Would you like a dog to sit and cuddle with in the evening while you are relaxing or a dog that will gladly go on walks or even hiking with you in the woods?  A dog that is intelligent and easy to train--to either become a delightful companion or to perform enthusiastically in the conformation, obedience and/or agility ring?  Or a dog that is totally comfortable either playing with the children, helping you host a dinner party, or working in a therapy program at your local hospital?

How about a dog that will do all of these things and more?!  AND look absolutely beautiful while doing it as well!  That would be the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

heidi at christmasThe Cavalier is a small dog with a true spaniel temperament.  Due to its long history of having been bred to be the ultimate companion/comforter spaniel, it has a truly wonderful temperament, somewhat active--yet calm, and empathetic to the max.  It is often referred to as a big dog in a small dog package due to the fact that it is not as yappy, nor as active as most toy breeds.  It possesses a fearless and sporting attitude, yet it is gentle and affectionate.  Possibly the most adaptable of all dogs it is just as happy sitting in your lap as it is hunting outside for birds and rabbits.  Just as happy living in a house in the country or in an apartment in the city.  A truly loving and affectionate dog that seems to get along with everyone and everything--while it's tail never stops wagging!

Cavaliers do not seem to be big barkers, and should not be considered much of a watchdog.  A knock on the door may bring a few barks but the Cavalier will usually rush to the door wagging it's tail, eagerly waiting to see who is visiting.

The following link will take you to a most interesting article about the development of the toy spaniel and eventually the Cavalier.

didi at showA BOY OR A GIRL?
Nearly all Cavaliers are very friendly, extremely sociable and affectionate.  On average the boys tend to be even more so--a little larger, a little more active, a little more affectionate and loving.  But the real difference is not that great.  It is probably best to go by the actual personality of a particular puppy, rather than focusing on whether you want a boy or a girl.



The Cavalier is a small dog and competes in the Toy Group at dog shows in most countries.  Despite its small size, it is a somewhat substantial dog, and feels heavier than it looks.  The breed standard says they are supposed to be about 12 to 13 inches tall at the top of the shoulders and weigh approximately 12 to 18 pounds.  The girls tend to be smaller than the boys, normally weighing about 12-16 pounds.  The boys usually weigh in the 16 to 20 pound range.  These are average weights though.  There are a few Cavaliers that only weigh 10 to 12 pounds, and many that weigh up to 25 pounds and sometimes more.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes in four distinct and beautiful colors.

blenheim cavalier


<Blenheim:  rich chestnut markings on a pearly white ground.  The ears are red and the color evenly placed on the head, with a wide white blaze between the ears, in the center of which may be the much valued lozenge or "blenheim spot". 




tricolor cavalier



Tricolor:  jet black markings well broken up on a pearly white ground with rich tan markings> over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears and under the tail.




ruby cavalier


<Ruby:  whole-colored rich red.






black and tan cavalier

Black and Tan: jet black with rich tan markings over eyes, on cheeks,>  inside ears, on >
chest, legs and underside of tail.



There is very little grooming involved with the Cavalier therefore professional grooming is not necessary.  It has a very soft, silky coat which is fairly short on top, but has long feathering on the ears, tail, belly, legs and chest--very different from an American Cocker Spaniel.  An occasional bath, cutting the nails once or twice a month, and regular brushing is all that is necessary.  Cavaliers DO shed, pretty much year around, but in proportion to their small size.  Brushing and combing the coat several times a week during the shedding season, and especially finishing with a flea comb, will cut down on shedding tremendously.

Cavaliers, like ALL dogs, both purebred and mixed, do have some inherited health problems, yet the Cavalier tends to rank low amongst other types of dogs on the scale of genetic diseases affecting different breeds.  According to AVAR's Guide to Genetic Diseases in dogs, they have found approximately 13 different diseases that Cavaliers may be affected by--whereas in many other breeds such as the Golden Retriever or the American Cocker they have found 40 or 50 and more!

BUT, as said above, there are some inherited problems to be found in this breed, the most prevalent and serious of which is Mitral Valve Disease (MVD).   For lots more information on MVD and some of the other problems that can affect the Cavalier, it is VERY important that you carefully read the other pages in this site specific to those problems.

Overall, the Cavalier tends to be a fairly hardy and healthy breed.  On a day-to-day basis they rarely get sick.  Average life expectancy is about 10-12 years, but quite a few live to age 13 and beyond.

