Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

If you're hoping to find a small dog that is equally at home in the city or the country, plays well with other dogs and kids, is smart and easy to train, and is simply an all-around delight, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may be the perfect dog for you. These small spaniels weigh only 13-18 pounds, so they're very "portable" dogs. However, they make up for their small size with a large personality. Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniels are typically lively, playful, outgoing, and extremely affectionate dogs. They're happy to play outside in the sunshine, but once they've had their play, they're just happy to cuddle up any member of the family.

In fact, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are so devoted to their humans that it may be hard to leave your dog at home. They tend to get very attached and may become lonely or upset if left home alone for long periods of time. Fortunately, because they are so friendly, both with people and other dogs, they make a perfect companion for a quick outing or longer periods of travel. Though they are energetic and playful, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can also be calm and patient. They truly are excellent, well-rounded companion dogs.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed is also commonly known by the names Cav,Cavalier,Cavie.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 15 years

Breed group: Toy Dogs (AKC), Toy Dogs (KC), Companion and Toy Dogs Dogs (FCI)

Size: Small

Male Female
Height 12 - 13 in 12 - 13 in
Weight 9 - 18 lbs 9 - 18 lbs


Colors: Black and Tan, Tricolor, Blenheim, Ruby

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: Low

Good with children: Definitely

Good with other pets: Definitely

Intelligence / Trainability: High

Exercise needs: High

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Average

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Extremely sensitive

Good for novice owners: Definitely

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very low

Barking: Average

General health: Good

Cost to keep: Average


It is Charles II, great-grandson of Mary, Queen of Scots, who gave his name to the King Charles Spaniel. A small spaniel even accompanied Mary to her beheading. It is said that Charles II never went anywhere without at least two or three of the adorable little spaniels and declared spaniels to be allowed in all public places, including the Houses of Parliament. The actual Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a fairly new breed, but they are descended from the toy spaniels popular with nobility in the 16th to 18th century, including the spaniels favored by King Charles II.

Following the death of Charles II, the toy spaniel fell out of favor, but the breeding of the small dogs continued at Blenheim Palace the country estate of the Dukes of Marlborough. This is where the coloration "Blenheim" originated.

The true Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred in the 1920s when Roswell Eldridge traveled to England seeking dogs that looked the toy spaniels appearing in centuries-old paintings. He offered a 25 pounds sterling for the best bitch and dog to fit that representation. In 1928, Miss Mostyn Walker presented a dog named Ann's Son for evaluation and was awarded the 25-pound prize. The search revived interest in the breed, and in 1945, the Kennel Club (UK) recognized the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA was formed in 1954. In 1992, they were invited to become the parent club under the AKC but refused. In 1995, the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC) was granted parent club status and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel became officially recognized by the AKC.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a charming toy dog, known for it's delightful, gentle, and affectionate nature.
Typical characteristics are:

  • Proportionate head, large, round eyes, ears that frame the face, and a black nose.

  • Short, well-balanced body.

  • A well-set tail, always in motion.

  • Moderate-length, silky coat.

  • A variety of colors including: Blenheim, tricolor, ruby, black and tan.



Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are generally intelligent, and can quickly grasp basic commands. They are sweet, easy-going, and willing to please, so they are fairly easy to train. Treats and play will help encourage this fun-loving dog. Due to their comfortably small size and excellent attitude and trainability, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a good choice for a novice dog owner.

As intelligent dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will need an outlet for their intelligence and energy. Playtime and walks will help prevent your dog from acting out in undesirable ways like chewing, barking, etc.


For small dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a fair amount of energy, though actual energy levels vary from dog to dog. Some are couch potatoes while others are quite active. They are bright, fun-loving, and always ready for playtime or to go with you on an outing or adventure. However, it doesn't require a ton of daily exercise to tire them out. A walk around the block is generally enough.

Exercising your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy requires a few special considerations. They have an increased risk of hip dysplasia. Avoid exercising on slippery surfaces and climbing stairs under the age of 3 months. Exercise is needed, however, as strong muscles will increase the stability of the hip joint. Outdoor exercise on soft, uneven grounds seems to have a lower risk. Try to avoid exercise that involves running, jumping and playing on hard surfaces until the age of two.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred as companion animals and they require attention from their owners. They are social, snuggly pets and are happiest if they can spend all of their time alongside their family. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are friendly dogs and definitely not watch dogs. They are usually very friendly to everyone they meet, including any intruder in your house. Some may bark and act as "alarm" dogs, but it's not likely. However, keep in mind that every puppy requires proper socialization to new people and animals.

Living Conditions

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are companion pets and need to live indoors alongside their families. They are adaptable dogs and are happy in apartments and large homes. As small, friendly dogs with a low tendency to bark and don't require a lot of activity, they are especially well-suited to apartment living.

Children and Other Pets

Cavaliers are excellent family dogs and live comfortably alongside children as playmates and snugglers. However, due to their small size, care should be taken so that a child does not accidentally injure the dog. That said, extra care should be taken, especially with young children (under the age of 6).

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

No dog, regardless of breed, should be left unattended with young children.

In general, Cavaliers get along very well with other dogs and pets, especially if they are properly socialized as puppies. They do have a tendency to chase, so care should be taken with cats and other small mammals.


The average life expectancy of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 10 - 15 years. Like all breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to these diseases:
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) (hereditary)
  • Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) (hereditary)
  • Syringomyelia (SM) (hereditary)
  • Episodic Falling (hereditary)
  • Patellar Luxation (hereditary) : Patellar luxation is a very common orthopedic disorder in dogs. A patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated or slips out of its normal position. More info»


Cavaliers do require a fair amount of grooming, but they are small dogs, so it's not a huge time commitment. Their soft coats should be brushed three to four times a week to prevent mats and tangling. If your King Charles Spaniel spends a lot of time playing outdoors, you may want to consider a weekly bath with a pH balanced shampoo designed specifically for dogs. It is likely that your little friend will go outside, get a bit dirty, and then snuggle up in your lap or your bed. They are moderate shedders and regular grooming will help to remove dead hair.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs. Cavaliers may not wear their nails down on their own. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly to prevent tartar build-uo.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.


Feeding recommendations: 1/2 to 1 cup of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Special attention is needed when feeding puppies. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a burden but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.