The King Charles Spaniel Was Bred to Warm the Queen's Lap in Drafty Castles

Posted by Christy Caplan
Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is the descendant of a small toy spaniel depicted in many 16th, 17th and 18th Century paintings of northern Europe. This dog was originally bred to warm laps in drafty castles!

Here are some quick facts about this sturdy toy breed shared by VetStreet.com. 

  • Cavaliers have a silky, medium-length coat with feathering on the ears, legs, chest, feet, and tail. They shed moderately.
  • This dog will follow your footsteps throughout the day. The ideal home is one with a stay-at-home parent, work-at-home spouse or retired couple.
  • Although he's classified as a toy breed, the Cavalier is at the larger end of the size scale, weighing 13 to 18 pounds. 

Interested in bringing this dog into your home? We fell in love after researching the breed.

Fun facts about the history of the King Charles Spaniel

These small Spaniels were found in royal courts (with the Queen!) and noble homes in Spain (where the spaniel gets his name), France, England, and Scotland. You'll see them in many historical paintings. 

According to the experts at VetStreet.com this breed is famous for being at executions.

"Mary, Queen of Scots had a toy spaniel by her side when she was executed, as did her descendant, England's King Charles I. It was Charles and his son Charles II who lent their name to the dogs that eventually became known as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels."

So how did the breed and appearance overall evolve?

British breeders rebuilt the breed, working with long-nosed English Toy Spaniels (called King Charles Spaniels in England). The first of the "new" spaniels was exhibited in 1928 at Crufts Dog Show.

Breed overview

They're affectionate and easy-going. Known to be 12 to 13 inches high at the withers and 13 to 18 pounds this sturdy breed is a perfect size for children. Yet grooming is fairly high maintenance so you need to be prepared to take care of their long, silky coat. Weekly brushing and a bath need to be added to your checklist. 

Also thought to be a good dog breed for empty nesters as they love to hang out in your lap. Their life span is known to be 10 to 14 years. Always walk them on a leash as they are known to enjoy chasing birds like their Spaniel cousins.

Overall care 

Don't be fooled. Some say this breed has some trouble being house trained but that's not true according to experts.

"Toy breeds such as Cavaliers are sometimes difficult to housetrain, mainly because people don't put enough effort into it. If you take a Cavalier puppy out on a regular schedule, reward him for pottying outdoors and limit his freedom in the home until he's reliable, there is no reason he can't be housetrained as well as any other breed."

Even though they're categorized as couch potatoes they enjoy exercise! A friend's Cavalier competes in agility and has a lot of ribbons. Competing with this dog breed is a great way to bond with your dog.

Health concerns

Some of the health concerns include heart disease and eye disorders. Talk to your vet about all of these.

  • Elevated risk of heart disease (mitral valve disease (MVD)) at an early age
  • Episodic falling caused by muscle rigidity
  • Syringomyelia (SM) - a condition caused by a malformation of the skull
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation - a condition in which the knee joint moves in and out of place
  • Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
  • Ear disorders

These health problems are also good to talk through with your breeder to get an idea of which you should be concerned with and also add 'energy levels' to the list of questions when talking puppies. Heart failure is high on the list so you always want your vet to be listening for heart murmurs at a young age.

These little toy dogs also make good therapy dogs, companion dogs, and family dogs but not watchdogs. These little dogs might appear to be small dogs and lapdogs but they have adorable 'big' personalities.

Exercise needs are minimal but remember they enjoy competing in dog sports.

There are many popular breeds in this toy group but we are in love with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!

Do you know anyone that lives with a King Charles Spaniel? Please leave us a comment below!

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The King Charles Spaniel Was Bred to Warm the Queen's Lap in Drafty Castles