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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament: Pure affection

Welcome to our blog post about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel temperament! If you're here, you probably have heard of this little dog and consider them a potential best friend.

This delightful breed is known for its affectionate nature, playful demeanour, and gentle disposition. In this article, we will delve into the history of this beloved breed, explore their unique temperament traits, and discuss some of the health issues that can affect them.

Additionally, we will share some fun facts about the breed and give guidance on the type of owner who might be best suited to share their life with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. So whether you're a lifelong Spaniel enthusiast or considering bringing a new furry friend into your home, read on to learn more about this charming breed and what makes them such wonderful companions.

Let's dive right in.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel History: Where do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels come from?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beloved toy breed with a rich and fascinating history. Spaniels were initially developed in Britain in the 14th century and bred for flushing game out of hiding places, making it possible for hunters to shoot. However, in the 19th century, Spaniels were first classified into different Spaniel breeds.

The first Spaniel breed to be officially recognised was the Cocker Spaniel, recognised by the Kennel Club in England in 1892. The English Springer Spaniel was recognised shortly after that, in 1902. Over the years, other spaniel breeds were developed and recognised, including the American Cocker Spaniel, the Clumber Spaniel, the Field Spaniel, the Sussex Spaniel, and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

It wasn't until 1945 that the Kennel Club recognised the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These dogs were developed as a calmer, gentler version of the Spaniel breed, intended to comfort women of high social standing in the 17th century. They were often kept as lap dogs and used to divert fleas and insects away from their owners. The perfect companion dog!

Cavalier King Charles Temperament
The ancestors of the Cavalier were true gundogs.

The monarch who gave the little toy Spaniels their name was Charles II, who was enamoured with his little Spaniels. They never left his side, and his love is well-documented, much to the dismay of his staff at times. During this time, it is believed that some Japanese Chin and Pugs were mixed into the bloodline of the Spaniel, resulting in flatter muzzles. Short-faced dogs were trendy then and nearly made other dog breeds extinct.

Most of the Cavalier Spaniels of today are the chestnut and white Blenheims bred first by the Duke of Marlborough. They got their name due to the Duke living at Blenheim Palace, which Queen Anne gave him as a present. He was particularly fond of small spaniels, which were a popular breed in Britain at the time. He is credited with breeding a line of spaniels smaller and more compact than the original breed, eventually known as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

In 1885, some Toy Spaniel enthusiasts formally formed a Toy Spaniel Club. For the first time, a breed standard was drafted, which set four colours for the toy Spaniel: Black and Tan (influenced by King Charles), red and white (Blenheim), tricolour (Prince Charles), and Ruby, in 1902. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was founded in 1928, and the first breed standard was drawn up, almost identical to today's standard. However, the UK Kennel Club only recognised the Cavalier in 1945.

Today, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel remains a beloved breed known for its affectionate and loyal temperament. While the breed was developed for hunting, they have become popular companion dogs and are now kept as lap dogs.

Their rich history and unique characteristics continue to make them a favourite among dog lovers worldwide, as the below table of new registrations shows. In the UK, 3,478 Cavalier King Charles were registered with the UK Kennel Club in 2022. The love for this breed is steady and real!

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

Yearly 2021

Q1 2022

Q2 2022

Q3 2022

Q4 2022

2022 Total











Source: UK Kennel Club April 2023

Now that we have a rough idea about their breeding history, let's dive into how your life with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might look.

What is the Temperament of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

Get ready to fall in love with the charming and affectionate Cavalier King Charles Spaniel! This breed is full of personality and has a temperament which will not make it surprising that kings and queens loved it. Their soulful expression and trustful demeanour were a close second reason.

They are happy and loyal little dogs, also known as "Velcro dogs", because of their love for cuddling and being close to their humans. And who wouldn't want a loyal furry friend always up for snuggles?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Cavaliers are often described as velcro dogs

Cavaliers are great with children and other pets due to their gentle and patient nature, making them perfect for families. They're also highly adaptable and can thrive in city and country environments.

And, as we learnt in the history, their ancestors were originally gundogs. That means they love exploring the great outdoors, and their playful nature will surely make you smile. So if you're a nature lover and enjoy long walks, this dog will be a good companion.

