Breed Spotlight: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wears his connection to British history in his breed's name. Cavaliers are the best of two worlds, combining the gentle attentiveness of a toy breed with the verve and athleticism of a sporting spaniel. A toy spaniel no more than 13 inches high, the Cavalier draws you in with his face: The sweet, gentle, melting expression emanating from large, round eyes is a breed hallmark. Another is the silky, richly colored coat that can be one of four distinct varieties. Adaptable Cavaliers do equally well with active owners and homebodies. They can be upbeat athletes or shameless couch potatoes, depending on an owner's lifestyle.
There are several health issues that Cavaliers are prone to. These include certain eye conditions (including retinal problems and cataracts), patella luxation, hip dysplasia, middle ear infections, mitral valve heart disease, and a neurological condition called syringomyelia. Cavaliers can be screened for all these conditions, and most live comfortably into old age. Owners should discuss any potential health issues with their dog's breeder. A responsible breeder will health-test all potential breeding stock.
The Cavalier's lustrous, silky coat requires little more than regular brushing and an occasional bath to keep him in beautiful condition. The ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection, and the nails should be trimmed at least once a month, as overgrown nails can cause pain and structural problems.
The Cavalier should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Cavaliers are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet.