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Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Cavalier King Charles Spaniel temperament, personality, behavior, traits, and characteristics.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016

Often called a "sporting toy breed" because of his combination of spaniel and toy traits, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is sweet-tempered, playful, and gentle.

This comfort-loving breed adores cuddling in laps and snuggling on soft pillows, but he also has more athletic instincts than you might think. Indeed, he can be a runner and chaser. A fenced yard or a leash are musts at all times, because many Cavaliers will pursue squirrels, chipmunks, low-flying birds, even butterflies, right into the street.

Cavaliers do need a decent amount of exercise -- a couple of long daily walks and a fenced yard in which to run.And they're very people-oriented -- they become stressed when left alone too long, so should have companionship (either human or other pets) most of the day. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is lonely will whine or bark or chew destructively.

Most Cavaliers are polite with everyone and peaceful with other dogs and cats. As with all sweet-tempered dogs, there is potential for timidity, so Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies need plenty of early socialization to build a confident, outgoing temperament.

Though they do have a mild independent streak, Cavaliers are willing to please and respond well to praise and encouragement . . . and treats!

If you want a dog who...

  • Is small, soft, and attractive, with large expressive eyes and a lovely feathered coat in a variety of striking colors
  • Adores comfort, cuddling in laps, and snuggling on soft pillows, yet has more athletic and outdoorsy instincts than you might think
  • Is peaceful and polite with everyone
  • Is willing to please and responds well to praise -- and treats!

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Timidity and shyness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
  • Chasing instincts -- needs a fenced yard or leash
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • Lots of shedding
  • Serious health problems and a potentially short lifespan

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

More traits and characteristics of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

If I was considering a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They become anxious, which they express through destructive chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.
  2. Chasing things that run. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels cannot be trusted off-leash. They have more spaniel (hunting dog) instincts than you might think and will take off after anything that runs....which means they can easily end up under the wheels of a car.

    Cavaliers are soft-tempered dogs, easy to train as long as they respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No."

    My book Teach Your Dog 100 English Words, gives you a unique vocabulary to use with your dog AND teaches my Respect Training Program. Your dog will look at you when you speak and do what you say. Not just when he's hungry for a treat or feels like it. But all the time. Because he respects you.
  3. Grooming. To keep their silky, feathered coat free of mats, Cavaliers require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming.
  4. Shedding.The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sheds a lot (high side of average). You'll find a good amount of hair on your clothing and furniture. Just be ready for this. If you really think your dog is shedding excessively, changing his diet will probably help.
  5. Finding a healthy one and keeping him healthy. The biggest problem with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels today is health. This breed, unfortunately, is in serious trouble.

    • Inherited heart disease (a severe form of Mitral Valve Disease) is the number-one killer of Cavaliers. Up to HALF of all Cavaliers will develop MVD by 5 years of age – and virtually ALL Cavaliers by 10 years of age (if they live that long). No one should acquire a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel today unless they're prepared to spend lots of money for heart monitoring and heart care.
    • An inherited neurological disease (syringomyelia) causes abnormal skin sensations, sensitivity to touch, and/or incoordination. There's no cure for this condition and current research suggests that 50% or more of the breed may be affected (most start showing symptoms between six months and three years old).
    • Epilepsy, hip dysplasia, loose knee joints, eye diseases, skin conditions . . . it can be exceedingly difficult to keep a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel healthy. Still, some owners choose to try, because the breed is so sweet.
    To have any realistic hope of finding a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who will live a reasonably healthy life, you need to buy your dog from a person who can pass the "14 Family Companion Guidelines" in my book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams. If they're not following these guidelines, it's a big risk to buy a puppy from them.

    book coverOnce you have your puppy home, you need to keep him healthy by following the 11-Step Health Care Program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

    If you want your dog to live a long, healthy life and seldom need to visit the vet, this is the book for you. How to prepare healthy meals, getting only the right vaccinations (not the ones that are either useless or risky), preventing fleas, ticks, and heartworm safely, getting dangerous (to dogs) products out of your home, healing or improving current health issues, and much more. This is my best book, and bargain priced, too!