Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are graceful dogs with an elegant, royal appearance. Often called "the king-sized toy," the Cavalier is the largest breed in the toy group. Mature dogs average 12 to 13 inches in height and weigh between 13 and 18 pounds. Cavaliers have soulful brown eyes and silky, straight coats with feathering on the ears, tail, chest, legs and feet. Although Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were originally bred for hunting, the sweet nature of these dogs makes them wonderful companion animals.
Originally bred to hunt small game, the Cavalier breed has a great love of the outdoors and a fearless sense of adventure. Despite this little wild streak, Cavaliers also have a strong desire to please their human partners. Most Cavaliers possess a gentle, friendly temperament and love to curl up on a family member's lap. Cavaliers don't make very good guard dogs. Although they will bark to let you know someone has arrived at the front door, they seem to believe all strangers are their new friends. Only the most timid of intruders might be scared off by one of these little dogs.
The American Kennel Club notes that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are intelligent and easily trained, frequently doing well in obedience and agility trials. Their calm temperaments, low energy levels, and loving natures combine to make them excellent candidates for therapy dog training as well. Even the best-trained Cavalier should never be allowed to roam around off-leash, however. They often tangle with traffic, because they will chase nearly anything that moves. Because these dogs never develop any "street sense," many breeders require that you have a fenced yard before you adopt a Cavalier puppy.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels thrive in a family setting and enjoy all types of companionship. Cavaliers are happy whether dozing on the lap of an elderly person for several hours or having an energetic romp with the kids. These dogs really don't enjoy being left alone. Their calm temperament means they usually are happy to share their space with other family dogs and cats. They still have their original hunting instincts, however, so watch your dog closely if you also have birds, hamsters, rabbits or gerbils.
Cavaliers and Children
Their playfulness, patience and loving natures make Cavalier King Charles Spaniels good family dogs. However, because Cavalier puppies are tiny, many breeders won't sell them to families with young children because of the risk of unintentional injury to the puppy. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA suggests adopting a 9- to 12-month old puppy if you have children under 5 years of age. Cavaliers enjoy a lengthy puppyhood, so you won't miss out on their youthful antics.