In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

Are you looking for a smallish dog with a sweet, loving personality and a joy for life? Then the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is for you. Cavaliers were bred to be companion dogs although they do belong to the spaniel group which are hunting dogs. Their origins can be traced back to 16th century England’s Toy Spaniel, the lap warmers for the royal ladies. It was during Charles II’s reign beginning in 1660 that the Toy Spaniel was dubbed the King Charles Spaniel. When Queen Mary I was on the throne in the late 1600s, she favored the Pug and Japanese Chin, and she bred them with the King Charles Spaniel to achieve the shortened nose. These dogs became almost extinct by the 20th century but a man name Roswell Eldridge tried to resurrect the breed in the 1920s. The King Charles Spaniel was renamed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and officially recognized as an AKC breed in 1928.

Technically a toy breed, Cavaliers should weigh between 13 and 20 pounds but with the questionable breeding of backyard breeders and puppy mills, you’ll often see Cavaliers that are quite a bit larger. They are characterized by their gentle nature, adoring gaze and a tail so happy that it wags their whole rear end. They love people and thrive on companionship. They really are lap dogs! Aggression is rare in Cavaliers but, again with questionable breeding, you may find one with issues. Cavaliers love to follow their people around from room-to-room and will make you feel very loved in their devotion. If not socialized with other people at an early age, that loving trait can turn to clinginess and manifest in separation anxiety. As with all dogs, early exposure to people, animals, and places is so important.

Although they can be content to sleep all day, they still have hunting instincts. They will bark at and chase small prey such as rabbits and squirrels. A fenced yard is important as well as ensuring they stay on leash when out for walks. Because of their hunting ancestry, Cavaliers require daily exercise but not nearly as much as their larger hunting dog counterparts such as Labs and Golden Retrievers. A daily walk or two is desirable. They also love to play. So, a nice mix of naps, play, walks, and loving time would make any Cavalier happy!

Most Cavaliers are not yappy and wired up like so many small dogs, making them all the more attractive as pets for families or singles. They will adapt to any situation. Because they are so loving and eager to please, they are usually easy to train.

If I had to choose a breed to recommend to people, it would be the Cavalier. They are a well-balanced dog – nice temperament yet not too demanding and good for any family situation.