But don't be fooled by their lapdog reputation. Some Cavaliers can still exhibit hunting instincts and curious personalities, which can make training them to come when called a challenge. However, you can teach your Cavalier a reliable recall with consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. Of course, ensuring a safe environment for off-leash training is essential, and never punishing a Cavalier for not coming when called is critical.

One of the most appealing things about Cavaliers is their kind, loving, and loyal disposition. They're friendly with everyone they meet, from other dogs to smaller animals and strangers, as long as they're socialised accordingly.

Whilst being high energy outside, the Cavalier King Charles often can mirror your energy at home and be calm and placid due to their ability to match their owner's energy. Having cuddles and being petted is their favourite passing time, making them the King and Queen of Velcro dogs.

While Cavaliers might not be the most intelligent breed (ranked 73 out of 138 in "The intelligence of dogs"), their eagerness to please and spend time with their humans makes them trainable and great candidates for obedience competitions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Cavaliers have a loyal and affectionate side not making for great guard dogs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels aren't ideal guard-or watchdogs due to their friendly nature. Instead, they tend to greet all visitors enthusiastically, assuming they're there to give them attention and tasty treats.

Their silky coat and floppy ears make Cavaliers adorable but require some grooming maintenance.

Regular brushing and ear cleaning can help prevent matting, tangles, and ear infections. However, a Cavalier King Charles can be challenging for a houseproud person. Wire-haired breeds, like a Border Terrier or Dandie Dinmont, might be the better choice.

And if you're wondering about housebreaking, remember that toy breeds like the Cavalier King Charles can take a little longer. But with patience and consistency, they will become your most loyal companion.

So, if you're looking for a furry friend that will shower you with affection and make you laugh with its playful antics, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might be a perfect choice.

Let's dive into some common questions about this lovely breed.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not considered hypoallergenic due to their moderately long, silky coat that sheds regularly and produces dander and saliva, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

But don't lose hope! While no breed can be completely hypoallergenic, other breeds with shorter hair or wired coats, like Border Terriers or Dandie Dinmonts, maybe a better fit for allergy sufferers.

If you do decide to bring home a Cavalier, be prepared for some grooming and brushing to maintain their coat's health and cleanliness and prevent matting. This regular care can also help reduce the number of allergens in your home and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Before making any decisions, spending time with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is crucial to see if allergic reactions occur. It's also a good idea to consult with an allergist or medical professional to determine the best action for you and your family.

In conclusion, while Cavaliers may not be hypoallergenic, there are other breeds that can be considered as alternatives that you can find in our dog library.

Can Cavalier King Charles Spaniels be left alone?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love being with you at all times.

As a companionable breed, it's essential to understand that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should not be left alone for long periods. Doing so may cause separation anxiety and destructive behaviour as they attempt to gain attention. While each dog is unique, it is recommended that they are not left alone for more than three to four hours per day.

If more prolonged periods are necessary, pet owners should arrange for someone to check on their dogs, take them for a walk, and provide them with essential care. This may include hiring a dog walker or pet sitter and considering the cost of these services when calculating if you can afford a Cavalier.

To help provide mental stimulation while pet owners are away, it's also recommended to give toys, puzzles, and other activities to keep the dog occupied. Crate training can also be beneficial in case the dog needs to be protected from injuring itself.

Overall, it's essential to remember that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels thrive on human interaction and companionship. Therefore, leaving them alone for extended periods can negatively impact their behaviour and quality of life.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels good with cats?

Absolutely! Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be wonderful cat companions with proper socialisation and introduction. Younger animals may have an even greater chance of success. Cavaliers are known for their social and friendly nature and typically have a good tolerance for smaller animals. But, of course, it's important to remember that each animal is unique, and their behaviour may vary.

To increase the chances of success, it's a great idea to introduce them in a neutral location that either animal hasn't claimed. You can also keep them in separate rooms for some time to allow them to get used to each other's scents. Finally, if your Cavalier shows too much interest in the cat, correct the behaviour and train them to behave appropriately.

Overall, with proper socialisation and training, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can make an excellent companion for a cat and the other way around.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament in a nutshell

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Black and Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the rarest colour.
  • Cavaliers are intelligent and trainable but can be sensitive to harsh or negative training methods.

