Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a King Charles Spaniel
Average Cost to keep/care for a King Charles Spaniel
Often confused for their Cavalier cousins, the King Charles Spaniel is quite definitely a breed in their own right. They are true aristocrats, always cheerful and extremely affectionate by nature which in short, means they are renowned for being devoted and loyal companions to their owners. The King Charles Spaniel in a nutshell is adorable looking and makes for a great choice as a family pet or companion dog.
The King Charles Spaniel is related to their Cavalier cousins, but as previously mentioned they are a breed in their own right. They have been around for a very long time and were given their name because they were a firm favourite of King Charles II. However, they were also just as popular in Europe where toy spaniels were bred to be as small as possible. They were originally bred to be gundogs, but they were spoilt and pampered by their noble owners who treasured these spaniels for their good looks, sweet natures and the fact they were so small, they could easily be carried around.
It is thought the breed came about by breeding setter type dogs with spaniels commonly seen back in the day. These smaller spaniels were then crossed with toy breeds that were brought back to the UK from the East by traders. The result as to produce spaniels that were smaller in stature and which boasted shorter muzzles and flatter faces.
Today, the King Charles Spaniel is not as popular as their Cavalier cousins with only a small number of puppies being registered every year with the Kennel Club here in the UK as compared to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. With this said, fans of the King Charles know that sharing a home with one of these loyal and affectionate dogs is a real pleasure and they would not choose to share their lives with any other breed.
Height at the withers: Males 23 – 28 cm, Females 23 – 28 cm
Average weight: Males 3.6 – 6.4 kg, Females 3.6 – 6.4 kg
King Charles Spaniels are neat, compact little dogs that boast a quite distinctive dome shape to their heads. They do resemble their Cavalier cousins in that they share the same coat colours, but other than that these two dogs are quite different and boast very different breed standards.
Their heads are nicely proportioned in relation to the rest of their body with a short muzzle and black, up-turned nose. Charlies have a well-defined stop and wide, deep muzzle and neat lower jaw that completes their facial looks off nicely. Their eyes are large and dark in colour being set wide apart on a dog's head. They are renowned for their kind and appealing expression. Ears are long and well feathered being set low and hanging neatly flat to a dog's cheeks. The King Charles boasts having a slightly undershot jaw, but this should never be exaggerated.
Their necks are medium in length and dogs hold them slightly arched which adds to their proud and noble look. Forequarters are nicely developed and dogs have short, straight legs and well laid back shoulders. A Charlie's chest is deep and wide, their backs are level and short in length. Hindquarters are nicely muscled and back legs strong and straight. Their feet are very cat-like, well padded, compact with nice feathering. Tails are nicely feathered and dogs carry them straight, never over their back.
When it comes to a King Charles Spaniel's coat, it is very similar to that of their Cavalier cousins being silky, long and straight although a slight wave is permissible under their breed standard. Their legs, ears and tails boast a lot of feathering adding to their overall appeal.
These spaniels come in a variety of colours which includes the following:
There is nothing a King Charles Spaniel likes more than feeling part of a family apart and snuggling up to their owners for a cuddle which makes them the perfect "lap dog", but one that enjoys going out for lots of walks too. They are a great choice for families with children all thanks to their very kind and placid natures.
They are quite low energy characters, unlike many of their spaniel cousins although their "hunting" instinct has not vanished altogether which means introducing a King Charles to new pets has to be done carefully. These dogs thrive on human contact and do not do well when left to their own devices for long periods of time which could result in dogs developing some unwanted behavioural issues which includes separation anxiety, excessive barking and destructiveness around the home.
They are definitely not a good choice for people who spend a lot of time out of the house, but for people who work from home, the King Charles would be the perfect companion. They are generally friendly towards people they don't know all thanks to their outgoing affectionate personalities. The King Charles loves to please and is always eager to learn new things, especially if there is a treat at the end of it.
Although not high energy dogs, they do like to chase things which means back gardens need good, secure fencing and when out on a walk through a park or in the countryside, it’s best to keep a King Charles on a lead or their instinct might get the better of them and run off after something they’ve spotted in the distance.
The King Charles Spaniel is thought to be an intelligent dog so when it comes to training they are very receptive to learning new things. However, it pays to take them along to obedience classes when they are still young so they learn the "rules". These dogs like to learn new things and are always ready and eager to please which in short, means they excel at obedience training once the foundations have been correctly laid and a dog is given the right sort of direction and handling.
King Charles Spaniels are known to be very good around children as such they are good choice as a family pet. However, like many other breeds, they do not like it when play gets too boisterous and they really don't like to be handled roughly. Whenever the kids and a dog get together, it's best to keep an eye on things to make sure things stay friendly and calm which basically means adult supervision is needed at all times.
When it comes to other pets in a household, if a King Charles has been bought up with them, they are generally tolerant of them. However, introductions to new pets and other animals must be done carefully to ensure things remain calm. The same can be said for any strange dogs or cats a King Charles might encounter.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a King Charles Spaniel is between 10 and 16 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Sadly, the King Charles is known to suffer from quite a few serious hereditary and congenital health issues which can potentially shorten their life spans considerably. It's worth knowing about these disorders if you plan to share your home with one of these delightful characters. The health issues most seen in the breed include the following:
The King Charles Spaniel is also sensitive to anaesthetic which vets are aware of and which can make sedating a dog problematic for them should a dog need to undergo any sort of invasive surgery or treatment.
As with any other breed, King Charles Spaniels need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
King Charles Spaniels have fine, silky hair which means they need to be regularly groomed to prevent any tangles and knots forming in their coats. They tend to shed quite a bit, especially more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing would be necessary to keep on top of things. It's also a good idea to have a King Charles professionally groomed on a regular basis which makes keeping their coats and skin in good condition a lot easier and less time consuming for their owners in between visits to a grooming parlour.
It's also important to keep a close eye on their ears because if moisture is allowed to build up in a dog's ear canal, it can lead to a yeast infection taking hold. This type of infection can be notoriously hard to clear up once it takes hold and causes a lot of discomfort and irritation for the dog.
The King Charles is not a high-energy dog and therefore they don't need to be given an excessive amount of exercise. However, these dogs need to be taken out for daily walks and ideally this needs to be anything from 20 to 30 minutes twice daily, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. If they are not given enough daily exercise, the King Charles has a tendency to plough on the pounds which could lead to them becoming obese. Carrying too much weight can seriously impact a dog's overall health and it could shorten their life spans considerably.
They are considered to be intelligent dogs and therefore need to be given a reasonable amount of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. The King Charles enjoys and excels at taking part in many canine sports and this includes obedience training. It's a good idea to enrol a young dog into classes and then to continue taking them along on a regular basis which will keep their minds well occupied and naturally dogs will be fitter too.
If you get a King Charles Spaniel puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature King Charles Spaniel twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. As previously mentioned obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a King Charles Spaniel, you would need to pay anything from £400 to over £650 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old King Charles Spaniel in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 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 King Charles Spaniel and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a King Charles Spaniel would be between £80 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree King Charles Spaniel puppy.
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