What Cavalier King Charles Spaniels lack in stature, they make up for in outsized charm. These sprightly dogs have irresistible faces with bright, round eyes. Their long, silky coats combined with their smooth gait give this toy breed a graceful quality. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are playful, agreeable, patient, and highly affectionate. They enjoy spending time with their owners, other dogs and aren't intimidated by much larger dogs. As spaniels, they have a hunting instinct and will chase after balls, birds, and cars.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Mixes
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes are available at shelters, though they are not a highly common rescue mix. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes will have personality and physical traits of the other breeds in their ancestry, as well as some of the Cavalier's disposition and refined looks. Most shelters do not perform DNA testing on their mixed breeds, so heritage is usually determined by physical and temperament traits, along with any information shared when the dog is surrendered.
If you are interested in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Cavalier mix, locate a shelter that does genetic testing on mixed breeds, or let local shelters know you are interested in AKC-registered Cavalier surrenders. Keep in mind, even with proof of Cavalier ancestry, each dog's personality may differ from the breed standard due to life experience, training, and socialization.
Common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes include many small-statured breeds, such as Chihuahua, Papillon, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, and Pomeranian.
The silky coat of the Cavalier is of medium length with extra long, feathered fur on the ears, chest, tail, and legs. They also have feathered feet, which gives them a soft, slipper-like tread.
Coat colors include Blenheim, a mix of chestnut and white; tricolor, a mix of black and white with tan markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears and the underside of the tail; ruby, a solid deep red; and black and tan, black with spots of tan over the eyes and on the cheeks, chest, legs, and underside of tail. Blenheim Cavaliers may have a chestnut marking on their forehead known as the 'Blenheim Spot.'
Average Height: 12-13 inches
Average Weight: 13-18 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an energetic and graceful dog, with a brave, playful, and joyful personality. He has a noble profile and elegant movements. His coat should be silky and flow in soft waves without the need for any trimming or alteration.
A relatively young breed, the Cavalier King Charles was modeled on toy spaniels beloved and pampered by British royalty, including England's King Charles II in the late 1600s. The Blenheim color was named for Blenheim Palace, where the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, raised precursors to the Cavalier in the chestnut/white combination.
It was an American toy spaniel enthusiast named Roswell Eldridge, however, who promoted the development of today's popular Cavalier. Eldridge traveled to England in the 1920s to buy two toy spaniels, but he was unable to find any that resembled what he called the "old type." Instead of giving up, he offered prizes for the best male and female spaniels with the "old" characteristics. This generated a revival of interest in breeding these toy spaniels. The first Cavaliers came to America in 1952 and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995.
AKC Breed Category
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are friendly and playful and always excited to spend time with their humans. They are gentle of spirit, sensitive to reprimands and respond best to positive reinforcement. They also have a stubborn streak that makes patience during training a must. With their soulful eyes on you, it can feel as though they never want to be apart—even for short periods of time. You wouldn't be imagining things. Cavaliers are extremely attached to their owners and Cavaliers would spend every waking moment with them if they had the choice. They also have a stubborn streak that makes patience during training a must.
Are Cavaliers Good with Kids? Friendly, exuberant, and gentle, Cavaliers are generally wonderful playmates for kids. They love the attention children shower on them, and especially welcome kids willing to play endless games of fetch. When the children are little, always keep a close eye because young kids can be unintentionally rough or fall on the toy spaniel.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Good with Other Pets? Cavaliers enjoy other dogs as playmates. They are not threatened by dogs bigger than themselves and will play well with dogs of any size, making them ideal for households that welcome a variety of dogs into the family. Because of their hunting instinct, Cavaliers will sometimes chase small household pets, such as hamsters, cats, and birds. Usually Cavaliers accept cats they grew up with, whom they consider members of the family rather than prey. Always supervise your Cavalier when introducing them to unfamiliar pets.
Because of their open, trusting natures, Cavaliers are not overly protective.
Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Good Guard Dogs? Everyone is a friend and potential playmate to a Cavalier, so they generally do not make good guard dogs.
