History and Origin
Spaniel-type dogs have been part of our lives for centuries. Some are large and some are small. Tapestries and paintings as far back as the 1400s have depicted small spaniel-like canines. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is modeled after these ancient spaniels and is thought to have originated from the larger King Charles spaniel.
King Charles I loved small spaniels, and one of his favorites was the Cavalier. This toy spaniel was so adored by King Charles that the breed was eventually named after him. His successor, King Charles II, also loved and perpetuated the breed. This dog was a favorite of the aristocracy.
Upon the fall of the house of Stuart, the popularity of the breed rapidly declined. They were associated with luxury and wealth and seemed to have no purpose but as companions. At that time, the middle class could not afford to feed and care for a dog that did not work. In addition, William and Mary, rulers at that time, preferred the pug, so association with the Cavalier King Charles spaniel was thought by some to be a political liability.
The breed's fortunes improved during the reign of Queen Victoria. However, during her breeding and promoting of the small spaniel, and perhaps a few accidental interludes with the resident pugs, the appearance of the dog was altered. The head became more domed and the dog was eventually named the English toy spaniel. This resulted in a near extinction of the flatter headed Cavalier. In the 1920s, in an effort to restore the breed back to his original appearance, an American named Roswell Eldridge offered a financial prize for the best dog or bitch of the 'old type.' He offered this prize for 5 years.
Thanks to this offer of money, the breed was restored to his original form. By 1928, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was founded in England and the breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1944. By the middle of the 20th century, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel was one of the most popular breeds in England. By 1996, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the toy group.
Appearance and Size
Australian National Kennel Association Standard
Group 1 (Toys)
Active, graceful and well balanced, with gentle expression.
Sporting, affectionate, absolutely fearless.
Gay, friendly, non-aggressive; no tendency to nervousness.
Head And Skull:
Skull almost flat between ears. Stop shallow. Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 3.8 cms (11?2 ins). 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.
Large, dark, round but not prominent; spaced well apart.
Long, set high, with plenty of feather.
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.
Moderate length, slightly arched.
Chest moderate, shoulders well laid back; straight legs, moderately boned.
Short-coupled with good spring of rib. Level back.
Legs with moderate bone; well turned stifle - no tendency to cow or sickle hocks.
Compact, cushioned and well feathered.
Length of tail in balance with body, well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back. Docking optional. If docked no more than one-third to be removed.
Free moving and elegant in action, plenty of drive from behind. Fore and hind legs move parallel when viewed from in front and behind.
Long, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Plenty of feathering. Totally free from trimming.
Recognised colours are:
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 highly undesirable.
Weight: 5.4-8.2 kg (12-18 lbs).
A small well-balanced dog well within these weights desirable.
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.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a small spaniel, standing a mere 10 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weighing 15 to 20 pounds. The breed has a characteristic slightly rounded but not domed head. The sloping shoulders give this dog his elegant and regal look. The muzzle is tapered and the head flat between the long well feathered high set ears. The eyes are large and round, giving the breed his classic soft expression.
The hair coat of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is silky and of medium length. The coat is not curly but may have a slight wave. There is feathering on the ears, legs, tail and feet. The coat comes in four typical colors: blenheim, which is bright chestnut red markings broken up on a white background; tricolor, which is jet black markings broken up on a white background with rich tan markings; black and tan; and ruby.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a graceful and active toy breed. He is a born companion and lap dog with the temperament of an extrovert. This dog can be quite lively and even vocal. This breed does not like to spend time alone. He prefers the company of his family or other dogs. His most favorite place is in your lap. Should he have to settle for another place, it would have to be on something very soft and luxurious; such as anything cashmere, silk, fur, or really good sheets on your bed (preferably 300+ thread count). I swear, a Cavalier knows its Royal heritage and nothing but the best will do....
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a gentle and affectionate dog. This breed is a wonderful lap dog but has a sporting character and can do well in agility and even hunting. As a member of the spaniel family, this breed is mostly a natural retriever and loves to swim. It's favorite target: squirrels.
Home and Family Relations
The Cavalier King Charles loves to be pampered and relishes life indoors. Due to their small size, this breed can do well in an apartment as long as adequate exercise is provided. This breed is equally at home on the farm where he can participate in strenuous activity, as long as he is allowed to sleep and rest inside with the family.
Despite being a gentle and affectionate breed, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel does generally have the patience for young children, with any dog young children need to be supervised, particularly unruly children. Early socialization and obedience training of both puppy and child are important.