Get to know the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
All you need to know about the breed
Always ready with a wag of their long, swishy tails, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are renowned for their sweet and gentle temperament. As one of the smaller breeds of spaniel, they adapt well to most domestic set-ups and will quickly become an integral member of the family. Once trained, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are usually great with children and other animals too.
To understand the origins of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, we need to go back in time to the 1500’s when toy spaniels were first seen in Europe – having possibly been brought over from East Asia. Later, in the 17th century, these diminutive dogs became a favourite of King Charles I and his son, Charles II, resulting in the subsequent moniker (their handler did not cast the widest net when renaming the breed). However, it wasn’t until the 1920’s that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel emerged as a distinct breed in its own right.
Now one of the most popular types of spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was given a further boost when the hit HBO series, Sex and the City, was broadcast. Fans of the show will recall that Charlotte’s dog was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel memorably called Princess Dandyridge Brandywine – a fine name for a dog.
Long admired for their soft silky coat, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes in four distinct colour patterns – with variations of chestnut, white, black, tan and red – or Blenheim, Tricolour, Ruby and Black & Tan, to give them their proper names. What all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels share in common, though, is that feathered fur, long droopy ears and large, expressive brown eyes.
Also quite adaptable little dogs, they are as content curled up on the sofa with their human owners as they are out on a walk. With a longish lifespan, and a top age of 20, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent choice of companion all-round.
2 facts about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This is a breed that can suffer from respiratory issues
With the right care, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can often be a healthy dog well into old age – but one thing to bear in mind is that they belong to the ‘brachycephalic’ family. This means that their physical features include a flat face and short nose, due to the shape of their skull, and these anatomical attributes can cause some potential health issues. For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can occasionally suffer with breathing problems. For this reason, as with all brachycephalic breeds, we advise you to choose a dog with physical features that are not over-exaggerated, to buy from a responsible breeder and to seek counsel from your vet if needed.
Be sure to keep a look-out for any eye problems
Another thing to be aware of with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is that they can be susceptible to issues with their sight. In fact, according to some estimates, Cavaliers are twice as likely as other breeds to need treatment for eye conditions. Some of these are hereditary such as microphthalmos (an abnormally small eye); others are congenital like keratoconjunctivitis sicca (a reduction in tear production); and then there’s those that are acquired such as cataracts (due to old age or diabetes). But no need to panic as many conditions can be treated successfully. As always, early detection is key, so monitor any changes in your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and book in regular check-ups with your vet.
Like many small breeds of dog, they can be prone to dental issues
In particular, gingivitis is a common problem in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. An inflammation of the gums that is caused by plaque, it can also lead on to gum recession and periodontal disease. The latter occurs when the minerals (calcium) in the saliva deposit on the plaque and form tartar. That, in turn, allows the bacteria to thrive and cause more inflammation. We won’t dwell on the bad breath... Daily brushing is the best way to remove plaque, so be sure to stick to it. Regular dentistry checks will also help to keep their mouth healthy. Finally, a good diet can go a long way too. For example, special dental kibbles have the benefit of a mechanical cleaning action – and calcium ‘chelators’ will help prevent the build-up of tartar.
Caring for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Grooming, training and exercise tips