Perhaps you've heard of this sweet and carefree breed before, or maybe you remember "Elizabeth Taylor" as Charlotte's dog on Sex and the City. Or maybe you've been lucky enough to meet one in person!
If you have, then you know the irresistible power that this little dog holds in his big, brown eyes. If you want a smaller dog that loves kids and will be a cuddle companion unparalleled, perhaps you should think about making friends with pure love in the form of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
These early spaniels were a bit leaner of limb and pointier of nose than the Cavaliers we know and love today. This is because as time went on the flat nosed Pug and Japanese Chin became the popular dogs of the day. As a result the spaniels were bred with these dogs and the English Toy Spaniel (a kissing cousin of the Cavalier) emerged. These spaniels, sometimes called "Charlies" are flatter of face and rounder of head than a Cavalier, traits showing their descent from Pugs and Chins.
In the 1920's American dog lover Roswell Eldridge offered a 25 pound prize to the person who could breed a spaniel with a longer nose, like those shown in the paintings of old. From the short snouted English Toy Spaniel longer nose specimens were selectively bred, delivering us the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
A Cavalier's coat is a marvelous thing if taken care of properly. They are a long haired breed, with straight to slightly wavy coats. Long feathers of fur adorn their tails and ears.
When a Cavalier runs it holds it's tail aloft, letting the tail hairs stream behind. In some ways it almost resembles an Arabian horse running. Because a Cavalier's coat is made up of many very fine and very long hairs, they require daily brushing, the lack of which can cause tangles and mats to form. There are four recognized Cavalier colors. A Blenheim is one of the most popular color combinations. Blenheims are a mixture of red mottled on a white background. Tri-colors are also very fetching, incorporating black, tan, and white into their color schemes. Black and tan Cavaliers are usually black throughout with tan markings on their chest and face. Finally we come to the rubies, who are a rich red color throughout.
Though Cavaliers may require a bit of care in order to maintain a decent appearance, a well groomed Cavalier is a breathtaking dog.
Breeding guidelines have been established to try and eliminate this genetic problem in Cavaliers, but no one knows if all breeders follow these guidelines (very unlikely). It's recommended that reputable breeders breed only dogs that are 2.5 years old and are heart clear, and whose grandparents are at least 5 years old and heart clear. A responsible breeder who genuinely cares for this great breed will be more than happy to share this information with you.
Note: To give yourself the very best chance of bringing a well balanced and healthy Cavalier into your life always secure your puppy from a well respected and reputable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeder. When your new puppy arrives home ensure that you provide plenty of puppy socialization, exercise and a nutritious dog food diet.
Cavaliers will also be wonderful with your children. They are not easily startled by sudden movement, and do not mind being grabbed. On the other hand it's important to keep a leash on your dog in public because some children may be afraid of dogs (yes, even these guys) and will react badly to being licked or jumped on.
One important thing to note about Cavaliers is that because they are friendly, and because they retain some of the hunting characteristics of their ancestors, they should always be kept on a leash or behind a fence. Your Cavalier sees no reason not to run out onto the road after that squirrel, or chase that postman (to love, not bite) out onto the highway with no regard for his own safety.
I recommend utilizing clicker training techniques when training your Cavalier. They respond brilliantly to this gentle, non-violent, reward based training method. You can learn everything you need to know about clicker training your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel here.
Other pages on my site that you may be interested in:
Puppy crate training step-by-step instruction.
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.