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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are happy as city or country dogs. Their gentle nature also makes them excellent therapy dogs. The breed became a TV star when featured on Sex and the City as Charlotte York’s dog. Their mouth differs from the King Charles Spaniel: the Cavalier appears to be smiling, with its mouth turned up, while the King Charles’s mouth turns down.

Physical Characteristics

The moderately long and silky coat of the Cavalier King Charles, which is usually found in solid ruby, black and tan, parti-colors Blenheim (white and ruby) and tricolor (black, tan, and white), may be slightly wavy. A characteristic of this breed is that its feet have long tufts of hair. A sweet and gentle expression is also typical of the breed.

The Cavalier’s moderately-boned and slightly long body makes it a regal and elegant toy spaniel. It has the structure of a working spaniel but is slightly smaller. The dog’s gait, meanwhile, is free and elegant, with a good drive and reach.

Personality and Temperament

The King Charles Cavalier is very friendly towards other pets, dogs, and strangers. When it is outdoors, its true spaniel nature takes charge and it is fond of exploring, chasing, and sniffing. This playful, sweet, gentle, quiet, and affectionate dog is always willing to please. In many ways, the Cavalier makes a perfect house pet.


The Cavalier is not suited for outdoor living. Its long coat requires brushing on alternate days. The dog requires a good amount of exercise regularly, in the form of a romp in a secure area or a moderate on-leash walk.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, which has an average lifespan of 9 to 14 years, may suffer from minor health problems such as patellar luxation, and entropion, or major problems like syringomelia, mitral valve disease (MVD), and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). Sometimes retinal dysplasia is seen in the breed. Many Cavaliers also have reduced platelet numbers, but this does not seem to cause any problems. Cardiac, eye, hip, and knee tests are suggested for this breed of dog.

History and Background

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed has descended from spaniel roots, as is evident from the name. "Toy" dogs in Europe were produced by crossing small spaniels and Oriental toy breeds like the Tibetan Spaniel and the Japanese Chin. Also referred to as the comforter spaniels, these Tudor lapdogs functioned as foot- and lap-warmers and were also used to drive away fleas from the bodies of their owners. As all the family members liked the toy spaniels, they became immensely popular.

In the 18th century, King Charles II was so captivated with his toy spaniels, that it was alleged he paid no attention to his state. The dogs came to be regarded as King Charles Spaniels because of their close association with the King. After the king died, the Duke of Marlborough became the promoter of the breed and his favorite Blenheim or red-and-white breed gets it name from his estate. For generations, wealthy homes sheltered the King Charles Spaniel, but gradually the shorter-nosed dog became a more popular choice.

In the early 20th century, some dogs that looked like the early specimens of the breed were regarded as inferior. However, Roswell Eldridge, a wealthy American, visited England and offered a huge prize for the old-type spaniels with the best pointed noses. Thus, breeders went back to their old dogs and started developing them in order to win the money.

The short-nosed variety of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels became more popular, but they were not instantly accepted in the United States.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1996, and is today known for its friendliness.

Comments  7

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  • Cavaliers are the best
    07/03/2013 07:53pm

    I have a Cav and absolutly love him. He's extreamly smart, easy to train, and very loving. Not to mention that they don't get upset if another dog comes near you, in fact they seem to think the dog is there for them! You can easily keep more than even 2 of these dogs together and never worry about them fighting over anything, including food and toys.

  • Love the Caveliers
    03/21/2014 04:03pm

    I have a female Prince Charles and when I tease my kids she goes to them to let me know she doesn't approve. We also have a cat in which they are friends and play together like siblings. She is friendly to everyone and love the attention so much she whines when people ignore her, it's hilarious. Such beautiful and fun personalities in these dogs, plus very smart, loving and attentive. I would not trade her for the world and Hope to get another tri in the future so she has another play mate.

  • Question about Cavs
    04/25/2014 12:40pm

    Can anyone tell me if Cavs have the "dog smell"?

  • 06/25/2014 04:48pm

    we have a very small Cavalier my Mother gave my to me and my wife. We wash her about every 3 weeks and she has never had a problem. My mother has 12 Cavaliers that live in the house and play in the yard all day, when ever I come to visit her their is never a dog smell. She washes each of her dogs a couple times a month I think.

    I am sure she would be happy to answer any questions you may have you can reach her at http://cobrnikcavaliers.com/

  • From Ginger the Ruby Cava
    07/02/2014 05:16pm


    Love your website...

    We would love to be part of your website and you part of ours. Would like to know if you would be interested.

    All the love,

    From Ginger the Ruby Cavalier King Charles
    Please contact us at our website:

    Recently on Animal Planet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJAh0K4yK3A

  • Cavalier Health
    05/06/2016 12:22am

    These dogs are as sweet and beautiful as everyone says they are. Beware though. They have very serious health problems, and most will get them. Syringomyelia is a very painful neurological condition that results because the Cavalier's brain is too large for its skull. 95% of them have skulls too small for their brains, and up to 65% will get syringomyelia as a result. The result is pain and disability for the dog, and heartbreak and high vet bills for the owner. Half of Cavaliers will have a heart murmur by 5 years old, and most by 10. They have the worst hearts of any breed, and they commonly die of heart failure. They have other, minor problems that are fixable (patellas). If you must have a Cavalier, please adopt, or if you must have a puppy, please do your homework. Be sure the breeder uses dogs to breed that have been cleared by a veterinary cardiologist, and have had MRIs to verify the dogs are less likely to develop syringomyelia. I've cared for 5 Cavaliers, and have experienced these things first hand, several times. The percentages above are from veterinary researchers and are accurate.

  • 05/14/2016 12:10am

    I have to agree with the issue on health problems. My Olivia has serious left ear issue since birth. She is also on cardiac medications for 2 years now. I would do anything for her. She is 10 years old now and gives so much love to me, the people and dog neighbors so much joy that it is worth whatever it takes for this dog and this breed. This breed needs attention, walks and the ability to care for the health issues. I would definitly get another but thoroughly check the parents health.


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