  • They are generally not aggressive and get along well with other dogs, pets, and strangers.

  • Cavaliers can tend to be overly trusting and may not make good watchdogs due to their friendly nature.

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature and are considered excellent family pets.

  • They are very sociable and enjoy spending time with people, making them great companions for children and the elderly.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel fun fact

Did you know that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a unique characteristic called the Blenheim spot, named after Blenheim Palace in England, where the breed was born? The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, and his wife Sarah kept red and white spaniels at the palace, and the distinctive red and white marking on the top of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's head became known as the Blenheim spot.

Although this marking is most commonly seen in the Blenheim-colored Cavaliers, it can also be found in other colours. It's not an indicator of the dog's purity but more a testament to its rich history.

There are a few legends surrounding how the Blenheim spot came to be. One of the most likely stories is that Sarah selectively bred spaniels to produce the marking.

Another tale tells of Sarah anxiously awaiting her husband's safe return from battle and repeatedly pressing her thumb on her pregnant bitch, resulting in all the puppies in the litter having the Blenheim spot.

Regardless of whether the story is true, the Blenheim spot is a unique and recognisable characteristic of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and reminds us of the breed's fascinating origins.

Potential health issues in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed

Knowing the potential health issues affecting this breed is essential if you're considering bringing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into your home. Since only six Cavalier King Charles Spaniels left after World War II, the gene pool was limited, which can increase the risk of inherited health problems in the breed.

So while Cavaliers are undoubtedly adorable, it's essential to consider their health when deciding to bring one home.

Most medicines are dosed based on body weight; hence, a Cavalier will set you back less than a big Alaskan Malamute.

The below health issues are linked closely to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a heart disease called MVD. It happens when the mitral valve, which controls blood flow in the heart, becomes inflexible and thickened. This results in blood flowing back into the heart's chambers, causing heart enlargement and heart failure. Common symptoms of MVD include coughing, breathing difficulties, and lethargy. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial to detecting MVD early and improving its outcome through timely intervention.

Syringomyelia (SM)

Syringomyelia is a painful condition that affects the spinal cord of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. This happens when the skull is too small to hold the brain, putting pressure on the spinal cord. Symptoms include scratching, biting, or rubbing the head and neck, sensitivity to touch, weakness, and difficulty walking. Treatment options include medication, surgery, or a combination of both.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a skeletal disorder that affects many dog breeds, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It causes instability in the hip joint, leading to arthritis and symptoms such as lameness, stiffness, and difficulty rising or jumping. Treatment options include medication, weight management, physical therapy, or surgery.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap slides out of place, causing pain and discomfort. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to this condition due to their small size and bone structure.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Eye problems are quite common in the Cavalier King Charles breed

Eye Problems

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often have eye problems such as cataracts, retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause vision loss or blindness. Regular check-ups with an eye doctor can help detect and treat these problems early.

To summarise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are susceptible to various health concerns impacting their well-being. Frequent visits to a veterinarian and an ophthalmologist, along with prompt treatment, can aid in managing and reducing the impact of these conditions. If you plan on adopting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, it is crucial to recognise these potential health problems and take precautions to safeguard your pet's health and happiness.

Conclusion: Is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel the right breed for me?

In conclusion, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent choice for someone who wants a loyal, loving, and adaptable dog. Their gentle nature and compatibility with children and other pets make them great family pets. If you love spending time outdoors, they will happily accompany you on long walks, but they are also content to cuddle with you at home.

The Cavalier will make you laugh, so they are an excellent choice if you're looking for someone to complete your life and be by your side.

It is vital to note that their grooming needs can be time-consuming, and they may not be the best choice for someone who is very houseproud. However, if you are willing to put in the effort to maintain their beautiful coat and keep their floppy ears clean, you will have an excellent companion for many years to come.

Before bringing a Cavalier into your home, it is essential to consider all aspects of the breed and ensure they fit your lifestyle and needs well. Then, with proper care and training, they will reward you with unwavering loyalty, affection, and companionship.

Owners' voices about their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Summary Breed Info box



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