Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: BARK

October 6, 2022

Interested in a regal breed with a gentle temperament? Say hello to the cavalier King Charles spaniel. These pups are beloved for their compact size, their big, doe eyes, and their unparalleled companionship. And just because they’re not in line for the throne doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bow down before the cavalier King Charles breed.

With four coat colors—black and tan, ruby, tricolor, and Blenheim—there’s plenty of variation between cavs, but every King Charles spaniel can be easily identified by their long, fluffy ears, and small but strong frame. While typically thought of as lap dogs, don’t underestimate this breed’s sporting spirit. 

There’s a whole lot more to the Cavalier King Charles spaniel than meets the eye. You could spend a lifetime getting to know these dogs and still run into surprises on the daily—and if you’re lucky, you just might have the chance.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 12–13 inches
  • Weight: 13–18 lbs
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Breed Size: Small
  • Colors: Blenheim, black & tan, tri-color, ruby
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats
  • Temperament: Calm, gentle, sweet

Also Known As…

Cavaliers, Cavies, Cavs, Charlies. Anything that shortens that miles-long name.

What Is The History Of The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

Given the name, it should be no surprise that this breed’s history is directly related to the British monarchy and Great Britain as a whole. King Charles II of England reigned from 1661 to 1685, and during his time as leader, England experienced a long period of peace between neighboring European nations—earning him the nickname the “Merry Monarch.” Of course, he wasn’t just overseeing international affairs as the representative of the United Kingdom. He was also indulging in personal passions—including dog breeding.

King Charles II bred spaniels that traveled with him and resided on royal estates. After his death, his specific breed of spaniel began to disappear. By the early 1900s, Roswell Eldridge, an American dog enthusiast, made it his mission to bring back King Charles’s renowned breed and offered prizes to breeders who could do so. After three years of spaniel breed contests, the cavalier King Charles spaniel was properly established and recognized.1

But where does “cavalier” come from? It’s another reference back to the 17th century. During the time of King Charles, cavalier was a term for the royalist supporters of the king. These dandy monarchists wore only the finest clothes and wore their hair in flowing ringlets. Though now the name is only a callback to British history, it seems appropriate for these lavish and lovely creatures, as it does for other regal favorites like the Brittany spaniel or the just-across-the-pond American cocker spaniel.

Over the last 100 years, the cavalier King Charles spaniel has grown in popularity compared to their ancestor the English Toy Spaniel throughout the world and made a home in the laps of aristocrats and commoners alike. In fact, they’ve become a top breed in the US, climbing the ranks of most popular dogs and winning their way into hearts one sweet stare at a time.

cavalier king charles spaniel being pet

How Big Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Get?

Height: 12-13 inches

Weight: 13-18 pounds

How Long Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (Generally) Live?

Cavs have long lives, often spending 12–15 by their owners’ sides.

What Is A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s Temperament & Personality Like?

These pups were bred as full-fledged companions. Following in the paw prints of their ancestors who warmed the laps of the royals, the modern cav is calm, gentle, and sweet much like the beloved pug. Most importantly, they’re eager to spend as much time as possible with their owner.

Notably, Charlies are more than just lap dogs (not that there’s anything wrong with cuddly breeds like the bichon frisé). But cavs also have an athletic side. You might expect a docile dog that’s always eager to curl up on the couch, but this is also a breed with plenty of energy and excitability.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Because of their highly docile nature, you should have no problem introducing your cavalier King Charles to your little ones. Even still, it’s essential to train kids on how to handle these dogs safely. Due to their small size, rough-housing is an absolute no-go with this breed, so be sure that children understand proper playtime etiquette.

Cavs are practically cat-sized, and there’s no reason they can’t get along with a feline companion. The same goes for dogs, so long as you introduce your furry friends in a calm and stable environment. There’s no accounting for individual animals and their personality quirks, but with a little time (and some friendly encouragement) you can expect this breed to make lifelong friends. Here’s to a future of cuddle puddles with all your kids—human and animal.

cavalier king charles spaniel puppies in flowers

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels High Energy?

Charlies aren’t exactly tearing up the town, but they certainly enjoy playtime. Plan for 45 to 60 minutes of exercise each day, including walks, fetch, tug-of-war, or any other physical activity that your cavalier enjoys. Mix things up to keep your dog on their toes.

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Hard To Train?

These dogs know how to mind their manners. They lived in the royal court, after all. Of course, it doesn’t all come naturally to cavs—you’re going to have to put in a little bit of routine care and work.

Fortunately, the cavalier King Charles spaniel breed is highly trainable. For the best possible results, begin training your dog as early as possible, keep your lessons short, and use plenty of positive reinforcement. In a few weeks, your dog could be responding to complex commands, behaving like a true royal in public, and even doing a few tricks.

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Have Health Issues?

