The Cavalier King Charles is a toy dog descended from the King Charles Spaniel admired in medieval times. Breeders first began to develop the King Charles Cavalier in the 1920s, when the popularity of toy spaniels with longer noses was high. The original King Charles dog was named after Charles II of England, who was said to adore the diminutive dogs. By the 1940s, the Cavalier prefix was added to distinguish them from their ancestors.
In appearance, the Cavalier King Charles is similar to other spaniels but with several unique characteristics. It has large, dark round eyes set in a flat skull. The muzzle is short and gently tapered. The ears are long and downy. Some dogs have a chestnut red spot at the top of the head between the ears known as the Blenheim or kissing spot; this distinctive trait is preferred by breeders. At only 12-13 inches tall and 12-18 lbs, the Cavalier is roughly the size of a large cat.
The coat is silky and wavy. Coloring can be mahogany red, black and tan, tri-colored, or chestnut red and pearly-white. The four blends are known respectively as Ruby (mahogany red), King Charles (black and tan), Prince Charles (tricolor), and Blenheim (red and white). The feathered hair on the ears is prone to tangling and matting, so grooming the dog often is recommended. This breed is an average shedder.
The Cavalier King Charles possesses a mostly pleasant temperament. It is eager to please and quite affectionate with their owners. It is also lively, sociable, and sportive. Usually an easy breed to train, they respond well to obedience training. For the most part, Cavaliers get along well with other dogs and pets. They love people and require human companionship to be content. Consequently, it is not a good idea to leave them alone all day. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels generally make good apartment pets. They are somewhat active indoors and do not require a large yard.
The breed is descended from hunting dogs. They have a very good sense of sight and smell, and can be used in short hunts in open country. They love to play outdoors and run after things. They have a tendency to chase cars, so they need to be watched closely around streets. They are fine with children as long as they are not very young kids who may accidentally injure them. Around strangers, the Cavalier can be reserved.
There are a few problems to watch out for with this breed. Cavaliers tend to gain weight easily, so it is important to be aware of overfeeding. Some dogs are genetically disposed to a serious heart problem, which can cause early death. When choosing a Cavalier King Charles, it is very important to investigate the medical history of previous generations. The Cavalier prefers a cooler climate; it does not fare well in very warm, moist conditions.
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