Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

AKC Toy Group


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Blenheim). Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Blenheim). Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Long a royal pet, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named for King Charles II. History tells us that Charles II was rarely seen without at least one of two Cavaliers at his heels. He wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament. Small spaniels were also owned by James II and appear in paintings by Watteau, Gainsborough, Van Dyke, and others. During the reign of William and Mary, these spaniels were interbred with Pugs, resulting in a significantly altered head shape with flattened face, domed back of the skull, and round, protruding eyes. The result of this interbreeding is now known as the English Toy Spaniel in the United States. Mr. Roswell Eldridge, in the 1920s, offered a reward for spaniels of the older, original type with a longer face, undomed skull, and unbulging eyes. The results of his advertisement, through careful breeding, became the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel joined the Toy Group of the AKC in 1996.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful small spaniel with dark, gentle, expressive round eyes. Cushioning underneath the eyes helps give the breed its characteristic soft expression. The long ears are well-feathered. The body is slightly longer than it is tall, with a level topline. A scissors bite is preferred. The tail is sometimes docked to no less than two-thirds its original length (but many owners don’t bother).

The silky coat, sometimes with a slight waviness, comes in solid ruby, black and tan, tricolor, and Blenheim (rich chestnut on a pearly white background) colors. On Blenheim dogs, a chestnut-red spot on top of the head between the ears is preferred, but not essential. Chest, ears, legs, and feet should all be feathered. Some larger males may weigh up to 25 lbs.

Key Facts

  • Height: 12 to 13 in.
  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 13 to 18 lbs.
  • Availability: May take some effort to find
  • Talents: Competitive obedience


These dogs love people and need lots of companionship to be happy. They shouldn’t be left alone all day. They are descended from hunting dogs and love to romp in the great outdoors. This breed displays a chasing instinct—keep well-enclosed or leashed so he does not get lost or run over by a car! The feathered hair on the ears is prone to tangling and matting, so this dog should be thoroughly groomed often. The hair between the pads on his feet should be kept trimmed, and the ears should be cleaned regularly. Don’t overfeed as this breed gains weight easily. The Cavalier does not do well in very warm conditions. Mitral valve disease (a serious heart problem) is prevalent in the breed, as is a neurological disease called syringeomelia.


Enthusiastic, affectionate tail-waggers. These sweet little dogs want to please and respond well to gentle obedience training. Naturally well-behaved.


  • Children: Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Needs people a lot
  • Dominance: Very low
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise: Not a barker
  • Indoors: Moderately active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Feathered coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Docking: The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: A fair jogging companion
  • Apartments: Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space: A small yard is sufficient
  • Climate: Prefers cool climates
  • Longevity: Moderately long lived (9 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Standard

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Gifts