Nick Mays.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: An Owners Guide



Nick Mays

Healthcare by David Taylor



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To Rufus, a Cavalier with a huge personality who lives life to the full and who doesnt read dog books!



Title Page



Part 1: You and Your Dog

Chapter 1 History and Evolution of the Breed

Chapter 2 Your Cavalier Puppy

Chapter 3 The Adult Cavalier

Chapter 4 Training your Dog

Chapter 5 Showing your Cavalier

Part 2: Healthcare

Useful Information



About the Author

About the Publisher


Owning a dog is a huge responsibility but extremely rewarding.

When you decide to welcome a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into your home, you have to consider not only how he will fit into your lifestyle but also what you can offer him in return. He will need regular exercise, feeding, games and companionship as well as daily care.

Chapter 1
History and evolution of the breed

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel could rightfully be described as the ideal family pet dog. For the family who would like a large dog but have limited space, or who think small is beautiful, the Cavalier is the perfect pet a big dog in a small, compact body. With his friendly and engaging personality, natural intelligence and a happy-go-lucky nature, this dog proves the point that the best things come in small packages.

The Cavalier occupies a high position in the registration figures for the breed on both sides of the Atlantic and it remains one of the most instantly recognizable of the toy breeds.

Royal patronage

The modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is descended from the various types of small toy spaniels that are depicted in so many sixteenth-, seventeenth and eighteenth-century paintings by great artists, including Gainsborough, Titian, Van Dyck, Stubbs, Reynolds and Romney.

These typically show a small spaniel with a flat head, high-set ears, almond-shaped eyes and a rather pointed nose. It is somewhat longer-limbed than todays more compact Cavalier.

Success under the Stuarts

During Tudor times, toy spaniels were popular as ladies pets for they were ideally suited to the role of lapdogs (often used as a means of keeping warm on chilly coach journeys or in vast country houses). However, it was under the Stuart dynasty that the royal title of King Charles Spaniels was bestowed upon them. Contemporary accounts record that King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three such dogs at his heels. Indeed, it is arguable whether the Stuarts fondness for ever-more extravagant wigs was derived from a love of these spaniels, going so far as to emulate their appearance, with the long sides of the wig mimicking the spaniels ears. Certainly many of the stylized paintings of the time show human beings and dogs with certain similarities: the same foreheads, round eyes and, of course, elaborate tonsure. The Kings preference for these little spaniels led them to becoming a popular pet as fashion followed suit.

The Cavalier is a big dog in a small, compact body. This is a Ruby coloured Cavalier.

Cavaliers gained royal patronage as the favourite breed of King Charles II.

Cavalier puppies are particularly appealing, and it is easy to see why so many people fall in love with this attractive breed.

Indeed, so fond was King Charles II of his little dogs that he issued a royal decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted and granted admission in any public place, even in the august confines of the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. This decree is still in existence today in the United Kingdom, and it would be interesting were an adventurous Cavalier owner to try it out on a visit to Westminster. A Black and Tan Cavalier named Magjen True Delight of Devonia (also known as Trudy) did gain free entry to Hampton Court in the 1980s, although her owner had to pay the usual admission charge.

The King Charles was known widely as a comforte dog and doctors even wrote prescriptions with this little dog as the remedy. Some owners were reputed to keep the dogs as a means of deterring fleas and thus avoid the plague.

Decline of the breed

As time went by, however, and with the establishment of the Dutch Court of William of Orange, toy spaniels went out of fashion and were replaced in popularity by the Pug. The King Charles Spaniel was subsequently bred with these dogs, resulting in the similar-shaped head of todays English Toy Spaniel breed. One notable exception to this trend was the strain of red and white King Charles Spaniels that was bred at Blenheim Palace by various Dukes of Marlborough. These dogs were favoured for their sporting prowess as well as their continued charm as lapdogs. Ultimately, they lent their name to the red-and-white patterned Cavalier, which is known today as the Blenheim.

