Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Information

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a member of the ‘Toy’ breed group. Toy breeds are small companion dogs, commonly referred to as ‘lap dogs’. Most toy breeds love attention and can be very friendly and affectionate. They don’t require a large amount of exercise.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are very affectionate, loving dogs that are excellent with children and other pets alike.

Cavaliers respond very well to training and enjoy the mental stimulation. For more information on training using reward-based techniques, take a look at our dog behaviour page.

Grooming 2-3 times per week will help to keep the coat in excellent condition.

Breed-related health problems:

Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to include:

  • Heart disease
  • Chiari malformation Syringomyelia (CM/SM) – a painful neurological condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain. Due to the incredibly high incidence in this breed, if you’re considering taking on a Cavalier we’d strongly recommend only going to a breeder who uses the BVA/ Kennel Club CM/SM scheme – for more information, visit the BVA website.
  • Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Luxating patellas – the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
  • Dry eye – Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) occurs when one or both eyes don’t produce a normal amount, or type, of tears. This leads to the eye becoming very dry, which in turn can cause infections and ulcers.
  • Atopy – hypersensitivity to certain allergens, causing itching and skin trauma.
  • Epilepsy – a brain disorder which can lead to seizures.
  • Brachycephalic syndrome – upper airway abnormalities which are commonly seen in flat-faced dogs. Can include narrowed nostrils and elongated soft palate.
  • Hydrocephalus – increased accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain.

For more information about these and other health problems you can speak to your vet or visit the Kennel Club or The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club.

For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.

You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.

You can read our statement on the problems with brachycephalic (‘flat faced’) breeds here.

Exercise requirements:

Cavaliers have a happy, playful nature, but will just as quickly jump at the chance of a cuddle and fuss as they will play. They need around an hour of exercise daily.

Estimated lifetime cost:

The likely lifetime costs for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:

The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.

Insure your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with PDSA:

1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:

  • 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
  • 4 levels of cover to suit you
  • Monthly payment at no extra cost

*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.

By insuring your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.

Energy levels
Easy to train
Exercise needed
Barking/likely to be vocal
Size Small
Average height 30-33 cm
Average weight 4kg-8kg
Average lifespan Over 12 years
Minimum exercise (per day) 1 hour
Coat length Medium
Minimum cost (per month) £70

Not sure if the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the right pet for you?