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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Gentle, Graceful
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 19 of 192
  • Height: 12-13 inches
  • Weight: 13-18 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on its side in three-quarter view
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel head facing left
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel coat detail
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy lying in the grass outdoors.

Find a Puppy: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active, graceful, well-balanced toy spaniel, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate. It is this typical gay temperament, combined with true elegance and royal appearance which are of paramount importance in the breed. Natural appearance with no trimming, sculpting or artificial alteration is essential to breed type.

HEAD

Proportionate to size of dog, appearing neither too large nor too small for the body. Expression – The sweet, gentle, melting expression is an important breed characteristic. Eyes – Large, round, but not prominent and set well apart; color a warm, very dark brown; giving a lustrous, limpid look. Rims dark. There should be cushioning under the eyes which contributes to the soft expression. Faults – small, almond-shaped, prominent, or light eyes; white surrounding ring. Ears – Set high, but not close, on top of the head. Leather long with plenty of feathering and wide enough so that when the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the face.

BODY

Neck – Fairly long, without throatiness, well enough muscled to form a slight arch at the crest. Set smoothly into nicely sloping shoulders to give an elegant look. Topline – Level both when moving and standing. Body – Short-coupled with ribs well sprung but not barrelled. Chest moderately deep, extending to elbows allowing ample heart room. Slightly less body at the flank than at the last rib, but with no tucked-up appearance. Tail – Well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back, and in constant characteristic motion when the dog is in action. Docking is optional. If docked, no more than one third to be removed.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well laid back. Forelegs straight and well under the dog with elbows close to the sides. Pasterns strong and feet compact with well-cushioned pads. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

Of moderate length, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Feathering on ears, chest, legs and tail should be long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature of the breed. No trimming of the dog is permitted. Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition. Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters construction should come down from a good broad pelvis, moderately muscled; stifles well turned and hocks well let down. The hindlegs when viewed from the rear should parallel each other from hock to heel. Faults – Cow or sickle hocks.

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Cavalier King Charles

About the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier’s all-around beauty, regal grace, and even temper mark him as one of dogdom’s noblemen. A toy spaniel no more than 13 inches high, the Cavalier draws you in with his face: The sweet, gentle, melting expression emanating from large, round eyes is a breed hallmark. Another is the silky, richly colored coat that can be one of four distinct varieties (described in this page’s History section).

Cavaliers may be aristocrats, but they gladly descend from their royal high horse for a backyard frolic or a squirrel chase. They get along nicely with children and other dogs. Adaptable Cavaliers do equally well with active owners and homebodies—they can be upbeat athletes or shameless couch potatoes, depending on an owner’s lifestyle.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy lying in the grass outdoors.

Find a Puppy: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Cavalier should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Cavaliers are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The Cavalier’s lustrous, silky coat requires little more than regular brushing and an occasional bath to keep him in beautiful condition. Brushing not only helps to keep the coat shiny and tangle-free but also serves as a full-body massage that the dog enjoys. grooming sessions enhance the dog-owner bond and provide an opportunity to inspect the dog’s whole body for any new or unusual bumps or other issues. The ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, and the nails should be trimmed at least once a month, as overgrown nails can cause pain and structural problems.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

Although the Cavalier was bred to be a beloved lap dog, he is descended from sporting dogs and does enjoy moderate exercise and outdoor activities. He will happily go on walks with his owner and also performs well in a number of canine sports, but he’s just as glad to stay on the sofa all day. Cavaliers should not be allowed off leash because they retain scenting and hunting instincts, and they may not come when called if they’ve found an interesting trail to follow or a creature to pursue. A fenced yard is recommended.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Calm

TRAINING

The Cavalier is a sweet, gentle, and affectionate breed, very eager to please their human. They are friendly with strangers and with other animals, and they can do very well with children. They are smart and train easily, and Cavaliers excel in a number of canine sports including obediencerally, and agility. With their sweet nature they also make fantastic therapy dogs. As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes will help the young Cavalier to learn good manners and be comfortable with a wide variety of people and situations.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

There are several health issues that Cavaliers are prone to. These include certain eye conditions (including retinal problems and cataracts), patella luxation, hip dysplasia, middle ear infections, mitral valve heart disease, and a neurological condition called syringomyelia. Cavaliers can be screened for all these conditions, and most live comfortably into old age. Owners should discuss any potential health issues with their dog’s breeder. A responsible breeder will health-test all potential breeding stock.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

