Modern Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the largest breeds of the toy dogs, but still portable pets nonetheless.
Bred and adored in their homes as pretty companion dogs, who are packed full of personality.
Sadly however, beneath this beautiful surface lurk some really dreadful health problems, which are putting these lovely and loving dogs at serious risk.
So what have we done to this once proud breed, and how do you make sure that it is worth investing your time, money and love into a Cavalier King Charles puppy?
This toy breed of spaniel can trace its origins back for generations, through as far perhaps as the 16th century. Where they can be seen in pictures as ladies’ companions.
They came in a much wider variety of shapes and sizes historically, and have dipped in and out of fashion with the changing trends and times.
A breed club and official name came to pass for this delightful little spaniel in the late 1920’s, although it wasn’t until the mid 40’s that the Kennel Club granted them separate recognition and registration.
Since then the breed has become increasingly more uniform in type, but also more exaggerated away from the traditional shape of a spaniel, especially in terms of their faces and heads.
Cavalier King Charles dogs have a great reputation as pets, and one that is well deserved. From their routes back as lap dogs, they have been bred to be wonderful companions.
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They are also a confident bunch, which do not show signs of nervousness or fear of strangers.
A shy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a rare thing, and their naturally jolly dispositions are a delight to see.
An easy-going breed, they will be just as happy to curl up by your feet whilst you work, as they are to go for a romp together in the woods.
As a small breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are quite a convenient size for most homes. If you are sure to get your puppy used to travelling in the car from a young age, you will find that he can go pretty much anywhere with you.
Their coats are fairly long and silky, but are easily managed with weekly grooming and the occasional bath.
Cavaliers can come in a range of colours, from tri-colour, to black and tan, ruby or chestnut and white. Very are well known for the beauty of these coats, and the vibrancy of their colours.
Their expressions are famed, with wide honest eyes that openly display their kind natures.
Unfortunately, it is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s adorable and unique face that has come at a horrendous price.
The Cavalier King Charles is prone to some of the more common ailments that many pedigree dogs suffer from. Including eye and ear disease.
But they are minor in comparison to two serious and scary conditions that are rife within the breed.
The Cavalier King Charles has been bred to have a distinctive, and widely appealing, head and face. Their doting expression is a large part of the breed’s appeal.
Unfortunately, the shape and size of the back of their skull has caused a serious problem to develop. Syringomyelia is a complicated condition, but to put it simply there is a mismatch between the size of the skull and the size of the brain, causing problems with the cerebrospinal fluid that is meant to pass through to their spinal column.
I won’t go into details of the horrendous result of this condition here, but you should be aware that it is very common in this breed.
Therefore, if you are thinking of investing your time, money and love in one of these adorable little characters, please read this article before making your decision. We look into this serious condition closer, and discuss the potential implications on your puppy and the breed as a whole.
Mitral Valve Disease
Sadly, syringomyelia isn’t the only dark cloud over the Cavalier. They also suffer from a dramatically higher incidence of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) than other dogs.
This disease causes a degeneration of the little dog’s heart valve, beginning as a heart murmur but progressing to breathlessness and fainting symptoms. It can reach a life-threatening stage very quickly, often within 1 – 3 years.
You can find out more about Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health at the very informative Cavalier Campaign website here.
There is no doubt that the Cavalier King Charles has a winning personality and wonderful looks.
They make excellent house pets due to their gentle natures and loving devotion to their owners.
But these wonderful dogs deserve nice lives. So it is vital that if you are buying a pedigree Cavalier, you get evidence from your potential puppy’s breeder that both parents have clear MRIs taken after they were 2.5 years old. This will help to ensure you don’t have a puppy who suffers from Syringomyelia as he grows.
Another way to get a puppy with the benefits of the wonderful personality of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel without the high risk of health issues, is to consider getting a cross breed.
If you do, make sure that the Cavalier King Charles parent has a clear MRI and clean bill of health from the vet, and that the other parent is of a breed that has a full muzzle and is in excellent health.
You will then stand the best chance of getting a gorgeous little dog, who is not only full of personality and love, but has a healthy, happy future ahead of him too.
There is some great advice on buying your Cavalier Puppy at the Cavalier Campaign website here.