Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

By Dr Eloise Bright 9 Min Read

This fun-loving, loyal and happy little dog is ideal for family life and does not require a great deal of work. You may, however need a big budget as they are prone to a number of health conditions.

Cavaliers are often the number one recommended family dog for their happy, even temperament around children. They can be very playful, but for the most part can be couch potatoes content to spend time with the family at home. They are incredibly gentle dogs and the ideal small space living pet, so long as they have lots of attention and cuddles.


I just want someone to love me, cuddle me and spend time with me. I don’t need to go for long walks, but I don’t like to be alone. I would love to live with some children and I promise to be gentle with them, if they are kind to me. Other pets are okay, I’m a cat-lover too and would be happy to live with other dogs. A busy family who is home a lot would be ideal for me.


Lifespan 12-15 years
Weight 5-8 kg
Height (at shoulder) 30-33 cm



Affectionate – CKCS love absolutely everyone and thrive in a family where they get lots of attention. They love cuddles, brushing and play and need to be with another dog or their family rather than being left alone for long periods.

Gentle – the gentle CKCS loves to cuddle up on the couch and be with the family. They are lovable, sweet and kind and they would never (deliberately) hurt a fly.

Playful – Life is just a game to your average Cavalier. They love chase, ball-games, playing with other dogs. As they get older they can become a little lazy, but if kept at a healthy weight will often stay playful into middle age.


Exercise Requirements Low – 0-0.5 hours per day
Training Requirements Low – 0-0.5 hours per day
Apartment Friendly? Yes


Cavaliers are happy little dogs that don’t require hours of exercise. They are very social and do not like to be left alone for long periods, but are content to spend time at home with the family. As youngsters they love to play and they live happily with other dogs and small children.


Trips to the Groomer No- easy care at home
Tick Friendly? No
Hypoallergenic No
Brushing Medium – Weekly brushing required
Hair fall Moderate Shed – will drop some hair, but not excessive
Coat Type Medium


Cavaliers have a long coat and will leave hair all over your home, but they do not require daily brushing in many cases. They do tend to matt around their ears and the backs of their legs and are particularly good at picking up leaves and burrs in the long hair around their feet. A good brush through weekly should be sufficient.


Good With Kids Excellent – Good with kids of any age
Good With Other Small Pets High – Good with other smaller animals
Sociability High – Loves other dogs and best in a multi-dog household.


Cavaliers are great with kids and love busy family life where they can play and get lots of walks and attention. They are very sociable and love other dogs and company, so consider adopting two dogs if you are adding a Cavalier to your family.


Overall Expenses (Annual) Medium – $1500-$2000
Veterinary Expenses (Annual) High – $300-$500+
Food Expenses (Weekly) Low – $5-$10


Cavaliers are prone to a number of health problems and congenital issues that can mean big vet bills. Their preventative health care needs can be low-cost due to their small stature, but pet insurance is recommended to cover for the other big problems.



Ear problems/skin disease – Cavaliers can be prone to allergies, skin infections (particularly in those skin folds), ear infections and anal gland problems, often the whole package occurs due to an allergic condition called atopic dermatitis. In some cases the skin folds are so problematic that surgery (a facelift) is required to resolve eye and chronic skin infections.

Dental Disease – Cavaliers are prone to dental disease, so a regular program of brushing, dental food, raw bones and chews can help prevent costly dental work later in life.

Heart Disease – Mitral valve disease causing early onset heart failure is the most common cause of death in Cavaliers. Your vet may notice a heart murmur and bring this to your attention, as the disease progresses exercise intolerance occurs and heart failure.

Hip Displaysia – Cavaliers are prone to hip dysplasia, and while more breeders are hip scoring in an attempt to breed out this devastating disease, in some cases it can still occur, particularly with overfeeding at a young age.

Syringomyelia has a particularly high prevalence in some bloodlines of Cavaliers. And while not all Cavaliers will show signs of the disease it has a suspected prevalence of 20% of the population. This neurological congenital disease causes neck pain and often progresses to paralysis. Cavaliers sometimes present with unusual signs such as scratching at the ears, with no signs of an ear infection.


Ask your breeder about the prevalence of Syringomyelia in their dogs and whether their dogs have been scored for Hip Dysplasia.

As your dog grows, make sure you feed just enough food for growth, as over-feeding your pup can lead to increased risk of Hip Dysplasia.

Ask your vet about how to clean your Cavaliers ears to reduce the risk of ear infections.

Check-ups every 6 months to monitor for signs of heart disease are recommended for Cavaliers and your vet will ask you to monitor resting respiratory rate if a heart murmur is detected.

Luxating patella – Cavaliers often have knee caps that pop in and out, sometimes with no pain, but in a relatively small number of cases they need surgical correction.

Dry eye – otherwise known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a condition of improper tear film resulting in eye irritation. It usually requires long-term medication to avoid vision loss.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy breed in the spaniel family. Originally the King Charles Spaniel and was bred in the 1600’s with Pugs to get the shorter nose and was a popular lap dog of the time. They were named after King Charles II and became very privileged pooches living in grand palaces.

There was then a movement to try to reclaim the longer nose and less domed head in the 1920’s and by the 1940’s the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named as a separate breed.
Cavaliers were discussed in an BBC documentary called Pedigree Dogs Exposed in relation to the breeding practices that have led to 90% of the population having Syringomyelia.



Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.

The ASPCA often has Cavaliers for adoption; just do an advanced search on their adoption page.

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Dr Eloise is a Clinical Lead at Love That Pet and one of our resident pet care experts. She also curates the select range of vet recommended and approved products which feature on our site.
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