Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – The Ultimate Guide

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was originally bred to be a companion dog. You can often see them sitting in their owner's lap. When they are not inside and cuddling with their humans, you can see them hiking or running. Read on and discover more on this amazing breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
12 to 13 inches at the shoulder
13 to 18 pounds
Life Span:
9 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was originally bred to be a companion dog, but that doesn’t stop them from showing their sporty nature. This dog will be happy when sitting in your lap and getting a belly rub. He will also be happy chasing the birds and attempting to retrieve them.

Learn more about this interesting bread and discover if Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is the right dog for you!

Quick Facts

Real name: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Other names: Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Origin: United Kingdom
Breed type: Companion Breed
Weight: 13–18 lb (5.9–8.2 kg)
Height: 12–13 inches (30–33 cm)
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Color: Blenheim, Black and Tan, Ruby, and Tri-Colour
Coat: Silky coat of moderate length

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: History

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed, recreated less than a century ago. The prototype of this breed existed centuries ago and it was known for being a companion dog to nobility and royalty. In general, Cavaliers are descended from the same toy spaniels depicted in many 16th, 17th, and 18th century paintings by several famous artists. In those paintings, spaniels had flat heads, longish noses, and high-set ears.

Little spaniels were favorites of royal and noble families in old England. At the time, Mary, the Queen of Scots had a toy spaniel herself and he accompanied her even as she walked to her beheading. Mary’s grandson, Charles II, loved the breed as well. Actually, he is the one responsible for naming the breed. It’s said that King Charles II never went anywhere without at least two or three of these little spaniels.

Charles II even decreed that spaniels are allowed in any public place, even the House of Parliament. Unfortunately, with the death of Kind Charles II, the popularity of the breed decreased, and other short-faced breeds like Pugs became the new royal favorites. In addition, the Kind Charles Spaniels were bred with this short-faced breeds and with time developed many of their features, including the domed head and shorter nose.


During the early 18th century, 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, kept red and white King Charles type spaniels, especially for hunting. The duke recorded that they were able to even keep up with a trotting horse. To honor the Battle of Blenheim, his estate was named Blenheim. Also, because of this strong influence, the red and white variety of King Charles Spaniel and Cavalier King become known as the Blenheim. During this period, fanciers of the breed gave their best to recreate the original Cavalier King Charles Spaniel using now the extinct Toy Trawler Spaniels.

Distinction From King Charles Spaniel

Back in 1926, the American, Roswell Elbridge offered a prize of twenty-five pounds of sterling for the best male and females of ‘Blenheim Spaniels of the old type’. The old type meant long face, flat skull, no stop, with a spot in the center of the skull. However, Eldridge died before he could witness his plan come to fruition, although a few breeders believed in his words and in 1928 they formed the first Cavalier club. Afterward, the Second World War caused a major setback to the emerging breed, with the vast majority of breeding stock was destroyed because of wartime hardship and food shortages.

For example, the Ttiweh Cavalier Kennel had a population of sixty dogs that dropped to three during the 1940s. However, the breed managed to survive the war and in 1945 the Kennel Club first recognized the breed in its own right as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

King Charles Spaniel In The States

The history of the breed when it comes to the States is relatively recent. The very first recorded Cavalier living in the States was brought from the United Kingdom in 1956.

This dog was brought to the States by W. Lyon Brown and Elizabeth Spalding next to other enthusiasts who founded the Cavalier King Charles Club USA. The American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was created in 1994 by a group of breeders who apply for recognition by the American Kennel Club. The final recognition of the breed by the AKC happened in 1995, and the ACKCSC became the parent club for Cavaliers.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Physical Appearance

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active and graceful dog, who is also well-balanced in terms of appearance and personality. For a small breed, they are fearless and extremely sporting. Surprisingly, at the same time, they are also very affectionate and gentle.

Next to their joyful character, the breed also has a very typical joyful appearance. Overall, their appearance is very royal and elegant. Natural appearance with no trimming, molding or any for of unnatural alteration is essential to breed type.

This is a small and well-balanced dog with little variation. The body is kind of a square, although its actually long once you measure it. Furthermore, the height from the withers to the elbow is almost identical to the height from the elbow to the ground. Their head is nicely shaped and the perfect size for a small dog – neither it’s too big, or small. Eyes are always dark brown, round and large.

Muzzles are always sharp or pointed, while the shoulders are well laid back. Their coat is silky and free from curl, while slight wave are seen occasionally. When it comes to the color of the coat, they are usually Blenheim, tricolor, ruby, black, and tan. Moreover, their appearance reflects their temperament which is non-aggressive, and extremely jolly and easy-going.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Personality

This breed is all about greeting people and making them happy. In a way, they are real people-pleasers. Moreover, they will happily engage with even strangers. Just like any other dog, this breed may have a range of personalities, from quite to talkative one, although it’s deeply individual and depends on several factors including adequate and early training.

Also, they may or may not bark, so the breed is kind of bad when it comes to being a good watchdog. If you reckon on your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to alarm you if something is wrong or a stranger approaches your home, you better buy an alarm system.

