Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breeder Round-Up

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels” (written by Jordan Honeycutt and available on Amazon) we interviewed 16 of the top Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

 

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from either a breeder or rescue?

Consensus:
 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be prone to expensive and, in some cases, lethal genetic disorders. It is imperative to find a breeder that tests their breeding stock for eye disorders, heart problems, and issues related to the patella. When getting a dog from a rescue, you may not have this opportunity to get this information and should be prepared for health problems to crop up. While this breed tends to produce dogs with happy, friendly dispositions, they do have individual personalities. Ensure that the breeder or rescue is familiar with all of the members of the household before choosing your canine companion.

Best Quotes:

In choosing a breeder, health must be the number one issue. You must be sure that the breeder does health testing for all of their breeding stock. This means the sire and dam must be tested before breeding for heart, eyes, patellas, and hips. All of these test results need to be registered with the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). If the breeder doesn’t test and register with the OFA , I would run to another breeder quickly. If you are getting a dog from a rescue , keep in mind that the chances are they have not had any testing done and may have developed from bad habits from not living in loving homes. They may have potty problems, barking problems, diseases, etc… Judy- Laurel Crown Cavaliers

Puppies and dogs have different personalities. It is important to share the personalities of your household as well as your routine with a breeder or group to find the right match. Additional considerations are the length of time a breeder has been in operation and what guarantees they offer.”
Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

When choosing a breeder I would go to the internet and find the Cavalier dog clubs in the area, then go to their Breeder List to start making calls. You can also go to dog shows to meet breeders and ask them questions. I would ask when the breeder was next planning a litter and if they do health testing for hips, eyes, and patellas, as well as testing for heart conditions. You may also be able to find out about the grandparents and what health problems may have cropped up. Most Cavalier clubs also have connections to Cavalier rescue groups and can help you find a rescue group in your area.”
Linda Jones-  Lyncrest Cavalier and Just Like Home Dog Boarding

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Consensus:
 The most unique characteristics of the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel are temperamental. These dogs are almost universally joyful and childlike and really love being around people. While these dogs are sweet and sensitive, they are also fearless and will enjoy accompanying you on all of your adventures. Experts were quick to note the Cavalier’s love of the hunt as well as their tendency to follow trails and chase fast-moving critters.

Best Quotes:

Cavaliers are called “the comforter spaniels”. They are very childlike and really enjoy the company of their family. They have the sweetest dispositions and adapt to most environments. They are devoted family members and love both children and adults. They require a lot of love and they give it in return.”
Margaret Hubbard-  Lanmar Cavaliers

They are very sensitive to human emotions as well as being adaptable.”
Delbert R Hardy-  Companion Cavaliers

A cavalier who follows the breed standard should be fearless in character while at the same time gentle and affectionate. Cavaliers bond strongly with their human partners and enjoy nothing more than doing things with them or just sitting in their humans’ lap. Playing games, learning tricks, or doing any other activity that pleases their human partner.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

They’re the smallest hunting dogs. They are like a Golden Retriever in a smaller body.”
Debbie-  Andresen’s Cavaliers

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Cavaliers that would surprise them?

Consensus:
 The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is a re-creation of the breed that King Charles I of Britain preferred in the 1600s. Unfortunately, the original breed that was often featured in classical paintings disappeared at some point in the 19th century. They are spaniels, so their passion for tracking and hunting can occasionally get them in trouble. They can be exceptionally loyal, a trait that sometimes comes along with a small stubborn streak.

