The cavalier king charles spaniel is a small dog of the miniature English spaniel family. It is sporty but calm and balanced. He is lively, affectionate, cheerful and well proportioned. This British breed seduces you with its sweet and friendly expression, its chic and elegant look and its large round eyes distinctive of the cavalier king charles spaniel.
- Weight: The weight ranges from 12 to 18 pounds lbs.
- Height: Its height at the withers is approximately 12 to 13 inches.
- Coat: The Cavalier has a long, silky, and sometimes slightly wavy coat.
- Colors: The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognizes the following colors:
- Black & Tan: This combination consists of a glossy black coat with tan markings on the face, inside the ears, cheeks, paws, under the tail, and chest. No white markings.
- Ruby: A solid, intense red color with no white markings.
- Blenheim: Pearl white background with evenly distributed chestnut markings. The markings should be well-balanced, with space between the ears for the characteristic white spot, also known as the “lozenge” mark, which is highly prized in the breed.
- Tricolor: Well-spaced and evenly distributed black and white with tan markings above the eyes, on the cheeks, under the tail, inside the paws, and inside the ears. Other colors or combinations are not accepted according to the breed standard.
- General Build: The Cavalier has a compact and well-structured body.
- Head: The head has a flattened skull between the ears, a slightly pronounced stop, a well-developed black nose, well-developed but not drooping lips, and a full face without a snub nose. Strong jaws with a scissor bite.
- Eyes: Dark, large, and round but not protruding, well-spaced.
- Ears: Long, hanging, high-set, with abundant feathering.
- Neck: Of medium length, slightly arched.
- Body: Medium chest, short back, well-curved ribs, and a straight back.
- Tail: Proportionate to the body’s length, carried gracefully, not above the backline. Tail docking is not recommended.
- Limbs: Of medium bone structure and straight.
- Movement: Loose and elegant with a strong rear drive.
The Cavalier is known for its calm and friendly temperament, displaying kindness and affability. Nervousness or aggression are rare traits in this breed.
They are sociable and rarely shy, displaying courage instead.
Cavaliers are eager to please their owners, making them active and well-balanced dogs. They excel in canine sports, thanks to their intelligence and willingness to please.
They are perfect companions for children and, when well-socialized, can comfortably coexist with other animals.
- Guard Dog: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not suitable as a guard dog due to its sociable and docile nature. They lack territorial instincts.
- Barking: Cavaliers are not excessively noisy but will bark to alert their owners to any unusual noises or changes that catch their attention.
- Training and Education: Their intelligence and eagerness to learn make training easy. Positive reinforcement is recommended for the most satisfying results for both the dog and the owner. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they are comfortable around different people, animals, and environments.
- Socialization from puppyhood is important for the dog to learn to coexist with different people, animals, noises, environments. In this way we will have a balanced dog that will not be frightened by everything and will not have a tendency to bark excessively, be violent, etc. The cavalier makes socialization easy because it is a breed, from the beginning, very balanced and sociable. It also has a good memory, understands quickly and is not stubborn at all.
- Cavaliers and Children: These dogs are excellent candidates for families with children due to their good-natured character and love for play, even as they age.
- Cavaliers in Apartments: They adapt well to apartment living, thanks to their balanced and calm nature. However, daily exercise and mental stimulation are essential due to their active and intelligent nature.
- The cavalier king charles spaniel with other pets. It is a very tolerant and sociable breed that is one of the best to live with dogs and cats, as well as with other pets.
- Adaptation to Solitude: While not prone to separation anxiety, Cavaliers may bark excessively when left alone and bored for an extended period, so their tolerance for solitude is moderate.
- Daily Walks and Exercise: Meeting their daily exercise needs is crucial. Cavaliers are sporty dogs that require an average of three walks a day. They enjoy activities like running and games, which provide mental stimulation.
- Grooming: Regular brushing is necessary to keep their coat clean and tangle-free, with 2-3 brushings a week recommended. This grooming routine also allows for checking the dog for any signs of illness. Bathing should be done once a month with a specific dog shampoo.
- Regularly check their ears, especially in summer, and the spaces between their toes, as their feathered coat can trap foreign objects that may cause discomfort.
Pros and Cons
Advantages of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:
- A cheerful and playful companion.
- Suitable for both apartment and house living.
- Low maintenance despite their beautiful coat.
- Adaptable to urban and rural environments.
- Easy to train due to their intelligence, eagerness to learn, and sociable nature.
Disadvantages of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:
- Requires about three daily walks and exercise, which may be a challenge for some owners.
- Not a suitable guard dog.
- They do not shed much but are not hypoallergenic.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel generally enjoys good health, and most individuals live comfortably into old age. However, several common health issues are known to affect the breed, including:
- Patellar Luxation.
- Eye problems such as cataracts or retinal issues.
- Hip dysplasia.
- Middle ear infections.
- Mitral valve disease.
- Syringomyelia (a neurological condition).
All these conditions can be diagnosed and managed by a specialist. It is advisable to acquire Cavaliers from breeders who conduct necessary health checks to ensure the genetic well-being of their dogs.
History and Origin
This British breed’s name reflects its historical roots. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is part of the English toy spaniels, which were popular during the Renaissance period. This popularity was in part due to the breed’s favor with King Charles II of England, after whom the breed is named. The nobility, including Charles I, Charles II, Henrietta of England, Mary Stuart, and Elizabeth I, all owned toy spaniels.
Legend has it that King Charles II‘s toy spaniels roamed freely in royal palaces and received special treatment. The breed is depicted in paintings by artists like William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough.
The King Charles Spaniels were divided into various groups based on their coat color. The Blenheim variety is named after a city in Bavaria. According to legend, the distinctive forehead marking of the Blenheim variety came about when the Duke of Marlborough was absent, and his female King Charles Spaniel went into labor. The Duchess Sarah reportedly pressed the dog’s forehead, and the puppies were born with an orange mark on their foreheads, known as “Duchess Sarah’s thumbprint.” This marking led to the name “Blenheim” for dogs of this color, who also had the distinctive forehead mark, called a “lozenge.”
Later on, Pugs and Pekingese became more popular, and the breed’s snout became shorter due to crosses with these breeds.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, recognized by the Kennel Club, was established in 1928. In 1960, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon adopted a Cavalier named Rowley, and Ronald Reagan gifted his wife Nancy a Cavalier in 1986. Other notable figures, including Coco Chanel, Frank Sinatra, and Oscar Wilde, owned these adorable dogs due to their charming appearance and balanced temperament.
In 1955, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) officially recognized the breed. The most recent official breed standard was published in 2008. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is classified in Group 9: Companion and Toy Dogs, Section 7: English Toy Spaniels.