The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a small dog which originated in the United Kingdom, it is classed as a toy dog by the Kennel club and the American Kennel club.
A popular dog in the U. K since the late 1700s, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel was recently also in the top twenty most popular breeds in America.
The breed standard recognises four colors, Blenheim (chestnut and white), Tricolour (black,white and tan), Black and tan and Ruby, it has a smooth silky coat and a long undocked tail. It is a friendly breed which is good with people, children and most other animals, being a family dog they like attention and don’t like to be left on their own for long periods of time.
During the early part of the 18th century, John Churchill, the 1st Earl of Marlborough, kept red and white King Charles type spaniels which he used for hunting. His estate was named Blenheim, in honour of his victory at the battle of Blenheim, because of this the chestnut and white variety of the King Charles Cavalier spaniel became known as the Blenheim.
The Second World War saw a massive drop in the breed, with the vast majority of breeding stock destroyed because of wartime hardships and food shortages. For instance, the Ttiweh Cavalier kennel which had a population of sixty dogs, saw its number drop down to three during the 1940s. Once the war was over, the few dogs that survived were used to create the new beginning from which all modern Cavaliers descend, and in 1945 the kennel club first recognised the breed in its own right as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
Historically the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a lap dog, and is small compared to most other spaniels. Breed standard states that the height of the Cavalier should be between 12 and 13 inches, with a proportionate weight around 13 to 18 pounds. The silky coat should be free from curl, although a slight wave is permitted, feathering can grow on their ears, feet, legs and tail during adulthood.
Cavaliers are prone to mitral valve disease, which leads to heart failure, this appears in many Cavaliers at some point in their lives, and is the leading cause of death. As today’s Cavaliers all descend from only six dogs, any inheritable disease present in at least one of the original founding dogs can be passed on to a significant proportion of future generations. This is known as the founder effect, and is probably the cause of the prevalence of mitral valve disease in the breed.
Cavaliers are also affected by ear problems, a common health problem among spaniels, and they can suffer from other general conditions, such as hip dysplacia, which are common across many dog breeds.
With its excellent temperament and playfulness the Cavalier makes an excellent family dog, it is obedient and loyal to its owner if treated properly, attention and regular exercise are required. The only downside is that the Cavalier King Charles spaniel as an expected life span of less than ten years.