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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Our guide to the breed

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

My ideal owner | Exercise | Temperament | Health | Appearance | Cost | History

Key facts

Height: 31cm – 33cm

Weight: 5 – 8 kg

Life Expectancy: 9 – 11 years

Exercise Needs:  Medium

About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Hey there! I’m a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I’m a friendly, affectionate pup who loves to sit on my owner’s lap and get belly rubs. I’m not content spending all my day lazing around though – like all Spaniels, I love my daily walkies and I can even hold my own in canine sports. I was a favourite with British royals, and I’ll shower you with so much love that you’ll feel like royalty too!

My ideal owner

I’m an adaptable pup so I’ll make a wonderful companion for people from all walks of life. I’m particularly suited to people who live in a home without a garden, as long as they make sure I can get out for plenty of walkies and toilet breaks throughout the day. I’m a great choice for first-time owners thanks to my friendly and eager-to-please personality. I get on well with most other pets, but small furry creatures should be kept out of my reach – just in case my Spaniel prey drive kicks in! I don’t like being apart from you, so please don’t leave me alone for long periods of time.

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Homes without gardens

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Families with kids

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Constant companionship

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Living with other pets


There’s all sorts of personalities amongst Cavalier King Charles Spaniels – some of us are friendly, whilst others are more shy, some of us are independent whilst others are reliant. It all comes down to our experiences, especially in our early years.

We love our humans deeply, and we adore getting that love and attention back. We are full of affection for our people, and have a playful nature that’ll have you throwing toys for us for hours.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel temperament sliders

Exercise needs


I may be small, but I’ve still got plenty of energy to burn off. I’m usually satisfied with a couple of daily walks and lots of playtime. If you want to get creative with my exercise routine I’ll love taking in part in agility and other canine sports.

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Whilst many of us live healthy lives, we are prone to some health conditions. It’s important you are aware of these and discuss them with your breeder. Many can be tested for so your breeder should be able to show certificates of parents or your puppy stating they are free from inherited health conditions.

What is mitral valve disease?

Mitral valve disease is a very common condition in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It worsens over time and can eventually cause heart failure.

How is it diagnosed?

Your vet will check your dog’s heartbeat as part of a standard physical examination. If they hear abnormalities, such as a heart murmur, they may run an echocardiogram to confirm the diagnosis and current severity of the disease.

The Kennel Club recommends that all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels participate in a testing scheme for the condition. If you are buying a puppy you should make sure that both parents have been tested and approved for breeding.

What are the treatments for mitral valve disease?

There are a range of treatments available to manage the condition and extend life expectancy. These include medication to delay the onset of heart failure and medication to manage the symptoms of the condition. Surgery is available but is costly and requires highly specialised veterinarians.

As always, your vet will be able to recommend the best course of action and refer you to a specialised clinic if your dog is eligible for surgical treatment.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts occur when part of the eye becomes cloudy. This can cause your dog to have blurry vision. They can become thicker and denser over time, potentially leading to blindness if left untreated.

How are they diagnosed?

If your dog’s eye starts to look cloudy, you should consult a vet. They will conduct a full examination of the eye and be able to confirm the diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the treatments for cataracts?

For many dogs, treatment won’t be required, or recommended by your vet. They will be able to recommend strategies for helping your dog adapt to their differing vision and monitor them closely to ensure they do not develop glaucoma.

Surgery is an option for some dogs with cataracts. This will be carried out by a specialist ophthalmic surgeon who will usually remove the lens.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is dry eye?

Dry eye is a condition that results from the lack of normal tear production. The affected eye becomes dry, red, and sore, and can often become infected.

Dry eye can be caused by a variety of issues including autoimmune problems, disease, side effects of medication, hypothyroidism, and diabetes.

How is it diagnosed?

The symptoms of dry eye included conjunctivitis, redness, or soreness in the eye. You should visit your vet as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Your vet will carry out a basic ophthalmic exam and may conduct a simple test to measure the production of the tear ducts. 

What are the treatments for dry eye?

The most common treatments for dry eye are eye drops or creams that may stimulate natural tear production and supplement artificial tears. Other types of eye drop may also be used to treat infections as a result of dry eye.

In the most severe circumstances, your vet may recommend surgery carried out by a specialist ophthalmic veterinary surgeon.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is curly coat syndrome?

Curly coat syndrome is a skin condition that affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that is often accompanied by dry eye (see above).

How is it diagnosed?

Curly coat syndrome is immediately apparent at birth. Affected puppies will have the rough, curly coat that gives the condition its name. As the puppy gets older, their skin will deteriorate, resulting in itchy, red rashes, inflammation of the skin, thickened footpads, and an oily coat.

If you notice these symptoms, you should consult your vet who will be able to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatments for curly coat?

If your dog has curly coat, they will need regular management of the condition. This could include frequent medical baths to treat the skin condition and eye medications to treat dry eye.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is a luxating patella?

