Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Breed Group: Toy
Temperament and Behavior
Similar to the English Toy Spaniel, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the perfect “inside” dog in many ways. They are a sweet gentle breed who loves to play, they are outgoing with strangers, enjoy the company of other dogs, modestly active both inside and out, is usually quiet, needs little exercise, and indiscriminately bestows affection on all family members with almost a reckless abandon. One owner put it this way “If they stop wagging their tail, you’d better call the vet”. With their easily managed size, they make an excellent choice for seniors. No matter what the senior activity level, they are always ready to fall in line. They make great traveling companions and are small enough to fit in a crate under an airplane seat. On top of all that, they are a toy breed that has a reputation as easy to housebreak! So what are the challenges you might ask? Though small, he is a spaniel and may have more field instincts than you would expect from such a small dog. Because he loves to chase anything from butterflies to squirrels, to low-flying birds, a leash or fenced yard is a necessity. And although the largest of the Toy breeds, they can still be injured relatively easily. As a result, they are poorly suited for a home with small children.
Physical CharacteristicsThe Cavalier is a small dog, with large, dark brown eyes, giving them a sweet, gentle expression. Their coat is soft and silky with a slight wave and long feathering on their ears, legs, and tail. The Cavalier has long feathery hair on their feet called slippers. They range between 12 and 13 inches tall and weight between 13 and 18 pounds, though many are oversize. They need only occasional brushing and a trim of the hair in their ears and the bottoms of their paws to keep them well groomed. They shed lightly and do better in cold than in heat. Cavaliers come in four colors: 1) Ruby, a rich red color, preferably with no white markings. 2) Blenheim, a pearly white with large patches of rich chestnut on the body and solid chestnut colored ears. The chestnut on the ears extends over the face and surround both eyes and leaving a wide white blaze running up the center of the face. Some dogs have a small chestnut patch, called the Blenheim Spot, at the top of their head. 3) Tri-Color, jet black markings over a pearly white coat with deep tan markings on the cheeks, over the eyes and on the underside of the tail. 4) Black and Tan, jet black with deep tan markings on the cheeks, over the eyes, inside the ears, on the chest and legs, and on the underside of the tail.
Trainer's NotesMake sure to socialize them well so they do not become shy. Cavaliers live to please their masters and excel in obedience training, agility, rally and make excellent therapy dogs. They make a wonderful choice for anyone who wants a loving lap dog.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Blenheim Coat
HealthWhile the Cavalier does not have a long list of health problems in comparison to other breeds, the ones it has are more devastating. Mitral Valve Disease is their leading cause of death. A breeding protocol has been recommended to reduce the incidence of the disease but few breeders seem to follow it. Another potentially fatal disease afflicting the breed is Syringomyelia. Finally, Hip Dysplasia affects just over 1 in 10 dogs. Very few Cavaliers live beyond the age of 10.
PopularityWith between 7,000 and 8,000 dogs registered each year, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 31st on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds.
Breed HistoryCavaliers are depicted in English paintings as far back as the sixteenth century. During the Tudor reign in England, they were called Toy Spaniels but under the Stuarts, they were given the royal name of King Charles Spaniel. As the name implies, the little dogs were favorites of King Charles II of Great Britain. After the reign of King Charles, the dogs went out of fashion except for the little red and white dogs who were still bred at Blenheim Castle by the Duke of Marlborough, hence the color name that is still used today. In 1926, an American named Roswell Eldridge who had been searching throughout England for foundation stock to try and bring back the spaniels pictured in those early paintings persuaded the English Kennel Club to let him offer prizes to anyone who could furnish him with dogs resembling the Blenheim variety from King Charles II’s reign. Finally, in 1928, a dog was bred who matched the criteria. The first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was formed that same year.
Additional InformationKing Charles II so loved his little dogs that he wrote a decree that they were to be accepted in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament where animals were never allowed. This decree is still in existence today. Other notable owners of the breed are Kings Charles I, and James II, Queen Victoria, the Duke of Marlborough, Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, Mary Hart, Michael J. Fox, Kirk Douglas, and Frank Sinatra. You can get more information about the Cavalier from the National (US) Breed Club, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club – USA.