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The Cavalier is an unique toy spaniel. It is a solid little dog, a lot of dog in a small package. Temperament, head type and expression are essential, but so is structure and soundness of movement. When judging the Cavalier, please keep in mind that the Cavalier is to be shown in untrimmed and unsculpted state, tail wagging constantly, with a happy outgoing attitude. The gay, fearless, gentle and affectionate nature of the Cavalier is truly the quintessence of the breed.

The beginning sentence in our standard describes the Cavalier as " an active, graceful, well balanced toy spaniel, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate. They truly never have headaches. The Cavalier who is shy, fearful, timid or aggressive toward people or other dogs should never be considered for placement in the ring. Judges should expect to be greeted exuberantly; tails wagging and eyes shining. Cavaliers are to be shown on a loose lead both standing and gaiting.

The Cavalier should gait with its head up, wagging its tail the whole time. Never should a Cavalier skulk around the ring, lowering itself to the ground, tail tucked. The tail is to be in characteristic constant motion. Handlers should not kneel with the dogs, but allow the Cavaliers to stand freely and happily. Correct temperament is absolutely essential to breed type and should never be compromised. Bad temper, shyness, and meanness are not to be tolerated and are to be so severely penalized as to effectively remove the specimen from competition.

Nervous, shaking Cavaliers are the antithesis of what our breed is supposed to be; aggressive Cavaliers should never be seen. Incorrect temperament should never be rewarded. Head and Expression:. One can easily tell the temperament of a Cavalier by looking in the hallmark eyes.

How the Blenheim Cavalier Got Its Lucky Spot

Temperament and expression cannot be separated, for the soul of the Cavalier is evidenced in the large dark eyes essential to producing a soft, melting expression. Head type is the defining type in a breed. Without the head features, the Cavalier identity is lost. Making up the head are those large dark, soulful eyes. They are vital and must be retained as they are the key to the gentle warmth of expression that only a spaniel manages to capture and are what most people cannot resist.

A small eye can totally destroy the expression. Everything about a Cavalier head should be soft and gentle. The expression and eyes contribute to a good head. The head should be generous and glamorous--proportionate in size to the dog, neither too big nor too little for the body. The back skull is rather broad and although slightly rounded will appear flat because of the high placement of the ears. In puppies, the skull may appear quite rounded and the earset low until the head "breaks" and gains the proper proportions of the adult head.

The head of a Cavalier may sometimes go through drastic developmental changes from puppyhood to adulthood, sometimes losing the correct proportions. Never, however, no matter how off the head is developmentally at the moment, should the expression appear hard or mean.

The large round eyes should be spaced well apart, hence the necessary broad skull. There should be just the right amount of fill under the eyes to give the necessary soft, gentle expression. The cushioning under the eyes must be enough to prohibit snipiness but not too much to suggest coarseness. The cushioning is under the eyes, not on the cheek pads which will exaggerate the head making it appear coarse.

The muzzle itself should be padded in the lips to increase the look of softness, but never lead to houndiness. Lips, ideally black, should never be pendulous, but should gently curve into a neat finish to the muzzle, just covering the lower jaw which should have a definite, but certainly not protruding underchin. Without a definite underchin, the muzzle just falls away.

Eye rim pigment and nose should be black. Flesh marks on the nose may be seen in young dogs but should fill in completely making the nose uniformly black. A black nose and eye rims are essential to correct expression. Many blenheims and rubies have noses that go off a bit in winter or when in season for bitches.

A winter nose is easily distinguishable from poor pigment. Look at the eye rims to see the real pigment--they should be black. The standard calls for a scissors bite in a Cavalier. At this point a level bite is not considered a fault. Undershot mouths are considered a fault and in my opinion should really not be rewarded in the ring. At one point, the Cavalier and the English Toy Spaniel were one breed; the English Toy influence can still be seen in very short noses and undershot mouths. Cavalier bites can change up to three years of age; it is very frustrating for the breeder to see a good mouth go off and a undershot mouth go right in the most beautiful, neutered Cavalier in a pet home.

Don't fault mouths too much in a puppy as the bite may change daily, but the scissors bite is ideal and is strongly encouraged; undershot is strongly discouraged. The stop is moderate, neither shallow nor deep. Some of the whole colors may appear to have more abrupt stops with a more defined, extreme brow. The brow should never be so filled as to give a "planet of the apes" look. Moderation is the key.


