Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - breed information and advice

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are renowned for their sweet natures. They are a devoted, affectionate and easily pleased breed, as their permanently wagging tail shows. They come in four different colours and are as happy out on a walk as sitting at home in front of a fire.

Breed information


Size: Small

Coat: Silky and smooth, but very low maintenance

Exercise: Up to an hour a day for adult dogs

Life span: Very variable, but often 8-12+ years

Breed group: Originally bred to amuse their owners and look beautiful, Toy dogs are usually small, attractive and extremely faithful, making them charming, loyal companions.

Click on the hotspots illnesses seen in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


King Charles Spaniels can suffer from a disorder called syringomyelia. This is caused when a deformity of the bones in the dog’s skull presses on the spinal cord as it leaves the head. Fluid gathers around the spinal cord and causes pain and a tingling sensation, which leads to unusual symptoms such as scratching the air or chasing imaginary flies. Unfortunately, this condition is serious and treatment is limited, although dogs that are diagnosed early do best.


We paid £2,982 to treat Archie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for syringomyelia in 2016

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Eye conditions

Eye problems can be very common in dogs. Dry eye, for example, occurs when a dog isn’t producing sufficient tears. Another common, painful eye irritation is corneal ulceration, which occurs when the surface of the cornea becomes grazed as a result of scratches from other animals or vegetation, foreign material in the eye, chemicals, heat or smoke, or infection. ‘Cherry eye’ occurs when the tear production gland pops out from inside the lower eyelid. Although this isn’t a painful condition, it looks unsightly and will interfere with tear production if it is left untreated. Overall, treatment depends on the type and severity of eye problem (cherry eye, for example, requires surgery). Some treatments may be required for life to keep the dog’s vision in good health.


In our experience, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are twice as likely to need treatment for eye conditions than
all dogs we insure

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Gum disease

Gum disease occurs when some (or all) of a tooth’s deep supporting structures become inflamed. This begins when food, bacteria and minerals accumulate along the gum line, leading to the build-up of a brown scale known as tartar. When this undermines the gum the condition is called gingivitis. Eventually, small spaces can form between the gums and the teeth creating pockets of space for bacteria to grow, resulting in what is known as periodontal disease. The bacteria from infected gums can spread around the body and damage the liver and kidneys. This condition can be prevented by brushing the teeth and ensuring dental descales, helping the dog to lead a normal, pain-free life.


We paid £2,323 to treat Jelly Bean the dog for a mouth disorder in 2016

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Slipped discs

Like several other breeds with long backs and short legs, King Charles Spaniels are susceptible to slipped discs, also known as ‘intervertebral disc disease’. This occurs when the discs between the vertebrae (backbones) become damaged and brittle with age or general wear and tear. This makes the discs prone to rupturing, moving (‘slipping’) and pressing against the spinal cord itself. Treatment depends on the cause and location of the problem but may include medication, rest and possibly even surgery to help the dog live a comfortable life.


We paid £3,501 to treat Bobby the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for disc problems in 2016

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Heart disease

Heart disease in dogs is classified as either congenital heart disease (which means ʻborn with itʼ) or acquired heart disease (which means the disease develops later in life). Both of these defects can lead to a state called ʻheart failureʼ, wherein the heart struggles to pump blood around the body. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are particularly prone to valve disease, which often leads to heart failure. Early diagnosis of heart problems is key, because if they progress to the ʻheart failureʼ stage, treatment will then be needed for the rest of the dogʼs life.


In our experience, heart problems are the most common illnesses in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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