The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed which the The Kennel Club classifies as a toy dog. It is a small spaniel that comes from the United Kingdom, growing in popularity in the United States since the turn of the 21st century. This dog currently ranks as one of the top 20 most popular pure-breed options in the U.S. right now.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are noted for their unique coat coloration, of which the breed standard recognizes four colors: chestnut and white, tricolor, black and tan, and ruby. Most of the animals are very affectionate, work well with children, and manage relationships with other dogs or pets with little difficulty. It is a highly social breed, so it does require a lot of human interaction to maintain a healthy mental state.
Because it is a family dog, you should not leave them alone for long periods because it can trigger significantly levels of anxiety in the animal. The average lifespan for the breed is under 10 years.
List of the Pros of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
1. If you like a happy lap dog, then this breed is perfect for you.
There is nothing that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like more than some snuggle time. They will want to crawl up into your lap at any time of day for a pet and a quick nap. Be prepared for them to ask for these things whenever you take some time to sit down. This habit can grow out of control if you don’t place some limits on it, so set some boundaries around the dinner table and other areas where you want to prohibit the behavior. Try to limit snuggles to your couch, loveseat, or recliner.
2. These dogs are very intelligent.
When you start working with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies, then you will notice right away that they are highly intelligent and capable dogs. Their ability to learn agility drills is one of their best attributes. They are also exceptionally easy to train when you need them to learn a specific behavior – like going to the bathroom outside. You will need to use positive reinforcement methods with your pup to teach them effectively because of their anxiety levels. If you communicate your dissatisfaction with this breed, then the worry that occurs afterward can lead to unwanted behaviors.
3. This breed loves to go traveling.
Because of the small size of this dog, you can take Cavalier King Charles Spaniels almost anywhere with you. They have an amiable personality which allows you to tote them around in your bag or a carrier as you run errands. These dogs love to spend time with you no matter what it is that you are doing, so get into the habit of working with stores that love to allow pets to visit. Don’t forget to stop somewhere for a treat if the two of you have been running around town all day long!
4. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a very quiet dog.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to bark at the doorbell. You might see them talking to other animals outside every so often – especially squirrels. Outside of that, you will rarely hear these dogs bark. They tend to communicate more with a whole-body wiggle, letting you know that they are ready for some snuggles or another treat. Almost every dog from this breed wants to do their best to please their owner, so you will see them pick up your habits quickly and adapt to them. That trait is why socialization from an early age is almost always mandatory.
5. The care needs for this breed are minimal.
These toy dogs do not require much for food, with healthy adults weighing less than 20 pounds. They require less than 20 minutes of exercise per day, and their tendency to drool or snore is low as well. They are not much for digging either, which is perfect for homes that may have extensive gardens. There is an appearance of regal sophistication with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, yet they still remain very cute with the charm that they put on everyone. These dogs only grow to be about 12 inches high, but their round, dark brown eyes can still capture your world.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are excellent with children.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels do well with all age groups. Some can struggle with young kids who might pull on their ears because this is a highly sensitive area, which could lead to nips in rare instances. That is the only area of concern when looking at the behavior of this breed. Aggression or shyness is very rare. They want to interact with others, play lots of games, and spend time helping in whatever way they can.
7. Despite the grooming needs, this breed does not shed that much.
Because of their diminutive size, the light shedding that you will see from these dogs in the spring and fall is minimal. Even though you do have daily and weekly grooming habits to establish, the coat does not collect on the floor in the same way that it does with other breeds. You can manage this advantage even more with the occasional bath, trimming, and other grooming habits.
8. Recognition of the breed only happened quite recently.
Because the American Kennel Club did not officially recognize this breed until 1996, you can still find people who are unfamiliar with them. That means you have more opportunities to work with reputable breeders who are not backlogged with massive orders like other popular canine breeds. Although there have been active breeders in the United States since the 1950s, it has never really taken off like it did with other dogs. If you want to have a Charlie start living with you, then it won’t take much effort to make that happen.
