Dog Breeds > Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Alternate NamesEpagneul Cavalier King Charles, English Toy Spaniel
OriginGreat Britain
GroupPet Dog
SectionEnglish Pet Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Profile

Robust (Health)
Supports Loneliness
Need Exercise
Easy To Maintain
Easy to Train
Nice Child
Agreement with Animals
First Dog
Able to Guard

Physical Characteristics

Varieties: a) black and tan; b) ruby; c) Blenheim; d) tricolor.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a lively, graceful, well-balanced, sporty and happy dog. The head is almost flat between the ears, the stop is deep, and the snout is shaped like a truncated cone. The eyes are large, dark, and not prominent. The ears are long, set high, and feathered. The body is short and well proportioned. The tail may be cut, but it is much more beautiful if left long and feathered. The paws are straight and parallel.

Fur: long, silky, and heavily feathered. It shouldn’t be curly, but slightly wavy is acceptable.

Color: according to the variety of Spaniel, black and tan, ruby, with brown spots on a pure white background (Blenheim) or tricolor.

Size: 25 to 34 cm.

Weight: 5.46 to 8.2 kg.

Origins and History

The breed comes from the King Charles Spaniel, which was much more popular back then than the Cavalier. However, the trend is reversing, as the Cavalier presents fewer health problems, especially in terms of respiratory diseases. It was the favorite dog of Charles II – his detractors even claimed that the King preferred playing with the dogs to attending to State business. For all its history, however, the breed standard was only set in 1928.

Character and Abilities

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a happy, exuberant dog with an explosive character. It is always moving and looking for a ball or a toy with which to tease its owner. However, its main pet dog characteristic is that it is able to calm down instantly if it understands that its owner is busy. In these instances, it can almost be as though the dog has vanished, and many owners must then first search for its hiding place. It is a perfect dog for children due to its kindness, good temper, and inexhaustible energy. It always has a good effect on children by showing them what absolute happiness is. Indoors, it is clean, discreet and doesn’t bark much.

Living Conditions

Preferably indoors, but it can spend hours playing in the garden. It mustn’t be left alone, as it would lose its vitality and weaken. It is a breed made to live by the side of humans.


Unlike its quite delicate “cousin,” the King Charles Spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is quite robust, can live quite long and doesn’t have any particular problems. However, this breed is known for some hereditary heart problems and can be predisposed to some diseases. It is important to know how to spot these and cure them quickly.

They include:

Heart diseases:

According to CT scans imagery, the size of the heart of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is bigger than many other breeds.

A clear predisposition to MVD (a degenerative disease of some heart valves) is reported. This condition exists in many breeds, but for the Cavalier King Charles, the disease tends to start at a younger age. Currently, there is a strong presumption of genetic predisposition to this disease.

Dermatology: Skin and Skin Diseases

Malassezia dermatitis is a common skin disease for the Cavalier King Charles. It can affect dogs of any age. Malassezia dermatitis is characterized by an oily, smelly, erythematous skin, mainly in the ear canal, folds, lips, interdigital spaces (between fingers), the base of claws, abdomen, and so forth.

A familial form of black hair follicular dysplasia is also described for the Cavalier King Charles. The disease is characterized by the loss of black hairs only. The first signs are usually observed very young (around 4 weeks).

Neurological diseases:

The Cavalier King Charles has a predisposition to various neurological diseases, but the most common are certainly syringomyelia, which is also called Chiari syndrome. Clinical signs usually appear between 5 months and 3 years. They are usually dominated by frantic scratching of the ears or shoulders, sometimes associated with screaming. Thereafter, locomotor disorders appear. To confirm the diagnosis and differentiate between other nerve diseases (meningitis, ear infections, herniated discs, etc.), it is necessary to resort to additional tests (MRI, in particular).

Orthopedics and diseases of the musculoskeletal system:

The Cavalier King Charles is predisposed to hereditary patellar luxation. There are various degrees of severity. The most advanced forms need surgical treatment.

Pulmonology and respiratory disease:

Like many flat-faced dogs, the Cavalier King Charles is predisposed to the “brachycephalic upper airways syndrome.” The most common clinical signs are snoring and difficulty breathing, which is generally aggravated by exercise or hot weather. For the more advanced forms, surgical correction is highly recommended, focusing on laser-based techniques.

The medical content of this page was written with the kind collaboration of CHV frégis. More information about the health of the Cavalier King Charles can be found on the CHV frégis site.

The maximal life expectancy reported by the CHV frégis is 18,5 years.

Average life expectancy: about 12 years.

Information and Tips

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel seems to be the happiest dog in the world and, therefore, is the ideal companion for those who need happiness (children and the elderly). However, it will sometimes lie down and “meditate” with a sad face. Legend has it that it thinks of its ancestor who was beheaded with King Charles I, who also used to love the breed.

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