Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier is descended from the Toy Spaniels of which Charles II was so fond. Paintings from that period show a small dog with long ears, a flat skull and a pointed nose. Over the years the Toy Spaniel evolved and, as was the fashion at the time, they were bred for shorter noses, low set ears and domed heads. Today we know this breed of dog as the King Charles Spaniel.
In 1925 Mr Roswell Eldridge, a multi millionaire from New York, visited England and discovered that he could no longer find the old type of Spaniel with the flat skull and long nose. He arranged that two special classes for this type were included at Crufts for 5 years starting in 1926 and with a special prize of £25 for the winner of each class. This encouraged the breeders of this time to look for stock which resembled the old paintings and by 1928 the first breed standard for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel had been compiled.
The Cavalier is a friendly, outgoing little dog and likes nothing better than to please their owner. It is not often that you will come across a Cavalier who is not wagging his tail and greeting you almost with a smile on his face. They get on well with children and other dogs and love companionship. In some breeds the bitch is of a more affectionate nature, but in Cavaliers, dogs and bitches have the same loving nature. You will receive the same amount of fun and affection from either sex and if you own a dog you will not have to worry about the bitch coming in season every six months.
The Cavalier enjoys going for walks and once mature will happily go for long walks over hill and dale. However if you are unable to walk him one day then he will be happy to curl up on your knee and sleep instead.
There are four colours of Cavaliers: Blenheim: Rich chestnut markings on a white background evenly marked on the head leaving room for the desired lozenge (the most popular of all the colours). Tricolour: Black & white with tan markings over the eyes, cheeks, inside the legs and under the tail. Black & Tan: Raven black with tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside the ears, on chest and legs and under the tail. Ruby: Whole coloured rich red.
Overall Cavaliers are a happy, healthy breed.
If your puppy has come from a breed club member or an Accredited Breeder it is likely that it comes from health screened stock. While this cannot guarantee that your dog is free from a hereditary condition, health screening is one way that responsible breeders are reducing the risk of passing on pre-existing conditions.
There are three main health issues currently screened for in Cavaliers: Mitral Valve Disease is a common health problem in older dogs of all breeds although it has been found to have an earlier onset in the Cavalier. The disease causes a degeneration of the heart’s mitral valve often picked up as a heart murmur in younger dogs. Many dogs diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease continue to live to a good age and enjoy a happy life.
Syringomyelia is Known by some as “neck scratcher's disease” where the dog is seen scratching in the air near the neck, usually when excited or on a lead. The term syringomyelia is a condition where fluid filled cavities (syrinxes) develop within the spinal cord. While some dogs show no or only mild symptoms, unfortunately, in some cases the condition progresses and deteriorates causing the dog pain and neurological problems.
The main inherited genetic eye conditions in Cavaliers are cataract (Congenital and Juvenile), and multifocal retinal dysplasia. Fortunately, both diseases are now much less common as reputable breeders test their stock prior to breeding.