Best Quotes:

They are almost human! They have their own interpretation of things and you can’t tell them what to do. They are beautiful, loyal, and incredibly sweet.”
Brooke N-  Painted Blessings Cavaliers

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel acquired its name because it was a great favorite of King Charles I of Britain in the 1600s.”
Jenn Brisco-  Cardinal Cavaliers

Most people don’t realize that the Cavalier type of spaniel so popular in England in the 16th to 18th century, and seen in classical paintings of that time, actually disappeared in the 19th century. Their characteristics were bred out and the English Toy Spaniel emerged. Only in the early half of the 20th century was the breed re-created through careful breeding and today’s Cavalier was not generally seen in the United States until the second half of the 1900s.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

They are avid hunters.”
Robbie Slemaker-  Mayfair Cavaliers

People often forget that Cavaliers are spaniels and they love to chase small animals. They will find a smell and follow it where ever it leads, so it is always good to keep Cavaliers on a leash.”
Linda Jones-  Lyncrest Cavalier and Just Like Home Dog Boarding

Question #4:  How would you  recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Consensus:
 Cavaliers, like most puppies, tend to explore everything that they can reach with their mouths. This can put them at risk for electrical shocks, choking hazards, and poisonings. Make sure that anything that you do not want to be chewed out of the pup’s reach. Many experts also recommend either crate training or getting an x-pen to help keep the little one under control. Be sure that the house rules are understood by everyone in the household and keep a close eye on all exits from the house.

Best Quotes:

Puppies are just like babies, anything on the floor goes in their mouth. Electrical cords should be raised or removed, and any small objects should be picked up. Check your house for poisonous plants and remove them. It’s also good to have a room to contain your pup in a smaller space; a tile floor is best until they’re potty trained. All outside doors should be secured so no one inadvertently lets the puppy escape outside and it’s also a good idea to have a vet insert a microchip under the skin so that if they do get out the odds of their return is much better.”
Margaret Hubbard-  Lanmar Cavaliers

Have a crate and get the puppy used to being in there as their safe space. Life is a lot simpler if they are comfortable with their “home”. I have several crates in my home and they are always open so the dogs can go in there for their naps.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers

On my website, I have a page for new puppy tips which includes preparing your home. I suggest getting down to their level and looking around so that you can remove anything that could be harmful. It is also important to have a talk with everyone in the household about expectations and what might be dangerous, to keep everyone on the same page.”
Jenn Brisco-  Cardinal Cavaliers

Anything that you don’t want to be chewed should be put up high and out of reach. Have an x-pen set up with water and toys and beds so if you need to leave the pup for a while, they have a safe place to be.”
Linda Jones-  Lyncrest Cavalier and Just Like Home Dog Boarding

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Consensus:
 Anxiety and excitement can cause some puppies to have a sporadic appetite or to lose it all together for a day or two, and loose stools are also common due in the first few days. While you should contact your veterinarian to rule out more serious disorders, these digestive issues are often simply due to the stress associated with change. Many new pet parents are also unaware of the amount of exploring that puppies do with their mouth; experts recommend getting plenty of teething toys that are appropriate for your pup to chew on.

Best Quotes:

There is always a period of acclimation. Being prepared for this adjustment and mindful that they want to put everything in their mouth is helpful. Teething can lead to accidental electrocution or poisonings if not careful.”
Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

Puppies might have loose stools— they can get this from the anxiety of moving to a new home or from flying on an airplane. You can take a sample to your vet and have a fecal done. If it turns out to be something else, like coccidia. The vet can give you medicine that clears it up quickly.”
Judy-  Laurel  Crown Cavaliers

They are extremely easy to train and they are so kind and gentle. They can be iffy eaters they don’t know if they’re going to eat now or later or not even today. It just drives puppy parents crazy.”
Enrique and Val Hinojosa-  cavaliers-by-val.com

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:
 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels respond best to consistent house-training based that is initially based on timing rather than on signs from the dog that they need to go potty. Crates and x-pens are recommended as a great tool to help with house-training your new pup, and they should be given plenty of opportunities to go outside. While some Cavaliers do pick up house-training fairly easily, others may take more time and training before they are trustworthy on their own.

