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Norwich Bulletin - 9/28/2008

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Continuing on with the British flavor of my columns, I have chosen the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for my breed this month. This little lapdog with a pointy nose, high set ears and soft, full eyes, became so popular under Charles II, that he actually was given the King’s name!

Then the Dukes of Marlborough developed one of the four color strains and named it after their family castle, Blenheim. This is the white and chestnut markings and there are also a white with black and tan markings, a solid, rich, red called ruby, and a black with bright tan markings.

These dogs have been bred for hundreds of years as a companion for humans and they are sweet, pleasing to the eye little dogs. It comes as no surprise that this breed is the number one Toy dog in England! They are known as the “comforter spaniel” and they are sensitive enough for the sedentary lifestyle of an elderly couple, or robust enough to fit into a young, active family.

But, as easy going as they are, they require one thing that is a must – attention; and plenty of it. These dogs are extremely family oriented and if attention is withheld, they just pine away. They are definitely not the dog for someone who prefers an outside dog or a dog with a more independent temperament. They are an enchanting breed and extremely affectionate.

The breed was all but lost when William of Orange took to the English throne as he was fascinated with the Pug. So with his preference to the flat nosed breeds, the Cavalier was being changed into a flat faced dog with undershot jaws and domed skulls that are known today as English Toy Spaniels.

But in the 1920’s, it was an American named Roswell Eldridge that became interested in the breed and offered a cash prize to anyone who could recreate one of the long nosed spaniels depicted in some of the paintings by the Masters. A few breeders took up the challenge and began seeking out throwbacks among the English Toy Spaniels to restore the Cavalier. Obviously it was successful

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is about 12 to 13 inches tall and weighs under 18 pounds. Their life span is 9 to 12 years. They have a moderate activity level, in that they love a good romp but also are quite happy to settle down indoors and have a nice nap next to you. However, the Cavalier is the perfect house dog, he hasn’t forgotten his sporting dog roots. They have good little noses and they can flush out a bird or two in their backyard!

You really need to have a fenced in yard for your Cavalier, or be able to go to a fenced in area to run your dog if you live in an apartment. These little guys will go up to anyone at anytime and are so social, they will just jump into any car that has another dog or friendly person in it. It would be really easy to lose your best friend so do not let them run on their own, even when you are with them.

The Cavalier has a silky coat, which requires brushing a couple of time a week (a word of caution is that they do shed). It is also another reason that they cannot be outside dogs. The coat will not protect your pooch from the elements. The coat is, however, fairly dirt resistant.

There are health concerns with this breed so it is imperative that potential owners seek out breeders who do appropriate health testing of all their animals and document those tests. This breed is prone to heart problems, namely Mitral valve disease, in which the heart valve deteriorates and leaks, leading to congestive heart failure. They can also be prone to cataracts and hip dysplasia or slipping kneecaps (luxating patellas).

Another serious problem can be syringomylia, in which fluid collects in a cavity of the spinal cord, causing a permanently twisted neck and weakness in the legs. So it is important to be selective when choosing a puppy. Like anything, it pays to wait for a puppy from a reputable breeder, even if it means a six month wait. At least you will have the security of knowing that your future puppy will have the best possibility ever for a healthy and long life.

This little dog interests me a lot. They are good with children and with other animals. In fact, it is said that their affinity for other animals is unparalleled! So if you are interested in a true companion animal for your family, check out this breed at www.ackcsc.org whether you are interested in finding a good breeder or rescue.

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