List of the Cons of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
1. If you want a guard dog, then you will not want to have this breed.
There are a lot of disadvantages to consider with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels if you are wanting a guard dog. Their small size and stature will not generally scare anyone away. Even if your pup decides to bark at strangers, it is not an intimidating experience. Most of the animals in this breed will come up to you with their tails wagging and tongues out, wanting to be petted. They don’t care who gives them attention. As long as it comes from a human, they’re going to be a happy pooch.
2. You will need to brush their coat daily.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will shed a lot. You can temper some of this disadvantage by brushing their medium-long coat every day, but it will tangle thanks to their playful energy and overall hair thickness. A thorough weekly brushing is necessary to get rid of the snags. You’ll also need to comb out their fur after every outside play session because their low profile to the ground can cause grass, stems, twigs, and burrs to get stuck in there regularly.
3. These dogs must have their ears cleaned out regularly as well.
If you thought the care requirements were done after brushing, then think again. You will also need to clean out their pendant-shaped ears at least once per week as well because materials in there can quickly cause an infection. Although these dogs are gentle and friendly, trying to get inside of the ear of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be a unique challenge. It isn’t bad if you can start this habit when they are a puppy, but older dogs who are unfamiliar with this task will fight you on it every single time.
4. There are some hereditary health concerns to manage with this breed.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have several hereditary conditions which are common. Retinal disorders, cataracts, slipping patella, and hip dysplasia occur frequently. Mitral valve disease and syringomyelia are also more common with these dogs when compared to other breeds. Before you decide to purchase one, you will want to ask the breeder about the testing they have done for all of these hereditary conditions.
When the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is healthy, then the average lifespan is 14+ years. It is when irresponsible breeding doesn’t account for these hereditary conditions that the overall median comes down dramatically.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels really love their food.
If you have ever had to deal with a cat who pesters you about their food dish because they can see the bottom of the container, then you’ll have an idea of what it is like to live with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. These dogs are as passionate about their food as they are about getting attention from their human owners. If you free-feed your canines from a large bowl, then these dogs will overeat. They will also ask for numerous treats throughout the day if they think it is possible to receive them, so resist the temptation to let them over-indulge.
If you do not strictly manage the eating habits of your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, then the dog will become overweight very quickly.
6. Some individuals with this breed will not work well with some small pets.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred originally to be hunting and companion dogs. Their desire to flush out prey from the bushes is still part of their genetic profile. That means you will find some of these small dogs will be aggressive toward your other household pets. They are always great with children (unless the animal was abused in some way), but your hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and rabbits are a different store. If your pup gets bored, it might not be your shoes or the couch that they start chewing.
7. These dogs are somewhat expensive compared to other breeds.
Any pure-breed animal will cost more than those which have an unknown heritage. Although Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not the most expensive dogs you can purchase today, they aren’t the cheapest either. You can expect to pay at least $1,200 for the privilege of owning a pup, with prices ranging well above $10,000 if there is a championship heritage in the lineage. You will also have the typical expenses of veterinarian care, housing, toys, food, and other various care services.
8. You will need to walk your dog on a leash at all times.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred to scare birds, so you will see this instinct come out whenever you go for a walk. It is imperative that you keep the dog on a leash to prevent them from running off. They do love to chase small creatures, and their instinctive drive can cause them to stop listening to you. This breed is very sensitive, so any scolding can cause long-term problems from a behavior point of view. It is best to prevent this disadvantage entirely by not allowing them to run free unless you visit a fenced dog park.
9. They don’t do very well with dog sitters unless they know the person.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels become very attached to their humans. If you need to go somewhere without them, then they will experience high levels of disappointment. When your responsibilities take you away for more than a day or two, having a dog sitter around to check on them is hardly the same as having you at home. They will become depressed, moping around the place until you return home. Some of these dogs will even go on hunger strikes because they are so upset about having you gone.
The pros and cons of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel involve whether or not this breed is right for your home. They can be the ideal companion thanks to their gentle eyes, warm personality, and elegant appearance. These pups love to go anywhere and everywhere with you because every day can become an adventure. This breed also requires a lot of attention to relieve anxiety, so if you are gone for long periods during the day, then these dogs might not be the best choice.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.