How to Select a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Four Methods:Finding the Right LookChoosing a Cavalier with the Right TemperamentConsidering a PurebredBuying a Cavalier

If you are looking for one of the most charming companions in the canine community, consider the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavaliers are the largest breed in the Toy Dog category, standing 12 to 13 inches (30.5 to 33.0 cm) at the shoulder and weighing between 13 to 20 lbs. Due to their small stature, they are easy dogs to handle for most owners. They have happy, energetic, easy-going personalities that make them a great choice for most families, singles, and seniors. You can find mixed Cavaliers for fairly cheap, but Purebred Cavaliers can cost a bundle — ranging from $500 to $3500.[1]

Method 1
Finding the Right Look

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    Pick a Cavalier with the right coloring. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have luxurious coats and come in four different color combinations known as Blenheim (chestnut red and white), Black and Tan, Tricolor (chestnut red, white and black) and Ruby (solid chestnut red). Most breeders value Cavaliers with long, slightly wavy fur. They prefer dogs to have clearly definable colors. They don't like dogs with a lot of "ticking". This means that if a Cavalier has a predominantly black back, they shouldn't have "ticks" or little spots of other colors mixed in. [2]
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    Choose a Cavalier with a quality coat. Purebred Cavalier show dogs are normally celebrated for their straight fur. If the dog you’re thinking of adopting has a slight wave in its fur, this is completely acceptable. Cavaliers require a modicum of grooming. You should brush them regularly — a couple of times a week. A Cavalier Spaniels rarely have their coats trimmed and they generally only require bathing once every couple of weeks.[3]
    • Cavaliers shed a lot. When you go to pick out a Cavalier for yourself, pay close attention to their coat. If you see a lot of loose hair on the dog or in its area, ask the seller how frequently they brush the dog or clean the area. Most of the time, shedding is the result of the dog’s environment or its diet — both of which can be changed by you.
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    Choose a healthy looking dog. Purebred Cavaliers generally have a lot of health issues resulting from generations of inbreeding to keep their line pure. The most obvious signs of a healthy Cavalier will be its coat, its eyes, and its ears. These tend to be the biggest problem areas on Cavaliers and therefore should be the first aspects to consider when purchasing a new Cavalier.
    • Make sure its eyes, nose, and ears are clean and free of discharge. Its coat should be clean and free of parasites such as fleas. A puppy with prominent ribs and a potbelly is likely to have worms. Worms can be treated, but could indicate that his care or that of the mother, was less than ideal.[4]
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    Have a veterinarian examine the Cavalier. Regardless of what the seller says, have your vet check out your new friend. Make sure they focus on issues specific to Cavaliers (like those mentioned above) and environmental concerns like mites, fleas, ticks, and heart worms.
    • Health-wise, always have puppies checked out prior to purchase. A heart murmur in a puppy is likely to be bad news in the long run, with a high risk of progression into premature heart failure. If you get an adult dog, then it is wise to have a veterinarian check the dog prior to purchase also. The veterinarian can check for common ailments that affect Cavaliers and other issues.[5]

