Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: When You Really Need A Lapdog

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 and chasing women (he had at least 12 illegitimate children from 7 mistresses).

During the English Civil War, the Cavalier part of the dog’s name is taken from the supporter of the two Kings, Charles. English Kings Charles I and Charles II were devoted dog lovers of toy Spaniels. 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 Spaniels or King Charles Spaniels (without the Cavalier).



Coming to America

An American named Roswell Eldridge traveled to England in the middle of the 1920s to locate the old-style “nosey” Spaniels. He was shocked to discover that the dog he had seen in the antique artwork was not there. The dog had to be shown at Crufts, “as represented in the picture of King Charles II’s period. It needed a long face,  flat skull, and with the spot in the center of the skull.”  For such a dog, he promised a prize of 25 pounds for five years.

This caused many breeders to try to develop the original look, and those dogs became the now-famous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. A standard was created using Ann’s Son as an example in 1928 after a dog named Ann’s Son won the 25-pound award in 1927.  



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

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Black and Tan
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Black and White

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 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 into house training the Cavalier, but it should not be overly complicated.



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.

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

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 cruelest 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 the founder effect.

Nearly all Cavaliers eventually develop mitral valve disease, which can cause heart murmurs to intensify over time and eventually cause heart failure. Since this ailment is polygenic (caused by numerous genes), it can affect any line of Cavaliers anywhere in the world. In the breed, it is the leading cause of death. According to a study by The Kennel Club of the UK, heart disease accounts for 42.8% of Cavalier deaths. Cancer and old age are the second and third most typical causes.

Some other health issues this breed may encounter include eye problems, patella luxation, hip 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 some clipping will keep your dog looking its best.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Expensive?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has become a 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 being rescue dogs. One website to visit if you are interested in rescuing a dog is the Cavalier Rescue Trust.

More Information

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

BreedStatsCountry of Origin
Lhasa apsoLhasa Apso
Height (inches): 10-11
Weight (Pounds): 12-18
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 71
Group (AKC): Non-Sporting
Shih TzuShih Tzu
Height (inches): 9-16
Weight (Pounds): 10-18
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-18
Popularity (AKC): 20
Group (AKC): Toy
Tibetan SpanieTibetan 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 DogJapanese Chin
Height (inches): 8-11
Weight (Pounds): 7-11
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): 104
Group (AKC): Toy




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