Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
John Walton
Written by John Walton

It goes without saying that the best dog is the one that reflects your very own personality. This is why there is currently such a diverse and rich pool of breeds that you can choose from. There are tough dogs for though people, there are guard dogs for protective people, there are hunting dogs for outdoorsy people, but what about the people that want nothing more than to be loved? Well there are dogs for that as well, and at the top of that specific ladder, sits the “love sponge” itself, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Love Sponge is actually a valid nickname given to these dogs, because of the fact that they simply live to love, please and provide everyone with an all-around hefty dose of affection.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsBelow Average

Dog Breed Group:Toy
Height:12 – 13 inches
Weight:13 – 18 Lbs.
Life Span:9 to 14 years

Do you know the expression “puppy dog eyes”? Well these little dogs are rocking those big expressive eyes for their entire lives, and they have been proven to be among the very few dogs that actually help prevent heart disease and lower the blood pressure in humans by simply being petted.

This is a “toy dog”, meaning that it is very small in size, however what this dog lacks in size, compared to other dogs, makes up for when it comes to love and affection. Another thing to note about this dog is the fact that it is probably one of the cutest and most beautiful dogs that you will even encounter, with a silky feathered coat, a beautifully expressive face, and the ability to brighten everyone’s day by simply being what it is, a love sponge.

They are not particularly versatile, nor able to fulfill any other role than a small lap dog; however they are basically the perfect house pet without the possibility of changing roles.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was the popular choice for royalty ever since the 1500s when they were brought to Scotland from continental Europe, and the most prominent lover of the breed is the man that lent his very name to the breed, King Charles The Second himself. It is said that King Charles was so attached to his dogs that he never went anywhere without his 2 or 3 little spaniels

Sadly, when the monarchy fell, so did the popularity and the love for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and it continued to decline to the point where the breed was about to be declared extinct. That is, of course, until 1923, when an American dog enthusiast by the name of Roswell Eldridge, inspired by the many paintings in which these dogs appeared sitting on the laps of royalty, decided that he wanted to bring back the breed, and so he did.

Another serious blow was dealt to this cute breed during World War II, where their numbers dwindled down to 6. Not 6000, but rather down to just 6 individuals of that breed. Luckily, it is an enduring breed, and it still managed to survive, even though its numbers dipped well under the critical population limit, and all the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that are alive today can be traced back to either 1 of those 6 dogs.

They have a sweet and gentle temperament, often resorting to licking a person than being aggressive towards it. There have been some arguments over whether or not this dog should be trained at all, because of the fact that they are born with this “love sponge” personality, however make no mistake about it, without socializing or any training, this cute little dog can turn destructive and often rambunctious when it comes to strangers and other dogs.

Main Highlights
  • Probably one of the most loving dog breeds that you will even encounter.
  • It is a dog that will simply warm your heart regardless of how down you are feeling that particular day.
  • It can do well in any living space, from the smallest of apartments to the biggest of ranches.
  • It can keep up with a horse.
  • It will live 9-14years, if properly fed and maintained.
  • One of the most important breed characteristics is the pair of big expressive eyes that they sport.
  • They have beautiful feathered coats which require grooming and regular cleaning.
  • They are house dogs however they require at least 1 proper walk per day.
  • They are the friendliest of dog breeds out there.
  • They come in 4 colors.
  • The fact that they aim to please make training incredibly easy.
  • They are friendly with: Other dogs, other pets, kids, adults, grandparents, strangers, anything that breathes.
  • They love playing around with everyone and being the center of attention.
  • They don’t really have any congenital health issues apart from heart problems, however these problems are treatable without any difficulties.
Breed History

This breed has quite a bit of history behind. However it is not a pretty story, at all. It was bred for nobility, and they served as lap dogs in order to keep their masters warm by sitting on their laps and on their feet, as well as on their beds in order to attract the fleas off of the masters and onto them.

In the 1500s, they have been brought to Scotland by ship, where they gained a lot of popularity, again throughout the nobility and the higher echelon of society.

One of the most noted and prominent lovers of this breed was King Charles the second, which was said to go as far as to arrange his schedule in such a way that allowed him to spend as much time with his dogs as possible. There are quite a lot of paintings from his time that depict him with his beloved dogs, and there are even stories in which King Charles refused to go anywhere without his beloved spaniels accompanying him.

He even lent the breed his own name, however times were to grow a bit bleak for the little toy dogs, because soon after, the monarchy fell, and the dog’s popularity fell with it. The breed’s numbers began to thin out because of the very low demand for it, most people preferring bigger and sturdier dogs, not to mention that it was the time where working breeds gained a lot of popularity, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was strictly an indoor house pet.

By the early 1900s, the dog breed was vastly considered extinct, with very few individuals alive, and its numbers a long way below the critical population mass threshold. It was in 1923 that Roswell Eldridge decided to bring back the breed after seeing so many paintings of noblemen and women from the monarchy years with this dog breed on their lap, so he decided to pay a very hefty sum of money to all the breeders and merchants that were able to provide him with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

With the combined efforts of Roswell Eldridge and a few other American breeders, the breed came back, becoming more and more popular, so much so that it was actually starting to be in demand.

