The Cavalier Breed

About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the most loving and gentle breeds of dogs.They offer their masters companionship, devotion, and love beyond measure. Their quintessential temperament is that of a happy, carefree, tail-wagging spaniel whose sole purpose in life is ‘to please’. At KilbridesPride Cavaliers in Sioux Falls, we take great pride in breeding these amazing and affectionate dogs.

Toy Spaniel History

The toy spaniel was a part of court life in Europe as early as the 1400’s. They have been referred to as ‘comforter’ spaniels because they snuggled and nuzzled their masters. Van Dyck, the Dutch Master, immortalized these toy dogs forever in his paintings. Other period painters also tucked these spaniels within their canvases as both background and subject. “Their association with the royal families of England has irrevocably linked their evolution to ‘that sceptered isle’ (from the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club website). Well known names such as Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I, Charles II, and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough all helped to popularize the breed.

In spite of the breed’s popularity, during the late 1600’s pug-faced dogs came into fashion and King Charles Spaniels were interbred with flat-nosed breeds. As a result, the original King Charles Spaniel breed faced near extinction, supplanted by the separate breed of shorter muzzled, domed-headed King Charles Spaniels. In 1925, Roswell Eldridge, an American who appreciated the art of the old Masters, became intrigued by the old Cavalier type and offered £25 at Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom for the successful reintroduction of the Cavalier classes. Because of the generosity and concern of Mr. Eldridge, the Cavalier was saved for posterity. The United Kingdom Cavalier King Charles Club was founded amidst this effort in 1928.

During World War II, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels did not fare well. By the end of the war there were only six surviving members of the breed—Ann’s Son and his littermate Wizbang Timothy, Carlo of Ttiweh, Aristide of Ttiweh, Duce of Baemore, and Kobba of Kuranda. All current Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have descended from these six Cavaliers.

The first Cavalier King Charles Spaniels arrived in the United States in 1952 but in spite of the breed’s popularity, full recognition was not granted from the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1996. The American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC) was established in 1993.

Health Concerns

Health-conscious puppy breeders should have a sire and dam tested for inherited eye defects (juvenile cataracts among them) and cardiac mitral valve (MVD). However, in spite of the abilities to test for potential health problems, Mother Nature is not entirely predictable. As Cavaliers age, they are subjected to health concerns similar to humans. 

A heart murmur detected by a veterinary cardiac specialist warrants investigation to rule out potentially serious consequences for your dog. Any “clouding” or whiteness in the pupil of the eye, or any irritation of the eye, may warrant medication and treatment. The ACKCSC notes that “Juvenile cataracts (an inherited disease) and ‘dry eye’ are known to afflict the breed on occasion.” Slipping patellas (knee bone) may be a problem which is correctable with surgery. Of course, Cavaliers are not immune to cancers. Any sudden change in the behavior of your Cavalier should be noted and brought to the attention of your veterinarian.


Recognized standard colors for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels include Black and Tan (King Charles), Tricolor (Prince Charles), Ruby, and Blenheim, named for the estate of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, who was well known for his red and white King Charles Spaniel hunting dogs in the late 1700’s.

Members of the Family

Whether or not they have been trained for show competition, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are definitely house pets and members of the family. If this is not in keeping with your family’s plan, perhaps another breed should be considered. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wants nothing more to be with those he/she loves. They are supreme snugglers and nuzzlers!

Take care with extremes of temperature with these little gems! They are not tolerant to extremes of temperature. They must be cared for as you would a small child in your family. They must not be left outside or in an enclosed car during periods of extreme heat for they will suffer heat prostration (heat stroke).