or brown markings and named the color Blenheim after their home.

Over the centuries, the breed became less common and almost went extinct. But in 1926, a man named Roswell Eldridge placed an ad in a dog show catalog offering a cash prize to anyone who could bring the royal breed back. These revived toy spaniels were given the name Cavalier King Charles spaniels and have captured hearts ever since. But, believe it or not, the first pups didn’t arrive in the United States until 1952!

Caring for your Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. Here are some other basics specific to the King Charles spaniel.

Exercise

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel was bred to be the perfect best friend. They love going on walks, hikes, or participating in dog sports, but they’re just as happy to curl up on your lap for a bit of TLC. Their size and generally quiet nature make them a perfect choice for apartment or condo living. However, Cavalier puppies are known for their strong bond with their owner, so they tend to have separation anxiety when left alone. These dogs are at their happiest with lots of attention, belly rubs, snuggles, and a bit of exercise.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel running

Grooming

The King Charles spaniel’s lustrous, silky coat is surprisingly easy to care for. An occasional bath and regular brushing will keep their coats shiny, smooth, and healthy. Not to mention, these pups will love the bonding time and full-body massage. With regular maintenance like ear cleaning, nail trimming, and a quick teeth-brushing session from time to time, your furry friend will be happy, healthy, and ready for a nap. This breed is easy to please and easy to care for, making great pets for owners of all experience levels.

Diet and nutrition

This compact breed is straightforward and low-maintenance when it comes to diet and nutrition. The biggest problem you’ll encounter is those beautiful puppy dog eyes begging for more at mealtime. Cavaliers can be prone to obesity, so a portion-controlled diet of high-quality food is recommended to keep your dog at a healthy weight.

On average, adult Cavaliers should eat about 1-1.5 cups of food per day, but it’s best to talk to your vet about proper portions. If they lick the bowl clean before the food even hits their stomach, try a slow-feeder for mental stimulation and a bit of fun with each meal. And, of course, check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

Training your Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are sweet, smart, and easy to train. Like all breeds, early socialization and puppy training will help your pup learn good manners and be comfortable with a wide variety of people and situations. Thanks to their attentive nature, this breed is a fantastic therapy dog and excels in canine sports like agility and obedience. With a bit of patience, love, and treats, these pups are easy to train and eager to please.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy

Breeds similar to the Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Not quite sure that a Cavalier King Charles spaniel is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Japanese Chin. These pups are friendly, lovable, playful, and loyal to their owners.
  2. English toy spaniel. This breed is low-maintenance, lovable, and makes a good lap dog.
  3. Havanese. With their gentle and playful personality, these pups are great family dogs.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a toy breed known for being affectionate, playful, smart, and endearingly cute.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels good family dogs?

Cavs are fantastic with kids and other animals. Bred for companionship, Cavaliers are great family pets and usually do well in public places and among strangers.

Do Cavalier King Charles spaniels bark a lot?

This breed is relatively quiet, but they’re prone to separation anxiety. If your pup misses you and wants you to come home, they may bark while you’re away.

Do Cavalier King Charles spaniels shed a lot?

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are not extreme shedders, but they do shed a moderate amount. If you’re worried about getting fur on your new black pants, regular brushing can help keep it at bay.

What is the average price of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel?

According to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, prices for these pups range from $1,000 to as much as $4,000. However, costs depend on the breeder and how well a puppy conforms to the breed standard. If you’d rather adopt a furry friend in need, considering looking into Cavalier rescues.