Named for King Charles II of England, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a cute, fun-loving companion. This breed is growing in popularity thanks to their friendly nature, high energy, and small size.
Who doesn’t love Spaniels? They are always happy and smiling. You never lack a playmate when a Spaniel is around. These little pups can spend hours walking, hiking, or just playing in the yard. Their energy is almost limitless. While Cavaliers have plenty of energy, they are just as happy sitting on your lap. These little pups are always looking for a lap to jump into and fall asleep. Thanks to their easygoing nature, Cavaliers are great for people of all ages and energy levels.
Unfortunately, as happens all too often, people are adopting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels without fully understanding the level of care and attention that this adorable breed requires. Before you go out and find a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of your own, be sure you fully understand the commitment they need. You must commit not only time but often medical expenses to keep your new pup happy and healthy. If you can provide the care and attention that this breed requires, do not let the negatives turn you away from a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These pups love to be the center of attention, and they are sure to brighten your home.
10Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not the Original Breed
You may have seen portraits of King Charles II with his Spaniels and wondered how a dog breed could last that long. In truth, the modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not the same breed that was favored by King Charles II.
Dog breeds did not exist in a conventional sense until the formation of kennel clubs in the 19th century. In Victorian England, eugenics was a common practice, and breeders used it to create the first modern dog breeds. Since dogs breeds as they are known today did not exist during the reign of King Charles II, modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a re-creation of the original dogs based on portraits and accounts of the dogs.
The modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed is a combination of four different spaniel breeds resembling the original Spaniels owned by King Charles II. These are King Charles, Blenheim, Ruby, and Prince Charles Spaniels. These dogs were then crossed with pugs in the early 1900s to reduce the size of their nose and overall body size. The result is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today. Since the early 1900s, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has become much more uniform in appearance than the early breeds. They still have four main color variants, but generally, share a uniform appearance otherwise. Regardless of whether your new pup has a royal heritage, you can bet he is going to be your ever faithful companion. Cavaliers aim to please their humans.
9They Have Serious Medical Problems
Like most pure breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a laundry list of potential health problems. If you do choose to adopt a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, pet insurance is a must. Chances are you are going to have to have at least several expensive tests run throughout the life of your pup. Pet insurance rates may be higher than average for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as well due to their overall poor health. What causes these extensive health problems? Inbreeding. Like all pure breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are forbidden by kennel clubs from breeding outside of their breed. This results in reduced genetic diversity and converging family trees. The other problem is when breeders decide to adopt a new trait. This often results in direct inbreeding to reproduce the attribute.
Some of the most common health problems experienced by these pups are heart murmurs, mitral valve insufficiencies, and seizures. These are only the most common. Cavaliers are also prone to hip dysplasia, weak immune systems, slipping patella, and syringomyelia.
Because most of these problems are genetic, a simple way to avoid most problems is to adopt a first or second-generation mutt instead. While your new pup may not look exactly like his purebred cousins, he can be much healthier. Some common crossbreeds are pugs and Pekinese. Both of these breeds are a similar size to the cavalier and have similar features, but the introduction of new genes prevents genetic illnesses. You cannot register a mutt as a purebred and likely cannot enter most kennel club shows, but your pup’s health can be much better.
Cavaliers are very social dogs. They love to be around their people and are quick to jump in your lap the first chance they get. While new pet owners often desire this behavior, you must be sure that you can commit the time your new pup requires. A Cavalier may not be a good option for single people or couples who work all day. If you cannot spend most of the day with your pup, you should find a pet sitter to take care of your dog during the day.
It is imperative to your pup’s mental and physical health to be near people and to get the attention that they crave. Separation anxiety is not uncommon in dogs, and you can train most dogs out of it. Cavaliers have a much more difficult time with this, however, because they are social dogs. Prolonged time alone can lead to depression in your pup.
If you must have a Cavalier and a pet sitter is not an option, consider getting two, or another small dog. While your dogs are still going to miss you while you are at work, they are going to be much happier if they have someone to play with while you are gone. If you do get another breed to keep your Cavalier company, be sure to get another small or medium-sized dog. Your Cavalier needs someone his size to play with. A Mastiff or other large breed could accidentally hurt your pup.
7They Make Great Therapy Dogs
Thanks to their even and joyful temperament, as well as a tendency to fall asleep in any lap that they can find, Cavaliers make excellent therapy dogs. How could they not? Just look at those eyes. In addition to being even-tempered, Cavaliers are also easy to train. They are intelligent dogs bred for companionship, making them absolutely perfect for the role. Since therapy dogs require extensive training to be as docile as possible, Cavaliers have a natural edge over other breeds.