Additional Sites for More Breed Info

CKCSC Cavalier Site
ACKCSC Cavalier Site
English Cavalier Site
Canadian Cavalier Site

Before looking for a puppy please read the page on *Buying a Puppy* carefully and then all of the pages on Health.  Choose the breeder first, and then choose the puppy.  If not you could very well be the one receiving the following response from a reputable breeder you contacted for a puppy previously but decided not to buy from and are now asking for help with the puppy you did buy from a not-so-reputable breeder:

Dear Puppy Buyer,

   A while ago, you called me inquiring about the possibility of purchasing a Cavalier puppy.  I did not have anything immediately available and was in the middle of dinner, but I spent over an hour on the telephone with you anyway, hoping that I could at least assist you in your search for a puppy, in part by educating you to the ins and outs of purchasing a Cavalier.  We talked about the importance of tested parents.  We talked about MVD and eye problems, hip dysplasia and bad patellas.  We talked about proper veterinary care of the parents and socialization of the puppies.  We talked about puppy mills, pet stores and brokers.  I told you what each was and why to avoid them.  I referred you to several websites in order to help further your knowledge.

     We talked about the importance of buying from a reputable breeder and the concept of "buying your breeder" first.  We talked about not buying a puppy in haste and the importance of packing a boatload of patience and waiting until a puppy from a reputable breeder was available.

     We talked about registries.  I told you the differences between the reputable, valid registries and the worthless ones designed to fool the foolish and aid and abet puppy mills.  We talked about show quality vs. pet quality puppies and restricted and unrestricted pedigrees.  I referred you to the National Clubs' websites so you could not only learn more about the breed, but see lists of breeders as well as lists of people expelled for unethical breeding practices.

     We talked about dog shows and which ones were coming up that you could attend to meet breeders and owners and see lots of beautiful Cavaliers.  We even set a date and time for you to come to the house and visit with me and my dogs, even though I had no puppies to sell you.

     You were affable and agreeable and I hung up the phone hoping that I had at least put you on the right track to finding a Cavalier puppy that would become a wonderful addition to your family.  

     I did wonder why you never came over my house as we'd planned.

     Now, a few short weeks later I find an email from you in my email box and you want my help again.  I see you already bought your first Cavalier puppy-- from a person advertising on one of the "Puppies for Sale" internet sites.  Wow!  I see that he's an import!  I enjoyed very much seeing his picture, but I'm not quite sure if he's a blenheim or a mismarked ruby, or even if he is a purebred Cavalier--as he has some distinct resemblence to another breed.  How nice of the breeder to meet you in the parking lot of the local mall rather than having you drive ALL the way to the breeder's house to get the puppy.  You say that your veterinarian tells you he had luxating patellas and he believes he hears an audible heart murmur. I'm so sorry that he also has something wrong with his eyes.  All that compounded with the fact that he hides under the furniture most of every day, you cannot get any registration papers that you were promised and the nice breeder you bought him from has cashed your check and will no longer return your phone calls.

     I have no assistance to offer you at this point other than a reality check.  Despite my previous attempt, you failed to listen to anything I said.  So, I hope you listen now.  You have the Cavalier puppy you bought.  You will never receive your registration papers, those ones you were promised.  You will never receive the health clearances of the parents, no matter how many phone calls you make because they are non-existent.  You have no prayer of getting any of your money back--even if you go to court.  That person you purchased your puppy from wouldn't know MVD from MTV and probably thinks geographic dysplasia is something that happens when a map is folded wrong.  The puppy you purchased was probably one of many that this kind, sweet person imports on a regular basis from foreign countries for resale in the U.S.  The puppy you purchased was most likely ripped from his mom at 5 weeks of age to be shipped over to this nice person by 6 weeks of age.  I'll bet this nice person even told you that puppies from foreign countries don't have the health problems that Cavaliers do in the States.  Wrong! You didn't listen before so I hope you hear me now.  This person didn't and doesn't care a rat's patoot about the puppy you purchased, your feelings, or your present dilemma.  This person cared about one thing and one thing only; your wallet.  I'll even go so far as to say that I bet this person told you they would only accept cash, credit or a certified check.  The very slight or almost non-existent difference between the price you paid for this puppy as compared to a well bred one from a reputable breeder is probably wiped out by the vet bills you have already incurred and will continue to incur.

     Attached you will find a list of Certified Veterinary Cardiologists, Ophthalmologists and other specialists in your area.  You are probably going to need this list.

     Congratulations again on the puppy you have purchased.  Hold him close and love him well.  Offer him as high a quality of life as you can afford.  Hopefully, it will help make up for the lack of quantity of life and the pain he is probably going to have to endure for much of his life.

                                                                          Sincerely yours,

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