Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Published:

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
Size:

Small

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
GentleSweetJolly
Coat Color:
BlenheimTricolorRubyBlack & Tan

Best For

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs are best for people who want an "up-for-anything" companion. They thrive in both low- and high-activity households and live for playtime and impromptu cuddle sessions. These pups are excellent family dogs and are great with other animals and children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Traits

What makes the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? Let's find out how they stack up.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sweet and gentle toy dog breed with no shortage of playfulness to share with the whole family. They’re adaptable and easy-going, ready for everyday adventures or spending quality time relaxing at home. Cavaliers are known to mirror their pet parents; they easily adapt to fit your lifestyle, whether you’re super active or more low-key. Their love language is giving and receiving affection; these little dogs will boost your mood and shower you with love. True social butterflies, Cavaliers enjoy most social settings and take pride in getting to know every human they may encounter. And because of their big hearts and good nature, they can also be effective therapy dogs.

With their cheerful demeanor, it’s no surprise that Cavaliers get along well with people and other animals—including cats. Since they’re a small breed, they may be a little timid around larger dogs at first. So, don’t put too much pressure on them to play with the “big boys” until your Cavalier feels comfortable doing so.

If you’re not up for making new friends, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy may not be the dog for you. Their over-the-top friendliness is best for folks looking for a way to meet new people. After all, with their fun-loving attitude and zest for life, they’re likely to get you striking up conversations with new friends everywhere you go.

How to Care for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Much like their relaxed, go-with-the-flow personality, Cavaliers are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming, even though their coat isn’t short. With occasional brushing and bathing, their signature coat can stay shiny and healthy year-round. Since they enjoy cuddles and being lap dogs so much, you can easily make groom time an experience that strengthens the bond you have with your Cavalier.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health

Even though they have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a number of health issues, especially as they age. But that shouldn’t stop you from bringing one of these lovable pups into your life. It’s important to be aware of these issues up front so you can help your pup live a long, happy life.

  • Mitral Valve Disease: This is a heart disease where one of the heart’s values deteriorates. In the most severe cases, it can eventually lead to heart failure. Vets perform several tests that examine different aspects of the heart to catch any issues early on. Surgery is not usually an option, but drugs and treatments help improve heart function, including ACE inhibitors, cardiac glycosides and beta-blockers.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition where the femur doesn’t fit correctly in the hip socket. It might lead to early signs of arthritis, including limping or general pain when walking. Because they’re a small breed, Cavaliers may not show symptoms until they’re older. Depending on the severity, treatments range from a change in diet and exercise to surgery.
  • Syringomyelia: This is a term used to describe fluid-filled cavities (called syrinx) that develop on the spinal cord. This can be caused when a pup’s brain is too big for their skull. Shoulder, neck, and ear scratching—primarily on one side—are common symptoms. Treatment focuses more on pain management, as surgery is often not a viable option.
  • Ear Infections: Otitis externa is inflammation of the ear canal and can be common in Cavaliers, likely due to their long, drooping ears, but the exact cause is unknown. Anti-inflammation treatments help provide relief and reduce the inflammatory effects; in more severe cases, surgery may be needed.
  • Eye Problems: Cavaliers are prone to a few eye diseases. Cataracts can cause blindness and may be corrected through surgery, depending on the dog’s age and health. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) also leads to blindness, but there is currently no treatment available. Dogs with cataracts or PRA often adjust well to the loss of eyesight. Cavaliers may also suffer from an inherited condition called dry eye. Here, the cornea is inflamed, and the pup cannot produce tears to keep the eye moist. Early diagnosis is important to protect the eye. Treatments may include antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, and daily ointments to help produce tears are often prescribed.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel History

With a name as regal as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s, it’s not the least bit surprising the breed has a royal history. They’re named after King Charles I, a 17th-century British monarch who evidently had several toy spaniels that accompanied him almost everywhere. He and his son, Charles II, had black and tan varieties, which has been around since at least the Renaissance times in Europe. Originally bred to be a bird hunter, their small, short stature and demeanor made them better suited to be companions and affectionate lap dogs.

