The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed of spaniel that originated in the UK. Highly affectionate, pleasant, and kind, these little dogs have won the hearts of many and make excellent family pets. Highly adaptable, they get along well with children and other dogs and are perfectly suited to life in both the city and the country.

A Brief History

The origins of the breed date back to at least the 16th Century. It is descended from the smaller King Charles Spaniel, popularised by King Charles II. The history of the two breeds is identical until the late 19th century when, with the arrival of the Pug and the Pekingese from China, it became the fashion for toy breeds to display a shorter muzzle. This led to crossbreeds between the Pekingese, King Charles Spaniel, and Pug breeds, and the King Charles Spaniel began to lose its slightly longer muzzle and flatter skull.

Some breeders lamented the decline in popularity of the slightly larger, longer-faced spaniel, which retained its sporting instinct. Consequently, the word "Cavalier" was used to distinguish the "old-type" King Charles Spaniel from the new, flatter-faced type known simply as the King Charles. And thus emerged the separation between the two breeds. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (old type) was first recognised by The Kennel Club as a breed in its own right in 1945. For its part, the World Canine Organisation (FCI) recognised the breed definitively in 1955.

Physical Characteristics

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's build is fine and delicate. But don't be fooled by appearances. This little dog is full of energy!

Body: The neck is long and the back straight, short-coupled with well-sprung ribs. The body is well proportioned.

Head: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has an almost flat skull with a shallow stop. The nostrils are black and well developed.

Ears: The ears are long, well feathered, and set high on the head.

Eyes: The eyes are large, round, and set wide apart. They are dark in colour.

Tail: The tail is never carried much above the level of the back.  The length is in balance with the body.

Coat: The coat is long, silky, and well feathered. Not curly, but a slight wave is permissible by the breed standard.

Colour: The breed standard recognises four colours: Black and Tan; Ruby; Blenheim (chestnut and white); and Tricolour (black, white, and tan).

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a very agreeable temperament which makes it suitable for all types of dog owners, including first-time owners. This dog breed is affectionate, sociable, and playful. Generally quite easy to train, on the condition that they are trained properly—and of course non-violently—from an early age. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have an obedient nature, are eager to please, and develop a close bond with their masters. They don't handle being alone very well but tend to internalise their unhappiness. As such, it's important to pay close attention to this breed of dog. They are much happier in the presence of their masters, with whom they love to spend lots of time and special bonding moments. This dog breed doesn't tend to bark a lot, which makes it very suited to apartment living.

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Get Along Well with Others?

Silly question! The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gets along with everyone! These doggies are not even suspicious of strangers; they're much more likely to ask for a cuddle than bark or hide. They are not at all aggressive, and would much rather play with other dogs than fight them. Spaniels generally have a strong hunting instinct, but this is mostly gone from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They should have no trouble cohabiting with other pets, such as cats or exotic pets, so long as they have been well socialised.

Is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel the Right Dog for Me?

Friendly and outgoing, these little doggies get along with everyone. Well-known for their kind nature and joie de vivre, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a joy to live with. They don't tend to be suspicious of new people or animals, nor do they tend to bark a lot - this pooch wouldn't make a very guard dog, for example! Originally bred as companion dogs, they adapt easily to all different types of families and environments. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also known for being particularly calm and well-behaved with elderly or fragile people. With other dogs, they are never aggressive and don't go looking for a fight. If a conflict does occur, they prefer to keep a low profile. This is the ideal companion dog or family pet.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health Problems

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel enjoys relatively good health. The average lifespan of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 10 and 14 years. This is in keeping with the general trend of small breed dogs living longer than large dogs. However, as is the case with all dogs, this breed is affected by certain health problems that it's important to be aware of. For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to eye problems, ear infections, skin problems, and heart conditions such as mitral valve disease. They are also subject to patellar luxation, brachycephalic syndrome (due to their slightly flattened muzzle), and syringomyelia (SM). Syringomyelia is rare in most other dog breeds but has become widespread in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with research showing that between 50 and 95% of all Cavaliers are affected by it. This is one reason why it's important to be particularly vigilant about screening your Cavalier pup.

Ideal Living Conditions for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an extremely adaptable dog, in terms of environment and family. However, they do prefer to live indoors close to their masters. Don't adopt a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel if you plan to leave it alone at the bottom of your garden all day! These doggies need much more attention than that. In fact, they are perfectly capable of living in an apartment. Being small and calm, they don't need too much space to be happy. The ideal master for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is available, calm, and kind. Just like them! While they do love long walks, they don't have an excess of energy like larger, more energetic breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd or the Jack Russell. They should have no issue living alongside other dogs or pets, so long as all parties have been well trained and properly socialised.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Training

Training a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not particularly difficult, so long as you've researched well and understand what you need to do. Begin training your new puppy as soon as you welcome them home, at the age of two months. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to please their owners and are very obedient and receptive. Take advantage of this character trait! The priority is to potty train your dog and teach them to be alone so that they don't develop an over-attachment to you. Next, you'll need to train them to "heel" and to come when called. If you're worried about getting it wrong or you just need a bit of advice, don't hesitate to call a professional dog trainer or take your pooch to puppy classes. This helps with their socialisation too!


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Diet: What to Feed Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Choosing the right diet for your Cavalier is crucial. It plays a vital role in their health and, as such, must be able to meet all their nutritional needs. Take into account the fact that your dog's dietary needs are likely to change as they get older, and may need adapting according to their age and health condition. The golden rule of dog food is to avoid buying the industrial dog food found in supermarkets, as much as possible. This is because, despite being attractive price-wise, it tends to be very low in quality and made using primarily plant protein, which is incapable of meeting your dog's basic nutritional needs. Remember that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an opportunistic carnivore who needs animal protein to be fully healthy.