Best Quotes:

The dog’s success will be based on your effort. Some Cavaliers train fast because the owners are diligent and others take longer because their owners are not as diligent. Take them out 20 minutes after feeding and watering, then reward them with a small treat. Do not leave food and water down for them while potty training.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers

Use a crate and have the puppy in a small space. Puppies can’t be expected to wait to go out until they are at least 4 months old period take lots of walks and always go out right after eating and when they first awake from a nap.”
Margaret Hubbard-  Lanmar Cavaliers

Personally, I take a new puppy out to go potty in set intervals, usually around 30-45 minutes apart, to start associating the grass and outdoors with using the bathroom. I do NOT wait until I see them showing signs that they need to go. Once they are older and have the routine down then you can wait and watch for those signs.”
Jenn Brisco-  Cardinal Cavaliers

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with other pets?

Consensus:
This breed tends to be fearless and friendly by nature, but can become timid if socialization is ignored. Once your dog has been fully vaccinated, be sure to expose your new pup to as many sights, sounds, people, and pets as you can. Structured encounters, such as puppy kindergarten, group obedience classes, or dog sports, give your dog a great opportunity for both socialization and training.

Best Quotes:

Enroll in puppy classes as soon as your vet gives you the go-ahead. Commit to spending the first year in classes; puppy kindergarten and beyond! Going to dog-friendly stores, to friend’s homes, and on car rides. The most critical imprinting time, when your puppy will soak up socializing the easiest, is between the first two and four months of age. Socialization continues to be easier through the first year but becomes much harder if you wait to start when they are older.”
Brooke N-  Painted Blessings Cavaliers

It really is possible to take your puppy with you to places where they can meet other people. After all of the puppy shots have been given take walks in the neighborhood or village area together, where they can meet other dogs. A basic obedience course at a dog training center will give lots of opportunities for socializing, along with the bonus of helping you train your pup  on basic commands.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

Slow and monitored introductions. Cavaliers are friendly, loving, and playful so it’s often up to the more established pet as to when things get settled.”
Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Consensus:
 Although this breed is typically kept as a companion animal, they were originally bred from small hunting spaniels. While they don’t typically need a great deal of exercise, they do need at least a walk or two a day and some good old fashioned playtime. Getting enough exercise not only helps your dog remain calm and well- behaved, it also ensures that your dog’s heart is as healthy as it can be.

Best Quotes:

Cavaliers not only require exercise like any other breed, but they also enjoy active interactions with their human partners. Exercise helps fend off heart disease and strengthens the canine-human relationship. Anything from fetch in the back yard to competing in agility events provides the opportunity for short bursts of activity. Long walks on a lead allow for prolonged, moderate cardiovascular exercise.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

They can adapt to any situation; run around the house each day or a two-mile walk. Diet plays a role. Watch their weight and adjust their food accordingly.”
Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

A daily walk or a game of fetch is enough, but they love more and will happily hike for several miles. They often enjoy swimming if properly introduced to it.”
Delbert Hardy-  Companion Cavaliers

I take my Cavaliers on a walk in our neighborhood daily they prefer cold weather but I get cold and want to go home. I prefer warm weather but they start to slow down so we have to go home. At 60 degrees, when it’s sunny, we can walk about half a mile.”
Evelyn Knowles-  Koncerto Cavaliers

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Consensus:
 These little dogs tend to be of average or above intelligence and they have an exceptionally strong desire to please their human companions. They are also highly motivated by tidbits of food, from traditional training treats to the occasional Cheerio. These traits combine to make Cavaliers fairly easy to train, but they are known to get a little stubborn on occasion and they don’t respond well to harsh treatment or loud noises.

