Living with a Cavalier is a joy and a privilege. This may sound extravagant, but any Cavalier owner would understand completely, and unhesitatingly agree.
The Cavalier is one of the most popular breeds in the country (17th out of 238 breeds), and is certainly one of the best companions. They have the most beautiful colours, the most charming looks, the sweetest expressions, the most wistfully appealing eyes and the waggiest tails of any dog in the world. Cavaliers are affectionate, sporting, agile and adaptable to almost any lifestyle. They are loyal and devoted companions, friendly, sweet-natured and completely unaggressive.
Although they have only been a recognised breed (by the Kennel Club) since 1945, the Cavalier is closely related to the King Charles Spaniel (now an endangered breed), and has a long and fascinating history. They have been the treasured pets of royalty and aristocracy since at least the 16th century. And now they are the treasured pets of thousands. So what is living with a Cavalier actually like?
Cavaliers love being with people. Wherever you are in the house, they will want to be with you, preferably on your lap for a cuddle. Cavaliers are the most sociable of dogs, and should live in the house (not a kennel) with people who are at home for most of the time. As long as they have your company, they are easy-going and undemanding; and are happy to live with other dogs, cats, rabbits, and people of all ages. Their complete lack of aggression makes them good with children, and also as therapy dogs. (Aggression in a Cavalier is a serious breed fault, and on the rare occasions it occurs, is usually due to poor socialisation or previous trauma.)
But Cavaliers are not precious, wimpish or lazy. On the contrary, they were originally bred as hunting dogs, and are tough, agile and sporty. Their instinct to chase means they should be kept on a lead near roads or other hazards. A Cavalier has only to see a bird to give chase (as hunting dogs they were used to flush out game, so they have a particular passion for ducks and pheasants). They love walks, and will happily jog alongside their owners, run along the beach and hike all day; and they excel at agility classes. Their affectionate nature makes them keen to please, and therefore easy to train – they love to please you, and to be praised for their cleverness.
No Cavalier has ever met a stranger. They will make friends with everybody, so they are no use as guard dogs (except from the burglar’s point of view; the Cavalier will happily help him remove all your furniture in return for a hug and a rubbed tummy). Wherever you are in the house, they will soon come and look for you, as they hate to be alone. When living with a Cavalier, two dogs are always better than one.
Care & Grooming
The Cavalier has a longish, silky coat which needs regular grooming. It’s a good idea to get your Cavalier used to being brushed at a young age, as their coats are prone to tangles which need to be removed. The feathers around the legs and feet are particularly liable to collecting seeds and small twigs during a walk, around which a large tangled knot of fur can easily form. The males tend to have slightly thicker and more luxuriant coats than the females.
Cavaliers are strong and healthy little dogs, but like many pure breeds, they are prone to certain hereditary weaknesses and diseases. New and effective medical testing is helping to eradicate these problems. To find out more about Cavalier health, go here.
Cavaliers should be given at least an hour’s walk every day. An unexercised Cavalier is prone to putting on weight, and more liable to other health problems too. Cavaliers love walks, and regularly exercised dog will happily walk 10 – 20 miles in a day. They are not the couch potatoes they are often assumed to be, although they love to curl up on a sofa, and cuddle with their owners. Unfortunately those owners too often fail to give them the exercise they need, making obesity a common health issue in the breed. But it’s not a breed problem, it’s an owner problem.
Cavaliers love their food, and are not usually fussy eaters. Given a good quality diet, they will eat what is given to them and enjoy it. A small puppy needs feeding 4 times a day, reducing to 3 times at 3 months and twice at 6 months. Adult Cavaliers can be fed once or twice a day, but the overall quantity should be the same. Don’t allow a 2 feed a day habit to lead to overfeeding. Treats should be given sparingly, and all the food offered should be intended for dogs. Giving dogs human food that is not meant for them is one of the easiest ways to make them fat and unhealthy.
Will You Enjoy Living With a Cavalier?
No-one has ever regretted the decision to add a Cavalier to their family. They are easy-going, adaptable, loyal and devoted companions, and as long as they have your love and your company, they will repay you a thousandfold. You will find that living with a Cavalier is one of the best decisions you ever made.