Whether your dog is a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.
“King” might be in their name, but because of their sweet and loving nature, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels treat their loved ones like royalty (get ready for a lot of affection!). And the royal treatment should be extended back to them, especially regarding their specific grooming needs.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are around 12 to 13 inches tall at their shoulders and weigh between 13 to 18 pounds, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Their fur grows in solid colors, like Blenheim and ruby and combinations, including black mixed with white or tan.
“These small-breed dogs are often described as regal and graceful,” she adds. “They have medium-length, soft-and-silky fur and a round face that often holds a friendly, gentle expression.”
These dogs are known for shedding, so if you have dog-related allergies, you’ll want to chat with your doctor before welcoming a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into your home.
“Cavalier King Charles Spaniels' fur requires regular grooming, bathing and brushing to remove loose fur and waste and to prevent tangles,” Dr. McCullough explains.
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According to Dr. McCullough, these pups are generally friendly and eager to please their family members. Prepare for lots of love with this breed, too, as they’re known for being gentle and affectionate.
“Cavaliers are more than just lovable lap dogs,” Dr. McCullough says. “They require moderate exercise and activity. Due to their origins, this breed has a prey drive and hunting instincts, so pet parents should be careful about off-leash activities.”
Specific health issues, like mitral valve disease, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, middle-ear infections and syringomyelia (a neurological ailment), are more common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Understanding the symptoms early on in your pup’s life will help you quickly get them the treatment they need.
Mitral valve disease
This type of heart disease occurs when the mitral valve starts to deteriorate. “Some dogs have no symptoms of mitral valve disease, while others may have a heart murmur, fainting and shortness of breath,” Dr. McCullough says.
Since it’s a progressive disease, your veterinarian might recommend heart medications to delay it or minimize symptoms. Sometimes surgery is an option to repair the damaged valve, but Dr. McCullough shares that it’s not a common treatment.
Patellar luxation happens when a dog’s kneecap shifts or moves out of place abnormally. You might notice sudden limping (it can sometimes look like skipping) when this happens, Dr. McCullough says. In severe cases, your dog might limp for a long time.
“Treatment for patellar luxation includes rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements and surgery may be required for severe cases or dogs with ongoing symptoms,” she adds.
A dog has hip dysplasia when one or both of their hip joints become loose. Limping, a swaying gait, rear leg muscle weakness, trouble laying down or standing up and a hesitance to jump or use the stairs are all telltale signs of this condition.
The solutions for hip dysplasia depend on your pup’s case. However, their treatment plan might include pain medications, joint supplements, steroids, acupuncture, physical or laser therapy and sometimes surgery.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a middle-ear infection (aka the inflammation of the ear’s middle portion) called primary secretory otitis media (PSOM). A pup with PSOM might scratch their ears, shake their head or have ear redness, swelling or discharge, Dr. McCullough says.
“There’s a lot about PSOM that’s unknown,” she adds. “For Cavaliers, PSOM treatment typically involves ear cleaning, flushing and mucus removal from behind the eardrum.”
Fluid-filled cavities that grow along a dog’s spinal cord cause syringomyelia. Crying, trying to scratch but not making contact with skin, face rubbing, sleeping with an elevated head and excessively feet licking are all signs of this neurological disease.
“Symptoms are often made worse during periods of excitement, stress or pressure on their neck, like from a collar,” Dr. McCullough explains. “There’s surgical and medical therapy to treat syringomyelia. Medical therapy consists of medications to control pain, phantom scratching and decrease fluid production.”
Are you interested in adopting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix or any pet at all? We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
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