Ideal for family or "empty nesters," the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is affectionate, and intelligent with endearing devotion. The spaniel is superb with children and a pleasurable companion.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel was bred to warm laps in drafty castles or on chilly carriage rides.
Male: 13-18 lbs.
Female: 10-18 lbs.
Height at Withers:
Male: 13 in.
Female: 12 in.
Long back, floppy ears (naturally)
Exercise Requirements: <20 minutes/day
Energy Level: Average
Longevity Range: 9-14 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Low
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: High
Flushing small birds, companion
Colors: Red; red and white; black and tan; tricolor
Overall Grooming Needs: High
AKC Classification: Toy
UKC Classification: Companion Dog
The overall appearance of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is regal and sophisticated, yet charmingly cute.
Its diminutive figure is 12 to 13 inches high at the withers and 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kilograms). It is among the largest toy breeds. The face of the Cavalier is distinctive for its sweet, gentle expression that owes much to its large, round, dark brown eyes, set well apart. The skull is slightly rounded, and the muzzle full, but mildly tapered. The long, feathered ears, which are set high and wide on the crown, fan forward slightly to frame the face when the dog is alert.
The neck is fairly long and set atop sloping shoulders. The chest is moderately deep and the body is compact. The tail is carried gaily when in motion.
The coat is long, silky and soft and comes in four color combinations: red and white with a partial red mask and ears and red patches on a white body; tricolor (black and white with tan points); ruby (solid red); and black and tan.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is an enchantingly affectionate, playful, intelligent dog that eagerly indulges its guardians with endearing devotion. Shyness and aggression, fortunately, are not part of this breed's behavioral milieu. These happy little dogs are excellent with children, and their desire to interact with their guardians makes them pleasurable household companions.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is easy to keep. Ideal as a family dog or as a companion for "empty nesters," the Cavalier loves to cuddle and has been described as the perfect lap dog. Although these dogs have a proclivity for noisy greetings, Cavaliers generally are not protective. Regular grooming is key to keeping the Cavalier's coat lustrous. Little more than a thorough weekly brushing is required, in addition to routine bathing and professional trimming as desired. Light shedding, which occurs in the spring and fall, generally arouses little notice.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is the descendant of a small toy spaniel depicted in many 16th, 17th and 18th Century paintings of northern Europe. This dog was originally bred to warm laps in drafty castles and on chilly carriage rides. A prescription written in Olde English for the Queen of England directs her to keep this "comforte dog" on her lap to treat a cold. The Cavalier's other job was to attract fleas and thereby spare their masters the flea-transmitted bubonic plague.
During Tudor times, toy spaniels were common as ladies' pets and, under the Stuarts, they were given the royal title of King Charles spaniel. King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three Cavaliers at his heels, and he wrote a decree — still in effect today — that his namesake spaniel be accepted in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament, which were generally off-limits to animals.
In the early days, breed standards were not recognized, although toy spaniels generally had flat heads, pointed muzzles and high-set ears. By the mid-19th century, the English fashioned a new look for the toy spaniel and standardized its appearance. These modern King Charles spaniels, also known as "Charlies," had flatter faces, undershot jaws and domed skulls. In the early 1900s breeders attempted to recreate the earlier version of the breed; they were largely successful and so was born the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Breeding of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel in the United States took hold on a limited basis in the 1950s, but the breed was not fully recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1996.