A luxating patella is a medical term for a slipping kneecap. This can happen as a result of certain ligaments being misaligned.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog has a bow-legged stance or occasional limping, they may be suffering from luxating patella. A vet will carry out an initial physical exam and, if necessary, refer your dog to an orthopaedic specialist. They may then carry out diagnostic imaging, such as a CT and MRI scan, to establish the extent of movement in the affected joint.

What is the treatment for a luxating patella?

Treatment for a luxating patella depends on the severity of the issue. Treatments include:

  • Weight management
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercise programs
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • Surgery

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia (CM/SM)?

CM/SM is a set of two major malformations affecting your dog’s skull and nervous system. Chiari malformation occurs when the skull does not develop properly, exposing part of the brain at the back of the skull. Syringomyelia is the presence of fluid-filled pockets that develop in your dog’s spinal cord.

Both conditions are inherited and possibly influenced by environmental factors. Dogs will be affected with different levels of severity depending on the set of genes they have inherited and the influence of any environmental factors. Some dogs may not experience any symptoms but still be carriers – these dogs should not usually be bred.

How is it diagnosed?

The range of symptoms that your dog experiences is broad. Some dogs will not experience any symptoms, whereas others will experience intense pain. You should look out for:

  • Inability and unwillingness to exercise
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • ‘Air scratching’ where the foot doesn’t touch the body
  • Poor coordination
  • General weakness

If you notice any of these symptoms you should visit a vet immediately to confirm the diagnosis. They will carry out a physical examination as well as an MRI scan to determine the severity of your dog’s condition and recommend appropriate treatment.

 If you are buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy you should make sure that your breeder can show you a certificate showing the parents’ CM/SM score following British Veterinary Association approved screening.

What are the treatments for CM/SM?

There are a range of treatments available to dogs with CM/SM, depending on the severity of their condition. This includes:

  • Painkillers
  • Medication to reduce cerebrospinal fluid pressure
  • Surgery

Your vet will be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment for your dog. 

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is episodic falling?

Episodic falling is an inherited condition affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It refers to the temporary stiffening of your dog’s muscles that has the appearance of a seizure.

How is it diagnosed?

There are a range of symptoms of episodic falling and are often related to times when your dog is excited or stressed. They include:

  • Suddenly developing a rigid gait
  • Unusual movement, often stiff and exaggerated
  • Arched back
  • Yelping
  • Loss of coordination
  • Collapse
  • Holding forelegs over its head
  • Overheating (possibly due to the inability to pant during an episode)

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms you should visit a vet as soon as possible to confirm the diagnosis and provide a treatment plan. They may take a DNA swab to confirm the presence of genes causing episodic falling

What are the treatments for episodic falling?

The effectiveness of treatments for episodic falling have varying degrees of success and are fairly limited. They can include various types of medication to try and prevent the episodes. As always, your vet will be able to recommend an appropriate treatment plan. 

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.


One off costs


This includes the average cost of a puppy, and all the gear they will need, like their collar, bed and grooming tools.

Ongoing costs

£23 per week | £100 per month | £1200 per year

This includes your ongoing costs such as insurance, food, toys, and standard veterinary care, but not dog sitting, training or veterinary costs not covered by insurance.


I’m a pretty little pup, and luckily for my owners, my coat isn’t as high maintenance as a lot of other breeds of my size. In fact, my double coat is easily managed with daily brushing and some minor trimming, depending on your preference but never shaved. I do shed year-round, and I’ll have twice yearly blow outs when my summer and winter coats come in.

I have long, feathery ears set high on my head, and feathers on my legs, paws and tails as well. These areas are hotspots for mats, so make sure you brush them carefully and regularly!

I come in a variety of colours including black and tan, ruby red, Blenheim (chestnut and white) and tricolour.


Black and Tan

Ruby red

Blenheim (chestnut and white) Tricolour

Grooming needs

Daily brush

Bath when necessary


No – I shed my coat year-round.


When talking about our rich history, it’s important to realise that until the 1920’s we shared the same history as the King Charles Spaniel. Our breed was developed by breeders trying to recreate the look of the King Charles Spaniels seen in 17th century paintings. A breed standard was produced for us and we were eventually recognised as separate breed by the Kennel Club in 1945.

Our shared history goes back hundreds of years. It is widely believed that our predecessors originated in Japan and were given as gifts to European royalty. 

Toy Spaniels that look like us began to appear in paintings by the 15th century, and quickly became firm favourites with royalty, even before King Charles. We can be seen in portraits of Queen Mary I and it said that Mary, Queen of Scots was accompanied by her Spaniel on her way to her execution. The list of our royal owners goes on, and includes our namesake, King Charles I.

In the 18th century, Pugs were introduced into Britain, and our predecessors underwent significant changes due to crossbreeding. Breeders began to favour shorter noses and flatter faces, creating the look of the King Charles Spaniel.

Us Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are now one of the most popular ‘Toy’ breeds of dog in the UK and a favourite choice for dog owners looking for an affectionate and people orientated breed. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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