World War II came shortly afterwards, and by the end of it, due to lack of demand and the fact that the vast majority of breeders were drafted into the war, combined with the fact that owning a pet during the war was considered a great waste unless it was a working breed with a set purpose, there were only 6 registered and pedigreed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels left in the entire world.

It was the lowest number of individuals in dog breed history that a breed managed to dip to and recover, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the only dog breed that managed to do so.

The breed came back, and it came back in force, gaining huge popularity especially among celebrities and world leaders, and today it is one of the most sought after breed because of their kind, gentle and loving nature.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy dog, meaning that it is very small. It measures only 12-13 inches in height and 20-22 inches in length, and it weighs in at between 13 and 18 pounds.

It might be a small dog, but it has a very big heart.

Personality and Character

One of the defining things about a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is its temperament. Nicknamed “The Love Sponge”, this is by far one of the most loving dogs in the world.

They are very gentle and very loving, aiming to please their masters and exchange affection with them. They have no rebellion, no fight and no stubbornness in them, the simply want to love and be loved. They have no problem playing and interacting with other pets, animals or even kids and strangers, generally seeking love and affection.

Because of this temperament and their loving personalities, they are extremely easy to train, socialize and have around the family. They are especially recommended for elders and children because of their affectionate nature.

Health and Potential Problems

There are not many issues to worry about when it comes to the health of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as it is generally a healthy and happy dog. There is, however, one thing that you should keep in mind, and if ignored it can become a serious problem in the future.

The only thing that can cause issues in the long run is a heart condition that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to develop every now and again called Mitral Valve Disease. This disease causes the Mitral Valves, in the heart, to atrophy and function incorrectly, failing to close properly. This in turn causes issues with the blood flow inside the heart, leading to heart failure and a slew of other dangerous problems.

The good news is that it can be treated easily, with a very comfortable treatment, usually involving pills to be administered to the dog, for the rest of his or her life. This disease does not affect all of them though, it is rather something hereditary which is passed on to a minute number of individuals, and you could end up dodging it all together If you do a bit of research into the dog’s lineage and his or her predecessors.

Care Features

When it comes to caring for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you don’t really have to do much at all, really. They require basic upkeep, with no real effort on your part.

These are strictly indoor dogs but they need their daily walk and a bit of exercise thrown in there. These are not fighting dogs, and they can’t really fend for themselves all that well either. Even more, the fact that it is a very friendly dog which tends to go around meeting everyone tends to get him in trouble when meeting more aggressive dogs.

As with all dog breeds, make sure that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel receives the shots and vaccines that he or she needs, and that the dog makes regular visits to your local veterinarian. This will help with detecting problems early on, and prevent any major issue from occurring.

Feeding Schedule

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel requires little food and it is very easy to overfeed them.

Feed the dog 2 times per day with normal commercial dog food, however do remember to check and see if he or she is getting a tad overweight by running your hand along its back.

If you can almost feel the ribs and spine, then it’s ok. If they are protruding and you can feel them easily then it is underfed, and if you cannot feel them at all then you have overfed your dog.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes in 4 color varieties:

  • Black and brown
  • Black, brown and white
  • All brown
  • Brown and white

It is to be noted here that the brown and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are among the rarest of the 4, and are considered a lot more valuable.

Grooming is a must, especially with their silky feathered coat. Make sure you brush their coat thoroughly and you bathe the dogs often, they tend to get relatively dirty throughout the week.

Like all other dog, this one sheds, and even though it is quite a small and cute little dog, it tends to shed a lot, especially during hot seasons if he or she is not groomed and brushed regularly.

When you are brushing your dog, make sure to pay particular attention to the ears. The wavy hair on them tends to be a magnet for dust and other particles which get trapped in it and cause odors and other nasty things.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a loving dog, always keen to meet new people and animals and quick to make friends.

You should have no problem bringing this dog into your home or your family, and if anything, the dog will actually enjoy the company of other pets and family members, always finding new ways of sponging more love off of them.

This is one of those dogs that simply love kids and hanging out with them, but be careful because this dog tends to not respond so well when around rambunctious children, often leading to the dog getting hurt either physically or emotionally.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel truly is a special dog. All dogs love their owners, however this little dog takes it to a whole new level, bringing a lot more love and affection to the table than one might think is even possible.

It is the perfect family dog, it’s able to make new friends fast, and always manages to be a happy go lucky and upbeat little canine. It does not require much upkeep, it will win the heart of every single person that will see it, and it certainly win your family over in a matter of seconds.

Easily trainable because of its temperament and desire to please, perfect for indoor living and capable of handling living in anything from a small apartment to a big open ranch, it truly is a dog that mush have in your house.

Making a decision regarding what breed your dog will be is not an easy one, and you have to take a lot of things into consideration before making this decision, however you simply cannot go wrong with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and if you are the right loving person for the dog, then the dog cannot go wrong with you.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.