"Heart 2 Heart

Learning the Breed

A little history, Cavalier personality, Cavalier facts, Health, and Nutrition

A little history...

Cavaliers King Charles Spaniels ancestors can trace back to the small toy spaniels that are found in many paintings of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  Done by well respected artists such as Titan, Van Dyck, Stubs, Gainsborough and Reynolds.  Cavaliers were royalty favorites and therefore were in many paintings with their families.  It was King Charles II that Cavaliers got their name from.  He was a true lover of the breed and could almost always be seen with several spaniels at his heels.  When King Charles II died in 1685 at age 54, 12 toy spaniels mourned at the side of his bed.  The Blenheim Cavalier (red and white) got its name from the Blenheim Palace where the dogs were bred.  A interesting story can be told of how the "lozenge spot", on the head of some Blenheims and Tri Cavaliers, came about.  It was from the Duchess of Marlborough, whom had a much loved spaniel that kept her company while her husband was at war.  At anxious times she would press her thumb on her spaniels head while waiting news of her husband.  When the spaniel had a litter of puppies, on the head of each puppy was marked with her thumbprint.   This thumbprint, or more known as the lozenge spot, is still desirable today in the Blenheim Cavalier.   The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was first recognized in England in 1945, and to this day Cavaliers are the number one toy dogs in England.  In the 1940's the Cavalier King Charles spaniel began to appear in America, but wasn't well known until 1952 when  Mary Forwood sent a black and tan pup as a gift for a friend.  It wasn't until January 1st 1996 that the breed was recognized by the AKC, becoming AKC's 140th recognized breed.                     

Cavalier personality...

 Cavaliers have been bred to be companion dogs for centuries and that is exactly what they are.  Cavaliers enjoy being with their family, they will constantly follow you all over the house.  At one point, Cavaliers were called "spaniel comforters" because they are such great companions and love to be in your lap whenever available to them.  This breed does not do well left alone all day, or left in the backyard to live.  They live to be with their owners and require a lot of companionship. With that being said, if you desire a more independent dog, then the Cavalier is not for you.  They are very intelligent dogs and learn very quickly.  Cavaliers do not require harsh discipline, as they are a very sensitive breed and get their feelings hurt easily.  It is best to use positive reinforcement, which they respond well to.  They adapt well to the lifestyle of their owners, whether you live in the city or country, apartment or home.  They are great with children, senior citizens, and make wonderful therapy dogs.  As a mother of 3 kids myself, I cannot stress enough the importance of teaching children how to respect an animal and how to treat them.  Cavaliers are a small breed and can be hurt easily.  As much as you want to train your puppy, it is important to not forget that children require guidance as well. 

Cavaliers do well with other pets too, and they love other Cavaliers.  It is said that Cavaliers are like potato chips, one is never enough. As much as they love playing with other Cavaliers, they still live to be close to their owner and on any available lap.  They are a very affectionate breed and are happiest being with their family.  As it is, all of mine are at my feet while I am typing this. :)  

Cavalier facts...

Cavaliers come in four colors, Tri, Blenheim, Black and Tan, and Ruby.  The Tricolors

have jet black markings on a pearly white background, with tan markings over the

eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and on the underside of the tail.  Their ears are

black, and should have a white blaze between their eyes.  Blenheim's have rich

chestnut markings on a pearly white background.  Their ears should be chestnut and a

white blaze between their eyes.  Black and tans are jet black with rich tan markings

above their eyes, on their cheeks and muzzle, inside of ears, across their chest and

down their legs, and on the underside of the tail.  Ruby's are a solid rich red. 

Cavaliers stand about 12-13 inches tall and are between 13-18 pounds.   Cavaliers

are a slow maturing breed and can sometimes surprise people that it can take up to

2-3 years for a Cavalier to be fully matured, males sometimes up to 4 years.  They

don't continue to grow in height, but rather fill out to acquire a more mature look.

A Cavaliers coat should be moderately long and silky, free from curl, although a slight

wave is permissible.  Cavaliers have long feathering on their ears, chest, legs, feet,

and tails.  They are meant to be a natural breed, which does not require trimming.

  Cavaliers do not require a lot of grooming, a nice brushing weekly and regular

bathing will keep your cavaliers coat looking at its best.  Trimming the toenails

monthly is usually enough.  It is important to remember their teeth as well; brushing

daily can prevent serious health issues.  Start when they are young to get them used

to grooming and being pampered, before you know it they will be begging for it. 