A poor-quality diet will inevitably have repercussions on your dog's health in the long term. Opt for high-quality dog food, whether it's dry dog food, wet dog food, or a mixture of the two. Good-quality dog food does not necessarily have to cost more than shop-bought dog food. Learn how to decipher product labels to understand exactly what you're feeding your dog, and be sure to choose a healthy composition that contains at least 25 to 28% animal protein. Be wary of added preservatives and other sweeteners.

If you want to be sure that your Cavalier's dog food provides them with everything they need, opt for a tailor-made service like Hector Kitchen. Or, if you have the time and want to control all the ingredients you offer your pooch, you can try feeding them homemade dog food or a BARF diet. Homemade dog food is food that you prepare yourself from cooked meat and vegetables. This type of diet gives you complete control over what your dog ingests. The BARF diet, on the other hand, consists of raw meat, raw eggs, and cooked vegetables. Always seek advice from your vet before changing your dog's food or implementing a BARF diet.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Care and Maintenance

  • Vaccines: between £30 to £60 for the first injection series, plus annual boosters

  • Dog food: from £20 to £50 per month for high-quality dog food

  • Monthly budget: minimum £70 per month

Despite their long coat, Cavaliers are not too high maintenance. However, their coat will need to be brushed once a day to prevent it from getting tangled and to get rid of dead hairs. While brushing, you can also check that your pooch doesn't have any parasites hidden in their fur. Always use a suitable brush and avoid rougher tools like the carding brush. Be careful not to brush too violently, at the risk of damaging your dog's skin and coat. A wide-tooth comb is also useful for detangling but, again, proceed carefully so as not to hurt your dog. During moulting periods in spring and autumn, increase the frequency of brushing. In addition to brushing and the occasional bath, don't forget to brush your dog's teeth, clean their eyes and ears, and trim their nails regularly!  Finally, keep all their vaccines up to date, as well as deworming and antiparasitic treatments to combat ticks and fleas.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Price

The average price of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy is between £1500 and £4500. The price difference can be explained by various factors. Some breeders also ask for higher prices if the animal is intended for exhibition or reproduction, or if it comes from an exceptional line.  Demand for the breed also influences the price. The more popular the breed, the fewer puppies there are available for adoption, and breeders can therefore afford to charge more. There is always a cost involved with adopting a dog, of course, but you don't have to buy a puppy. It is also possible to find purebred adult Cavaliers in shelters or animal rescue centres. Why not call your local dog shelter to find out. Adult dogs deserve a loving home, too!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sleep

In order to be happy and healthy, dogs need to be able to get good rest without fear of being disturbed. As such, it's important to buy your Cavalier the right accessories to ensure they get good, quality sleep. Opt for a dog bed or cushion perfectly adapted to their size. Choose relatively strong materials like plastic to avoid destruction - and the risk of your pooch ingesting the debris. Create a sleeping area in a quiet spot, such as the corner of the living room. If you have children, teach them to respect your dog's sleeping habits. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not suited to sleeping outdoors. Being a small and popular breed, you could risk having them stolen from you in the night or getting into a fight with stray cats. For their safety and your peace of mind, always keep your Cavalier inside your home with you.

Games and Physical Activities for Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Don't be fooled by this little dog’s calm exterior. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to play and need to get enough exercise each day to feel well balanced. They require regular walks and adapt well to an active lifestyle. These doggies also enjoy canine activities such as agility and musical canine freestyle. After all, the Cavalier is a playful pooch that loves to entertain. 

At home, make sure you have enough games and toys to occupy your dog in your absence. Intelligent and a little greedy, Cavaliers enjoy treat-based toys, like the Kong. Remember to choose items that are suitable for your dog's size to avoid injury. It's important to never leave your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel alone for too long, however. Like all dogs, they need regular interaction and will quickly become unhappy, and even anxious and depressed, without it.

Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A small dog breed like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel does not need a special type of insurance. This is not considered a dangerous dog breed or hunting dog, for example. However, taking out a pet insurance policy for your dog helps to cover you in the event of accident or illness. Accidents can happen quickly and you would be held responsible for any damage or harm caused to a third party by your dog. Even if your dog is small and not likely to cause serious harm, it could get away from you and be the cause of a traffic accident. Pet insurance is a great way to make sure you're not hit with any nasty surprises. Most home insurance policies offer the option to include animal liability insurance. You can also purchase third party public liability dog insurance, which provides additional protection.

Additionally, while Cavaliers generally enjoy good health, they are not infallible.  Pet insurance for dogs is a great way to make sure they get the healthcare they deserve throughout their life. Like all dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to certain diseases and, as vet fees are not standardised in the UK, veterinary costs can be very high. Health insurance for your dog works the same way as for humans: you pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and, in return, they reimburse you for any veterinary expenses.

In any case, before deciding on a particular contract, make sure to shop around for quotes and assess which best suits your circumstances. Then, take the time to read the fine print to ascertain the type of services offered, as well as the reimbursement rate, limits, and eligibility or exclusion clauses. Some insurance companies may refuse to insure dogs that are too old, too young, or already sick. Likewise, insurance companies may refuse to reimburse costs incurred for certain diseases, genetic or hereditary diseases in particular. So don't wait for your dog to get sick or old before taking out pet insurance for them, or you may risk them not being properly taken care of.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Size and Weight

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed dog. There is no difference in the size of males and females. In adulthood, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels measure between 32 and 36cm at the withers, and weigh between 5 and 8kg.

The Kennel Club classifies the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in The Toy Breed Group, which consists of small companion or lap dogs.