Let’s start at the top! The Cavalier spaniel is one of those dogs that has a sweet, gentle expression. Their face is one of content and kindness. That probably thanks to the eyes! They have large, round eyes that are set evenly across their face. But you don’t want to a void a bulging appearance which can occur. Keeping with the rest of the spaniels, they have large ears that hang lower than their jowls. And when they’re alert, they’ll face forward, giving that typical inquisitive look. And like with all the spaniels, they possess beautiful wavy hair that can grow an inch or two below the actual ear. This will take some grroming to be kept free from mats! Their heads are fairly small for their body shape and can be quite rounded. Unlike the Cocker spaniel, they don’t have a long muzzle, it can be better described as defined. And it still possesses the well-developed nostrils that is a strong Spaniel trait. To summarise the business end of a Cava spaniel, they should look well-proportioned, no pointiness is desired.
These are graceful, well-balanced dogs, it’s stated that it is of paramount importance to the breed that they look elegant and royal. There are a more compact, smaller spaniel than the rest. They are actually classed as a toy breed! The males weighing in at only around 7kg and the females at around 6kg. And standing anywhere between just 30-35cms!
The neck is well-muscled, enough to create a arch at the crest. And is set smoothly into a set of sloping shoulders, this is where the sense of elegance comes from! Now don’t let the term ‘toy’ confuse you. They are still robust, hardy little dogs. They have solid, straight front legs paired with a well-muscled pelvis and parallel hind legs. To give them a stable base, their feet are wide yet compact. These dogs can be the best of both worlds. They’re made sturdy enough that their ancestors could enjoy frolicking the grounds with their high-class owners or a merry squirrel chase. Or you can have them as affectionate couch potatoes (obviously you shouldn’t let a dog be too lazy but they will be if you let them!). And finally, their tail! They can be docked or not, that is more than likely to the discretion of the breeder. But the natural tail of the Cavalier is long, it’ll almost sweep the floor should you leave their coat to grow more than a couple of inches. If they’re docked, they should still possess at least two thirds, its unethical to take anymore.
Now, Cockers can come in a variety of colours but first we’ll explore the type of coat they have. First off, they actually have hair rather than fur, meaning they will need bi-weekly grooming at home. Their head is where the hair is the softest, its fine and feathered. Their ears are somewhat their most notable feature. They will have thick, often wavy hair that feathers at the bottom. When freshly cleaned and groomed, they can look very impressive! Across their body they have a top and bottom coat. The bottom coat is insulating and thick, its there to protect them from losing body heat in the water. And their top coat is silky and impressive. Around their ears, chest, abdomen, legs and feet, if you let it, the top coat will be feathered and can lighten in colour.
As stated in the ‘breed standard’, there are numerous colours and combinations that can occur with Cavalier. The colours can be black, tan, ruby and white. The solid-coloured Cavalier aren’t so common, the only recognised solid coat is a ruby spaniel. They are typically born with bi-coloured coats of either; black and tan or ruby and white. Or, some even go so far as being tr-coloured which is the black, white and tan variation.
So, let’s recap! Despite its fancy, long-winded name, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is still a sturdy spaniel in it’s physiology. Their nature and smaller size makes them the perfect chilled out pet, one that will enjoy scenic walks followed by a snooze on the sofa. The highest maintenance thing about them is their coat and you will have to put some love and care into doing this at least once a week, at the very minimum, regardless of activity level. But don’t look upon it as a chore, grooming can become a great bonding experience for you and your dog!
It is important to remember that educating yourself on why a dog looks the way it does can be a good indication of the type of pet you’ll receive. Sometimes being ‘cute’ isn’t always the best reason to settle on a breed!