Best Quotes:

You’re highly motivated by food. Never doing any sort of training have small treats Available And your cavalier will do anything to earn them. Even a small bit of cereal, such as a Cheerio, makes an effective reward for correct behavior.  you may also want to do some research learn how to use watching videos  Charles Weidig- BlackFire Cavaliers

They are easy to train. When you let the cavalier now what you want them to do and reward the correct behavior they learn fast. after a few repetitions, they are trained. Cavaliers are a sensitive breed, so harsh, loud noises and hitting must be avoided, Evelyn Knowles- Koncerto Cavaliers

Socializing is really key for this breed. The more comfortable with each scenario that they encounter the easier they are to train and work with. They can become very timid and difficult to get out of their shell if they don’t get out of the house. They are in the very middle of the graph when compared to the smartest and least intelligent breeds.”
Brooke N-  Painted Blessings Cavaliers

I personally find Cavalier King Charles Spaniels very smart and easy to train, especially since they are eager to please. This does need to be done with positive reinforcement.”
Jenn Brisco-  Cardinal Cavaliers

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behavior that a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Consensus:
 Although Cavaliers are generally pleasant and easy to get along with, they can develop a few traits that are less than desirable. They tend to bark at anything that is going on outside and to chase fast-moving objects, so it is advisable that you keep your dog on a leash whenever you are out. Potty-training can also take a little while longer with these dogs than with some other breeds and they tend to be a little clingy on occasion. Clinginess in Cavaliers can transform into separation anxiety if they are left home alone too often.

Best Quotes:

They can be timid if not properly socialized. They are a companion dog and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Be persistent with potty training, this may take several months to click and closer to a year before they are trustworthy. Even if it doesn’t feel like what you are doing is working, don’t quit. It will one day be rewarding knowing you won’t come home to an accident when they’ve been left home alone.”
Brooke N-  Painted Blessings Cavaliers

Cavaliers will bark to alert you to “dangers” near the house, like squirrels in the yard or people walking by.  To discourage barking, you might use the tried-and-true beverage can method. Take a used aluminum drink can, rinse it out, and allow it to dry. Toss a small handful of pennies into it and seal the top with tape. When you shake the can, you will notice it makes an awful racket. This is a noise your puppy will not like and you can use that to your advantage.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

They will try to smother you, like the movie “Aliens”. It’s just something they do. Make them stop. They are trying to show you love, but there are other ways.”
Enrique and Val Hinojosa-  cavaliers-by-val.com

Question #11:  Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Consensus:
 This breed is devoted to their families and would prefer to be where ever their family happens to be. This, coupled with their small size and their generally positive outlook on life, makes them an exceptionally easy breed to travel with. Make sure that you provide a safe carrier for them to ride in and for their safety, avoid allowing your dog to travel in the cargo hold of an airplane.

Best Quotes:

Yes, they make great companions on every level. They are very companion driven and would enjoy being with you all the time, whether that be in your car, bed, or even bathroom.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers

They make wonderful travel companions! Provide a safe seat or carrier in the car or plane. In a plane, under the seat is best— NEVER IN CARGO!.”
Enrique and Val Hinojosa-  cavaliers-by-val.com

Yes. They travel well by plane or car because they love to be with their owners and to meet new people. They are small so that helps with mobility as well.”
 Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other dog breeds?

Consensus:
 Most Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can thrive on a good quality kibble, but some breeders recommend feeding them a raw diet instead. This breed may acquire food allergies, particularly to certain types of meats, and may develop tooth decay more easily than other breeds. Cavaliers also have a tendency to get overweight if their food intake is not closely monitored, which can aggravate underlying cardiovascular health issues.

Best Quotes:

Cavaliers do just fine on quality kibble— NOT a supermarket brand. Although grain-free foods are very much in vogue, we don’t find it necessary unless a dog has a true grain allergy— something not often seen. You might also want to feed your Cavalier a raw diet, consisting of raw meat and bone mixed with raw vegetables. If you choose a raw diet, be aware that raw foods can be very costly unless purchased in bulk and this diet often required supplementation to provide proper nutrition.”
Charles Weidig-  BlackFire Cavaliers

Yes. A lot of Cavaliers are allergic to chicken, beef, and lamb. Any high-quality dog food is good, or you can learn to prepare a raw diet. Avoid letting your Cavalier get overweight.”
Debbie-  Andresen’s Cavaliers

A good grade kibble is what I like to feed them. I stay away from wet food as it can be bad for their teeth. Dental disease leads to heart issues, which Cavaliers are already prone to.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Consensus:
 While Cavaliers do need some grooming, it is fairly moderate. A session with a brush and comb every day or two, paying special attention to the feathering around the ears and feet, should keep them neat and presentable. It is important to check the hair between their paw pads as well as this can become extremely painful if it develops mats. Some pet parents opt to shave their Cavaliers, but this practice can permanently alter the dog’s coat.