Ideal show dogs

Whilst small spaniels still had their admirers, most dogs were kept during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as working animals. Simple pet dog ownership was a luxury afforded only to the very rich. In major British cities, such as London, Manchester and Liverpool, the main canine attractions were bull and bear baiting with the larger bull breeds of dogs, and infamous rat pits, where terriers would be placed in a ring with live rats and wagers taken on how many rats a dog could dispatch in a given space of time. Dog fighting was also a popular pastime.

However, during the mid-nineteenth century, with many of these cruel sports being outlawed, some dog owners began to turn more to showing off dogs alongside each other rather than pitting them in combat with each other. In fact, many early dog shows were held in the same public houses where ratting used to take place. In this way, the toy spaniel came back into fashion and was sought after as a show dog. These dogs had flat faces, undershot jaws, and domed skulls with long, low-set ears and large, round frontal eyes typical of the modern King Charles Spaniel.

When the British Kennel Club was founded in 1873, the King Charles Spaniel became one of the first breeds to have formal standards drawn up and to be recognized as such. Thus the earlier type of dog, as seen in seventeenth-century paintings and favoured by the Merry Monarch, became all but extinct.

The Cavalier challenge

By the early twentieth century, dog showing was well established in the UK, USA and many European countries.

Cavaliers make great pets for people of all ages, no matter what their lifestyle.

The distinctive Ruby Cavalier is probably less popular than the Blenheim.

Shows, such as Crufts in the UK and Westminster in the United States, were viewed as the pinnacle of the dog showing year. In the mid-1920s, an American Spaniel enthusiast named Roswell Eldridge came to England to search for foundation stock for toy spaniels that resembled those in the old paintings, including one by Sir Edwin Landseer of The Cavaliers Dogs. He was dismayed that all he could find were the short-faced King Charles Spaniels, commonly known as Charlies.

Eldridge tried to get both the Kennel Club and the King Charles fraternity interested in re-establishing the old-type King Charles Spaniel or the Cavalier type after the famous painting but his overtures were largely ignored.

However, he was not to be dissuaded and succeeded in persuading the Kennel Club to allow him to offer a cash incentive to breeders to re-create the old-type dogs. He advertised in the 1926 Crufts catalogue, offering prizes at Crufts for three years (later extended to five years) and the princely sum of 25 pounds sterling respectively for the best dog and best bitch of the Blenheim variety, as seen in King Charles IIs reign. Eldridge wrote in the Crufts catalogue that he was seeking dogs as shown in the pictures of King Charles IIs time, long face, no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the centre of the skull. He stipulated that the prizes would be awarded to the dogs that were nearest to the type described.

Very few King Charles breeders took this challenge seriously as they had worked hard for years to breed out long noses and establish shorter snouts in Charlies. In the first year, only two dogs were entered at the show of the type Eldridge was looking for, but this was sufficient to arouse the interest of a dedicated group of exhibitors and breeders. They worked together and at the next Crufts Show in 1927 Mrs Pitts bitch Waif Julia took the best bitch prize. In 1928, Anns Son, a dog owned by Miss Mostyn Walker, was awarded the prize but, unfortunately, Roswell Eldridge had died just one month before Crufts and never saw the results of his challenge prizes.

Evolution of the new breed

In the same year a Club, was founded and the breeds name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was chosen. It was a conscious decision to keep the close association with the name King Charles Spaniel as many breeders had used long-faced rejects from the kennels of the typical short-faced King Charles Spaniel breeders.

Birth of a new club

In 1928, the new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club held its first meeting at Crufts, where the original Standard of the breed was agreed, and, with just some minor alterations, it is much the same wording today. Anns Son was held up as the desired example of the breed and the breeders agreed that the Cavalier should be guarded from fashion, and there was to be no coat trimming or extreme variants bred.

Optional tail docking was agreed as part of the Standard, with no more than one-third of the tail to be removed. However, the law changed in the UK in 2007, banning tail docking for all breeds except dogs bred specifically for working. All Cavaliers born after the introduction of the law will be undocked.

