Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed characteristics

  • Size: Toy
  • Traits: Friendly. Tolerant. Docile.
  • Maintenance: Low maintenance, weekly brush, no/minimal hair clipping required
  • Best Suited To: Families with children and seniors.

A sweet-natured softie. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a silky-haired dog with royal roots and a rather relaxed attitude given his princely pedigree. Cavaliers are excellent pets for families with children or for seniors that have time to spoil them with love and affection.

Where I'm From

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel descends from a long line of toy spaniels held in high esteem by English royalty and aristocracy from the 16th century. So much so that King Charles II named the King Charles Spaniel in the late 1600s. After the monarch's passing, the original King Charles Spaniel became less popular in the 17th century and was subsequently crossed with pugs and other similar flat-faced breeds.

It took an initiative by an American spaniel lover in the 1920s to find dogs similar to the ones depicted in old paintings of the Charles II era. The re-established breed that is slightly larger than the King Charles Spaniel with a longer snout was named the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and formally recognised as a separate breed in 1945.

Today the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel consistently ranks in the top 10 dog breeds in the world including in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France and Sweden.

What I Look Like

Cavaliers are small, long-eared and big-eyed dogs with an endearing doleful expression. They have a luxurious long, wavy coat that comes in four colour combinations: blenheim (chestnut and white), tri-colour (black, white and tan), black-and-tan, and ruby (all red).

How I Act

Cavaliers are friendly, lovable little dogs that are great companion dogs for a range of attentive owners. With their tolerant attitudes, Cavaliers get along well with other dogs and cats if integrated into the family unit from a young age. Though birds or other small animal pets may be viewed as prey!

Bred as lapdogs, Cavaliers love nothing more than cuddling on the couch with their masters as well as accompanying their human family pretty much anywhere. They actually have a hard time with any time spent away from the family, and should be integrated into a homebody household.

Cavaliers can easily be trained with a consistent, firm owner. Training and socialisation should begin early to ensure a well-rounded pet. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels respond better to gentle positive re-enforcement and reward-based training rather than harsh reprimands.

Cavaliers were bred as lapdogs and enjoy relaxing at home. However, due to this lazy tendency they really need to be walked or have a round of indoor fetch of around 20-30 minutes per day to remain fit and active. They also do well with dog sports and agility training.

Looking After Me

Cavaliers may be affected by a number of genetic health problems including loose kneecaps, eye problems, hip dysplasia, spine paralysis and seizures.

A common condition in some Cavaliers is Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), which starts with a heart murmur that leads to heart failure and can appear in young dogs. Though responsible breeders are trying to breed the illness out, not all breeders ascribe to this protocol.

In regard to this condition and other health issues, it is very important to check the medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Cavaliers live for about 10 to 14 years.

They are small dogs that need to be fed a high quality and nutritious meal twice a day. Leftover food should be taken away until the next feeding time to prevent the Cavalier tendency to overeat. Cavaliers may also need their extra long ears tied back at feeding time if eating wet foods to prevent scraps ending up attached in their feathery fur.

Cavaliers have a moderate-length smooth and silky coat that requires a long weekly brush and a bath when necessary in order to stay looking their finest. Their coat sheds, more so in summer months, and may need further attention during those times.

They need their ears checked regularly for any redness or foul odours that could indicate infection as often occurs in dog breeds with floppy, face-hugging ears.

Am I the pet for you?

Cavaliers are house dogs that need constant company to be happy. They are best suited for families with young children or seniors who spend time at home or don't mind bring their Cavalier with them wherever they go. Cavaliers can suit apartments or homes with small fenced off yards.


  • Cavaliers have beautiful, gentle natures and are the perfect companion dog for families with young kids. Like all dogs, Cavaliers still need to be supervised when around children. On the same note, children need to learn how to play with their pet to avoid hurting Cavaliers' delicate frames.
  • Cavaliers are relatively low-maintenance and only need moderate amounts of daily exercise and grooming to look and feel their best.


  • Cavaliers can be emotionally needy. They want to be with their human family constantly and don't like being left alone for long periods. They are best suited for owners that have the time for them.
  • Cavaliers may bark at strangers that come to the front door but are too friendly and jovial to be good guard dogs.
  • Cavaliers are not street wise and need to be kept on a lead outside the home to prevent them running off in chase of a moving object or small prey.

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