The king of lap dogs, today’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (or Cavie) has a long history. The original cavies were developed from the toy spaniels of the 16th century, which were used to warm the laps of ladies in cold English castles. King Charles II loved his spaniels and during the early 18th century, the first Duke of Marlborough bred them at Blenheim castle.
Today’s cavies shouldn’t be confused with the King Charles Spaniel, a different breed which has a more domed skull, a shorter snout and a more timid nature. King Charles Spaniels are also much smaller, weighing about four to six kilos, while the Cavie weighs six to eight kilos. Cavies are notable for their sweet face, brown eyes and floppy ears. Their medium-long coats come in four colours: Blenheim (which is the chestnut and white), tri-colour (black, white and tan), black and tan, and ruby.
Cavies make perfect family pets and companions for the elderly because they are affectionate and get along with anyone – including cats and other dogs. Because they are eager to please, Cavies are easy to train and pups are easy to housetrain quickly. They are easy to feed but also easy to overfeed. Luckily they love exercise, so regular walks are a good idea to keep their weight under control.
A Cavie can live to 15 years of age, but unfortunately the breed is prone to many health concerns. They are susceptible to heart murmurs, cataracts, knee-cap problems, eye and ear issues and skin complaints.
They will need to be brushed a couple of times a week and the hair around the feed should be trimmed. Cavies will shed, but a regular groom will keep excess hair under control.