This dog will love to spend hours and hours in your lap or just snuggling on soft pillows. Moreover, every time that you go for a walk you can expect to last longer than you initially planned because your doggo will for sure greet every stranger, human, or dog. If someone praises him along the way, you can expect some few more minutes of outdoor time. This breed is a real-life representative of a kingly dog type.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Children And Other Pets

Cavalier’s are great with children. They will be great playmates for children who will enjoy throwing a ball for them, be gentle with them and spend some time teaching them tricks. They will adore children that will hold them in their lap while they are watching TV.

Always bear in mind that they are small and children might injure them accidentally. Therefore, it’s important to educate your children on how to behave around pets and how to approach and touch them. Always supervise their mutual time and teach children not to approach a dog while he is eating or sleeping. Make sure that they understand why they should never try to take the dog’s food away.

Cavaliers will get along with other pets nicely, even cats if you introduce them at an early age. If you have a feline that loves to make a stand and is willing to stand up for herself it’s just a plus, because Cavalier loves a good chase. There are even some Cavaliers living with birds, while others constantly try to eat them – or at least pull their tails.

Just like you would supervise interaction between your children and Cavalier, you should supervise Cavalier’s interactions with birds and smaller pets.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Grooming

Their silky coat really adds up to their royal appearance. However, you will have to invest some time to keep their coat so lustrous. Maintaining their coat requires little more than regular brushing and an occasional bath to keep it beautiful.

Brushing will help the coat to be shiny, clean, and tangle-free. Brushing also serves as a nice way to massage your dog’s whole body and spend some time together. Moreover, grooming time is what can add up to your relationship and make it even stronger. Simply said, grooming enhances the dog-owner bond.

Grooming is also an amazing way for you to examine your dog’s body for any unusual marks or wounds. In addition, check ears on a weekly level for any sign of infection, and trim nails regularly. In addition, make sure that paws are also clean and tangle-free. Overall, this breed is easy to maintain. You will have to:

  • Brush him three or four times a week
  • Brush Cavalier’s teets and check the gums
  • Trim nails
  • Check ears on a weekly level
  • Check eyes
  • Provide regular veterinarian check-ups
  • Go through puppy vaccination
  • Take care of the parasites

Grooming should be a positive experience filled with rewards and praise. If you start grooming your dog while he is still a puppy, as you should do anyway, you will lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and another handling when he’s an adult.

Important: Your Cavalier doesn’t need trimming.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Training

The Cavalier is a gentle and affectionate breed that’s more than eager to please humans. Therefore, training them shouldn’t be too much work or a challenge. Moreover, they are friendly both with other animals and strangers, while they can do very well with children. They are smart and train easily, and they are great in some canine sports including:

  • Rally
  • Agility
  • Obediance

Their sweet nature makes them great therapy dogs. As with all breeds, puppy training classes and early socialization are crucial if you want a well behaved and disciplined dog. If you don’t have enough time, or you feel that you can’t do the training on your own, you can always think about puppy training classes. Having guidelines and the professional tip is always a plus.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Exercise

The Cavalier was bred to be a lap dog, but this small and enthusiastic bred is so much more than a lap dog. After all, this breed is descended from sporting dogs and does enjoy being outside.

The Cavalier will love daily walks and moderate exercise and any outdoor activities, even in the backyard. A tug of war in the yard? They are for it! These long-haired dogs are even fans of hiking! So, if you prefer to go for a long hike or running your Cavalier will gladly go with you, and if you prefer to stay home all day on the sofa, your Cavalier will be happy to join you in that activity as well. But, you should provide a daily exercise minimum of 20 minutes. This may vary from Cavalier to Cavalier.

When it comes to walks you should not allow your Cavalier to walk around off the leash because he may find something interesting to ‘hunt’ and he might ignore you recall. This bred still has strong hunting and scenting instincts, and they may easily find something to chase. Therefore, they may not come when called and can go the distance, where you won’t be able to chase him or catch him.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Health

Although they are known as active dogs and therefore healthy, they are prone to certain conditions. Actually, there are several health issues that Cavaliers are prone to. The most common health problems are:

Luckily, Cavaliers can be screened for all these conditions, and the majority live comfortably into old age. These conditions are also something that should be discussed with the dog’s breeder. After all, a responsible breeder will go through all relevant health tests and potential breeding stock.

National Breed Club recommends the following health tests:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Summary

If you want to share your days with a dog that is primarily small and active you should think about welcoming a Cavalier into your home. Moreover, you should look at Cavalier as your perfect dog if you are looking for a breed that is polite and friendly with everyone.

However, if you are not sure how well would you do with a breed that is prone to separation anxiety and lots of shedding you should think twice.

Overall, Cavalier is perfect if you are looking for a pleasurable companion. Bear in mind that this breed comes with many inherited problems and that you should conduct all of the necessary tests and provide surrounding that will nurture the breeds sporting need and a healthy lifestyle.

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