What is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
The cavalier is a toy spaniel. They should range in weight between 13 and 18 pounds and be around 12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulders. Cavaliers have large, round, dark brown, eyes and long, silky “feathering” on their ears, legs, tails, and bellies. It is suggested cavaliers not be professionally trimmed in any way. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred to warm the laps of queens of England in drafty castles and on chilly carriage rides. They were with them day in and day out to keep them company while their husbands were at war also. While many other breeds of dogs no longer perform the tasks for which they were bred, cavaliers still take their responsibility quite seriously.
What health issues do Cavaliers face?
Cavaliers are basically a strong, outgoing, sturdy, little dog, with a few, but very important health concerns. The most serious health problem in the CKCS is Mitral Valve Disease (MVD). This is a problem with the left mitral valve of their heart. In this disease, the valve can thicken and degenerate, leading to congestive heart failure and eventually death. Although MVD is common in most toy breeds it is of particular concern in Cavaliers because it may have an unusually early onset with a more rapid progression of symptoms compared to other breeds. Unfortunately, MVD has been found in all blood lines and in Cavaliers from all countries. This is why conscientious breeders all over the world regularly check the health of their breeding stock for signs of early onset of this disease well before deciding to breed a particular pair. Our dogs receive a complete physical every year. We would never breed an unhealthy Cavalier.
While Cavaliers do not commonly have serious eye problems, like all mammals they can develop cataracts and other eye diseases. Careful breeders have their breeding dogs eyes checked annually as well, by a board certified ophthalmologist.
Another area of concern for the CKCS is luxating patellas. This is a condition when the knee is not stable and can cause lameness in the dog. Luckily Cavaliers with good bone and healthy parents generally are not a candidate for this problem. However, this can also happen when a puppy does an excessive amount of jumping as its little body is growing. Always protect your puppy and be very careful NOT to let your new puppy fall from or jump from high places.
Hip Dysplasia, which is a major concern for large breeds, is not often encountered when your Cavalier comes from a long line of healthy, well bred, cavaliers with good bone structure.
There is also this condition called syringomyelia. This disease occurs when a Cavalier is born with not enough room, in the space of the skull, that contains the brain. Damage is caused when fluid surrounding the brain is forced into the spinal cord. The most common symptom is scratching randomly for no apparent reason. Some start scratching in the air and while out for a walk when there is no visual reason to do so.
How are the color combinations in a litter produced?
I will try to give a brief explanation
When you breed a Blenheim to a Blenheim you always receive Blenheim puppies. The genetic make-up of a Blenheim is ee:ss. Blenheim is the easiest color genectic make-up for adult Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to reproduce as its said it is the “original” Cavalier color.
When you breed Blenheim to a Tri Color you can receive both Blenheim or Tri Color Puppies.
When a Blenheim is being bred to a Ruby which does NOT carry the white gene all the puppies will be ruby. Some potentially will have white “mis-marks”
When a Blenheim is being bred to a Ruby WITH the white gene then both Ruby and Blenheim colored puppies are possible and some white mismarking on the Ruby colored puppies is also possible.
When a Blenheim is being bred to a Black & Tan that does NOT carry the white gene then BOTH whole colors (ruby and black and tan) are possible. Some white mismarking is possible on the whole color puppies.
If the Blenheim is being bred to a Black & Tan that does carry the white gene then ALL FOUR COLORS are possible. There may be some white mis-markings on the whole color puppies.
*When you breed a Blenheim to a whole color (black/tan or ruby) the offspring will automatically carry the white gene giving the whole color offspring the ability to produce all 4 colors if bred to a Blenheim or tri color or if bred to another whole color that carries the white gene as well.
*Sometimes when you breed a Blenheim to a rich dark ruby you can greatly improve the rich dark red coloring in the Blenheim offspring.
