Across the world, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the most popular dog breeds – and it’s no surprise considering their friendly nature, adaptability and affectionate personality!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are sometimes referred to as ‘Cavies’ and were originally regarded as lap dogs. However, they are now a popular choice in show dogs, due to their athletic nature, silky coats and ability to respond quickly to new environments and training.
With large, dark eyes and coats of black, cream, red and brown the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel makes an adorable pet who finds settling into a home with other dogs and children easy and comfortable.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the biggest breeds within the ‘toy dog’ group of breeds, whilst also being one of the smallest of the spaniel breeds. usually 12-13 inches (30-33cm) in height and healthy dogs weigh roughly 10 – 18 pounds, or 4.5 – 8.2 kg.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are famous for their friendly nature, laid-back personalities and abundance of energy. They love attention and these lap dogs are eager to please their owners in return for cuddles and fuss.
These dogs are very sociable and regard all sizes of dog and human as immediate friends – this is ideal for households with other pets and children, but your Cavalier will not be a useful guard dog!
King Charles Cavaliers adapt quickly to new surroundings and are equally suited to city, suburban and rural living, making themselves comfortably at home in any dwelling, from stately home to apartments – as long as they are given enough opportunity for exercise.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are patient, sweet and gentle, they often perform well as therapy or companion dogs because of this.
Training & Temperament
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a patient temperament and take easily to training and learning good behaviour.
Naturally curious, the King Charles Cavaliers’ temperament is playful at times, but they equally enjoy quiet time with their owners. Cavaliers also have a strong hunting instinct and may be prone to chasing moving objects, including cars and birds if they are not kept on a lead during walks, but once they are given the freedom of a safe, open space, these dogs will enjoy every second of running around, playing games with their owners and making new friends.
Children & Other Pets
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are naturally very friendly and sociable, they are not usually intimidated by bigger dog breeds and will introduce themselves to any person or dog they encounter. This means that Cavaliers are suitable pets for households with other dog breeds as long as the existing dogs are trained appropriately.
With their playful and happy disposition, these dogs are ideal for homes with children and their blend of energetic athleticism and calming influence means that your children and cavalier will be able to enjoy each other’s company from play-time to nap time.
Whilst Cavaliers are known for their natural hunting instincts and curiosity, there are reports of owners facing little difficulty in introducing their new dog to smaller pets, such as hamsters and birds.
Nutrition & Feeding
many sources recommend ½ - 1 cup (75g – 150g) of dry food per day for King Charles Cavaliers. However, the amount your dog needs each day will depend on his activity levels and individual needs. It is recommended that your cavalier’s food is measured in halves and served separately twice pre day, rather than serving the day’s food measure all at once.
High quality food is recommended for Cavaliers and due to their disposition to develop certain illnesses and diseases, a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced recipe, such as Royal Canin Cavalier King Charles Dry Food, specially designed to deliver the required nutrients and energy for both adult and junior Cavaliers, works best.
When serving your Cavalier wet food and water, it is advisable to secure their ears back with a soft, loose scrunchie, headband or bandana, to stop those long, floppy ears dragging and collecting old food or spraying water all over the furnishings!
Coat & Grooming
Cavalier king Charles Spaniels have naturally medium-length coats, these require brushing a few times each week with a double-sided brush, for both detangling and smoothing. Cavalier’s coats do not need to be trimmed, however, some owners choose to trim the feet area for aesthetic reasons. You should make sure that your Cavalier is bathed when necessary – for dogs who like getting messy and running around outside, this can be up to once per week.
The medium-length coats should be silky and smooth, breeding guidelines state that curls are unacceptable and slight wave is permitted – however, not every dog is a show dog and your Cavalier’s curls can be beautiful just the way they are!
Cavaliers have feathering around the ears and legs and this is especially prone to tangles, so give them some extra attention when brushing to keep them knot-free. For precision detangling, a small comb works best.
To prevent gum disease, tartar build-up and bad breath, your Cavalier’s teeth need to be brushed at least 3-4 times each week, preferably every day, if possible. Additionally, toys such as the Kong Dental with Rope can help to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy and strong.
To keep the skin on your own legs from being damaged in your Cavalier’s excitement to say hello to you, you should trim your dog’s nails once or twice per month. However, active Cavaliers may wear their nails down naturally – a good way to tell if your dog’s nails are too long is to listen to him walking on a solid surface, such as tiles, wood or laminate. If you can hear his nails tapping the ground, they need trimming.
As with most dog breeds, it is a good idea to begin examining your dog weekly as a puppy – this will ensure that they are used to the process and will be easier to handle and more co-operative as a grown dog. During the examination, lavish your dog with positivity, praise and petting to reinforce that this is a good, necessary procedure. Make sure to accustom your Cavalier to having his feet, ears and eyes looked and at touched, as grown dogs can be temperamental and grumpy about it!
Each week, carefully examine your dog’s feet, nose, ears and mouth for signs of infections, such as; swollen skin, discolouration – particularly redness- and negative reactions to being touched – this may be a sign of tenderness. Your dog’s eyes should be clear with no signs of discharge, discolouration or cloudiness. Be vigilant for rashes and sores and make sure to get any worrying symptoms checked by a vet as soon as possible.
As Cavaliers are prone to weight gain, it is important that your dog receives a moderately high amount of exercise. This includes a medium-length walk every day, with an opportunity to be let off the lead in an open, secure space regularly.
Cavaliers loves to play fetch, given their natural hunting instincts and need to chase moving objects. Throwing a dog toy can get messy, so it is recommended to use a ball launcher.
Cavaliers have an average life expectancy of 9 – 14 years.
Cavalier King Charles Health problems
Cavalier King Charles are pre-disposed to certain genetic health issues;
Mitral Valve Disease – this is a condition which causes he mitral valve within the heart to deteriorate. This means that once the valve has opened to pass blood, it may not be able to close properly and blood is able to pass back into the heart. Over time, the amount of blood travelling back increases and eventually causes heart failure.
Syringomyelia – Syringomyelia is caused by the King Charles Cavalier’s skull being too small at the rear to accommodate the brain, this causes brain matter to overflow into the foramen magnum – which is the hole at the base of the skull – this can block the flow of cerebral fluid and put pressure on the spinal cord, causing fluid-filled cavities to develop. Syringomyelia is a very common issue within the cavalier breed.
Hip & Knee Issues – Hip and knee dysplasia are inherited issues where the hips and knees do not develop normally. Dysplasia can cause pain and discomfort to the dog and often results in arthritis of varying severity. Dysplasia affects roughly 12- 25% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Retinal Dysplasia – Eye problems are found in roughly 28% of cavaliers. Retinal dysplasia is a hereditary condition in which the two retinal layers do not form correctly, often resulting in ‘folds’ between the retinal layers, and in extreme cases, resulting in the retinal layers failing to meet at all – this is known as retinal detachment.