Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

January 29, 2023

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be great companion dogs, especially due to their loving nature and small size. They are a toy group dog, recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1995.

This breed is one of the biggest of the toy breeds and 15th most popular dog breed in the United States. While they can be perfect lap dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also have a sporty and enthusiastic spaniel side to them.

If you are in the look out for a toy spaniel, who is great lounging next to you on the sofa while also happy to spend a day hiking, this Cavalier breed might just be the one.

This article will give an overview of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels including their history, health issues, grooming and exercise needs for the future puppy's parents.

Overview of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the biggest dogs in the toy group. Being one of the most popular breeds in the United States, they are separate breed from their English cousin, King Charles Spaniel.

The average height of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is 12 to 14 inches, with males taller than females. In addition, the average weight per breed club standard is 13 to 18 pounds.

The average life expectancy is 12 to 15 years and these toy spaniels are generally healthy. However, there are some genetic diseases that can be quite common for this breed. These will be discussed later on in this article in more detail.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have large round eyes and are known for their gentle and soft expression.

Their muzzle is full, but slightly tapered and their skull is slightly rounded, but without a peak. The nose is black in colour.

The coat of Cavalier King Charles is medium length and silky. There can be slight wave, but it is never curly.

According to National Breed Club standards, there can be four official colours: Blenheim (rich chestnut with white), Black and White, Ruby as well as Black and Tan. Tan markings are acceptable.

Breed History of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed, recognised by the American Kennel Club in the nineties. However, the Cavaliers have a long history.

Toy spaniels have been around for centuries and were very popular around nobles as well as the royal families. They were originally bred as lapdogs.

It is not a coincidence that these little dogs are named after a King. Both Charles I as well as Charles II loved this breed. It has been said, that King Charles II was always accompanied by his Spaniels, wherever he went. The dogs were allowed even to walk around the Parliament.

However, after King Charles II's reign the popularity of the toy spaniel declined. Royals started to favour other dogs. One of the other dogs that become popular amongst them were pugs.

However, you can still see many toy spaniels, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's ancestors, in old paintings of royalty and nobility.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a gentle, kind and outgoing personality. Like most dogs, they need to be socialised from early age to ensure good temperament around other pets and strangers.

They are not good guard dogs, as they want to be friends with everyone and might not bark at intruders. That does mean they are generally good around strangers.

As they were bred to be lapdogs, they are great family dogs as well as have good manners around kids. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can also be good companion for seniors due to their gentle natures.

They are very playful dogs and will require affection from their owners to be happy.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also sensitive dog and cannot be left alone for long periods of time. Being alone can intensify separation anxiety. So, they are best suited for individuals and families who have plenty of time to spend with their four legged buddy.

Overall, the breed has an exceptionally pleasant and kind temperament.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a loving and kind breed, however like many purebred dogs, can have genetic health conditions.

Always ensure you purchase your dog from responsible breeders, recommended by national breed clubs. A good breeder has done health screening on the parents as well as puppies to ensure any health concerns are known.

There are quite few health problems that are common in this breed:

  • Heart conditions including Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): this is one of the most common issues in the breed which includes weakening of the heart valve. The most common symptom is a development of a heart murmur. This can already appear in young age.
  • Eye Problems: Retinal problems and cataracts are common in this breed. Dry eye is an autoimmune disease that can be treated with daily eye drops.
  • Ear Infection
  • Episodic falling (EF): These epilepsy like episodes appear when dog remains conscious during a seizure.
  • Syringomyelia (SM): Common in Cavaliers and affects brain and spinal cord. Can cause mild discomfort, severe pain as well as paralysis. Symptoms can appear in young dogs.
  • Allergies: dogs frequently scratching themselves can indicate an allergy. There can also be rashes visible.
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation

A good breeder will have done a health test on the dog and will provide you with relevant information. However, it is still important that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has regular visits to the vet so any changes could be noticed and addressed.

It is also important to ensure you have a good pet insurance in place for your spaniel. Especially as there are quite a few potential health conditions that can be expensive to treat.

Exercise and Training

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels loves outdoor activities and can also do well in various canine sports.

They are bred as lapdogs, so they will also be happy to spend time chilling on the sofa with their favourite person. However, any couch potato will still need to ensure the pup gets plenty of exercise to avoid obesity.

They have moderate exercise needs. An hour a day is plenty to keep the dog's weight in check. Daily walk and a play session in a fenced yard will make the dog happy and healthy. If you decide to walk them for an hour, it is best to split it between two walks a day.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can also be excellent for first time owners as they are eager to please and easy to train.

However, it is important to give them regular mental stimulation. This will not only ensure any learnt tricks are not forgotten, it will also helps them not get bored and destructive.

The best training for spaniels should include positive reinforcement as well as occasional treats to keep them keen and motivated. Overall, they enjoy training sessions and will be eager to please.

Remember, this is a breed who love nothing more than quality time with their owner, so spend time with your dog as much as possible.

They are extremely playful and will never decline a game and a run.


The breed has moderate grooming needs.

It is best to brush them daily to ensure their feathered hair does not get tangled. You can also trim their legs and ears.

A professional groomer should be visited every few months to keep their silky coat in the best condition.

Check the dog's nails regularly. Many dogs do not need nails trimmed often as they wear down naturally outside. However, if they don't, it is best to use good quality nail clippers to keep them short. A broken nail can cause a lot of unnecessary pain to the pup.

Cavaliers can also have bad breath and gum disease. To keep these at bay, it is best to brush the dog's teeth daily to avoid tartar build-up and help to keep the breath fresh.

Only use good quality shampoo to bathe your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to keep their coat silky and avoid allergies.

The breed is also prone to ear infections, so ears should be checked regularly as well as cleaned.

Should You Get A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

Now, if you are considering whether this is the breed for you, the below you can see pros and cons of having a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:


There are many positive parts to this wonderful breed:

  • Easy to train
  • Great playmates for kids and other dogs
  • Suitable for seniors
  • Affectionate, playful and kind
  • Small size


There are some drawbacks to having this toy spaniel:

  • Prone to many genetic health conditions that can appear in young age
  • Prone to separation anxiety and do not like being left alone
  • Very sensitive
  • Can become overweight easily

Can Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Live in an Apartment?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are playful and love physical activity. However, they are considered small dogs and do not require much space.

They can happily live in an apartment as long as they are given time outdoors.

Is Cavalier King Charles Spaniel A Good Family Dog?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be a great family dog.

They are extremely affectionate breed, who will love spending time with the whole family.

They are not overly timid, so can also get on well with strangers and other animals.

However, like any dog, it is important they are socialised from young age so they would feel comfortable with different people, places and noises.

Because of their friendly nature, it is is best to ensure you have them on leash during walks. Not every dog is as friendly as them and you do not want your puppy to run up to every dog and person to say hi, as this is not always appreciated.


If you already are a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner or even if you are considering one, it is probable that breed seems fascinating due to its pleasant nature.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are wonderful dogs who are keen to please their owner, playful and extremely gentle.

They are also good for those living in smaller spaces, families as well as first time owners.

They are also great as relatively easy to groom and do not require extensive amounts of walks.

However, they are prone to many health issues. Some of them, like Mitral Valve Disease, can be genetic. This can cause a lot of expenses and heartache to the owner.

So, there are quite a few factors to consider when choosing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be a pet.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
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