** REMEMBER ** “Mis-Marks” are simply white fur on what AKC breed standard prefers to have been a color. Example: A black and tan dog with a white chest. This absolutely DOES NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM diminish the dogs quality. Nor is it a disqualification in the conformation ring. It is simply outside the breed standard and could potentially cost you some “points” if you were to seek an AKC Conformation title on said dog. A dogs genetic make-up is so much more than just the color and markings on the outside. Sooooooo Much More
Is the Cavalier the right breed of dog for me?
To put it quite simply, Cavaliers are “companion dogs” and they thrive on human companionship. Cavaliers have a calming effect on people. Stress reduction/relaxation can be noticeably felt when a CKCS curls up peacefully on your lap. That’s not to say most cavaliers can be extremely active. They have been known to excel in agility, coursing, and many other very active sports, BUT regardless of how you intend to spend your time with your Cavalier, they demand your love and attention. If you are a person that is not home very much they would NOT be the right breed of dog for you. They are extremely smart little dogs and really thrive as long as they are with “their people”
Should I get a male or a female?
If I were to only get one Cavalier, I’d choose a male. The old saying is “Females love you, but males are in love with you” I have found this to be true of every Cavalier I’ve ever known or owned. The males just tend to really adore their owners. The females are sometimes a little more aloof and love whomever they choose at that particular moment. Even if it is company who they’ve never met. It is a common misconception that male dogs have issues with dominance with their owners and other animals. With Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, it is the females that establish dominance hierarchies, and the males just go along with the flow and do as they’re told. Two female Cavaliers in the same household will generally have some issues with dominance, whereas two males will not. A one male one female will not have dominance issues either, as the female will run the house.
Are Cavaliers good with children?
Cavaliers are very passive dogs. They do not have 1 ounce of aggression in their body. This in itself makes them an ideal candidate for children. Their never ending loyalty, love and compassion make them an especially close friend and confidant for a child. They absolutely love to play with kids however; young children always need to be supervised to make certain that they don’t accidently hurt the puppy/dog.
Are Cavaliers suited for Senior Citizens?
Most definitely YES!! Retirees or empty nesters find the companionship, small size, temperament, unending love and devotion and the easy upkeep ideal. Having a Cavalier resting in your lap or in the crook of your arm is almost as peaceful as holding a sleeping baby. They give senior adults a wonderful reason to get up and get busy each morning. They are always up for a walk and are an undoubtedly wonderful conversation starters. People from all ages and all walks of life are very drawn to a sweet Cavalier. On the semi opposite spectrum, quite a few of our Cavaliers have “gone to college” Our daughter for one has taken her Cavalier to college. College students find it very east to keep their Cavalier in an apartment and travel with them wherever they go.
Do Cavaliers have any bad traits?
If you can call the undying desire to be with their people a bad trait, then they will for sure qualify for that. Just remember, what ever it is you’re doing, whether boating, flying, RVing, hiking, biking, lounging, whatever it is they will be extremely willing to please you as long as they are allowed to come along. Cavaliers truly adapt to ANY lifestyle. Also, you always need to be on the look out for their safety. Since Cavaliers are so trusting and friendly, they could easily be attacked by a large dog or injured by a child. They probably would just lay down and allow it to happen. Most Cavaliers love butterflies and small birds that fly by as well. That is the spaniel in them. You must always watch them very close so that they do not run out into traffic or harms way. There will be much more success in training a CKCS with positive reinforcement vs negative. Spanking or corporal punishment of any kind absolutely WILL NOT WORK for a cavalier king Charles spaniel. They take everything one does to them very personally and to heart. They absolutely will become very shy and submissive. One of the old family dog saying is “It will take 1000 attaboys to erase 1 encounter with physical abuse”
How much grooming does a Cavalier need?
