The Breed



Developed from a cross between the King Charles and a Cocker Spaniel, the Cavalier differs greatly from its forebears. Its breeders were trying to reproduce a toy dog similar to those seen in portraits from the time of England's Charles II, who was said to dote on these small dogs. In the 1920's the American, Roswell Eldridge, offered prize money during a Cruft's Dog Show in London, to any person exhibiting King Charles Spaniels with long noses. He was looking for dogs similar to those appearing in Van Dyck's paintings of King Charles II and his spaniels. By the 1940's these dogs were classified as a separate breed and were given the prefix Cavalier, to differentiate them from their forebears. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was shown in the Toy Group of the AKC beginning in 1996.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is descended from the small Toy Spaniels seen in so many sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century paintings by Titian, Van Dyck, Lely, Stubbs, Gainsborogh, Reynolds, and Romney. These paintings show small spaniels with flat heads, high set ears, almond eyes, and rather pointed noses. During Tudor times, Toy Spaniels were quite common as ladies' pets, but it was under the Stuarts that they were given the royal title of King Charles Spaniels. History tells us that King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three spaniels at his heels. So fond was King Charles II of his little dogs, he wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. more >

AKC (American Kennel Club)

Dog Group Kennel Club

Dog Group

Breed Classification
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belongs to the toy group and is used as a companion and seen in the show-ring.

Feeding Requirements
These dogs are relatively easy to feed, not requiring any supplements or special diets. The main thing to remember with the Cavalier is not to overfeed as they do have a tendency to become overweight.

For all your dog's nutritional requirements, you don’t have to look any further than Purina’s trusted brands. Spoilt for choice? Then use the Purina Nutritional Calculator.

9 - 15 years
If healthy, the Cavalier can live 13 to 15 years.

Average Litter Size
The average size litter is 4 puppies.

General Physical Description
A small spaniel with a short, but definite muzzle, large brown eyes and silky fur.
Bitch: 30cm (12ins) 33cm (13ins)
Dog: 30cm (12ins) 33cm (13ins)

Bitch: 5kg (11lbs) 8kg (18lbs)
Dog: 5kg (11lbs) 8kg (18lbs)

Size Category

Weight Height Range
The average height of both dogs and bitches is between 30 to 33 cm and the weight is between 5.5 and 8 kg.

Cavies are prone to heart murmurs, cataracts and subluxating patellas (slipping knee caps.) Cavaliers also have the highest incidence of any breed of Mitral Valve Disease. Pups should only be bred from specimens of the breed who have shown no sign of the disease at the older age of 3 - 5 years - a bit late for some to wait to start breeding, but perhaps necessary in order to eradicate the disease from the breed.

Susceptibility To Illness

In its heyday, this breed was known as a 'comforte dog' and doctors even wrote prescriptions with this little dog as the remedy. The original Cavalier King Charles was developed from the toy spaniels pictured in the work of 16th, 17th and 18th century painters such as Van Dyck, Titian, Stubbs and Gainsborough. These portraits show a small spaniel with a flat head, high set ears, almond shaped eyes and a pointed nose. They were very common as a ladies’ pet and were used to warm laps during cold carriage rides and while waiting about in chilly castles. Another job the dogs had was to attract fleas off their mistresses so that the owner would not get bitten and die of the plague. The royal name, 'King Charles Spaniel' was bestowed during the reign of King Charles II, who was so fond of his spaniels he could not be parted from them. He made a decree that King Charles Spaniels must be allowed in any public place, including the House of Parliament. This decree is still in the law books today

This is an affectionate, undemanding and easy to train family dog. Eager to please, it is wonderfully simple to train and can do well in obedience trials. It is a clean dog and will housebreak quickly.

Show Characteristics
The breed standard calls for an almost flat skull between the ears and a very shallow stop. The distance between the stop and the tip of the nose should be 1 and 1⁄2 inches and the nose must be black. The muzzle is tapered but not pointed and the lips should not be pendulous. A scissor or level bite is encouraged, while the undershot jaw of their near relation, the King Charles Spaniel is discouraged. Soulful eyes should be round and dark, widely spaced and not bulging. There should be a slight cushion under the eye, adding to their beguiling look. Well feathered ears should be high set and fairly long. The neck is relatively long for the size of the dog and leads into shoulders that are not too straight. A level back with a short body is desired. The chest should be of moderate depth and the ribs well sprung, while avoiding a barrel shape. Both fore and hind legs should be straight and of medium weight bone. The legs should be parallel so that the compact and well cushioned foot is pointed straight forward. Carried level with the back, the happy Cavy will keep its tail in perpetual motion. Graceful in gait, the dog’s cheery and positive disposition should shine through at all times. A long and silky coat is desired with much feathering.

Country Of Origin
Ireland & England

Famous Examples

Records Held


Overall Exercise
40 - 60 minutes per day. They will adapt to whatever amount of exercise you feel able to give but do need some regular exercise or they will put on the pounds.Distress Caused if Left Alone

Personal Protection

Suitability As Guard Dog

Tendency to Bark

Ease of Transportation

Level of Aggression

Compatibility With Other Animals

Suitable For Children

General Character And Temperament
This is an affectionate, undemanding and easy to train family dog.They are excellent with children and the elderly. They are not excessive barkers but will announce strangers. They are no guard dogs however, as they greet most people warmly. Cavaliers get along with everyone, including cats and other small pets. Being relatively small and easy going, they make good travel companions.

Coat Length

Grooming Requirement
Once a week

Cavaliers should be groomed thoroughly once a week. The nails and the hair between the pads of the feet should be trimmed once a month. This is a shedding dog but good grooming should keep the hair load on your furniture fairly low. Special attention must be given to the ears are they are drop ears and there is very little air circulation. No trimming is necessary and is, indeed, disallowed for the show ring.

The colours are black and tan, ruby, red and white (Blenheim) and tricolour (black and white with rich tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, underside of ears and tail).

Little, Tendency to Cause Allergies.