Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
|Cavalier King Charles
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Blenheim coat) on his day
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 9 Section 7 #136
||Group 1 (Toys)
||Group 5 - Toys
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small
considered one of the
The breed has four recognized colors: Blenheim (rich chestnut on pearly white
background), Tricolor (black and white with tan markings), Black and Tan (black
with tan markings), and Ruby (rich red all over).
The breed is highly affectionate, and some have called the Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel "the ultimate lap dog". However, Cavaliers require a great deal
of human companionship and do not tolerate well being left alone for long
periods of time. Most dogs of the breed are extremely patient and eager to
please. As such, dogs of the breed are usually good with children and other
The Blenheim's coat features rich chestnut markings on a pearly white
For many centuries, small breeds of spaniels have been popular in the
United Kingdom. In the eleventh century, in the reign of
Canute, it was illegal to hunt with any dog that could not fit through a
gauge that was eleven inches in diameter. Hence, the "birth" of the
Toy Spaniel in the United Kingdom. Some centuries later, Toy Spaniels became
popular as pets, especially as pets of the royal family. In fact, the
King Charles Spaniel was so named because a Blenheim-coated spaniel was the
children's pet in the household of
King Charles II went so far as to issue a decree that the King Charles
Spaniel could not be forbidden entrance to any public place, including the
Houses of Parliament. Such spaniels can be seen in many paintings of the 16th,
17th and 18th centuries. These early spaniels had longer, pointier snouts and
thinner-boned limbs than today's.
Over time, the toy spaniels were replaced in popularity by short-snouted,
dome-headed dogs of asian descent, such as the
Japanese Chin. The King Charles Spaniel was bred with these dogs, resulting
in the similar-shaped head of today's breed. The King Charles Spaniel remained
popular at Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, where the brown
and white version was the most popular - resulting in the name Blenheim for that
In the beginning of the 1900s, an American named Roswell Eldrige offered
twenty-five pounds as a prize for any King Charles Spaniel "of the old-fashioned
type" with a longer nose, flat skull, and a lozenge (spot) in the middle of the
crown of the head, sometimes called "the kiss of Buddha". So, the breed was
developed by selective breeding of short-snouted King Charles Spaniels. The
result was a dog that resembled the boyhood pet of the future
Charles II of England ("Cavalier
King Charles"), whence the breed derives its name.
Two breed clubs are found in the United States: the Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel Club (CKCSC) USA and the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club.
The latter club is the breed club of the
American Kennel Club.
The breed suffers from a number of congenital defects, including:
Mitral Valve Disease
Virtually all Cavaliers suffer from
valve disease, causing progressively worsening heart murmurs leading to
heart failure. This condition can begin to emerge at an early age, and is
present in many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by 5 years of age. It is
extremely rare for a 10 year old Cavalier not to have at least a slight heart
murmur. Responsible breeders are attempting to breed only from dogs that exhibit
a later onset of this disease.
Syringomyelia is a condition affecting the brain and spine, causing symptoms
ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. Although
symptoms of syringomyelia can present at any age, they typically appear between
6 months and 3 years of age. Symptoms include sensitivity around the head, neck
or shoulders, often indicated by a dog whimpering or frequently scratching at
the area of his neck or shoulder. Scratching is often unilateral -- restricted
to one side of the body. Scratching motions are frequently performed without
actually making physical contact with the body. The scratching behavior appears
involuntary and the dog frequently scratches while walking -- without stopping
-- in a way that is very atypical of normal scratching. Scratching typical of SM
is usually worse when the dog is wearing a collar or being walked on leash or
when the dog is excited.
Not all dogs with SM show scratching behavior. Not all dogs who show
scratching behavior appear to suffer pain. If onset is at an early age, the
first sign may be rapidly appearing scoliosis. If the problem is severe, there
is likely to be poor proprioception (awareness of body position), especially
with regard to the forelimbs. Clumsiness and falling results from this problem.
A vet should be asked to rule out primary secretory otitis media (glue ear)
before assuming that a Cavalier has SM. PSOM can present with similar symptoms
but is much easier and cheaper to treat. It's not known how frequently PSOM (or
SM) occurs in Cavaliers.
Cavaliers, like most other small breeds, are occasionally subject to a
genetic defect of the femur called
luxating patella. This condition allows the kneecap to slip out of place.
This condition is most often observed when a puppy is 4 to 6 months old. In the
most serious cases, surgery may be indicated. A great many commercially-produced
Cavaliers require patella surgery after being surrendered to rescue or taken in
from puppy mills. The proportion of Cavaliers in a typical rescue group who
require patella surgery is about one-third to one-half.
Another common defect among Cavaliers is
keratoconjunctivitis sicca, colloquially known as "dry eye". The usual cause
of this condition is an
autoimmune reaction against the dog's tear ducts, reducing the production of
tears. The condition requires continual treatment and if untreated may result in
partial or total blindness.
The recent increasing popularity of the breed has led to breeding of the
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in
and an upsurge in the number of Cavaliers sold in
Famous Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Rex, pet of U.S. President
- Elizabeth Taylor (neč Princess Dandyridge Brandywine), pet of Charlotte
Sex and the City
- Hopper and Harley, pets of
Courteney Cox and
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