The Perfect Owner & Home
You’ll never have to wonder how your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel feels about you. Bred as foot warmers and companions to royalty, these dogs are true blue. With unwavering devotion they’ll shadow you from room to room. They crave attention and affection. If you’re seeking a guard dog, forget the Cavalier. They’d enthusiastically lick the face of any intruder.
If you’re gone all day a Cav is not an ideal match. One option is to get a pair of Cavs so they have each other. Dana Derraugh, owner of two boutique, cageless pet stores that work directly with only a few small breeders, Le Petit Puppy and Chelsea Kennel Club in Manhattan, has spent 25 years matching the right dog to the right person. “If you live alone and work long hours, a Shiba Inu is a more appropriate choice—they’re catlike and independent. They don’t need much so they are fine when they’re alone. Not so with the Cavalier. A Cav’s favorite place is wherever you are.”
Appearance & Grooming
The Cavalier has a sweet, gentle, Bambi-like expression. The body appears slightly long in proportion to the low height of the legs. Their gait is elegant and the tail sways and swooshes as they walk. Silky smooth hair grows long with feathery wisps of fringe that dangles from their underbelly, swoopy tail, and Beagle-type ears. Their paws look like dust mops, the hair near the pads needs to be trimmed. Some shedding occurs but nowhere near the amount of say, a Golden Retriever.
You’ll have the choice of grooming the hair or leaving it au naturale. The Oster Deluxe Grooming Kit makes it easy to trim hair. If left long, the hair needs to be brushed every couple of days to avoid matting. Cavaliers are easy to bathe and playful during toweling off. As with any dog, it is wise to brush their teeth daily to keep gums healthy which reduces risk of heart disease.
Personality, Temperament, & Exercise Needs
Fearless, eager and cheerful, Cavaliers aim to please. They’re natural charmers who shamelessly flirt with anyone for attention and a treat. “They’re easy to train and gentle with children,” says Derraugh. “They enjoy running but are just as content curled up in your lap.” Dogs’ paws are susceptible to the elements (heat, cold, rough terrain, etc.). Protect their lil feetsies with Gooby booties or reusable disposables from PawZ.
Cavaliers come from a hunting background and love to chase. Be sure to keep them on a leash or fenced in area so they can’t sprint in front of a car. These small spaniels favor children, despite kids’ not-so-gentle approach. As with most intelligent dogs, Cavs can learn up to 100 words. This breed is the perfect combo of entertaining, cuddly and loyal, with a beguiling mischievous streak. They’ll crack you up. Expect sneaky antics accompanied by a beady-eyed cartoon villain expression.
Socialization & Training Needs
They’ll do almost anything for a kibble so they’re easy to train. They tend to follow their master as if still a humble servant to a King or Queen. The owner must act as “alpha” dog, otherwise the pet may feel he/she has to take over that role which can lead to confusion and behavioral problems.
Signs of a dog’s anxiety are excessive drooling, gnawing on paws, continual barking and/or chewing or otherwise destroying things in the home. Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital vet, Dr. Marc Siebert, said,“I strongly suggest crate training. Dogs don’t relieve themselves right where they sleep. Start with leaving the puppy in the crate for short periods of time then quickly whisk him outside to do his business.” Stefanos Tsartsalis, General Manager at Pet Central said, “Their crate is a safe haven. It replicates a den like their wolf ancestors would’ve sought out. When you’re home it’s best to leave the crate door open and don’t use a crate for punishment.”
Life Expectancy: 9–14 years
Because of their “pop eyes” it is wise to use Opticlear™ eyewash. To avoid ear infections use non-irritating Epi-Otic® ear cleanser. Do not overfeed a Cavalier. This breed tends to act like they’re starving. They inhale food and gain weight easily. “They’re also prone to mitral valve disease,”Derraughsaid, “which is a serious genetic heart problem that can cause early death.
If you buy from a breeder be sure to ask for the medical history of several previous generations before choosing your puppy.” Bred dogs ensure the healthy continuation of their breed. If you prefer rescue dogs contact Cavalier Rescue USA.
-Owner’s Guide by Dorri Olds