Cavaliers have moderate energy levels. They love to play, and are energized when someone engages with them. But they are also happy to while away the hours warming someone's lap.
- Low tolerance for being alone.
- With their hunting instinct, they may chase birds, cats, and other small animals.
- They should always be walked on a leash because of the risk of dashing off after prey.
- Sensitive to heat due to their lush coats.
- They are stubborn and can be slow to housetrain.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are indoor dogs who don't do well left alone outside. They make good apartment dogs, as long as they have company most of the time. They'll bark at a knock on the door or a bird in the yard, but overall they are considerate housemates.
Cavaliers are not meant to spend extended periods of time outside, especially alone. They do love the outdoors, however, and appreciate a game of fetch in the back yard or long walks. It's important the yard is fenced because their hunting instincts will inspire them to chase after birds, squirrels, and butterflies.
Leisurely walks are not quite enough for this breed. It's important to include several high-intensity games of catch or chase in your daily routine to keep Cavaliers in excellent shape.
These hunting dogs have plenty of stamina. They will keep up with you on your walks and still have energy left over for playtime indoors.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy Cavaliers will enjoy a mellow run for a mile or so. Mostly, they enjoy running in spurts during a good game of fetch.
- Hiking Miles: A healthy Cavalier will happily hike with you for two to three miles.
Cavaliers generally eat between ½ to 1 cup of high-quality dry dog food each day over two meals. Watch your Cavalier for signs of weight gain.
Cavaliers are not comfortable spending time alone. They do best when a family member is home through the day to keep them company or when they can go to work with you. Without company, Cavaliers are prone to separation anxiety and may engage in destructive behaviors. Crate training Cavaliers when they are young can help keep them out of mischief and establish a den where they are comfortable spending short times alone.
Health and Grooming
Cavaliers require regular brushing to keep their medium-length coat shiny and healthy. They require occasional baths, especially if you play outdoors with them frequently. Keeping their hair at its natural length is preferred, but the hair between their paw pads will need occasional trimming. Cavaliers are moderate, seasonal shedders. Brush their teeth several days a week and trim their nails a few times a month.
Common Health Issues
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be prone to breed-specific health concerns—some serious—including:
- Elevated risk of heart disease (mitral valve disease (MVD)) at an early age
- Episodic falling caused by muscle rigidity
- Syringomyelia (SM) – a condition caused by a malformation of the skull
- Hip Dysplasia
- Patellar luxation – a condition in which the knee joint moves in and out of place
- Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
- Ear disorders
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Cavaliers are an intelligent breed and eager to learn, as long as training is similar to playtime and the rewards are plentiful. They can be stubborn and difficult to housebreak, but persistence, patience, and a regular schedule pay off.
Cavaliers are athletic and quick-witted, making them good candidates for agility training. They will work hard to please, but can also be stubborn. Offer plenty of delicious, healthy dog treats and rewards as encouragement, and keep training sessions short.
Sporting Dog Training
Cavaliers will hunt squirrels, chipmunks, and birds in your yard, but they are mostly companion animals and not strong candidates for sporting dog training.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
No. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels shed and, as a result, release pet dander into your home. Dander is the cause of most pet-related allergies.
Cavaliers are not hyperactive. They often match the energy levels of their closest companions. If their humans are feeling frisky, they will raise their energy levels to join in on the fun. But if their human is reading on the couch, they'll gladly relax alongside for a while.
Blenheim Cavaliers sometimes have a chestnut marking in the middle of their forehead known as a 'Blenheim Spot.' Lore has it the spots appeared when the Duchess of Marlborough repeatedly pressed her thumb on the forehead of a spaniel about to give birth. The Duchess was trying to calm herself and the dog while the Duke of Marlborough was away fighting in the Battle of Blenheim. When the dog gave birth, the pups all had the distinct chestnut marking where the Duchess pressed.
Cavaliers can learn to swim, but they aren't always interested. Some Cavaliers will love the water, some will be indifferent, and some will dislike being in water.