This handsome Blenheim Cavalier is alert, inquisitive and energetic. Despite its diminutive size, this breed is notable for its confidence and utter fearlessness, even when faced with aggression from other dogs.

This tricoloured Cavalier has magnificent ears with lots of feathering. Note his alert, intelligent expression.

Kennel Club recognition

Although the breeders worked hard, the number of Cavaliers grew, and new colour variants were produced, the Kennel Club still withheld formal recognition of the breed. At the end of the agreed five-year period, it decided that the dogs had not been bred in sufficient numbers, nor were of a single, distinct type to merit a separate, new breed registration from the King Charles Spaniel.

The Cavalier breeders were a determined bunch, however, and throughout the 1930s they continued to breed their dogs. They persuaded some dog show societies to stage special classes for them where no Challenge Certificates were awarded, of course and they approached the Kennel Club several times to gain breed recognition.

The onset of World War II put pay to many dog-related leisure activities, but, even then, the KC records show that 60 Cavaliers were registered between 1940 and 1945. Finally, in December 1945 the Kennel Club granted the breed separate registration and awarded Challenge Certificates the following year to allow the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to gain its own Championships.

American recognition

The breeders continued to fight for recognition in the US. Although in 1961 the American Kennel Club recognized Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by placing the breed in the Miscellaneous classes, it was not until 1995 that Cavaliers were granted full recognition as members of the Toy Group.

Public recognition

In 1963, a Cavalier named Champion Amelia of Laguna, owned by Mrs C. Fryer, won the Toy Group at Crufts, thereby placing the breed firmly in the public spotlight. Ten years later, the Cavaliers reputation as a wonderful family dog was firmly cemented when Messrs Hall and Evans Alansmere Aquarius won Best In Show at Crufts. There was literally an explosion of interest in Cavaliers and the breed registrations rose accordingly as more and more Cavvies were bred and sold as pets and show dogs.

Sadly, the downside of this surge in popularity led to the Cavalier Club establishing its Rescue and Welfare Service to provide a means of caring for the dogs that had been abandoned, poorly treated or needed re-homing for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, the welfare problems bottomed out eventually, although, still being a popular breed, a large number of Cavaliers continue to find themselves, for a variety of reasons, languishing in breed rescue and animal charity rescue centres each year.

Cavaliers continue to be an immensely popular breed of dog, equally loved as show animals and family pets alike. In 2007, they were ranked as the sixth most popular breed registered by the UK Kennel Club.

The Breed Standard

General appearance Active, graceful and well balanced, with gentle expression.

Characteristics Sporting, affectionate, absolutely fearless.

Temperament Gay, friendly, non-aggressive, no tendency towards nervousness.

Head and skull Skull almost flat between ears. Stop shallow. Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 3.8cm (1?in). Nostrils black and well developed without flesh marks, muzzle well tapered. Lips well developed but not pendulous. Face well filled below eyes. Any tendency to snipiness undesirable.

Eyes Large, dark, round but not prominent; spaced well apart.

Ears Long, set high, with plenty of feather.

Mouth Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Neck Moderate length, slightly arched.

Forequarters Chest moderate, shoulders well laid back, straight legs moderately boned.

Body Short-coupled with good spring of rib. Level back.

Hindquarters Legs with moderate bone; well turned stifle no tendency to cow hock or sickle hocks.

Feet Compact, cushioned and well feathered.

Tail Length of tail in balance with body, well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back. Docking previously optional when no more than one-third was to be removed.





Black and tan

Gait/Movement Free-moving and elegant in action, plenty of drive from behind. Forelegs and hindlegs move parallel when viewed from in front and behind.

Coat Long. silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Plenty of feathering. Totally free from trimming.

Black and Tan: Raven black with tan markings above the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest and legs and underside of tail. Tan should be bright. White marks undesirable.

Ruby: Whole coloured rich red. White markings undesirable.

Blenheim: Rich chestnut markings well broken up, on pearly white ground. Markings evenly divided on head, leaving room between ears for much valued lozenge mark or spot (a unique characteristic of the breed).