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Markings greatly influence the way the contours of the head appear. One must look past markings and color to assess the properties of the head. It is very difficult to describe the absolutely correct stop as different bloodlines contribute to different appearing stops. Again, the stop is moderate with the eyes placed mid way between the top of the skull and the bottom of the jaw. The ears are set on high, but never close on the head. When alert the ears fan forward framing the face and adding to the flat appearance of the skull.

The ear leathers ideally should be long enough to reach the tip of the nose and should be well feathered and long. Dogs are presently being exhibited with bell shaped ears, perfectly rounded on the bottom, moussed into a perfect "doo," and looking totally wrong for the natural Cavalier. The eyes of the Cavalier are truly the distinguishing feature of the head. The eyes are large, round, dark brown, never light or black, and lustrous. The Cavalier expression can be described as endearing, charming, appealing, loving, sweet, melting.

Expression is so important. Many Cavaliers are finishing their championships without the correct essential expression. The shape of the head, the temperament, and the eyes form the expression that is unlike any other breed's. The large eyes of the Cavalier are enhanced by the dark eye rims, making the eyes appear even larger. White in the corners should not be faulted if the sweet expression is not affected. Dark scleras and third eye lids are bonuses and enhance the eyes.

White rings surrounding the eyes themselves give a startled look and are to be faulted as are light eyes which give a foreign expression. Cavaliers are active and sporting. Cavaliers are successful in conformation shows, obedience and agility and they also make wonderful therapy dogs due to their sweet, gentle natures. They have an instinct to chase most things that move including vehicles on busy streets, and so most Cavaliers will never become "street-wise".


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Spaniels have a strong hunting instinct and may endanger birds and small animals. However, owners have reported that through training their Cavaliers live happily with a variety of small animals including hamsters and gerbils. The Cavalier's coat requires weekly brushing, but no trimming. Cavaliers can notably be prone to mitral valve disease , which leads to heart failure.

How the Blenheim Cavalier got its Lucky Spot

This appears in many Cavaliers at some point in their lives and is the most common cause of death. Some serious genetic health problems, including early-onset mitral valve disease MVD , the potentially severely painful syringomyelia SM , hip dysplasia , luxating patellas, and certain vision and hearing disorders are health problems for this breed. This is known as the founder effect and is the likely cause of the prevalence of MVD in the breed.

Nearly all Cavaliers eventually have mitral valve disease , with heart murmurs which may progressively worsen, leading to heart failure. This condition is polygenic affected by multiple genes , and therefore all lines of Cavaliers worldwide are susceptible. It is the leading cause of death in the breed. The next most common causes are cancer It is rare for a year-old Cavalier not to have a heart murmur. The "hinge" on the heart's mitral valve loosens and can gradually deteriorate, along with the valve's flaps, causing a heart murmur as blood seeps through the valve between heartbeats then congestive heart failure.

The Cavalier is particularly susceptible to early-onset heart disease, which may be evident in dogs as young as one or two years of age. Veterinary geneticists and cardiologists have developed breeding guidelines to eliminate early-onset mitral valve disease in the breed, but it is unclear if a statistically significant number of breeders follow these guidelines. Syringomyelia SM is a condition affecting the brain and spine, causing symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis.

It is caused by a malformation, commonly known as Chiari Malformation, in the lower back of the skull which reduces the space available to the brain, compressing it and often forcing it out herniating it through the opening into the spinal cord. This blocks the flow of cerebral spinal fluid CSF around the brain and spine and increases the fluid's pressure, creating turbulence which in turn is believed to create fluid pockets, or syrinxes hence the term syringomyelia , in the spinal cord.

Symptoms include sensitivity around the head, neck, or shoulders, often indicated by a dog whimpering or frequently scratching at the area of his neck or shoulder. Scratching motions are frequently performed without actually making physical contact with the body "air scratching". Scratching typical of SM is usually worse when the dog is wearing a collar, is being walked on leash, or is excited, and first thing in the morning or at night. Not all dogs with SM show scratching behavior. Not all dogs who show scratching behavior appear to be in pain, though several leading researchers, including Dr Clare Rusbridge in the UK and Drs Curtis Dewey and Dominic Marino in the US, believe scratching in SM cavaliers is a sign of pain and discomfort and of existing neurological damage to the dorsal horn region of the spine.

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If the problem is severe, there is likely to be poor proprioception awareness of body position , especially with regard to the forelimbs. Clumsiness and falling results from this problem.

