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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Origin: Great Britain

AKC Group: Toy

Height: 12-13 inches (30-33 cm) (Male)

Weight: 13-18 pounds (6-8 kg) (Male)

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Great Britain
Male height: 
12-13 inches (30-33 cm)
Male weight: 
13-18 pounds (6-8 kg)
Medium length, silky and slightly wavy.
Cavaliers come in ruby (rich red), black and tan, tricolor, and Blenheim (rich chestnut on a pearly-white background).

Toy spaniels were developed in Great Britain circa 1016 C.E., and their first function was to be a hunter. By the 1500s, their hunting days long gone, these dogs were companions to the wealthy, as only the rich could afford a dog who didn't earn his keep by ratting or hunting. In the 1600s, both King Charles I and King Charles II adored the breed, and it was from the latter that they were named the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. During the Victorian era, the breed was crossed with Pugs and Japanese Chin and became what is now called the King Charles Spaniel in the United Kingdom and the English Toy Spaniel in the United States. In the 1920s, curious as to whether any of the longer-headed Cavalier toy spaniels often depicted in paintings still existed, American Roswell Eldridge began offering prize money to exhibitors at the Crufts dog show in England who could bring him "Blenheim Spaniels of the Old World type." The offer of cash was tempting enough that several breeders worked to bring back the old style. These dogs became what is known today as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Since its recognition by the Kennel Club (KC) in 1944, the Cavalier has achieved notable popularity, counting among its admirers such high-powered people as Princess Margaret and President Ronald Reagan. While hugely popular in the UK and Canada, it took a little longer for the breed to catch on in the US - but catch on it certainly has!

Bright, cheerful, lovable and friendly to a fault, it is the rare Cavalier who does not greet everyone and everything with great joy. Still, he is not a hyper dog at all; rather, he is naturally well behaved and downright adoring, with big expressive eyes and a tail that seems to be constantly wagging. Large enough to handle romps in the great outdoors but small enough to fit snugly in a lap, he is a versatile, endearing dog. In fact, his nickname - "the love sponge" - describes the Cavalier to a tee.
At home: 
The Cavalier's size and moderate energy and grooming requirements make him a perfect apartment dog. They can do well in the suburbs or in rural areas, but they have a tendency to chase anything that moves, so they must be kept in a securely fenced area or on leash. Because they are so people-oriented, they are not content to spend a lot of time alone. This endearing dog wants nothing more than to be with his owner - especially if it's on his owner's warm lap.
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would probably be content to spend his entire life in his owner's lap, but that kind of life is not healthy. A run in the yard, a game of fetch or a brisk walk around the block will satisfy his exercise needs and keep him from becoming overweight. Cavaliers will also get exercise following you around the house, going where you go and doing what you do. There's no need to carry him when out on jaunts together - he is big enough and capable enough of handling himself, even in a crowd.
Cavaliers have a tendency to gain weight, which should be kept in check by feeding a healthy, nutritious diet. A high-quality canned or dry food twice a day will meet his needs. Don't be tempted to give in to those cute, beseeching eyes when he wants a treat!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred to be companion dogs - their job is to be charming pets, and they therefore lack that built-in desire to obey or work at a job that other breeds possess. This does not mean that they can't or shouldn't be trained, but if you are looking for a competitive obedience dog, Cavaliers are not the right breed. They do want to please and can be trained with patience and reward-based methods. They may need some extra time with housetraining but eagerly respond to positive training.
Cavaliers get along wonderfully with children, but young children must be taught the proper way to handle this small, delicate breed. Most get along well with other dogs, large or small, but occasionally dogs of the same sex do not mix well. They can live harmoniously with cats but may see small pets as prey.
The average life span of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 12 to 14 years. Health problems associated with the breed include hip dysplasia; mitral valve disease (MVD); patellar luxation; syringomyelia; and a tendency to become obese.
Fun fact: 

The most common Cavalier color is Blenheim, which gets its name from the estate of the Duke of Marlborough.

Grooming blurb: 
The silky coat of the Cavalier is easy to keep clean and shiny using a firm-bristled brush and wide-toothed comb several times a week.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.