Cavaliers were extremely popular among the noble classes and remained a go-to breed for aristocrats in the United Kingdom until the early 19th century. The Marlborough family was very involved with breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels at Blenheim Palace, turning their focus on the chestnut and white variety. During Queen Victoria’s reign, the breed was mixed with Asian toy breeds, such as Pugs and Japanese Chins. This cross-breeding changed the breed’s look and structure, evolving into a shape with a domed skull and flatter face than the dogs Charles I had. In fact, Charles’ dogs came close to extinction as this new variety dominated.

In the 1920s, people wanted the dogs portrayed in the old portraits of their ancestors. Roswell Eldridge, a wealthy American, challenged British breeders to breed Blenheim Spaniels “of the Old World type.” To win a cash prize, the breeders worked to bring back the old look—and they did. That’s when the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was born. Where did the “cavalier” come from? The army that supported Charles I in the English Civil War was called Cavaliers, and thus we get “Cavalier” in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The Cavalier became an American Kennel Club-recognized breed in 1995 and is the 18th most popular breed in America. It’s no wonder why—Cavaliers are highly prized for their affectionate and adaptable temperament. (And they’re so darn cute!) If you’re looking to add a Cavalier as a pet, you can find reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. A Cavalier puppy can cost between $1,800 to $3,500. But for that price, you usually get a pup who’s been screened for health issues and may include pedigree papers. Or you can check with local Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescue organizations or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.

FAQs

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels hypoallergenic?

No, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not hypoallergenic. Though they’re average shedders, they tend to leave fur behind on clothing and furniture. If you need a dog who won’t ignite your allergies, but you love the Cavalier, look at popular mixes like the Cavapoo (Cavalier-Poodle mix) or the Cavachon (Cavalier-Bichon Frise mix). If the dog’s fur is more like the Poodle’s or Bichon’s, they could be better for allergy sufferers than a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

How long do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels live?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. With regular exercise, a proper diet and routine visits to the vet, your Cavalier will be a part of your family for a long time.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels smart?

Yes, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are quite smart and can easily pick up commands and tricks. Because they are so eager to please, they’re highly responsive and intuitive by nature. You likely won’t have much trouble getting your Cavalier to listen or follow along.

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels bark a lot?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels don’t bark a lot because of their laid-back temperament and easy-going personality. This is great if you prefer a quiet environment. If you’re looking for a guard dog, it’s probably best to seek out a breed other than the Cavalier.

What are the most popular Cavalier King Charles Spaniel names?

The most popular names for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are, perhaps unsurprisingly, connected to the breed’s British ties and include Bella, Charlie, Lady, Cooper, Lucy, Milo, Georgia, George, Louie, Henry, Duke, Archie, Charlotte, Pippa and Prince. When in doubt, go for a regal-sounding name! If you’re looking for more inspiration, find more dog names here.

What are the most common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes?

The most common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes are:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Poodle mix (Cavapoo)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Cocker Spaniel mix (Cockalier)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Beagle mix (Beaglier)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Golden Retriever mix (Golden Cavalier)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Boston Terrier mix (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Boston Terrier)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Bichon Frise mix (Cavachon)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Jack Russell Terrier mix (Cav-a-Jack)
Image

Top Takeaways

Are you seeking a cheerful companion who can adapt to your lifestyle from one day to the next? Then the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is for you. You’ll cozy up together on the couch as easily as going for long, meandering walks in the park. Cavaliers are the ultimate people-pleasers, so you never have to wonder if they’d rather be doing something else. The fact of the matter is they just want to spend quality time with you!

Expert input provided by veterinarian Dr. Katie Billmaier, at Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch and Sparky Serka, head trainer at The Puppy Academy.

Share: