The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Weight: 13 — 18 lbs
Height: 12” — 13”
AKC Rank 2008 #25
Lifespan: 9—14 yrs
Group Toy
Origin England

Dog Breed Info -- King Charles Spaniel

King Charles Spanial with a stick relaxing at the beach
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Breed Overview

The Cavalier King Charles is an elegant Toy Spaniel with a gentle, sweet, melting expression. Origin, 1600’s used for flushing small birds and as a lap dog. Today, companion dog.

Cavalier King Charles' were probably the result of breeding Oriental toy breeds such as the Japanese Chin and the Tibetan Spaniel. By the late 1900’s the few dogs that resembled the early dogs of the breed were considered to be inferior. Breeders bred their old type dogs together in an effort to get the best possible companion dog but the public appreciated the old type. By 1996 the American Kennel Club registered the Cavalier King Charles'. The breeds popularity continued in America. The dog is known for it’s mild, sweet expression.

-----------------------------------------------"You want me to WHAT?"
descriptive textTrainability

The King Charles is intelligent, easy to train, eager to please.This dog will respond extremely well to clicker training and it is so easy to use. Stop by a pet store and pick up a clicker for around $3. Very simple to use and the dog will love it.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your King Charles Spaniel? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy is notably easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

A young girl and her spaniel
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The Cavalier King Charles' is an ideal house dog. He is sweet, gentle, willing to please, playful, affectionate, and a quiet little fellow. He is friendly toward other dogs, pets and strangers. When outdoors, the “spaniel” in him shows up and the dog loves to explore and roam and sniff. However...

Small dogs like the King Charles have a natural problem in that they often want to dominate the house and everyone in it. Small dogs must be heavily socialized starting very young and continued on. They need an owner and family that understands dogs and how to exert a firm but kind "pack leader" (alpha dog) dominance role over them. It is very important not to let the dog think he's "boss!"

If you happen to get a Spaniel with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Likes other dogs as a rule. Friendly little fellow.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes. Gets along with household pets.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, very friendly. Bring on the relatives and neighbors.


Yes. The King Charles Spaniel is very playful.


Yes. Exceptionally affectionate little dog.

Good with children

Not really. Older children, okay… 10 and up if they are educated in behaving around small dogs. This breed does not have a lot of patience for very young kids and their antics.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would be excellent for a senior. Moderate exercise, light weight, happy little lap dog, the Spaniel is perfect for a senior. Check your King Charles Rescue groups for an older dog if longevity is a problem.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, big city, all OK. Needs to live indoors with family. This is a family dog.

The 'Cavalier Spaniel would like a large yard where she could play fetch and run around chasing balls and maybe a Frisbee. If a big yard is not available, that's okay as long as she gets her walks and play time in somewhere.

An apartment is fine as long as the King Charles Spaniel gets a little outdoor exercise.

Energy level


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Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A walk on leash twice daily or some backyard play is enough for the Cavalier.



Moderate. Will alert when someone is at the door.

Guard dog

No. Too friendly. Too small.




Must be brushed 3 to 4 times a week. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's long flowing coat gets tangled and matted quite easily. The long ear flaps require frequent cleaning of accumulated debris and dirt.



Suggested Reading - King Charles

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008, includes a DVD.


King Charles Spaniel Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for King Charles puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
King Charles Spaniel Breeders with puppies for sale.

King Charles Spaniel Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Spaniel and are looking for a King Charles Spaniel Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - King Charles Spaniel Rescue - (Nationwide) Before you adopt, be sure to read the dog breed info above and below and when you adopt, be sure dog health is a priority.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas. Look for King Charles Rescue groups locally too.

Dog Health Issues - The King Charles Spaniel
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog health and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Mitral stenosis (Mitral valve insufficiency)—Hereditary heart problem in the King Charles Spaniel. A weak mitral valve allows blood to flow backwards and to simplify this, the net result is an enlarged heart and when the heart can no longer compensate, look for a loss of desire for exercise, trouble breathing, coughing at night and liquid in the lungs. As this progresses, the dog may collapse. There is no cure... but if you act quickly, the vet may be able to make the dog more comfortable with medication and diet.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking for the Cavalier Spaniel. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Syringomyelia—A complicated disease of swelling in the spine with weakness, pain in the neck and shoulders and possibly causing facial nerve paralysis. It is treated with medications but if unresponsive, surgery is a final option in some cases. This disease is found only in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the King Charles Spaniel’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, or has weak legs, look for patellar luxation in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little, side-to-side over the knee, until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. More severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and will be tearing excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. Excessive tearing may be present. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Retinal dysplasia—Caused by trauma, hereditary or damage from an infection. Abnormal development of the retina with folds in the outer layers. The folds are small and may not bother the dog, however, larger obstructions can lead to blindness in the Cavalier. Retinal dysplasia is a congenital problem that does not necessarily worsen with age.

  • Corneal Dystrophy—An inherited disease of the eye. A fluid buildup causing the outer part of the cornea to appear white and move inward toward the center. A very painful and difficult to treat ulcer will develop.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature in the King Charles Spaniel. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated can lead to total blindness.

  • Epilepsy - A serious seizure disorder that appears at around the age of 2 to 4 or 5 in dogs..

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. See vet immediately for treatment program.

  • Brachycephalic syndrome—Difficulty breathing in dogs with a short face and head such as the English Bulldog. They have a soft, fleshy palate, narrowed nostrils and larynx. Dogs with this will snort, cough, have a low tolerance for exercise, possibly faint easily, especially in hot weather, and breath noisily. This puts a strain on the heart. There can exist a lack of coordination between trying to breathe and swallow. Gastrointestinal problems can follow. Heat stroke is highly possible so keep your dog COOL.

  • Heat stroke—A serious problem for dogs with a limited ability to dissipate heat such as the King Charles Spaniel. A rectal temp over 107 degrees Fahrenheit is in SERIOUS DANGER and is an EMERGENCY! One main way a dog gets rid of excess heat is through the mouth and muzzle. (as well as his skin) This breed is prone to heat stroke which would be evidenced by nervous system abnormalities that may include lethargy, weakness, collapse or coma. Symptoms—Excessive panting, noisy breathing, very warm nose, bright red mucous membranes (gums, around the eyes), weakness, small areas of hemorrhaging of the gums or skin, collapse, coma. Heat stroke can cause sudden dearth, because the elevated body temperature attacks organs and begins to shut them down. If you see the symptoms, don’t fool around. Get the dog to a vet or at least cool him off. Most at risk for heat stroke: puppies under 6 months, older dogs, dogs with breathing problems, all short-muzzle dogs, overweight dogs.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.


Other problems could occur with your King Charles Spaniel. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.

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