Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are small spaniels with long, silky, luxurious fur coats that are actually classified as a toy breed and fantastic family dogs. These spaniels come in a variety of colours including Black & Tan, Ruby, Tri-Colour (black, white and tan) and Blenheim (a chestnut and white mix). They have life spans of approximately 10-14 years and are one of the top 20 pure-breeds in North America. Cavaliers are typically great with other animals and children, but remember every dog has its own temperament.

Within the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed the colours and markings have acquired histories. The Black and Tan is referred to as “King Charles” in this Spaniel breed. The Tricolor which is black, white with tan markings is referred to as a “Prince Charles”, while the Chestnut and a Pearl White have their own colour called “Blenheim”. The Blenheim colour was bestowed upon the breed in honour of Blenheim Palace where The Duke of Marlborough John Churchill raised this particular breed colour.

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel received its name from King Charles II, a man who adored his pets and traveled with them everywhere. While it is descended from the Spaniels from Europe, it is actually a different breed from the “King Charles Spaniel” as most long nosed spaniels went extinct due to changing fancies for dogs. These “Toy Spaniels” were revived by Roswell Eldrige in the 1920s with a request to emulate the King Charles Spaniel of yore.

The characteristics were bred back in with selective breeding and the breed “Cavalier” King Charles Spaniel was recognized in 1945 separate from the original King Charles Spaniel. This “Cavalier” is a gentle and affectionate animal with dignity and nobility. They are typically family dogs great with children and an appreciation for “home” life rather than outdoors.

Cavalier King Charles Characteristics


Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.

Elbow dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, weight management, or medication to control the pain.

Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles. The dog’s fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, and the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which must continue throughout the dog’s life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease.

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat): Also called bloat or torsion, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs, especially if they’re fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large amounts of water rapidly, or exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Feeding your CKCS, kibble or raw food diets

An adult Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on a kibble diet requires a daily amount of 1-1 ½ cups divided into two meals of high-quality dry food a day. The exact amount required depends on their size, age and activity level. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference, the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog.

Raw dog food diets are not recommended by the American Veterinary Association and tend to be more expensive than dry food diets. They also tend to require more prep-time but advocates swear it provides a better dental health, shiner coat, and overall health as it requires a mindful approach. A raw diet usually consists of organ meat, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs and some fresh fruits and vegetables. Always consult your veterinarian prior to attempting a raw food diet.