If ever a breed was created simply to love, it's the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. And this is one breed that is very good at its job...
The Cavalier's distant working spaniel ancestors flushed birds into nets. When these working spaniels were crossed with toy dogs a miniature spaniel was created. Called comforter spaniels, they entertained the ladies and acted as lap warmers and canine heating pads. You might say they were the first therapy dogs, as they comforted body and soul. In the 1700s, King Charles II was so obsessed with his comforter spaniels that the breed was named after him. The dogs became favorites of royalty through generations.
By the early 1900s breeders had changed the breed's look so that the dogs had more pushed-in faces than originally. A concerted effort was made to revive the longer-nosed dogs. The snub-nosed dogs became English Toy Spaniels and the longer-nosed ones Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Despite being one of the most royally bred of all dogs, Cavaliers are no snobs. They love unconditionally, and are cheerful, gentle and playful. They enjoy playing with toys and sharing their love.
Feed your Cavalier puppy a puppy food designed for toy dogs. Tiny puppies should be fed small amounts often---more than larger dogs---because they can't store glucose efficiently. They can develop hypoglycemia if they are active and have gone without food for too long. Puppy food for toy dogs combats hypoglycemia because it is high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. If your puppy becomes sleepy to the point of being hard to rouse, or unresponsive, it's an emergency. Rub syrup on his gums and get him to the veterinarian immediately. Most Cavaliers are slightly too big for this to be a concern once they're a few months old, but all owners should be aware of the condition. Even as adults, a food designed for toy dogs is a good choice.
Cavaliers are prone to several hereditary health problems, including some affecting the heart, neck and nervous system. Unfortunately, there is no known prevention, but a healthy diet with probiotics and vitamin supplements may at least help.
Other conditions, such as hip dysplasia and knee problems, are also seen in the breed. If you see your Cavalier limping or skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.
To grow your Cav's coat to its full potential, feed a nutritious food with vitamin supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt. When brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage. Bathe often, using a deodorizing or color-enhancing shampoo. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner that will help prevent tangling and matting; however, you have to wash these out and replace them every week or even more often if your Cavalier gets dirty.
Cavaliers can be prone to ear infections. Check the ears for signs of redness, itching or debris weekly. Any time they get goopy, clean with an ear cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.
Toy dogs are prone to dental problems and tooth loss, so brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a medium-duty dog nail clipper.
Cavaliers can be affected by age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, that can slow them down. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is at heart.