The cavalier King Charles spaniel is a true toy spaniel, which should weigh between 13 and 18 pounds and should be around 12 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder. They have large, round, dark brown eyes and long silky hair on their ears, tails, bellies and legs.
Cavaliers Come In Four Colors:
Red and White officially called Blenheim (this color is named for the famous Blenheim palace in England where they were originally bred by the Dukes of Marlborough – the family of Winston Churchill).
Tri-Color black and white with tan spots on the eyebrows, cheekbones and under the ears and tail.
Ruby a rich, solid red with no white.
Black and Tan a solid black dog with tan on the eyebrows, cheekbones, nose, under chin and on the chest, down all four legs and under the ears and tail. There should be no white on this dog.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small charming breed that dates back to the early 1600’s. Although primarily bred as a house pet for the royal families of Europe, the Cavalier has strong sporting roots. Because of this, they will chase anything that moves with total disregard for their well being – with potential tragic results. The breed is gentle and easy to train in all other respects, and is an excellent and trustworthy companion for children. Cavaliers are good with other breeds of dogs and other household pets. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is adaptable in their need for exercise and will be happy either snoozing by the fire with its owner or taking three mile walks across country in any weather. The Cavalier has a coat much like that of other sporting dogs such as the Golden Retriever. It should be straight and silky – and never need trimming; only regular brushing. Cavaliers are fun to show in the breed ring but are also excellent obedience and agility competitors if taught with positive training methods. Cavaliers make wonderful therapy dogs and delight those who wait in nursing homes and health care centers for their periodic visits to share warm cuddles and doggy kisses. Their joyous nature and a love for sharing their lives with their families makes for a wonderful combination.
This is a basically healthy, sturdy small dog with few, but important health concerns. The most serious health problem in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is Mitral valve Diseases (MVD). This is a problem with the left or mitral valve of the heart. In this disease, the valve can thicken and degenerate leading to congestive heart failure and eventually death. Although MVD is common in most toy breeds, it is of particular concern in Cavaliers because it may have an unusually early onset with a more rapid progression of symptoms compared to other breeds. MVD has been found in all blood lines and in Cavaliers from all countries; conscientious breeders all over the world regularly check the health of their breeding stock for signs of early onset of the disease before breeding. While cavaliers do not commonly have serious eye problems, like all mammals, they can develop cataracts and other eye diseases. Careful breeders have certified veterinarian ophthalmologists check their breeding stock annually. Another area of concern is luxating patellas (slipping kneedcaps). This is a condition when the knee is not stable and can cause lameness. Luckily Cavaliers with good bone and healthy parents generally are not a candidate for this problem. Hip dysphasia, which is a major concern for large breeds is not often encountered when the parents and grandparents are strong and healthy.
A BRIEF BREED HISTORY
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an old breed and yet it is also a comparatively new breed. The breed as we know is less than 100 years old. In Williams Second’s book Dog Painting, the picture painted in 1440 by Antonio Pisano, The Vision of St. Eustace, depicts a group of animals including a pair of small spaniels with their flat heads, high set ears, almond shaped eyes and rather pointed noses are also to be seen in paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough and others. Often referred to as the Comforter Spaniel, they were very much in favor with the aristocracy during Tudor times when the ladies of the court found them very useful not only as companions and confidants but also as hot-water bottles and flea catchers. By the mid 1800’s the breed had been altered to a dog with a domed skull, long low-set ears, a very short muzzle with a laid back nose and undershot jaw and large round eyes. A number of Lanseer paintings document the changes and by 1900, the dog bearing the name King Charles had been transformed to what we know as the English Toy Spaniel. In the mid-1920’s Roswell Eldgridge, and American, went to England to try to find the old type “nosey” spaniels. He was very disappointed that he did not find the dog he had seen depicted in old paintings. For five years he offered a prize of 25 pounds at Crufts to the person who presented the dog and bitch “as shown in the picture of King Charles II’s time; long face, no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the center of the skull.” In 1927, a dog named Ann’s Son was the winner of the 25 pound prize and in 1928, a standard was drawn up using Ann’s Son as the model. The revival of the breed did not go so far as to return to the small eyes and snippy muzzle opting instead for a softer gentler look. Purists would have us believe that long nosed throwbacks from English Toy Spaniels were the only dogs used in the recreation of the breed. Breed lore suggest, however, that various Cocker breeds, Papillons and perhaps even the Welsh Springer were used to recapture the desired traits. World War II interrupted the development of the breed when travel to the very few stud dogs available was near to impossible. This led to some very intense inbreeding by some breeders which we might frown on today but which saved this emerging breed at the time. The first Cavaliers were sent to America in 1952, and in 1956 a club was formed. Soon after they sought AKC recognition but because of the small numbers they were relegated to the miscellaneous class. In 1993, the American Cavalier King Charles spaniel Club was formed and on January 1 1996 the breed became the 140th AKC recognized breed.
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