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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Energy level: ***

Exercise Requirements: ***

Playfulness: ****

Affection Level: *****

Friendliness toward dogs: *****

Friendliness towards other pets *****

Friendliness towards strangers: *****

Ease of training: ****

Watchdog ability: ***

Protection ability: *

Grooming requirements: ***

Cold Tolerance: ***

Heat Tolerance: **

Weight: 13-18 lbs.

Height: 12-13"

Life Spam: 9-14 years

Popularity: Very Popular

Family: Spaniel

Area of Origin: England

Date of origin:1600-1700

Original Function: Flushing small birds, lapdog

Todays Function: Companion


Toy spaniels were the province of European nobility from at least Renaissance times. Two 17th-century British monarchs, the ill-fated King Charles I and his son Charles II, were especially devoted to a black and tan variety of toy spaniel that eventually was named in the latter’s honor. According to the famed diarist of the Restoration era, Samuel Pepys, Charles II seemed more concerned with breeding spaniels than ruling Britain.
Toy spaniels remained a great favorite of British aristocrats into the early 19th century. Among their upper-crust partisans of this era was the Marlborough family, who bred a line of red-and-whites at Blenheim Palace. Later in the century, in the age of Victoria, the breed was crossed with Asian toys, probably Pugs and Japanese Chin, and became what is known in America as the English Toy Spaniel (or, in the United Kingdom, the King Charles Spaniel).

This new-style toy spaniel had a domed skull and a flatter face than those of Charles’s time. Before long, this type came to dominate, and the traditional toy spaniel of the Restoration was rendered nearly extinct—but not forgotten.

Fanciers of the 1920s wondered whether there still existed the old-type toy spaniel immortalized in ancestor portraits hanging in the stately halls of English manors. A wealthy American named Roswell Eldridge offered a cash prize to British breeders who could produce “Bleinheim Spaniels of the Old World type.” The prospect of prize money drove breeders to revive the old style. These dogs were dubbed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (The name Cavalier is a nod to the monarchist party that supported the Stuarts during the civil war that cost Charles I his head.)

The breed is notable for its four distinct color patterns, each of which, at various times, was associated with a particular noble family: Blenheim (chestnut markings on a white background), Tricolor (black markings on a white background), Black and Tan (black with tan markings), and Ruby (a rich red).

Coat Color and Grooming

Cavaliers are adorned with medium-length coats that are silky to the touch and may be slightly wavy. Adult Cavaliers have feathering on their ears, chest, legs, feet and tail.

Cavaliers come in four colors:

  • Blenheim, a rich chestnut on a pearly white background. Some Blenheim's have a thumb-shaped chestnut dot on top of the forehead, called a lozenge.

  • Tricolor, black markings on a white coat with tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, and on the underside of the tail

  • Black and Tan, black with tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and on the chest, legs and underside of the tail

  • Ruby, a solid rich reddish-brown with no white spots or markings

Blenheim is the most common color, but the others aren't rare.

Cavaliers are fairly easy to maintain. You need to comb or brush them three or four times a week and bathe them as necessary. For a dog that enjoys playing outdoors as well as spending a lot of time on your bed or other furniture, that might be weekly.

The feathered hair on the ears and legs is prone to tangling, so check those areas frequently for mats that need to be gently combed out. Trim the hair between the pads on the feet and clean your Cavalier's ears regularly. The only real difficulty is keeping white paws looking pristine instead of dingy.

Cavaliers are average shedders. They don't need any special trimming or clippering; in fact, it's preferred for the feathering to remain natural, although some people trim the feet for neatness' sake. Others of us like the furry-footed hobbit look.

Brush your Cavalier's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your Cavalier enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

Begin accustoming your Cavalier to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.


The gregarious Cavalier takes as his role model humorist Will Rogers, who famously said he never met a stranger. The Cavalier is eager to meet everyone who crosses his path, and if that person sits down and offers a lap (or a treat), so much the better.

Like any dog, Cavaliers come in a range of personalities, from quiet and sedate to rowdy and rambunctious. They might or might not bark when someone comes to the door, so they're a poor choice as a watchdog — except, that is, for watching the burglar cart off the silver. There are exceptions, of course — some Cavaliers will inform you of every event in your neighborhood and bark ferociously when strangers approach — but overall you're better off buying an alarm system than counting on your Cavalier to alert you to trouble.

  • Health

Major Health Concerns

Major concerns: mitral valve insufficiency, CHD, syringomelia

Minor concerns: patellar luxation, entropion

Occasionally seen: retinal dysplasia

Suggested tests: cardiacc, hip, knee, eyes


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Breed Information (

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts – DogTime

Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds D.Caroline Coile, Ph.D Page 250-251

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