History

Toy spaniels were the province of European nobility from at least Renaissance times. Two 17th-century British monarchs, the ill-fated King Charles I and his son Charles II, were especially devoted to a black and tan variety of toy spaniel that eventually was named in the latter’s honor. According to the famed diarist of the Restoration era, Samuel Pepys, Charles II seemed more concerned with breeding spaniels than ruling Britain.
Toy spaniels remained a great favorite of British aristocrats into the early 19th century. Among their upper-crust partisans of this era was the Marlborough family, who bred a line of red-and-whites at Blenheim Palace. Later in the century, in the age of Victoria, the breed was crossed with Asian toys, probably Pugs and Japanese Chin, and became what is known in America as the English Toy Spaniel (or, in the United Kingdom, the King Charles Spaniel).

This new-style toy spaniel had a domed skull and a flatter face than those of Charles’s time. Before long, this type came to dominate, and the traditional toy spaniel of the Restoration was rendered nearly extinct—but not forgotten.

Fanciers of the 1920s wondered whether there still existed the old-type toy spaniel immortalized in ancestor portraits hanging in the stately halls of English manors. A wealthy American named Roswell Eldridge offered a cash prize to British breeders who could produce “Bleinheim Spaniels of the Old World type.” The prospect of prize money drove breeders to revive the old style. These dogs were dubbed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (The name Cavalier is a nod to the monarchist party that supported the Stuarts during the civil war that cost Charles I his head.)

The breed is notable for its four distinct color patterns, each of which, at various times, was associated with a particular noble family: Blenheim (chestnut markings on a white background), Tricolor (black markings on a white background), Black and Tan (black with tan markings), and Ruby (a rich red).

Did You Know?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is AKC's 140th breed.
The Cavalier was featured on the hit HBO series, "Sex and the City", as Charlotte York's dog.
When the house of Stuart fell, it became a political liability to be associated with the dogs of King Charles (the Tudors favored the Pug), and the Cavalier breed became extremely rare.
The Cavalier became fully recognized by the AKC in 1995.
The Cavalier was a favorite of King Charles I of Britain (the breed's namesake).
Queen Victoria brought back the breed, but the Cavalier had changed radically from its original form; the original version of the breed had all but disappeared.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active, graceful, well-balanced toy spaniel, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate. It is this typical gay temperament, combined with true elegance and royal appearance which are of paramount importance in the breed. Natural appearance with no trimming, sculpting or artificial alteration is essential to breed type.

HEAD

Proportionate to size of dog, appearing neither too large nor too small for the body. Expression – The sweet, gentle, melting expression is an important breed characteristic. Eyes – Large, round, but not prominent and set well apart; color a warm, very dark brown; giving a lustrous, limpid look. Rims dark. There should be cushioning under the eyes which contributes to the soft expression. Faults – small, almond-shaped, prominent, or light eyes; white surrounding ring. Ears – Set high, but not close, on top of the head. Leather long with plenty of feathering and wide enough so that when the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the face.

BODY

Neck – Fairly long, without throatiness, well enough muscled to form a slight arch at the crest. Set smoothly into nicely sloping shoulders to give an elegant look. Topline – Level both when moving and standing. Body – Short-coupled with ribs well sprung but not barrelled. Chest moderately deep, extending to elbows allowing ample heart room. Slightly less body at the flank than at the last rib, but with no tucked-up appearance. Tail – Well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back, and in constant characteristic motion when the dog is in action. Docking is optional. If docked, no more than one third to be removed.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well laid back. Forelegs straight and well under the dog with elbows close to the sides. Pasterns strong and feet compact with well-cushioned pads. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

Of moderate length, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Feathering on ears, chest, legs and tail should be long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature of the breed. No trimming of the dog is permitted. Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition. Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters construction should come down from a good broad pelvis, moderately muscled; stifles well turned and hocks well let down. The hindlegs when viewed from the rear should parallel each other from hock to heel. Faults – Cow or sickle hocks.

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Cavalier King Charles

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Black & White Check Mark For Standard Color 019
Blenheim Check Mark For Standard Color 364
Ruby Check Mark For Standard Color 365

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
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