What is the role of a therapy dog? Therapy dogs often visit nursing homes, hospitals, and even courtrooms. These little bundles of joy exude a calming influence thanks to their calm nature. They can also offer much-needed support to the people they are helping. A happy, energetic pup is just the thing to brighten up a depressing nursing home or put a smile on the faces of children in the hospital.
Recently therapy dogs have also found their way into courtrooms. These good pups often sit with children when they are put on the stand to help comfort them. In a perfect world, children would never have to testify in court, but the unfortunate reality is that they all too often do. Being on the stand is terrifying for most adults; imagine how a child must feel. Thankfully, they can have their furry friends with them for encouragement and a sense of security.
6Be Careful Around Children
Cavaliers are, by their nature, very even-tempered and docile. This does not mean that they can never lash out, however. Cavaliers are small dogs, and a rough child can easily hurt them. They don’t mean to lash out, but when someone hurts them, that is the natural reaction of any animal. These adorable little pups make excellent family companions with very little training. If you have young children, it is more important to teach your children not to be rough with your pooch, rather than attempting to train a dog not to defend itself.
The main danger to both your pup and your child is the infamous toddler stage. This is not entirely the child’s fault. Toddlers are still developing their motor skills and have not learned how to interact with a small animal in general yet. If you have a toddler and a cavalier, be sure to supervise interactions between the two.
The most common way toddlers are likely to hurt your pup is by either petting the dog too hard or falling on them. When possible, stay with your child and teach them to pet the puppy gently. This ensures that your child is not going to fall on your pup, and you can teach them good dog manners. In this respect, Cavaliers are an excellent dog to teach your children because of their docile nature. A Cavalier is relatively unlikely to lash out compared to other breeds. By teaching your child to gently pet dogs, you can prevent them from accidentally getting bitten by an unfamiliar dog.
5Not a Good Guard Dog
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the quietest toy breed. They are very relaxed around people and often warm right up to strangers. This can be a great trait in your pup, especially if you live in an urban area. Unfortunately, their friendliness limits their effectiveness as watchdogs and their small size makes them entirely unsuitable for any guard duty. Your Cavalier is likely to let you know when someone is approaching, but do not expect them to bark at the slightest noise. For most people, this makes them the ideal companion. This is especially true of people living in apartments where you may have neighbors all around you.
Like all dogs, if you do not socialize your Cavalier pup from a young age, they are going to be more prone to barking. Thanks to their friendly nature, socializing a Cavalier is easier than most breeds. All you need to do is take your pup to the park or for a walk down the street. There is no wrong answer, other than isolating your puppy. Isolating your pup at a young age causes different brain development patterns, which make it much more difficult to socialize them later in life. Again, this is true of all dog breeds. Like humans, most of a dogs brain development occurs at an early age. It is vital to take advantage of this development time. In most dogs, this time is within the first six to nine months.
4No Special Access
A common urban legend about King Charles Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is that King Charles II issued a decree allowing the breed into any establishment in the UK. There is also a similar myth of an Act of Parliament which allows King Charles Spaniels to roam anywhere in the Palace of Westminster. This urban legend is so widespread that people have made of the Kennel Club, however, has stated that it cannot find any evidence of King Charles making this decree.
The myth states that King Charles II issued the decree so that his dogs could attend church with him. Given the temperament of the breed, it is understandable that he would have been able to justify this decision. Since Cavaliers are so even-tempered and quiet, it is unlikely that these dogs, especially well-trained Cavaliers, would cause a commotion.
Unfortunately for the Cavalier owner today, there are no records to support the existence of any law granting the breed unfettered access to any location. This isn’t due to a lack of love for the pups, however, but modern health codes necessitate the ban. An exception to this rule does exist and applies to all dogs. If your pup is a service dog, you can take them with you wherever you go. Do not abuse the system and make false claims that your pup is a service dog if they are not. While it may be tempting to take your puppy with you, remember that when people take advantage of relaxed enforcement, it makes things more difficult for people that do have legitimate service dogs and need their help.
3Fencing is a Must
Cavaliers are amiable dogs that want to play with anyone and everyone that they meet. This adorable trait does have a downside, however. They are easily distracted and can quickly run across the road or into the neighbor’s yard when they see another animal. If you live in an apartment and only let your pup off the leash at the dog park, you need not worry. For those who live in suburban or rural areas, fencing is a must. If your pup sees another dog, a squirrel, or even a butterfly, they could quickly get distracted and runoff.