Tricolour: Black and white well spaced, broken up, with tan markings over eyes, cheeks, inside ears, inside legs, and on underside of tail.

Any other colour or combination of colours most undesirable.

Size Weight: 5.48kg (1218lb).

A small, well balanced dog well within these weights desirable.

Faults Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Note Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

The Kennel Club

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

1. Eyes Large, dark, round but not prominent; spaced well apart.

2. Mouth Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite.

3. Ears Long, set high, with plenty of feather.

4. Neck Moderate length, slightly arched.

5. Forequarters Chest moderate, shoulders well laid back, straight legs moderately boned.

6. Feet Compact, cushioned and well feathered.

7. Coat Long, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Plenty of feathering. Totally free from trimming.

8. Hindquarters Legs with moderate bone; well turned stifle no tendency to cow hock or sickle hocks.

9. Gait/movement Free-moving and elegant in action, plenty of drive from behind. Forelegs and hindlegs move parallel when viewed from in front and behind.

10. Tail Length of tail in balance with body, well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back.

11. Size Weight: 5.4-8kg (12-18lb). A small, well balanced dog well within these weights desirable.

12. Body Short-coupled with good spring of rib. Level back.

13. Head and skull Skull almost flat between ears. Stop shallow. Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 3.8cm (1.5in).

Chapter 2
Your Cavalier puppy

When you decide that the Cavalier is the right dog for you, the next step is to acquire a puppy. It sounds simple, but before you contemplate bringing a puppy into your home, you have to ask yourself some serious questions and be prepared to answer them honestly. You are going to be responsible for the life of a living creature, and you must be mindful of its welfare.

Questions to ask yourself

Before taking the plunge and buying a Cavalier puppy, you need to examine both your lifestyle and priorities and ask yourself the following questions.

How long will it take?

Are you prepared to look after a dog for all of his life, which, in the Cavaliers case, is, on average, eight to eleven years? A dog is a lifelong commitment, not a temporary acquisition which can be returned if things dont work out in the way you imagined.

Do you have time?

Have you got enough time to spend with a dog? Your Cavalier will need lots of attention as well as regular meals, exercise, obedience training, games and grooming, etc.

Do you work?

Is there somebody at home during the day, or for most of it, who can look after a dog? It is never a good idea to leave a dog alone for more than a few hours each day, especially a puppy. Dogs are sociable pack animals and they need companionship. Some people believe that having two dogs will offset this problem, as they will be company for each other. Although this may be true to a certain extent later in life, two puppies will be just as anxious and needful as one. In any event, dogs need human companionship so that they can learn and adapt to family life. If you leave your dog alone for long periods, it may lead to separation anxiety and a dog that destroys furnishings or soils the house. A puppy needs constant attention, so he cannot be left alone for more than a few minutes at a time.

The Cavalier puppy is a small bundle of energy and fun.

Is it a family decision?

Does everyone in your family want a dog? This may seem a strange question, but a dog will be not just an item in the house like a TV or an armchair he will become a member of your family and, as such, needs to be wanted by everyone. Even if one family member says they will be responsible for the dogs care, there will be times when that person cannot do so, in which case somebody else must take over. An adult must have ultimate responsibility for the dogs welfare, because children cannot take on full responsibility for it no matter how much they might beg, plead and cajole that they will. Never fall into the trap of buying a puppy just for the children. A dog is for the whole family and he will be part of the family.

What will it cost?

Can you afford to care for a dog?

The actual purchase price of a puppy, however expensive, is actually a minor consideration when you total up the additional and day-to-day costs of caring for a dog, such as food, vaccinations and general veterinary care. There will also be the initial outlay for equipment, including a bed, bedding, collar and lead, toys, feeding bowls, etc. It is also part of being a responsible dog owner to consider pet insurance, which will obviously help offset the cost of unexpected veterinary bills, as well as microchipping and/or tattooing for the purposes of identification.

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