Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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Cavalier King Charles


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is descended from another breed of much smaller spaniel, simply known as the King Charles Spaniel. Both breeds’ history is pretty interlocked. However, there are some definite split offs in defining them as two separate breeds.

To begin, the King Charles Spaniel is believed to have origins in Japan. It is also believed to share with the Pekingese and Japanese Chin breeds. These dogs (toy spaniels) came to Europe as gifts to the European royalty. These dogs have been noted in paintings and records as far back as the early 1500’s. The first instance of a toy spaniel pet in Europe was shown in a painting of Queen Mary I and King Philip.

Skipping ahead to the 17th century, spaniels still appeared in paintings throughout Europe. King Charles II was particularly fond of this breed, which is why they now share his name. While there is no hard evidence that the modern breed is descended from his dogs, specifically, he is credited with their increased popularity.

During the late 1600’s, Pugs were introduced to England and crossbred with the toy spaniels of that day. These dogs remained popular through the 18th century and were still being featured in many works of art and literature.

Popularity and name changes continued for these dogs until the early 1900’s. A competition in 1926 aimed at finding the best examples of the old type of King Charles Spaniel saw the differentiation of the King Charles Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In 1928, the first Cavalier club was formed.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel finally made its way to the United States in 1956. Then, in 1997, it was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club for the first time.

Originally, these dogs’ ancestors were used for hunting, or as “fashion” dogs for ladies.


While considered a “toy” breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the largest in existence today. However, it is still smaller than several other spaniel breeds. These dogs usually have a height of roughly 12 to 13 inches, and weight of about 10 to 18 pounds. They are sleek and their tails are not usually docked.

The coat is one of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s most distinguishing features. It is generally medium length, silky, and straight, although slight wave or curl may sometimes occur. They also have feathering on their ears, feet, legs, and tail. This breed has four recognized color patterns; chestnut and white, black and tan, ruby (chestnut entirely), and tricolor (black, white, and tan). Color markings appear on the cheeks, inside of the ears, inside of the legs, top of the forehead, eyebrows, and underside of the tail.

The skull is flat and somewhere in between square and rounded. In regards to the King Charles Spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s ears are set higher and the muzzle is longer.

The average life span for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 9 and 14 years.


One very charming aspect of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s personality is that they are a very social breed. They are affectionate and friendly with almost everyone. This includes children, since they are also very playful. This breed is also not afraid of interacting with larger dogs. Also, while they definitely have fun playing with the more active members of the household, they do not mind simply cuddling up on someone’s lap.

This dog is also a very versatile breed. Again, it can get along with people of all ages, from children to the elderly. It can also interact well with both larger and smaller dogs, as well as other pets, such as cats. Furthermore, they can easily adapt to any living situation, including various family structures or members, environments, locations, daily routines, etc.

As for training, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been ranked 44th out of all dog breeds on the intelligence scale. However, they still do very well with training, since they tend to form very strong bonds with their owners and are always eager to please. This is also why they are so adaptable to many different living situations.

Unfortunately, this breed does have some drawbacks. Because they are so active, they tend to just act instead of contemplate the decision first. For instance, they have a strong instinct to chase and often put themselves in danger by chasing moving vehicles in the street if not watched carefully. They also have a strong hunting instinct and can easily harm small animals. However, with the proper training, these dogs can be taught to live peacefully in a household with any other animal, including cats, birds, hamsters, gerbils, and more.

This breed is generally just a happy and active breed that loves to be around others and will adapt to whatever they have to.

Current Use

While they are no longer used to hunt, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is still one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Within the last several years, they have not fallen below the top 10 for most popular dog breed on an international data collection.

People generally use this dog as a companion animal, for numerous reasons. To summarize, they can adapt to almost any living situation, including family structure and environment, they are very social, and they are very easily trainable. These features make this breed a near perfect dog for any family. While yes, the grooming required to keep this dog’s coat in check can definitely take up a lot of time, the benefits of owning this dog outweigh the costs.

However, companionship is not the only thing this dog is used for. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is often used as a therapy dog, because of its gentle and social nature. This dog is just as physically comforting as it is emotionally; they love to snuggle and are very soft. Their owners often take them to visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers, retirement homes, and nursing homes.