Method 2
Choosing a Cavalier with the Right Temperament

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    Determine if it's friendly. Cavaliers should be welcoming to people. They are primarily lapdogs that provide entertainment and comfort.[6]
    • Cavaliers can be great for families with young children. Because of their small stature, there is less chance that your children will be hurt accidentally - as is often the case with large lumbering Labradors. Cavaliers can still bite and scratch, but in general they are easy breeds to handle.
    • Some dogs are conditioned to fear people. Perhaps, they had a traumatic experience early on in life, which has taught them to fear and even strike out at humans. While this behavior can be corrected, it might be a challenge that you're not keen to take on. When you first visit the dog, present your hand and let it take in your scent. Act friendly and don't invade its space too quickly. Attempt to pet and play with the dog. See how the dog responds. If the dog welcomes your attention, then you probably have found a sociable animal.[7]
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    Focus on how the dog interacts with other animals. Many families have more than one dog or more than one animal. If this is your situation, then see how your prospective dog plays with its litter mates or other dogs in its area. Does it show aggressive behavior? Does it sulk by itself in the corner of the pen? Or does it join in the fun and lead the pack? You can learn a lot quickly about an animal temperament by seeing it interact with other animals.
    • If you plan on entering your Cavalier into shows, it will need to be good around other dogs as well. The last thing you want in this situation is to have a beautiful dog, whose behavior distracts judges from its appearance.[8]
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    Choose an active Cavalier. Cavaliers are energetic spaniels who love to play and explore the out-of-doors. Individuals considering this breed should be prepared to provide regular exercise to keep their Cavalier healthy. For athletic owners, Cavaliers can gradually be trained to accompany you on long walks or hikes.[9]
    • Inactive, even lethargic Cavaliers are unusual. Normally, a downtrodden Cavalier is a sign of a poor upbringing and could signal later behavioral problems.
    • Do not interpret fatigue for ill-temperament. Young puppies often sleep a lot and so do older dogs. This should not be interpreted negatively; instead, see if you can gently coax the dog awake. Try to play with it. See if you can encourage it to interact with the other dogs. This will give you a better sense of its personality.[10]

Method 3
Considering a Purebred

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    Consider the pros of selecting a Purebred Cavalier. In general, Purebred Cavaliers have predictable traits. If you purchase a Purebred Cavalier, you can expect them to be energetic, lovable house pets with fairly manageable coats. Genetically speaking, Cavaliers have a happy-go-lucky predisposition. If you purchase a Purebred, you can expect such a temperament.[11]
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    Assess the drawbacks of getting a mixed breed. Non-Purebred Cavaliers may adopt some of the biological traits of whatever other breed they are mixed with. If they are mixed with a hound, they may have a stronger instinct to hunt and bark. Similarly, if they are bred with low-energy dogs like shih tzu, they may lose that energetic luster that made you fall in love with them in the first place.[12]
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    Consider common Cavalier health issues. People covet pure-bred Cavaliers. This means that they have been bred from a limited gene pool. In order to be designated a pure-bred, many places inbreed their dogs, and others unwittingly breed from a gene pool that is too small. This has very real and extremely unfortunate consequences. Pure-bred Cavaliers run a high risk of suffering from heart disease, disc disease, and/or a severe neurological issues. [13]
    • Heart disease: In the UK, 59% of Cavaliers over the age of 4 years old have a heart murmur. At nearly two-thirds of the UK's population of Cavaliers, this is an extraordinary statistic.[14]
    • Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia: Basically, this condition means the dog's skull is too small for its brain. This causes dreadful nerve pain. The veterinary textbook "Breed Predispositions to Disease in the Dogs and Cats" lists this condition as "very common" with signs developing between 5 months to 3 years of age. [15]
    • Epilepsy: Dogs may develop seizures at any time, but between 6 months to 6 years is the most common time [16]
    • Disc disease: This is another "common" condition, especially as Cavaliers age. [17] Most of the time, you won't know that your Cavalier is prone to slip discs, until you see it walking stiffly or reluctantly lowering its head to its food or water bowl.

Method 4
Buying a Cavalier

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    Find a place to purchase or adopt a Cavalier. There are several websites that you can use in order to find both pure breeds and mixed Cavaliers.[18] You can also look in your local newspapers for advertisements. Depending on your location, you’ll have more or less options.
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    Think about buying from a breeder. Find one that can give you the history of the puppy's parents and grandparents, including written health test results. You want to avoid choosing a dog that is the product of inbreeding, so ask to see pedigree papers and quiz breeders about the dog's heritage. If you are buying from a private seller, ask for the same pedigree materials.[19]
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    Consider rescues. Rescues are great places to find non-Purebred Cavaliers. Before falling in love with a particular rescue dog, make sure you have a full grasp of the dog's medical needs. Many rescues have ended up at rescue centers because they have medical needs their original owners couldn't handle.
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    Avoid puppy mills. If you are not sure if you are visiting a puppy mill or not, ask to see the mother. A reputable breeder will be happy to introduce you to the mother and other litter mates. They'll also give you a full rundown of the parents' history. A puppy mill however, will make any excuse they can (and it may sound plausible) to prevent you seeing the mother.

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