Best Quotes:

A simple brushing every day or other day works wonders. Be especially aware where the bottom of the ears joins the head. Cavaliers grow hair in between their footpads. Serious footpad hair can mat and become very uncomfortable. A weekly check and trim of the bottom of the feet is all that is needed. Some people get their Cavalier a full-body clip a couple of times per year, but if you keep up with the brushing it is not necessary.”
Mark Fitchpatrick-  Briarcliffe Cavaliers

Brush the Cavalier from a very young age and they won’t mind a short daily brushing. Make sure the nails are cut often and be sure to check the dewclaws as they are often forgotten.”
Linda Jones-  Lyncrest Cavalier and Just Like Home Dog Boarding

Brushing daily and checking for mats. Cleaning their ears and teeth as well as checking their nails as part of your weekly routine. A visit to the groomer every four to six weeks is recommended. They are beautiful, but it does require some maintenance.”
Christine Vitolo-  Royal Flush Cavaliers

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

Consensus:
This breed does tend to shed quite a bit. Keeping sticky rollers handy will help you remain relatively fur-free, and daily brushing goes a long way towards reducing the amount of shed hair around the house. Another way to reduce shedding is by adjusting the diet to include oils such as salmon oil and coconut oil into their food.

Best Quotes:

They do shed, but there are things that can help. I recommend salmon oil on the food, coconut oil treats, and a nice brushing at least once a week. If owners just cannot stand the shedding they can be shaven; just be warned that this could ruin their coat and turn it fluffy and unruly.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers

They shed. Put a sticky tape roller in the car, in the office, and in the bathroom so you can just enjoy your puppy.”
Robbie Slemaker-  Mayfair Cavaliers

Cavaliers ship sometimes it is a few hairs, other times it is a lot of hair. Daily brushing helps with the shedding but does not get all of it.”
Evelyn Knowles-  Koncerto Cavaliers

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels?

Consensus:
 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be subject to a number of genetic disorders. Eye problems are common in this breed as are issues with the patella, but far more concerning are the disorders related to the heart, which are sometimes fatal as they get older. Genetic testing of the sire and dam will help ensure that your pup is as healthy as possible. A genetic disease that is known as syringomyelia, or simply SM, has been cropping up more often in this breed, although it is less common in carefully bred Cavaliers.

Best Quotes:

A lot of Cavaliers have heart murmurs as they get older and may die of MVD in their old age. Usually, if the mom and dad don’t have heart problems their offspring won’t either. SM (syringomyelia) is rapidly emerging as a severe inherited condition in Cavaliers. It is also known as neck scratching disease because a common sign is scratching the air near the neck. It is a serious condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain. I’ve only heard of a few cases of SM in all my years of breeding, I don’t think it’s as common in high-quality, health tested Cavaliers.”
Judy-  Laurel Crown Cavaliers

Every breed has genetic weaknesses. The heart is the weakest area for the Cavalier. IN addition to problems with the heart, the eyes and patellas are areas of concern. I know that SM has been showing up in Cavaliers over the past few years. I am very active in the Cavalier community and have only known a handful of cases of SM . I am not saying SM is not a concern, it is a horrible condition that is very painful and tragic. I am saying that, in my opinion, it is not as prevalent as we are being led to believe.”
Mark Fitchpatrick-  Briarcliffe Cavaliers

The heart is the biggest and baddest killer of Cavaliers. Other known issues can include cataracts or eye issues, along with patellar problems. SM seems to be on the rise in the breed and is associated with the Cavaliers with more dome-shaped heads.”
Kacey Leitheiser-  Kacey’s Cavaliers