Cavalier Health...

It is very important to remember that every breed has health issues.   That is why it is

necessary for you to research all health related concerns of the breed you

are considering adding to your family.  Cavaliers are relatively healthy and sturdy

little dogs.  As with any breed, there are a few health concerns that you should

educate yourself on.  Please be advised that not all breeders are breeding for

the same purposes.  Nor, do all breeders care enough to make sure that their

breeding pairs are in good health, and free from existing problems before breeding.

These steps truly are a MUST!!  A reliable breeder will do the necessary health

testing prior to breeding.  ALWAYS ask the breeder to show proof of any health tests

that where done before purchasing a puppy from them.  This should never offend the

breeder.  In fact, good breeders are happy to show the health certificates of their

dogs!  They are proud that they are providing you with a healthy start, and they are

proud that their dogs are healthy!  I know I am!! 

Heart Murmurs - Mitral Malve disease, known as MVD, is a common heart disease in dogs, affecting smaller dogs as they get older. In the Cavalier, MVD can affect young and old dogs.  This is believed to be genetic, affects the Mitral valve which is responsible for the correct blood flow from the atria to the ventricles. This is something that should be checked regularly at your annual visits  by your veterinarian.  As a breeder it is a must to have regular veterinary exams, and to have the Cavalier Heart Certified annually.   ALL Cavaliers that our bred should be free from MVD.

Eye Defects - Occasionally Cavaliers can suffer from Hereditary Cataract (HD) and  Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD).  It is important as a breeder to have the adult dogs certified by a ophthalmologist prior to breeding.

Luxating Patella - This occurs in the back leg, the groove that holds the kneecap in place is too shallow, allowing the knee to slip out of place. It can cause the dog discomfort and if severe may require surgery for correction.  Your veterinarian can examine the kneecaps, upon physical exam, and can tell if your dog has this condition. Luxating Patella's is common in small breeds, but should be cleared by a veterinarian prior to breeding.

Hip Dysplasia - Being a small breed this is not a common problem but can occur as the dog progresses to a senior.  No indication of this disease is evident in young dogs and can only be diagnosed by x-rays of the hip joints.

It is important to understand than even if the sire and dam have been screened and found clear of any health problems, no breeder can guarantee that your puppy will never develop a problem during its lifetime. Screenings are done on my adult dogs to lesson the chance of health related concerns.    Not all breeders believe in all testing, or having tests certified, but should not object to providing copies of any testing that has been done.  Reliable breeders care and are pleased that you care about the health of your new family member.  I am not sharing this information to scare you or discourage you from owning a Cavalier.  I merely want to educate you as best as I can. As I stated above, Cavaliers are generally healthy little dogs that enrich the lives of those who have the pleasure of owning one.



It is very important to feed your Cavalier a healthy diet for optimum health.  This will also provide them with healthy shiny coats, healthy skin, less shedding, and a lower stool volume.  Do not purchase dog food from the grocery store.  I recommend buying food from a pet store or an all natural pet food store.   Watch out for synthetic preservatives such as BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin, propyl gallate or the chemical sodium hexametaphosphate.  There is a lot of pet food scams out there on the market right now.  Stay away from foods that are not doing food trials on the foods they are selling.  A lot of misconception has been given about dog food, like corn and by products.  Due to the advantage of working in a vet clinic I have learned a lot about dog food and what is healthy on the market.  I would be happy to recommend a good quality diet that you can trust.  Do not purchase any treats that come from China!!  In fact stay away from pig ears, bones, and cow or pig hooves as many of these are contaminated and carry e-coli which is not only harmful to our pets but to humans as well.  Healthy snacks are important as well too.  Cavaliers love raw vegetables and fresh fruits such as: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, apples, and cantaloupe, a few to name.  Don't ever feed them grapes, raisins, onions, or chocolate, these are toxic to dogs. Be aware that chewing gum, or other foods with the sweetener Xylitol are toxic to dogs!  It only takes a small amount to kill your dog!! If your dog ingests Xylitol getting them to the vet immediately is a matter of life and death. 

All my adult Cavaliers and their puppies are fed a healthy diet I trust.   Remember, if you want your Cavalier to live a long and healthy life, a good quality diet is key.   They trust you to take care of them. :)

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