For every pet owner, puppy health is a top priority. With modern veterinary treatment, preventative care options, and accessible testing, more dogs than ever have the opportunity to live long, healthy lives. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are no different. This breed is generally healthy and with regular vet visits, you can do your part to keep your cav in the best possible health.

When it comes to specific health concerns, watch t for the following:

  • Luxating patella – This condition affects the knee joints of dogs, potentially causing limps, a bowlegged stance, and limited range of motion. King Charles spaniels may be genetically predisposed to luxating patella, and a vet can diagnose the condition with a simple physical exam. Fortunately, there are several medical and surgical options for treating this issue.2
  • Entropion – Redness, swelling, and discharge around the eye are the key symptoms of entropion. Essentially, this medical issue occurs when a dog’s eyelids begin to grow inward, causing irritation of the eyes.3 This condition is known to affect cavalier King Charles spaniels in particular and and in severe cases requires minor eye surgery to correct.
cavalier king charles spaniel having ears stroked

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Need To Be Groomed? 

Add a few more items to your daily routine because this breed has a few demands when it comes to grooming. Cavs require daily brushing to keep their luxurious locks soft. We recommend spending about 10 minutes brushing to avoid knots, snarls, and tangles that could trigger dirty itchy skin..

Don’t forget to schedule nail trimming and baths at least once a month. Plus, don’t ignore their ears, eyes, and teeth. Try to create a grooming routine that you can stick to, including careful ear and eye cleaning and teeth brushing. Consistency is key when it comes to your pup’s dashing good looks and overall health.

If you’re looking for a little help with grooming, consider scheduling an appointment with a professional once a month to take care of your cavalier’s most significant needs. Since you may be looking at monthly routine visits, in some cases pet health insurance might be helpful for long-term savings.

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

You don’t need to break into the royal vault to pay for your cavalier King Charles spaniel, but you will need your wallet. After any adoption fees, you can expect to spend $1000 to $2000 per year on your dog, with your first year typically being your most expensive.

cavalier king charles spaniel eating watermelon


Break out the doggy bowls. You’re going to be feeding your cavalier King Charles spaniel ¾ to 1 cup every day. Depending on your brand of choice, you’ll likely be spending $30 to $50 each month on food.

Make every meal special by signing up for BARK Eats. It’s the only way to get nutritionist-designed food pre-portioned and delivered straight to your door. Shop for chow that meets all of your cavalier’s dietary needs, and never settle for less than top-quality. Explore Bark Eats today and get 50% off your first month!

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

As soon as you adopt your cav, consider registering your puppy at a local veterinary clinic. You’ll want to make at least one yearly wellness visit. A checkup typically costs $50–$70, but you can expect to shell out several hundred dollars if testing or blood work is ever required.

As your cav ages, you may also need to purchase regular medication to deal with chronic health issues. Fortunately, you shouldn’t have to worry about these issues with a new puppy. Just be sure to prioritize wellness checks to ensure no issues like dental disease or an inherited disease go undiagnosed or untreated.

Preventative Medications For Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Don’t neglect to pick up flea, tick, and heartworm (heart murmur) prevention medication. These preventative treatments typically cost $100+ per year. Parasite prevention—along with any vet-recommended vaccinations—are crucial investments in your dog’s future health as they prevent a variety of issues ranging from ear infections to heart disease. Certain forms of pet insurance may help ease the high prices of some of these preventive and routine treatments..

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Grooming

Coat health isn’t just about looking good. Grooming is essential to your cav’s physical and mental health, so don’t hold back when it comes to picking up all the necessary tools. Brushes, clippers, shampoo, and other grooming accessories can be purchased for between $50 and $100

That said, you might prefer to opt for professional grooming services as the uninformed purchase of some products may trigger a skin allergy. Depending on what options you select, grooming costs could range from $40 to $100 per session.

cavalier king charles spaniel chewing a stick

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

What do cavaliers like to play with? Honestly, just about anything you throw at them. When it comes to shopping for the accessories to make your house a doggy home, don’t be afraid to experiment. Your dog’s favorite treat, toy, blanket, or stuffed animal could be just around the corner.

Give your cavalier a delivery box fit for a king with BarkBox. Subscribe for 2 toys, 2 big bags of treats, and a chew, for just $23 per month. Give your cav something to gnaw on with the Super Chewer Box. Starting at $29 per month, you’ll get 2 fluff-free, durable toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and 2 meaty chews. Now you can double your first box for free

Double checking your list to make sure you’ve hit everything? There’s always more time to shop for accessories, but your dog will feel most at home with the following items:

  • Food and water dishes ($15–$30)
  • Dog crate (~$100)
  • Collar and leash ($15–$50)
  • Dog bed ($50–$100)


  1. AKC. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  2. Pet MD. Luxating Patella in Dogs (Knee Dislocation).
  3. Pet MD. Entropion in Dogs (Eyelid Growing Inward).
  4. Pet MD. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
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Written by: BARK

October 6, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.