Very Minimal! Their hair is just like silk. You do not have to worry about long hours of brushing to get mats or tangles out. That of course is assuming your cavalier lives inside your home with you and gets a quick weekly brushing. Cavaliers also do not shed over abundantly. Id describe them as moderate shedders. Females on the other hand do tend to shed a great deal when they come into their reproductive heat and have puppies. On average, we bathe our cavaliers about once a month. What ever you do, always ALWAYS make sure you pay special attention to their ears. Specifically the underneath and behind them, up close to where their ear is attached to their head. That area needs to be checked and brushed, preferably with a metal comb like we recommend on our “recommended supplies” page.
Do Cavaliers bark a lot?
Not at all. Cavaliers are not “guard dogs” in any sense of the word. They may let out a happy bark or 2 welcoming a car or visitor, but no they really are not yappy little dogs. Some go their entire lives never really having barked at all.
Do Cavaliers get along well with other animals?
Yes! Cavaliers tend to get along great with any and all other animals, including cats. They love everything and everyone! Their usual approach is from a crawl to get a sniff and a kiss and a hug with much patience until they are loved back. Keep this in mind, when you’re debating whether or not a cavalier is right for your family, not all animals are as accepting of others as the CKCS.
Do Cavaliers Travel Well?
Absolutely!! All types of people find it very easy and extremely pleasant to travel with their cavalier. Their strong desire to be with their owners makes them willing travelers. They love to ride in a car, RV, train, plane or boat. We live on a small farm and all of our Cavaliers ride on our ATV’s and you may even see one stroll by atop a horse with our oldest daughter. Their size, personality and quietness contribute to the ease by which they travel, not to mention they’re near always welcome any where that you take them. They’re very east on the eye, people are so drawn to them.
Are your Cavaliers Registered and what is meant by “limited registration?”
For sure, all of our adult dogs are AKC registered and some are dual registered with the CKCS Club as well. EVERY puppy we produce will be registered with either AKC registration or possibly both AKC and CKCS registration. Please do your research when contemplating adopting a dog from any breed/breeder. There are quite a few, not so honorable registries out there. It is not worth the headache and heartache in the end. Limited Registration simply means that that particular dog CAN NOT be bred. It must be spayed or neutered at the appropriate time as recommended by your vet or us/our vet. Most all of our puppies are sold with limited registration papers. We truly believe in leaving the breeding to the professionals. Our belief is, that the reason our countries animal shelters are over run by unwanted dogs and cats, is because pet buyers with really good intentions, fail to spay/neuter their dogs. This in turn leads to the neighborhood “tramp” getting to your beloved family pet, resulting in a litter of unwanted/unneeded puppies. Of which most start out at or end up at a shelter. We feel strongly that if every single pet buyer, the family looking for a companion dog and member of their family, would have their dog spayed or neutered, it would completely end the need for animal shelters across America.
How can I make sure I’m buying a healthy puppy?
The best way to get a healthy puppy, of any breed, is to do some research and only buy from a reputable breeder of their particular breed. While this will not 100% guarantee you a healthy, long lived dog, it will greatly improve your chances. These breeders are people that know their breed inside and out and spare no expensive at diligently preserving their breed. PLEASE DO NOT BUY A PUPPY AT A PET STORE OR FROM A PUPPY MILL!!!
What is a puppy mill?
