The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Are You Curious?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Gentle, Affectionate, Smart.

The Cavalier  King Charles Spaniel is a popular breed of compassionate dogs with looks that will melt your heart. These dogs are well known for their compact size as well as their loving personalities.

They love human company, and will follow their owners from room to room to be with them. The breed is recommended for a lot of people, as its attractive personality traits make it an easy and fun pet to have.

Two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels lying down on grass, facing the camera
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers are great dogs for families. Their gentleness and calm demeanor make them great for people of all ages. They are well known for their use as therapy dogs because of these traits. This breed is recommended for families with children, although an adult should monitor small children when they are playing with dogs.

This breed is also famous for its appetite. Cavaliers do not run into much trouble when it comes to finding something they can eat. The breed’s love for food makes them prone to obesity, however, so it’s important to monitor how much these dogs are eating. It’s also important to not leave food out where it can reach it. Turn away for too long, and it may just take it.

Although they may enjoy relaxing and eating whatever they come across, Cavaliers are well known for their athleticism as well. Spaniels are traditionally very versatile and athletic dogs, and it shows in all varieties of them.

They love to play or even just go for a walk. It’s important to supply a dog with the exercise it needs, as it helps maintain its energy and keeps it healthy.

Given the Cavalier’s pleasant personality and love for its owners, it doesn’t take too kindly to being left alone for too long. The breed’s dependence on human company makes them prone to separation anxiety.

Owners often have to hire dog sitters or send their dogs to daycare if they are not home all day. This breed is best suited for owners that spend most of their time at home.

While they are typically dependent on human company and their owners, they can get distracted and find something more interesting than their owner’s commands. This breed likes to chase any small animals that make their way to your property.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers have a high prey drive, but they don’t make good guard dogs whatsoever, and will only be effective in chasing off squirrels. Secure fencing is a must, so they don’t go running off when they’re outside.

While they are social and affectionate towards humans, they are somewhat cautious around other canines. Cavaliers are hardly ever aggressive towards other dogs, only shy. The best way to own a Cavalier and other pets are to raise it in the presence of them. It’s easiest if they are exposed to the other pets occupying the house early on so that they are more comfortable around them.

Cavaliers are considered quiet dogs. This quality is useful if you or a neighbor are sensitive to high volumes. It also makes them applicable apartments dogs.

All dogs are different, however, so there may be an outlying mouthy one in the litter.If you are looking for a dog that doubles as a security system, this is not the dog for the job.

The Cavalier’s gentle personality makes them sensitive to criticism. The breed doesn’t take well to negative reinforcement, and will become stubborn and unresponsive if treated in a harsh way. They require a stern, but friendly owner to function well as a pet.

History of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A clue about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s history can be found by looking at the breed’s name. Historians believe that the Spaniel originated in Spain, hence “spaniel.” They have most likely has been around since the time of the Roman Empire. Clearly the breed was popular in Europe, given that descendants of it are around in force today.

The Spaniel didn’t remain limited to Spain for too long. The breed’s purpose in ancient times doesn’t have much debate around it either. The Spaniel saw widespread use as a versatile hunting dog. They were pros when it came to driving game out into the open, making these small game animals an easy target for their owners. This act of “springing” later led to the creation of the Springer Spaniel.

Alongside the Springer Spaniel, the Water Spaniel was another dog produced around this time. It was meant to assist hunters hunting waterfowl but saw less success than its springing cousins. The hunting experience of the Spaniel breeds is undoubtedly the reason for their prestige in the sporting class.

The King Charles Spaniel, however, has roots in Asia rather than Europe. Most originated in Japan and were given as gifts to Europeans by the Japanese. It didn’t take long for the breed to become very popular in Europe, as there was a particular fad surrounding toy breeds during the 1500s. They saw special admiration amongst the British aristocrats and royalty.

The King Charles Spaniel would meet King Charles II of England in the 17th century. It was this king that the breed was named after, as he famously was very fond of these dogs.

After his unpopular reign, the breed was less popular amongst the British, although they continued to thrive while living with breeders and aristocrats that sponsored them. They can be seen depicted in paintings around this time.

The Cavalier King Charles emerged in the early 1900s out of a contest that was proposed to breeders at the time. In 1926, Roswell Eldridge set up a competition with a hefty 25-pound sterling prize for any breeder that could bring him a male and a pregnant female King Charles Spaniel that closely resembled the ones so admired by Charles II. He had died before this dog bounty was satisfied by Mostyn Walker, two years after it was issued.

Once Walker set the base for the new breed, other breeders worked together to produce it. The dog would soon see a significant jump in popularity, after WWII. Economic prosperity in the US post-war afforded people a higher quality of living and the acquisition of some indulgences.

All across the country, it was becoming more and more normal to see families with pet dogs. Cavaliers alongside many other breeds also experienced population jumps at this time.

