The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel exudes kindness, a gentle nature and playfulness. You can almost see it in their eyes; the Cavalier is simply loving and sweet. Best Bully Sticks takes a look into the Cavalier’s past this week—it’s origins and it’s journey to being a modern dog.

History & Background: From their beginnings, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been a dog of comfort and companionship. Depictions of this dog can be seen all throughout English history in tapestries and paintings.  However to understand the origins of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel their history has to be traced through it’s predecessor, the King Charles Spaniel.

The King Charles Spaniel was a favorite of the court of King Charles of England and his court. These little dogs were called “Spaniel Gentle” or “Comforter” and were even believed to be able to keep fleas and sickness at bay. King Charles even was said to have his “little dogs” everywhere he went. These dogs had longer noses, and when King William III & Queen Mary II took the throne these longer nosed dogs were going out of fashion and pugs were beginning to grow in popularity. The long-nosed spaniel and the pug, or other flat nosed dogs, were bred together and a new type of King Charles Spaniel was created.

This “down-grade” of the breed appalled many and in the 1920’s an American, Roswell Eldridge set out to find a King Charles Spaniel most like its ancestor. Eventually, a male and female that met Eldridge’s requirements were found, however he died before he saw his plan come to fruition. Yet, a group of dedicated fanciers had grown behind Eldridge’s plan and the first breed standard set by this group and was called, “King Charles Spaniel, Cavalier Type” to set it a part from its ancestors. Not too long after, the breed became known as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It wasn’t until the mid-1950s that this breed came to America. The AKC didn’t recognize this breed until 1997. In pop culture, this breed is known to be the dog of the “Sex and the City” character Charlotte York.

Height: 12-13 inches

Weight: 13-18 pounds

Coat: Cavaliers have a medium length coat that is silky and can be wavy, but never curly. This breed’s coat feathers on the ears, chest, legs and feet. The breed standard by the AKC states that this dog shouldn’t be trimmed or clipped and should only be shown in it’s natural state. The only exception to this rule is for the hair that grows between the pads of this dog’s feet.

Color: There are four traditional colors for the Cavalier King Charles and which are derived from their predecessor, the King Charles Spaniel. The first is called Blenheim, which is a white body with chestnut markings. Blenheim coloring is named after Blenheim palace where John Churchill, an English Duke, bred the predecessors of the breed in this specific color. Another color combination is black and tan; a black body with tan markings usually around the eyebrows, cheeks, legs and under the tail. This is called “King Charles” coloring.  There is also the “Prince Charles” or tricolor, which consists of a black and white dog with tan markings usually around the eyebrows, cheeks, legs, inside ears and underneath the tail. The last of the four colors is called “Ruby,” which is a deep chestnut color all over the body. Ruby colored dogs sometimes have white markings, but the AKC deems this a fault in the show ring.

Appearance: The Cavalier is a toy breed, but is at the large end of that category. Typically viewed as a lap dog, this dog usually averages 15 pounds, which can fill a lap very easily. This breed is graceful and athletic in its small size and regal as well. The Cavalier has ears that sit on top of the head and eyes that fill the black-rimmed lids. The nose is short, and slightly tapered but not pointed.  The tail is usually undocked.

Temperament: Because this dog is so cute, you’re going to want to snuggle, and the good news is, it’s in the Cavalier’s nature to snuggle right back! Needless to say, this dog is very affectionate. The breed is good with children and isn’t shy in the least bit around large dogs or strangers. This dog has been called fearless, even. This dog is playful and of average intelligence, yet trains easily and sometimes even said to be naturally well behaved.

Health: Unfortunately, the Cavalier is prone to a few major health problems. Mitral Valve Disease is an ailment that most Cavaliers deal with during their lifetimes. This is a disease in which the mitral valve on the heart loosens and causes a heart murmur. This can lead to heart disease in this breed and is the number one cause of death in this breed.

This breed is also affected by Syringomyelia, which is a disease that caused by a cavity or cyst forming on the spinal cord. This cyst will grow over time and pushes on the space available to the brain. This causes severe pain and eventually paralysis.

This breed can also suffer from Episodic Falling, thrombocytopenia and macrothrombocytopenia (blood disorders), hip and knee disorders, eye and ear problems.  The life expectancy for the Cavalier is 9-14 years.

Product Suggestions: This gentle and sweet breed is playful and needs plenty of exercise. Best Bully Sticks thinks this cute dog would love a tough, but similarly cute toy! The Simply Fido line of toys “aims to enrich the lives of today’s families by fostering the imaginations of pets and celebrating the lifestyle of the eco-conscious home. SimplyFido is more than just playthings and dog toys – they aim to teach values and environmental responsibility, all while touching the hearts of pets through imagination and whimsy.”  For a mini dog, BBS suggests a mini treat with a mighty taste and health impact! Zukes Mini Naturals are yummy, moist dog treats that your Cavalier will go ga-ga for!

Do you own or know a Cavalier King Charles? Tell us your favorite Cavalier King Charles story in the comments section!