Country of Origin: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (affectionately known as a ‘Cav’) is an offshoot of the King Charles Spaniel. The King Charles Spaniel was created by crossing small Spaniels with a short snouted breed, such as the Pug or Japanese Chin. It was brought to Scotland from Continental Europe (possibly by Mary, Queen of Scots) in the 1500’s or 1600’s, where it became a fashionable lap dog and companion for the noble class. King Charles Spaniels were also popular lap warmers (and flea magnets) for the lower class. King Charles II, for whom the breed is named, grew up with a pet King Charles Spaniel (then known as the Toy Spaniel), and was such a big fan of the breed that he was accused of neglecting his official duties to spend time with his pet Spaniels. He once issued a decree that the breed could not be forbidden entry to any building, including Parliament! Some King Charles Spaniels, such as the red and white ‘Blenheim’, served as hunting dogs, but most strains were bred for appearance rather than work capacity. Over the years, the breed became smaller with a shorter nose. In the 1920’s, a wealthy American man named Roswell Eldrige traveled to England and offered 25 pounds, a large sum at the time, for an ‘old style’ or ‘pointed nose’ version of the breed, similar to Charles II's actual dog. The effort was successful, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel eventually surpassed its short nosed cousin in popularity, achieving American Kennel Club recognition in 1996.
Size: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a shoulder height of 12-13 inches at the shoulder and weighs 12-18 lbs. It has a large muzzle, large eyes, and long, highly set ears. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a flat back, and breed-characteristic feathered feet. Unlike most Spaniels, they have a long, feathered tail which is carried high and moves when the dog runs.
Coat: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has long, soft, silky hair which is lightly waved. There are four color types which were formerly considered separate breeds: tricolor (‘Prince Charles’), red and white (‘Blenheim’), black and tan (‘King Charles’) and red (‘Ruby’). The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has average shedding.
Character: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves to be with its family and craves attention. It is cheerful, playful, and intelligent—an ideal dog to carry with you and share your time with. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels do not bark frequently. They are generally well behaved, but can sometimes be timid or stubborn.
Temperament: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gets along well with children (older children are preferable), other dogs, and any household pets. It is friendly, happy, and loving. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are devoted to loved ones but suspicious around strangers.
Care: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel must be brushed several times a week. It should be bathed only when necessary. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a life span of 10-12 years. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are susceptible to mitral valve disease (a heart condition) and syringomyelia (a spinal condition), which afflicts many members of the breed. They may have a soft spot in the skull, which closes by adulthood, and is not considered a risk. Fused toes are also not considered a health risk. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be sensitive to anesthesia and hot weather.
Training: The intelligence of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel makes training fairly easy. This breed requires a gentle approach.
Activity: The exercise needs of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are uncomplicated. It enjoys walks, but its needs can usually be met with indoor play; it will adapt itself to the activity level of your family. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is well suited to apartment life. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should be leashed or watched closely around roads as it tends to give chase to small animals.
AKC STANDARD for
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active, graceful, well-balanced toy spaniel, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate. It is this typical gay temperament, combined with true elegance and royal appearance which are of paramount importance in the breed. Natural appearance with no trimming, sculpting or artificial alteration is essential to breed type.
Size, Proportion, Substance Size
- Height 12 to 13 inches at the withers; weight proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 pounds. A small, well balanced dog within these weights is desirable, but these are ideal heights and weights and slight variations are permissible. Proportion
- The body approaches squareness, yet if measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock, is slightly longer than the height at the withers. The height from the withers to the elbow is approximately equal to the height from the elbow to the ground. Substance
- Bone moderate in proportion to size. Weedy and coarse specimens are to be equally penalized.
Proportionate to size of dog, appearing neither too large nor too small for the body. Expression
- The sweet, gentle, melting expression is an important breed characteristic. Eyes
- Large, round, but not prominent and set well apart; color a warm, very dark brown; giving a lustrous, limpid look. Rims dark. There should be cushioning under the eyes which contributes to the soft expression. Faults
- small, almond-shaped, prominent, or light eyes; white surrounding ring. Ears
- Set high, but not close, on top of the head. Leather long with plenty of feathering and wide enough so that when the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the face. Skull
- Slightly rounded, but without dome or peak; it should appear flat because of the high placement of the ears. Stop is moderate, neither filled nor deep. Muzzle
- Full muzzle slightly tapered. Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 1½ inches. Face well filled below eyes. Any tendency towards snippiness undesirable. Nose pigment uniformly black without flesh marks and nostrils well developed. Lips
well developed but not pendulous giving a clean finish. Faults
- Sharp or pointed muzzles. Bite
- A perfect, regular and complete scissors bite is preferred, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square into the jaws. Faults - undershot bite, weak or crooked teeth, crooked jaws.
Neck, Top line, Body Neck
- Fairly long, without throatiness, well enough muscled to form a slight arch at the crest. Set smoothly into nicely sloping shoulders to give an elegant look. Top line
- Level both when moving and standing. Body
- Short-coupled with ribs well spring but not barreled. Chest moderately deep, extending to elbows allowing ample heart room. Slightly less body at the flank than at the last rib, but with no tucked-up appearance. Tail
- Well set on, carried happily but never much above the level of the back, and in constant characteristic motion when the dog is in action. Docking is optional. If docked, no more than one third to be removed.
well laid back. Forelegs
straight and well under the dog with elbows close to the sides. Pasterns
strong and feet compact with well-cushioned pads. Dewclaws may be removed.
The hindquarters construction should come down from a good broad pelvis, moderately muscled; stifles well turned and hocks well let down. The hind legs when viewed from the rear should parallel each other from hock to heel. Faults
- Cow or sickle hocks.
Of moderate length, silky, free from curl. Slight wave permissible. Feathering on ears, chest, legs and tail should be long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature of the breed. No trimming of the dog is permitted. Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition
. Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed.
- Rich chestnut markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be chestnut and the color evenly spaced on the head and surrounding both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes and ears, in the center of which may be the lozenge or "Blenheim spot." The lozenge is a unique and desirable, though not essential, characteristic of the Blenheim. Tricolor
- Jet black markings well broken up on a clear, pearly white ground. The ears must be black and the color evenly spaced on the head and surrounding both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes. Rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears and on underside of tail. Ruby
- Whole-colored rich red. Black and Tan
- Jet black with rich, bright tan markings over eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest, legs, and on underside of tail. Faults
- Heavy ticking on Blenheim's or Tricolors, white marks on Rubies or Black and Tans.
Free moving and elegant in action, with good reach in front and sound, driving rear action. When viewed from the side, the movement exhibits a good length of stride, and viewed from front and rear it is straight and true, resulting from straight-boned fronts and properly made and muscled hindquarters.
Gay, friendly, non-aggressive with no tendency towards nervousness or shyness. Bad temper, shyness, and meanness are not to be tolerated and are to be severely penalized as to effectively remove the specimen from competition
Approved Date: January 10, 1995
Effective Date: April 30, 1995