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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is among one of the oldest toy breeds boasting an illustrious history that can be traced back several centuries. The Kennel Club only recognised the Cavalier as a unique breed in its own right in 1944 and by the seventies, they were to become one of the most popular dogs in the UK. Cavaliers are larger than their King Charles cousins and they boast a longer, less snubbed nose too.
Cavaliers are known to be easy-going dogs that easily adapt to many lifestyles, whether it's living in a country environment or in an apartment in town. They are also known to be very good around children of all ages and become valued members of a family. They are also incredibly loyal and devoted companions, never too demanding. In general, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is unlikely to show any aggression towards people or other animals because of the ultra-kind and laid-back natures.
The breed's history is a bit hazy, but what is known is that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have been around for a very long time. There is some evidence of the breed originating in the Far East and Japan. The breed may also share their ancestry with other breeds from that region of the world, namely the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese.
It was customary for European royalty to be offered toy spaniels as gifts and images of them can be seen in 16th century paintings by masters like Titian. However, the earliest record of a toy spaniel in the UK is in a painting of Queen Mary 1 and King Philip. They were a particular favourite of well-bred ladies in Tudor times and valued as 'comforters' which saw these little dogs usually sitting on a ladies lap during carriage journeys which helped keep their hands warm.
It was under the Stewart reign that these toy dogs were given the name 'King Charles' Spaniels. Some people believe toy spaniels were crossed with pugs to produce a smaller face, more pronounced eyes and domed heads. The breed fell out of favour over a period of time, but regained their popularity during Queen Victoria's reign and has remained one of the most popular breeds right up till modern times.
Height at the withers: Males 30 - 33 cm, Females 30 - 33 cm
Average Weight: Males 5.9 - 8.2 kg, Females 5.9 - 8.2 kg
Larger than their King Charles cousins, the Cavalier also boasts a longer, less snubbed nose. The one thing about these dogs are their beautiful, large and gentle eyes which are a true indication of their sweet natures. A Cavalier's head is nicely proportioned in relation to their body with a shallow stop and almost flat skull. Their muzzles are tapered with well-developed black nostrils. Their ears are set high on their heads and are long with lots of feathering. A Cavalier's jaw is strong with a perfect bite.
They hold their necks slightly arched leading down to a well-proportioned chest with strong shoulders and straight front legs. Cavaliers boast compact bodies with level backs and well-formed hindquarters. Their feet are well-cushioned, feathered and compact. Their tails are well proportioned in length in relation to their bodies which they carry quite high although never too high.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels boast lovely coats with a variety of acceptable and recognised Kennel Club colours which includes the following:
Cavaliers boast beautiful markings which typically includes some dogs having a characteristic spot on their foreheads a very distinct trait that people find very endearing.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have very sweet natures. They are undemanding little dogs that adapt well to all lifestyles with little fuss at all. They are extremely loyal and affectionate by nature as well as being playful which are just some of the reasons why the breed has been so popular not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too for such a long time.
They are intelligent dogs without the keen prey drive of other spaniels. Although slightly harder to train, some Cavaliers excel in canine activities which includes agility. They are among one of the favourite breeds at shows always finding a place on the rostrum.
Cavaliers love to romp around in a garden and go out for a sedate walk, but they are just as happy to cuddle up on a sofa with their owner when they can, making them the perfect choice of "lap dog" something they excelled at in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known to be ultra-good when around children of all ages and if they have been well socialised as puppies, they are generally very good around other pets and animals too. They are incredibly sweet natured and known to be undemanding, tolerant characters in all sorts of situations which is why the breed has been consistently one of the most popular choices as family pets.
As with all breeds, Cavaliers need to be well socialised from a young age and introduced to lots of different situations, people and animals as early as possible for them to become confident, well-rounded adult dogs. With this said, any introductions to new animals needs to be done slowly and carefully so that things go as smoothly as possible.
The average life expectancy of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 10 and 16 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The breed is known to suffer from three health problems which are as follows:
One of the biggest health issues the breed suffers from is obesity which can seriously impact a dog's life span, shortening it considerably. Carrying too much weight can also lead to a dog developing all sorts of other health issues which includes heart disease.
As with any other breed, Cavaliers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also benefit from being professionally groomed at least 3 times a year. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need to be groomed daily to keep their coats in good condition. Like all other dogs, they shed more during the Spring and Autumn which is when their coats need to be brushed more frequently to keep on top of things. It is also worth trimming back the feathers and hair between the toes which can become very unruly if left too long and where mats can easily form making it uncomfortable for a dog to walk.
It is also worth taking a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be professionally groomed every 3 months or so which means their coats can be hand stripped which makes keeping things tidy that much easier.
When it comes to exercise, Cavaliers need to be given a minimum of an hour's walk on a daily basis otherwise they will start to plough on the pounds. These little dogs would quite happily curl up on a sofa and turn into couch potatoes if they are allowed to.
They also need to be given lots of mental stimulation in the form of interactive games to keep them busy because like any other breed, Cavaliers can get easily bored and this can lead to them developing some unwanted behaviours.
Some Cavaliers can be quite picky eaters which can be frustrating. However, with a little perseverance and finding the right type of food, they will eat what is put down for them. Puppies like any other breed need to be fed the same diet they were used to with the breeder to avoid any upset tummies. However, their diet can gradually and safely be changed over a few weeks. Puppies need to be fed a good quality, nutritious diet and fed at regular intervals and ideally this needs to be 3 to 4 times a day.
Older dogs also need to be fed a nutritious diet to suit their ages and any health issues they may be suffering from. It's important to keep an eye on a Cavalier's weight as they get older because they do have a tendency to put on too much weight if they are not given the correct amount of exercise.
If you are looking to buy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you would need to be prepared to pay anything from £300 to well over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel if you live in the north of England would be £22.01 for basic over up to £40.81 for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). It's worth bearing in mind that lots of things are factored into a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK and their age, with the cost rising as they get older.
When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality dog food to give them throughout their lives, whether you opt for wet or dry. This would set you back between £30-£40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Cavalier and this includes their initial vaccinations, neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which quickly adds up to over a £800 a year.
The total average cost to keep and care for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as a rough guide would be in the region of £60 - £100 a month depending on the level of pet insurance you opt to buy, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy.
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