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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is often called a "sporting toy breed" because of his combination of spaniel and toy traits. It originated in the United Kingdom, where it is still one of the most popular breeds. 

Born to be a companion, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is sweet-tempered, playful, and gentle.

One of the largest of the toy breeds, he's often as athletic as a true sporting breed and enjoys hiking, running on the beach, and dog sports such as agility and flyball. The more restful members of the breed find happiness sitting on a lap or getting a belly rub.


While the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a relatively new breed, recreated less than a century ago. His prototype is the toy spaniel that has existed for centuries as a companion to royalty and nobility.

Cavaliers are descended from the same toy spaniels depicted in many 16th, 17th, and 18th century paintings by famous artists such as Van Dyck and Gainsborough. The spaniels in those paintings had flat heads, high-set ears, and longish noses. 

King Charles II and his Cavaliers (Ward)
These little spaniels were favourites of royal and noble families in England. Mary, Queen of Scots had a toy spaniel who accompanied her as she walked to her beheading, and her grandson, Charles I, and great-grandson, Charles II — who gave their name to the breed — loved the little dogs as well. 

It's said that King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685, never went anywhere without at least two or three of these little spaniels. He even decreed that the spaniels should be allowed in any public place, including the Houses of Parliament. 

After Charles II's death, the King Charles Spaniels' popularity waned, and Pugs and other short-faced breeds became the new royal favourites. The King Charles Spaniels were bred with these dogs and eventually developed many of their features, such as the shorter nose.

There was one stronghold of the original King Charles Spaniels at Blenheim Palace, the country estate of the Dukes of Marlborough. Here, a strain of red and white Toy Spaniels continued to be bred, which is why Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with this coloration are called Blenheim today. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - Blenheim

Since there was no standard for the breed and no dog shows yet, the type and size of the toy spaniels bred varied. In the mid-19th century, however, English breeders started holding dog shows and trying to refine different dog breeds. By that time, the toy spaniel was accepted as having a flat face, undershot jaw, domed skull and large, round, front-facing eyes. The King Charles Spaniels depicted in paintings from earlier centuries were almost extinct.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Tri-colour
With a sweet rounded face, big brown eyes and soft floppy ears the Cavalier is the ultimate “cute” dog. 

There are four colours, Blenheim (chestnut and white), Tri-colour (black, white and tan), black and tan, and ruby (solid red).

  • Weight: 5.9 – 8.2 kg (Male or Female) 
  • Height: 31 – 33 cm (Male or Female)

For the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Standard visit Dogs Australia


Cavaliers are affectionate and compliant, tolerant of children and come highly recommended by many vets. 

This comfort-loving breed adores cuddling in laps but he also has more athletic instincts than you might think. Indeed, he can be a runner and chaser. A fenced backyard or a leash are musts at all times, because many Cavaliers have an instinct to chase most things that move including low-flying birds or even butterflies, vehicles on busy streets etc. and so most Cavaliers will never become "street-wise". 
Because the breed is so people-oriented, Cavaliers become stressed when left alone too long and are best suited to a home where someone is around. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is lonely will whine or bark or chew destructively. 

Most Cavaliers are polite with everyone and peaceful with other dogs and cats. As they tend to regard all strangers as friends, members of the breed will usually not make good guard dogs.

Cavaliers do need a decent amount of exercise - a couple of long daily walks and a fenced yard in which to run.

Health & Lifespan

Responsible breeders are screening parents to eliminate known genetic problems such as luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), eye defects and congenital heart problems.

Cavaliers can often suffer from, most notably Mitral Valve Disease, which leads to heart failure. It is both a congenital disease and is inherited in certain lines of Cavaliers.

Syringomyelia (SM) is reported to be "very widespread" in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed. Syringomyelia is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord, which may cause severe head and neck pain and possible paralysis.

The average lifespan of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 9 and 14 years.


The Cavalier needs bathing and a good brush for 15-20 minutes each week. 

When coming out of winter hair may be shed onto furnishings. 

The drop ears should be wiped clean and checked regularly to avoid ear infections

Recommended for

The Cavalier makes an ideal pet, being small, quiet and unobtrusive. They are said to be easily house-trained and do not need a big backyard. A regular walk, however, is recommended.

Cavaliers appeal to older people and young families alike  - especially those with children unfamiliar with dogs. Puppies may be injured if left unsupervised with children under three years.

For more information on the breed or to re-home a Cavalier, please visit the official Breed Club in your State:

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of NSW
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of QLD

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of VIC
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of SA
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of TAS

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