Gentle and sweet, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an elegant but energetic Toy dog. They are perfect for people in the city or the country. Similar dogs have been recorded in paintings and tapestries for centuries and the dogs get their name from the Merry Monarch, Charles II, who was so fond of small spaniels.



The British Isles have a long history of small spaniels. They were originally kept as small hunting dogs but in Tudor times the small dogs became popular as companions and pets. Under the Stuarts in the 17th century, a variety of small spaniels became popular, thanks in large part to King Charles II. There are many paintings and tapestries from this era that show household spaniels belonging to the King and to aristocratic families.


Today’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was largely developed by the American fancier Roswell Eldridge. Mr. Eldridge traveled to England in the 1920s looking for spaniels of this old type. He was unable to find exactly what he wanted but he offered prize money at Crufts each year to the best male and female of this old type of spaniel to help spur interest in reviving the kind of dog he had in mind. The first Cavaliers were sent to America in 1952 but because of their small numbers, they were not admitted to the American Kennel Club until 1996.



Cavaliers are cheerful, friendly dogs. They are gentle, sweet, and trustworthy with children. They love being part of a family. They are very affectionate dogs. They are also playful, curious, and eager to please. Like other spaniels, the Cavalier tends to be adaptable. They enjoy exercise but they can be perfectly content sleeping next to you on the sofa. While they are a Toy breed, they still have some hunting dog instincts. Owners report that their Cavaliers will stalk butterflies in the garden and display some other bird dog behaviors from time to time. They make an excellent family dog.




Cavaliers are usually considered to be beautiful dogs. They have a medium-long silky coat that requires brushing once or twice a week but their coat isn’t so long that it’s a chore to care for. They don’t require any trimming. They have long hair covering their paws that is usually allowed to grow. The hair often resembles “slippers.”


Cavs stand 12 to 13 inches at the withers; their weight is proportionate to their height, between 13 and 18 pounds.


The dogs have a sweet, gentle, melting expression with large, round eyes. The eyes are dark brown with a lustrous, limpid look. Cavalier coat colors include Blenheim – Rich chestnut markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be chestnut and the color evenly spaced on the head and surrounding both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes and ears, in the center of which may be the lozenge or “Blenheim spot.” The lozenge is a unique and desirable, though not essential, characteristic of the Blenheim. Tricolor – Jet black markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be black and the color evenly spaced on the head and surrounding both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes. Rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears and on underside of tail. Ruby – Whole-colored rich red. Black and Tan – Jet black with rich, bright tan markings over eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest, legs, and on underside of tail.



Cavalier King Charles Spaniels do suffer from several notable genetic health problems. Potential issues include early-onset mitral valve disease (a heart problem), syringomyelia (a spinal problem). These health problems have received widespread attention in the news media but less attention has been paid to the research being done to solve these problems. and


Hip dysplasia isn’t a widespread problem in the breed. Based on 6249 dogs x-rayed for OFA, Cavaliers are ranked 79th among over 168 breeds and mixes. Some 12.4 percent of dogs in the breed have had some degree of hip dysplasia. 4.1 percent of dogs x-rayed in the breed have been rated as having Excellent hips. Luxating patellas can occur in Cavaliers as with many Toy breeds. Cataracts and retinal dysplasia can also occur in some dogs. While breeders are advised to screen their dogs for possible eye problems, the breed isn’t particularly noted for any eye diseases. PSOM, a middle ear infection, can also be found in Cavaliers.



Cavaliers are eager to please and usually easy to train. Like their larger Sporting dog cousins, the Cavalier has a good attitude toward work and training. They enjoy doing things with their owners. They make outstanding therapy dogs, as you might imagine, but you can also train your Cavalier to take part in many other kinds of dog activities. They respond very well to positive reinforcement and most of them enjoy food rewards