But, it wasn’t until 1995, that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was first recognized by the American Kennel Club.  By 2015, the breed was ranked at number 19th in popularity out of a total of 178 dog breeds.

Vital Statistics

Average Height: 12-13 in. (30-33cm)

Average Weight: 13-18 lbs. (5.9-8.2kg)

Average Lifespan: 9-14 years


The colors for this breed include:

  • Ruby (rich mahogany red)
  • Prince Charles (Tricolor: Tan/black and white)
  • Blenheim (red and white);  a chestnut-red spot on the top of the head between the ears is preferred
  • King Charles (Black and Tan)

The markings for this breed include:   Tan markings

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in Black and Tan color sitting down against a white background
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Black/Tan/White, Prince Charles)
A white and brown Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sitting down against a white background
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Blenheim)
A ruby colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sitting down against a white background
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Ruby)
A black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sitting down facing the camera, against a white background
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Black and Tan: King Charles)

Ease of Training the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy playing with an old boot, against a white background
Puppy playing with a boot

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel does not typically present much difficulty when training. Their social and intelligent personalities make them attentive and willing learners. This breed is known to be particularly sensitive, however, so positive reinforcement is the best way to train it. Reprimanding bad behavior harshly will leave the dog reluctant to learn or pay attention to its owner.

Socializing a dog is crucial when raising any breed. By exposing them to many sights, people, and animals, they become more accustomed to their environment. Early exposure will lead to a calmer dog and thus, a calmer owner. Owners will often take their dog to obedience classes or a dog school to help train, as well as socialize their dog with others.

Although positive reinforcement is the recommended route for training this breed, it can also be problematic. If done in excess the dog may become demanding of its owner’s appreciation of everything it does.  A doting owner coupled with a needy dog can lead to behavioral problems down the road.

It’s important to have an enclosure outside when owning a Cavalier. Fencing prevents wildlife from coming onto the property, and the dog from chasing after it. Although they’re typically attentive of their owners, it’s possible they’ll see a squirrel that’s more interesting and go for it. Getting an enclosure will keep you from the occasional sprint down the street after your dog.

Grooming the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Grooming a Cavalier does not prove to be much of a task. Their coat sheds moderately, so frequent brushing is required to remove dirt and dead hair. Brushing their hair about 3-4 times a week will leave it looking clean, smooth and shiny. Owners will often take their Cavalier to a groomer to trim its coat as well, but it is not necessary.

Cavaliers have low hanging ears that are draped with thick hair.  This creates a good breeding ground for infections. It is important to check the ears periodically and clean as needed.

Eyes are also a source of problems in this breed. Checking periodically and clean with a warm cotton ball.  If redness or inflammation is noted, a trip to the vet is in order.

Cavaliers are considered to be healthy dogs, so they do not have an obnoxious smell. It’s still important to bathe them, at least, every other month or when required. Frequent bathing will strip protective oils from their coat and dry out their skin, so it’s best not to bathe them too often.

Cavaliers need their teeth brushed along with their coat. Regular brushing is recommended for all dogs, as it helps promote dental health. Teeth should be brushed at least 2-3 times a week, as it removes plaque, prevents tartar buildup, and keeps their breath smelling fresher.

It’s important to clip a Cavalier’s nails too. If a dog’s nails get to be too long, they can become uncomfortable, and even painful. A good way to tell it a dog’s nails are too long is if you can hear them click against the ground while the dog moves. If you don’t hear clicking, it’s safe to assume that they’ll need them clipped one to two times a month.


A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy sitting down, against a white background
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

As you can imagine, this tiny dog probably isn’t the best thing to have to protect you, your property or your family. It’s physical build alone would hardly intimidate an intruder, and it definitely couldn’t fend one off. Cavaliers are not ideal guard dogs.

Some small breeds, such as this one, pack a bark that makes up for their small builds. Although, with Cavaliers, you probably won’t be hearing it too often. This breed typically isn’t too vocal, so there’s a good chance it won’t alert you to the presence of an intruder.

Cavaliers simply don’t have the personality to be guard dogs either. They’re so social that there’s a good chance that they won’t see an intruder as a threat, but another guest in the house. It’ll prefer to approach someone in hopes of getting pet rather than scaring them off. These lap dogs are hardly the best regarding defense.

Health Considerations

All dogs are bound to face some health complications down the road. Unfortunately, some breeds are more prone to certain health issues than others.

While the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not inevitably going to fall victim to any of these conditions, it’s still important to be aware of them when buying the breed.

  • Dry Eye
  • Episodic Falling
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Syringomyelia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Mitral Valve Disease

It’s important to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder as well. A good breeder will know a lot about the breed, and be able to pass health checks for the dog. Given this breed’s popularity, some breeders will attempt to take advantage of it to make money.  Always find a reputable breeder who you can trust. 

Famous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The Cavalier was featured on the hit HBO series,
“Sex and the City,” as Charlotte York’s dog.

Rex- owned by Ronald Reagan

Frank Sinatra owned a Cavalier

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