A puppy mill is basically a puppy factory. Usually many breeds of dogs kept in inhumane conditions and are only for breeding. They are bred solely for profit and the breeding stock are most often kept in small cages their entire lives and stay pregnant/lactating year round. Sometimes breeding animals are sold and auctioned off to other puppy mills. Dogs who are no longer capable of breeding are put to death. Virtually NO health care of any kind is given to these animals and inbreeding runs rampant. Puppies from such conditions are often unhealthy and un-socialized, making them extremely timid and fearful their entire lives. The puppies from these places are sold to pet shops and at flea markets. You can learn more about puppy mills at http://nopetstorepuppies.com/ http://www.thepoppyfoundation.org/puppy%20Mill.htm
Why are Cavaliers so dern expensive? Well there are several reasons. First off, a reputable breeder of Cavaliers spends a great deal of money proving the quality of his stock in and out of the show ring and certainly on the annual health testing of his breeding dogs. Second, the average number of puppies in a litter of Cavaliers is only 3-4. The ethical breeding rules require that no female be bred before the age of two or after age seven and may not have more than 6 litters in her lifetime. Third, reputable breeders seek to breed their females to the best males possible, meaning we often spend well over $2000 just for the stud fee. That, of course, is just the very beginning. Females need extra vet care, food, whelping supplies, an emergency fund, etc.etc.etc. Most breeders always have a watchful eye out for a puppy they’d like to keep for their show/therapy program. Also, reputable breeders are VERY CONCERNED about the placement of those puppies they choose not to keep. In part because of the high price paid, we find very few Cavalier King Charles Spaniels being discarded to shelters or in neglectful homes needing rescue situations. Most responsible Cavalier breeders who are health testing, professionally training, and/or showing their breeding dogs typically charge between $2000 – $3000 for a pet quality puppy. Which is approximately what our puppies on limited registration are. Show potential puppies sale for much more. People can easily find a registered “Cavalier” for less at a puppy mill or from an irresponsible breeder, but even in the short term, that puppy will likely cost far more in immediate and certainly long term health care. Dogs from these types of situations typically don’t live as long or look like a Cavalier should look.
Why do Cavalier Breeders practically cross-examine their prospective puppy buyers?
A reputable Cavalier breeder is EXTREMLY concerned about the future of every puppy he/she breeds. The rules(thankfully) of ethics require that the breeder make every effort to insure that all their puppies go to the best, most suitable homes possible for the life of the dog. For example, the Cavalier is NOT a dog that should live outside. Therefore, the reputable breeder is going to question all prospective buyers very closely to determine whether the buyer intends to keep the dog inside with the family or wants more of an outdoor living type breed. Likewise, the Cavalier is a breed that HAS TO BE WITH ITS FAMILY most all of the time. The breeder will want to make sure that he is not placing a puppy in a home where everyone works, goes to school, etc. full time and the puppy would be alone all day every day. This type of situation would not work out well for a Cavalier. They do not thrive in this situation. Another breed may be suited for this family. Another thing, we specifically want, is a lifetime friendship with our new puppy parents. We are not in this for the here and now. We breed and place puppies for a lifetime and would like to keep in contact forever. This is one reason we offer “baby sitting” for the life of the dog that you adopt from Fourpines Cavaliers. We say, be glad that you are being grilled. It just means you are dealing with a good caring breeder who wants to make sure his puppy has a good FOREVER home and that the buyer is getting the right breed for his/her situation.
I want to buy a Cavalier to start breeding. Why can’t I get a breeder to sale me one?
If you have read the above FAQ, by now you will have realized that there is a great deal of commitment, dedication, and money involved in being a reputable Cavalier breeder and that well known, reputable, Cavalier breeders are very concerned about the welfare of their puppies. Breeders will, therefore, be extremely hesitant to risk selling a puppy with a non-restricted registration so that it can be breed later on. We want to keep these wonderful dogs out of the hands of the un-educated back yard breeder, who thinks you simply put two dogs together and make puppies. There is SO MUCH more to it than that. We CERTIANLY want to keep all Cavaliers out of the hands of puppy mills. If you really feel getting involved in breeding Cavaliers is right for you, then you are going to have to establish your credibility. This will mean you need to first get a Cavalier pet, join your local Cavalier Club, become active and known, volunteer to assist in shows, take handling classes and breeding seminars, etc. The best thing to do, which is what I did, is find a breeder you respect and ask to be mentored. It will take time, but if you are the “real deal” you will be entrusted with a show prospect (probably a male) If you show the dog to the best of its ability you could then be entrusted with a female to show and later breed. This of course is assuming it passes all health testing. It is a big, but wonderful goal and responsibility, that is well worth pursuing if you truly are serious. For the record, I adopted my first pet, Stella in February 2011. I had my first litter August 2015. It definitely takes dedication and time, but has been so worth the peaks and valleys of my journey. I will say, as long as I am of sound mind and body, I will have and be involved with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Do you have a puppy contract?