An invisible fence is useful, but the best option for your dog is to use a combination of chain link fencing and an invisible fence. Without a visible barrier, your dog can get confused and attempt to run through the invisible fence. While this won’t harm your pup, it can cause them anxiety and cause them not to want to leave the yard, even for a walk.
A traditional chain link fence is a great option, but Cavaliers are small enough to slip under a poorly setup fence easily. If your pup is prone to dig, this can also be a concern. By using both a traditional chain link fence and an invisible fence, you can ensure that your pup cannot leave the yard without you. Another thing to keep in mind when considering an invisible fence is, your Cavalier is a small dog. Without a traditional fence, there is nothing to keep larger dogs out of your yard. This could potentially put your pup in danger if an aggressive neighbor dog gets loose and decides to come to your yard. A traditional fence not only keeps your pup in the yard, but it also keeps dangerous dogs out.
2Easy to Groom
Cavaliers have medium to long hair, but their fur is fine and silky. It is also not too thick, making grooming your Cavalier easy. Unlike many long-haired breeds, Cavaliers tend to have few matting issues with their fur.
You should brush your Cavalier at least two to three times per week. It is not necessary to brush your pup more than this, but it also can’t hurt. Chances are your Cavalier is going to enjoy the experience, especially since it means they get to sit in your lap and get attention from their favorite person. When brushing a Cavalier, use a comb or slick brush to remove tangles. It is essential to remove tangles early before they can form into mats in your dog’s fur. Once you have removed all of the knots, brush your pup again with a bristle brush. This gives your pup the shiny, feathered coat they are known for having.
If you plan to enter your Cavalier into shows, you should be aware that trimming their fur, especially the feathering behind their ears and legs, is prohibited. Doing so can get you disqualified. Aside from brushing, Cavaliers require the same grooming as other dogs. You should brush their teeth regularly or give them a quality brushing treat. This ensures their dental health stays good. This is not only important for shows but also your dog’s overall wellbeing and comfort. You should also trim their nails regularly and bath them once every three to four weeks. If your pup has a habit of getting muddy, you can bath them more often as needed, but use a gentler shampoo. Overwashing can dry out their skin and fur, causing itchiness, burning, and sores.
1Finding the Right Pup
Finding the right breeder can be difficult, especially if you live in a rural area. Thankfully, there are a few organizations that provide lists of reputable breeders. Check with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA branch to find a good breeder. You can also check with the American Kennel Society or the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club to find a good breeder or check for pups available for adoption.
A good breeder can answer any questions that you may have about your pups. They should also be able to pair you with the right puppy. They may even refer you to a different breed if they determine that a Cavalier is not right for you. While you may want to argue if denied, remember, good breeders, know their breed and know if a specific type of dog is not right for someone.
You should also expect your breeder to ask you several questions. They may even require an interview and personal references to make sure that you are going to treat your pup right. You should have a prepared answer for a few questions before you email your breeder. You can also help show the breeder your good intentions by answering some of these questions in your initial contact email.
Be prepared to tell the breeder what type of home you can provide for the pup. Do you have a yard? Can you, or someone in your household, stay home with the puppy during the day? How often can you take your pup for a walk? Are you going to be able to give your dog the time and attention they require at the end of the day? These are all questions that you can expect the breeder to ask. It is best to have these answers ready to go.
Cavaliers are the perfect companion dog. While they do have their health issues, if you get your pup from a good breeder, most of these issues can be prevented. Be sure to get a health certificate and take your puppy to the vet for an independent health inspection as well. Do not let the potential problems turn you away from this loving breed. If you can provide the time and attention that they require, a Cavalier is one of the happiest and friendliest dogs you are ever going to find. A Cavalier is just as much at home in an apartment as it is in a rural home with a large yard. Thanks to their small size, Cavaliers can get all the exercise they need in only a small space.
There is almost no home that a cavalier cannot make itself at home. If you have bigger dogs or small children, however, think carefully before you adopt a Cavalier. Remember, these pups are little and can easily be injured accidentally. As with any pup, be sure to check your local shelters before you contact a breeder. Who knows, you may find a Cavalier, or you may fall in love with a completely different pup. Like their human companions, every dog has a unique personality, and you may just discover one that perfectly matches your own.