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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Characteristics, History, and Health

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small dog breed that is highly revered for its elegant looks, engaging personality, and warm-hearted affection. They were named after King Charles II of England as they were a favorite breed in the royal court during the 16th and 17th centuries. They were bred to keep the ladies of the court warm and were also used as lap and foot warmers. The Cavalier we know today was created in the early 20th century by American breeders who wanted to recreate the type of spaniel frequently seen in paintings from the Renaissance era.

Main Info
Alternate Names
The Comfort Spaniel, Cavaliers, Charlies, Cavies
Life Expectancy
12-15 years
Average Male Height
12-13 inches
Average Female Height
12-13 inches
Average Male Weight
13-18 pounds
Average Female Weight
13-18 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Wavy, Silky
Coat Colors
Black & Tan, Black & White, Blenheim, Ruby
Coat Pattern
Tan Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to eye disorders such as progressive rod-cone degeneration, congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca and ichthyosiform dermatosis (CKSID), and cataracts. They can suffer from hip dysplasia, skeletal dysplasia 2 (dwarfism), a neurological condition called syringomyelia, heart conditions such as mitral valve heart disease, patellar luxation, degenerative myelopathy, hyperuricosuria, and chondrodystrophy and intervertebral disc disease (CDDY and IVDD risk) with or without chondrodysplasia (CDPA). Another specific genetic condition for which this breed should be tested is episodic falling syndrome, also called collapsing/falling Cavaliers syndrome. As for all breeds, genetic screening is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is friendly, easygoing, and typically gets along with everyone they meet, including strangers, children, and other animals. They are also known to be incredibly affectionate and are often referred to as 'love sponges' due to their fondness for cuddling. Despite their small size, they are sporty dogs who enjoy a good chase or a game of fetch, and require moderate daily exercise to stay healthy and happy.

However, due to their strong attachment to their human families, they do not like to be left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety. As such, they are best suited to households where someone is home for most of the day or can take them along on outings.

Cavaliers are also intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. However, they are sensitive dogs, so gentle, positive reinforcement methods work best. Overall, their affable nature and adaptability make them excellent companions for families, seniors, and singles alike.

Fun Facts

This breed was the favorite of King Charles I of Britain. However, when the house of Stuart fell, owning these dogs became a political liability and so they fell out of favor.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Elizabeth Taylor achieved notoriety on HBO's "Sex and the City" show. She was owned by one of the main characters, Charlotte York.

The Cavalier is the American Kennel Club's (AKC) 140th breed.

Each of this breed's four distinct coat colors were historically associated with specific noble families throughout England.