Where Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Come From?

As you can tell by its name, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a royal connection. They are named after the English King Charles II who was restored to the English throne (the 1660 Restoration) after the death of Oliver Cromwell. King Charles II was known for his love of dogs as well as his love of chasing women (he had at least 12 illegitimate children from 7 mistresses).

Both English Kings Charles I and Charles II were devoted dog lovers of toy spaniels. The Cavalier part of the dog’s name is taken from the supporters of the two Kings Charles during the English Civil War. King Charles II was especially fond of his dogs and was said to spend more time with them than taking care of running the country.

After King Charles II’s death, the looks of Toy Spaniels began to change as they were bred with flatter nose dogs, probably the Pug and Japanese Chin. Eventually, the shorter-nosed Toy Spaniel became more popular. These dogs became known as English Toy Spaniel or King Charles Spaniel (without the Cavalier).

English Toy Spaniel
Japanese Chin

In 1926, Roswell Elridge, a wealthy American, offered a big prize for the best “pointed nosed” Spaniels that looked like the dogs in the portraits of King Charles II. This caused many breeders to try to develop the original look and those dogs became the now-famous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

The Cavalier is a small dog standing between 12-13 inches tall and weight 13-18 pounds. It is included in the AKC’s Toy Dog Group. Its coat comes in 4 colors, black & tan, black & white, blenheim, and ruby.

Black and Tan
Black and White

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Easy To Train?

According to Stanley Coren’s book, “The Intelligence of Dogs, the Cavalier ranks 44 out of 79 in trainability. This puts them right about average in doggie intelligence. So, you may need to put some effort in house training the Cavalier but it should not be overly difficult.

The Cavalier is a very affectionate dog who is eager to please. This attitude makes it relatively easy to train and it can do well in dog competition sports such as dog agility and flyball.

If you are not inclined to spend time training your pooch for rigorous competitive dog sports, your Cavalier will happily cuddle up on the couch with you. Whatever you are doing, it will want to do. Being a lapdog is maybe its greatest calling.

As a watchdog, the Cavalier is just about average. It may make some noise when visitors arrive, but it is a lover, not a fighter and is much more likely to lick rather than bite.

Squirrels that live in your backyard are the only animals at risk. Cavaliers do have a spaniel heritage, so they like to chase things. If you let your Cavalier out by itself, make sure you have a fenced and secure backyard. They may wander off in chase of anything that will run from in. And because of their cuteness, they can be a target for dog thieves, probably the most dastardly of all human miscreants.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Healthy?

The lifespan of the Cavalier is 12 to 15 years. However, they do face some health challenges during their lives. One of the most common is mitral valve disease of the heart. Most Cavaliers suffer from this disease at some point which can shorter their lives.

Unfortunately, the modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed descended from a small group of dogs of Roswell Elridge contest winners. Consequently, they will have a condition known as founder effect.

Some other health issues this breed may encounter include eye problems, patella luxationhip dysplasia, middle ear infections, and syringomyelia. While all these medical issues may sound scary, they can be screened for, and most Cavaliers live relatively healthy and long lives.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

The Cavaliers coat is medium length and silky. They will need routine brushing that can help remove any loose hair. They do shed a moderate amount and are not a hypoallergenic dog breed. Expect to find dog hairs around the house.

Show dogs are not clipped except for their feet. However, trips to the groomer every couple of months for a bath and maybe a bit of clipping will keep your dog looking its best.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Expensive?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has become a very popular dog and ranks number 16 on the AKC’s 2019 dog popularity list. With fame comes what might seem a small fortune it takes to buy one. Depending on its pedigree and where you buy it, the cost of a Cavaliers puppy is likely to begin at around $2,000 and go up from there.

Sometimes even dogs as popular and adorable as the Cavalier end up a rescue dog. One website to visit if you are interested in rescuing a dog is the Cavalier Rescue Trust.

For more information on the Cavalier, visit the websites of the American Kennel Club and the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, Inc.

Other Small Dog Breeds To Consider

BreedHeight (inches)Country of Origin
Lhasa apso
Lhasa Apso
Height (inches): 10-11
Weight (Pounds): 12-18
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 71
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
Height (inches): 9-16
Weight (Pounds): 10-18
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-18
Popularity (AKC): 20
Group (AKC): Toy
Tibetan Spanie
Tibetan Spaniel
Height (inches): 10
Weight (Pounds): 9-15
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 119
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
Height (inches): 6-9
Weight (Pounds): up to 14
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-14
Popularity (AKC): 92
Group (AKC): Toy
Japanese Chin Dog
Japanese Chin
Height (inches): 8-11
Weight (Pounds): 7-11
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): 104
Group (AKC): Toy