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Progression is variable though the majority of dogs showing symptoms by age four tend to see progression of the condition. PSOM can present similar symptoms but is much easier and cheaper to treat. Neurologists give scanned dogs a signed certificate noting its grade.

Episodic Falling causes "exercise-induced paroxysmal hypertonicity" meaning that there is increased muscle tone in the dog and the muscles cannot relax. Previously thought to be a muscular disorder, it is now known to be neurological. EF is caused by a single recessive gene, and a genetic test is available. Although EF is often misdiagnosed as epilepsy, which typically results in loss of consciousness, the dog remains conscious throughout the episode. Episodes can become more or less severe as the dog gets older and there is no standard pattern to the attacks.

The onset of symptoms usually occurs when a dog is between 4 months and 4 years of age. Dogs with whole coloured coats were more likely to be affected than dogs with parti-coloured coats. As many as half of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may have a congenital blood disorder called idiopathic asymptomatic thrombocytopenia , an abnormally low number of platelets in the blood, according to recent studies in Denmark and the United States.

Platelets, or thrombocytes, are disk-shaped blood elements which aid in blood clotting. Excessively low numbers are the most common cause of bleeding disorders in dogs. The platelets in the blood of many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a combination of those of normal size for dogs and others that are abnormally oversized, or macrothrombocytes.

Macrothrombocytosis also is a congenital abnormality found in at least a third of CKCSs. These large platelets function normally, and the typical Cavalier does not appear to experience any health problems due to either the size or fewer numbers of its platelets. Hip dysplasia is a common genetic disease that affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

It is not present at birth but develops with age. Hip dysplasia is diagnosed by X-rays, but it is not usually evident in X-rays of Cavaliers until they mature. Even in adult spaniels with severe hip dysplasia, X-rays may not always indicate the disease. The worst affected breeds were the Bulldog , Pug and Dogue de Bordeaux.

Cavaliers can be subject to a genetic defect of the femur and knee called luxating patella. This condition is most often observed when a puppy is 4 to 6 months old. In the most serious cases, surgery may be indicated. The grading system for the patella runs from 1 a tight knee , to 4 a knee so loose that its cap is easily displaced. If a cavalier has a grade 1—2, physical rehabilitation therapy and exercise may reduce the grading and potentially avoid surgery.

The grades 3—4 are most severe where surgery will most likely be needed to correct the problem to avoid the development of arthritis and lameness in the limb. A disorder commonly found in Cavaliers is keratoconjunctivitis sicca , colloquially known as "dry eye". The usual cause of this condition is an autoimmune reaction against the dog's lacrimal gland tear gland , reducing the production of tears.

According to the Canine Inherited Disorders Database, the condition requires continual treatment and if untreated may result in partial or total blindness. Primary Secretory Otitis Media PSOM , also known as glue ear, consists of a highly viscous mucus plug which fills the dog's middle ear and may cause the tympanic membrane to bulge.

PSOM has been reported almost exclusively in Cavaliers, and it may affect over half of them. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be predisposed to a form of congenital deafness, which is present at birth, due to a lack of formation or early degeneration of receptors in the inner ear, although this is relatively rare.

In addition, more recent studies have found Cavaliers that develop a progressive hearing loss, which usually begins during puppyhood and progresses until the dog is completely deaf, usually between the ages of three and five years. The progressive nature of this form of deafness in Cavaliers is believed to be caused by degeneration of the hearing nerve rather than the lack of formation or early degeneration of the inner ear receptors. An urban legend claims that Charles II issued a special decree granting King Charles Spaniels permission to enter any establishment in the UK, [55] [56] overriding "no dog except guide dogs" rules.

A variant of this myth relates specifically to the Houses of Parliament. We are often asked this question and have thoroughly researched it. A spokesman for the Kennel Club said: "This law has been quoted from time to time. It is alleged in books that King Charles made this decree but our research hasn't tracked it down.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Dog breed. Further information: Mitral valve disease. Further information: Syringomyelia. American Kennel Club. Retrieved 30 January The Veterinary Journal. Veterinary Journal;; 3 Archived from the original on 17 November Retrieved 17 November Neville Retrieved 29 November Retrieved 26 November Archived from the original on 22 April Retrieved 15 November Charming Cache Cavaliers.

Retrieved 30 November Retrieved 5 April The Kennel Club. Cities Page 3". Archived from the original on 18 February Cities Page 1".

Blenheim Cavalier King Charles

Cities Page 5". Australian National Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 29 March Archived from the original on 9 October