Descending from the King Charles Spaniel, the Cavalier breed can be traced back to the royal courts of England and Europe from the 15th-19th centuries. A favourite amongst the European nobility in the 1600s, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the result of crossing between the King Charles Spaniel and the Pug, being officially recognised as an independent breed by the Kennel Club in 1944. Highly valued amongst the Scottish Stuarts and rumoured to have accompanied Mary Queen of Scots to her execution, the Cavalier has established a reputation as a loyal and affectionate companion dog. Falling within the 'toy' breed group, the Cavalier shares its classification with many of the smaller canine breeds, and was almost destroyed with the onset of WWII when breeding stock diminished.
Combining the traits of its crossed forebears, the Cavalier boasts a distinctive appearance with a small, compact frame, a rounded head, a short, flat muzzle, protruding eyes and an upturned face. The body is pleasantly proportioned and the Cavalier coat is silky and medium in length, common in colour variations of tricolour, black and tan, ruby, and red and white (Blenheim). Feathering is usually found through adulthood on the tail, legs, ears and feet, with feathering on the feet being a desired trait by breeders.
The sixth most popular dog in the United Kingdom in 2007, the Cavalier has gained global favour over recent decades, as an eager and mannered house pet and devoted companion dog. Gentle and obedient, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is well suited to the domestic setting, highly compatible with children and other animals; in order to get the best from your Cavalier, firm but fair leadership, consistent training and early socialisation is encouraged. On average, a healthy Cavalier will weigh 5-8 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-14 years when shown the appropriate care.
As with most breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is susceptible to various eye disorders, hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, allergies and ear complaints resulting from hair growing inside the ear canal. More serious complaints identified in the breed include cardiac and neurological disorders, which can sometimes lead to heart failure and paralysis. Due to its reduced size, the Cavalier may experience behavioural problems so training from puppyhood is essential.