These pretty toy dogs are active and fearless, love playing and being with people. Both males and females are gentle, intelligent, quick to learn and great with children. They are graceful movers and have the most beautiful, soulful eyes.  

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was formally recognized by the Kennel Club as a distinct breed from the King Charles Spaniel in 1945, but the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was founded in 1928. Both breeds can trace their origins back to at least 16th century and were probably bred from sporting spaniel breeds originally.

Their ancestors were huge favourites of King Charles I and II (hence the name) and became popular with the nobility. The Duke of Marlborough bred the liver and white variety, still referred to as the Blenheim today, after the Duke’s home, and the black and tan variety were bred by Duke of Norfolk. The fashion for shorter muzzles, domed heads and long low set ears seen in the King Charles spaniel today, saddened some breeders who went back to the longer faces and flatter head origins of the breed, creating the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed in the 1920's and 30's.       

Pet profile

A fun-loving, intelligent, gentle small dog, who loves being with people and is happy in the country or town.

  • Size: small, 30-33cm tall (12-13 inches)
  • Weight: 5.4 – 8.2KG (12-18Ibs)
  • Life Expectancy: 9 -14 years


Exercise and nutrition

This breed love to play and go for walks to explore their environment, but being a toy breed, probably only need about an hour of exercise a day. They also love comfort and being with people, so aren’t suited to living outside, but like nothing more than curling up on your comfiest chair after a walk! You don’t need a huge garden but a medium sized area outside for them to explore and play in, will suit them.

When you buy your puppy from a reputable breeder, stick to the feeding schedule the breeder advises and change their routine gradually as advised by your vet, as they grow. As adults they are not fussy eaters and need 1 meal a day of good quality dog food with perhaps a few biscuits before bed. They do tend to put on weight and their enormously appealing faces do mean they are experts at begging for treats, but try to resist those eyes! Being overweight is bad for their health.


Common health problems and illnesses 

Buying your puppy from a reputable breeder is the best way to ensure your puppy is healthy but the breed does tend to suffer from a few problems. To ensure they have the best health insurance so you can take care of any health issues, take out dog insurance while your puppy is young, before they develop any conditions.    


This condition is one of the main causes of death in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels around the world.  It is a genetically inherited condition which it is thought affects half of all cavaliers by the age of 5 and nearly all by age 10. It causes the mitral valve to lose flexibility so it can no longer close properly, which disrupts the operation of the heart. As the condition progresses it can affect the whole of the heart and lung system resulting in heart failure. Early signs of a problem are breathlessness, intolerance of exercise, lack of appetite, weight loss and fainting. If you think your Cavalier might be suffering, please consult your vet for advice and treatment options.

This is a condition in which the dog’s kneecap moves out of its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone. It is a common condition in toy and miniature breeds and female dogs are more likely to develop the condition. When it happens, the dog will lift its hind legs for a moment or skip to allow the kneecap to return to its correct position. It can start happening at around 4 months old. If you suspect your dog has this condition, consult your vet. In more severe cases surgery might be an option and is largely successful.

This is caused by an autoimmune reaction against the dog’s tear gland resulting in a reduced production of tears and very dry eyes. The condition needs continual treatment and if not treated can result in ulcerated corneas and blindness. Consult your vet if you think your dog might be affected for treatment options.

This condition is caused by a malformation of the lower back of the skull which puts pressure on the brain and can lead to symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. In severe cases the lack of space in the skull leads to the brain being forced out of the skull and into the spinal cord space. This condition has become fairly common amongst Cavaliers but many dogs with the condition don’t exhibit any symptoms.

For those that do show signs, they can be sensitive around the back of the head and neck and frequently scratch at the neck or shoulder. Scratching is usually only seen on one side and can be “air scratching” where they don’t touch their body. The scratching appears to be involuntary and they can do it while walking so they appear to “bunny hop”.  Dogs with this condition can also fall or be clumsy as they have less awareness of their body position. If you think your dog is suffering, consult your vet to rule out other reasons for scratching such as fleas, ear mites, glue ear and allergies as well as spinal or limb injuries. An MRI scan is usually needed to confirm a diagnosis.      

Fun facts

  • This cute breed has been loved and owned by celebrities as diverse as Ol’ Blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, Seth Rogen, Ronal Reagan, Courtney Cox and Liv Tyler.
  • One of the most famous and loyal Cavalier’s was owned by Mary Queen of Scots and found under her skirts after she was beheaded. He refused to leave her side and died of grief a few days later, according to accounts of the time.
  • King Charles II Cavaliers were so important to him they went everywhere with him, and he proclaimed that no public buildings should be off limits to a spaniel including Parliament.  
  • The Duchess of Marlborough is reputed to have been responsible for the characteristic thumbprint mark on the top of the Cavalier Blenheim’s head. It is said she rubbed the spot on her pregnant spaniel’s head while worrying for her husband fighting in France, leaving the mark.  

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on the grass with ball