Indeed we do. My contract is written pretty simply and is very clear. The most important parts are – that you will most likely be buying a pet and will receive a restricted registration and that you will be REQUIRED to have that dog spayed or neutered before it reaches its first birthday AND send me proof of the neutering. The contract also provides that you cannot resale or even give the dog away under any circumstances without my written permission but that you will never have to worry about what to do with the dog if at ANY TIME and for ANY REASON you can no longer keep it. I will ALWAYS ALWAYS give it a home. I also guarantee my puppies from inherited congenital defects for the first twelve months of its life.
Do you keep a waiting list of buyers?
We do keep a very short waiting list IF AFTER we’ve had a proper interview, you have filled out our questionaire, and you are certain Brandy and Fourpines Cavaliers is your breeder of choice. After several conversations through email, I will make you your own folder within my email account. I will also add you to my “notebook” This little book is as important to me as sliced bread. Its actually just a composition notebook, but I keep highlighted information for each inquiry. Name, phone number, residing town, date inquired, preference for male or female, color prefrence, maybe a few other things. That away no one accidently gets left out or forgotten about. I don’t feel like I can always rely 100% on technology. It makes me nervous sometimes. Once we either have a litter on the ground or have a confirmed pregnancy through ultra-sound or X-ray by our reproductive DVM, we will send out an announcement. Simply stating we have/about to have a litter. When the puppies are about a week old, I will take a non-refundable deposit from you and your name will go on the official list to get a puppy from said litter in the order of- the date deposit is received. *** We absolutely love getting to know the people that will be part of our Fourpines Family in the future. In that, we often take advantage of multiple social media outlets. You are absolutely welcome and encouraged to follow us. My personal Facebook page is Brandy Overcash. We also have a FourpinesCavaliers Facebook page. Our Instagram page is kidsandcavs.
May I come to Fourpines and visit your dogs?
We welcome most visitors most of the time, but our home and our dogs are not for display and tours. If you have a deposit down with us, we can visit about setting up a “meet and greet” because getting to know our future forever families is very important to us. As is your new baby getting to know you. That being said, I do not like any of my newborn puppies to be exposed to outside germs, bacteria and possible diseases AT ALL before about 6 weeks old. ** We are working on doing a “puppy party” per Puppy Culture guidelines. With every PC litter we have. Possibly involving the families of each litter. There are many MANY details to think about and figure out before this can be an option, but we very much would like to make it a reality. Remember ALL of our dogs live inside of our private home.
What is the life expectancy of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
Cavaliers on average live to between 9-12 years. With some living 14+ Doing your research, taking very good care of your Cavalier and buying from a reputable breeder with puppies from well known, long lived ancestors will greatly increase the likelihood of getting a Cavalier who will live a long, healthy life.
Do you show your Cavaliers?
We do show our Cavaliers in AKC conformation. Although our passion is geared more towards therapy work with our dogs. From hospitals to nursing homes to children’s programs, we love to volunteer where the un-wavering love of a loyal, completely un-judge mental Cavalier is very much needed and very much appreciated.
How do you care for your dogs/puppies?
I am a stay at home wife and mother and spend pretty much 24 hours a day 7 days a week with our Cavaliers. I love every minute of it. I am very passionate about these little angel dogs. It of course is tons of work, but worth every minute of it. We do not mass produce Cavaliers. I will never over breed my dogs to meet the demands for my puppies. This is why we do keep a short waiting list. All of our dogs are kept in our home at all times. All of our puppies are whelped in my bedroom and remain there until they are three-four weeks old. Course they are handled daily from birth. Once they are walking good, can see and hear, and are thriving well, they graduate to the family living area where we continue important Puppy Culture and other socialization techniques. We also incorporate POSITIVE ONLY enrichment exercises, that they love. I want your new puppy to go home having heard as many sounds and been challenged to as many “obstacles” as possible. Your puppy will have its first distemper & Parvo inclinations at 9 weeks old and will possibly be ready to go to its new home 7 days after. We follow Jane Killion’s Puppy Culture protocols on this as well. No two puppies grow, learn or mature at the same pace. Their well being is absolutely our #1 concern and priority over anything else. If we feel a puppy needs to stay with us a little longer, it by all means will. Understand, by this time we will be in contact with its future forever family close to daily with updates and correspondence. I will ALWAYS be here if you need me for any reason what so ever. I stand behind my puppies their entire lives 100%.
