Breed Group: Toy
Height: 12 to 13 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years
One of the largest of the Toy breeds, Cavaliers follow their people everywhere, just waiting for a chance to jump in a lap. They are also willing and able to go for long walks and hikes, and many enjoy flushing birds, just like their bigger spaniel cousins.
Did You Know the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is Always Happy, Trusting, and Easy-Going?
“Sex and the City’s” Charlotte York had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Elizabeth Taylor. Real-life celebrities Claire Danes, Teri Hatcher, Mischa Barton, Diane Sawyer, and Jerry O’Connell are Cavalier owners.
This sturdy toy breed is a re-creation of the toy spaniels that populated royal courts and noble homes in Europe from the 15th to the 19th centuries. True to their heritage as “comforter dogs,” Cavaliers love to be in a lap. The typical Cavalier is always happy, trusting and easygoing, a friend to everyone he meets. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel today is a beloved, and increasingly popular, companion dog. He’s small, loving, playful and attractive.
A Cavalier will dog your footsteps throughout the day, from kitchen to bathroom to home office and back again and prefers not to be left alone for hours on end. The ideal home is one with a stay-at-home parent, work-at-home spouse or retired couple.
A Cavalier’s natural animation and cheerfulness stand out in the show ring. He can be a steady and willing competitor in obedience and rally, and excels in agility and flyball. His intuitive nature also makes him a superb therapy dog. He will sit quietly with older people or young children and then turn into a rowdy playmate with active children or adults.
These dogs generally love kids and do well in families with older children who will throw a ball for them, teach them tricks or just hang out with them. Because of their small size, though, Cavaliers must be protected from clumsy toddlers who might fall on them or “pet” them with too much force.
Cavalier temperament ranges from sweet and placid to hard-charging and, yes, stubborn. The sweet, placid Cavaliers sometimes have a reputation for being dumb, and the stubborn ones for being untrainable, but in general, these dogs are smart and learn quickly. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, especially when food rewards are offered, but harsh words will cause them to stop trying or even to hide.
Toy breeds such as Cavaliers are sometimes difficult to housetrain, mainly because people don’t put enough effort into it. If you take a Cavalier puppy out on a regular schedule, reward him for pottying outdoors and limit his freedom in the home until he’s reliable, there is no reason he can’t be housetrained as well as any other breed.
At his best, the Cavalier is an adaptable, flexible, hardy little dog. He’s happy to loll around on the sofa with you all day but ready for action when it’s offered. Although he’s classified as a toy breed, the Cavalier is at the larger end of the size scale, weighing 13 to 18 pounds. He often has the same “birdy” nature as his larger spaniel cousins, making him a good choice for people who want a dog who’s not too big but still capable of going for hikes, chasing seagulls at the beach or even retrieving quail, given the training and opportunity. He will also “hunt” butterflies and bugs and loves playing fetch with a ball or stuffed toy.
Always walk the Cavalier on a leash. When he sees a bird or other potential prey, everything else goes out of his head. All too often Cavaliers are hit by cars and killed when they chase a bird or ball — right into the street.
It should go without saying that the Cavalier is not meant to live outdoors. He’s a family dog who needs to be with his people and protected from excessive heat and cold.
Other Quick Facts About the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavaliers have a silky, medium-length coat with feathering on the ears, legs, chest, feet and tail. They shed moderately.
The Cavalier coat comes in four colors: Blenheim (chestnut and white), tricolor (black and white with tan points over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears and beneath the tail), ruby (solid red) and black and tan (black with tan points like those on the tricolor).
Cavaliers can get along with cats when they are raised with them, but some have a strong prey drive and will chase cats. Pet birds should also watch their tailfeathers around Cavaliers.