Have your Cavaliers been house/potty trained?
Once our puppies have moved out of the nursery and into the living room pre-school, we set up a 12-16 foot by 10 foot area for them. It has designated areas throughout. There’s a sleeping area (crate with door removed)and a pet bed, an eating/drinking area, a play area, and a potty area. We use the puppy litter method for beginning potty training. You can read more about this method on several web-sites including animalplant.com, puppyculture.com, etc. It is really easy to do and they learn very quickly. Our end goal, of course, is to have them go potty outside 100% of the time. There are however going to be times when you have to be away from your puppy for several hours. This method will come in very handy in the future for those times. All of our adult dogs are completely house and crate trained. Being crate trained is crucial on many levels. From their safety to emergency situations, we fill it is a must. We also begin initial crate training them (alone for VERY short periods of time) while they are with us. We make it a positive experience with encouragement and high reward treats only.
Dogs will not use the bathroom in their crate unless they are left too long. A 9 week old puppy can only hold it for 2-3 hours at a time max during the day. Dogs are very clean by nature and prefer to never soil their den. At night and during the day it is extremely beneficial for your dog to willing go into his/her crate. If properly trained, they do not mind their crate. Ours enjoy the peace and quite sometimes. We also use a bell hung by the front door. Some of our adopters have found that bell training is the way to go when they are out of the crate. You simply hang any small bell, connected to just a short piece of ribbon or small rope, by the door and take the puppy’s nose or paw, tap the bell and say “lets go potty” or “lets go outside” Then take the puppy directly outside and to the area you’ve designated to be the potty area. Do this over and over every single time you take your puppy out to potty and don’t forget to take a treat when they’ve done a good job. Most of our adopters have reported it only takes few days of being home for them to start ringing the bell on their own. Have I mentioned how incredibly smart these little guys are?
Can I have my new puppy shipped to me?
No. We do not ship puppies alone, in cargo. We would however, be more than happy to meet you at DFW – Dallas Ft Worth International – airport with your new Cavalier puppy. He/She then will be able to fly back inside the cabin with you in a airline approved Sherpa bag, under your seat. This is usually very comparable if not less expensive than shipping them alone anyway. I have had several families (usually moms) meet me and it has been a very pleasant experience. I’m sure none of them would mind someone contacting them with any concerns.
Yes!!! Absolutely!! We highly recommend at least 1 full (6-9 weeks) puppy class for your new puppy at any accredited POSITIVE TRAINING, POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, POSITIVE LEARNING ONLY dog school. The socialization to new people and dogs in the first 12 – 13 weeks of life is one of the most important things you can do for your new puppy in its entire life. The window for imprinting is very short. You may contact your local AKC Cavalier Specialty Club and ask about recommended trainers in your area. Or research local small business/independent trainers who have a lot of experience and knowledge.
We also have taken our dogs to Petsmart, Petco, and even done a few private lessons there. The knowledge these positive reinforcement professionals have is priceless. They can help you in so many areas from simple potty training to learning tricks to possibly a more specific area such as therapy or guide/support services. PLEASE invest in your new puppies future and set them (and yourself) up for a long happy life together. Trust me you will be very glad that you did. **Great Caution should be given under any and all circumstances before puppy has had all of its vaccinations recommended by its new DVM for your area.