You’ve made the decision to welcome a puppy into your family, but how do you go about finding the perfect Cavalier King Charles Spaniel companion?
King Charles II adored these dogs, so much so that they were named after him. Cavaliers are renowned for being friendly, eager to please, plus they love people, get on well with other dogs and pets and crave human company. Although they are often considered to be ‘lap’ dogs (and they do love a cuddle when a lap becomes available), they are actually classed as gun dogs and are energetic, playful and like nothing better than chasing a ball.
Decisions to Make Before Buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Before you go and look at prospective puppies you need to consider how much time you will have to invest in him. Cavaliers are sociable and don’t like being home alone for long periods of time, so consider what you will do if you work all day and who will look after him when you go away. There’s also the cost of food, vets bills, and pet insurance.
Once you’ve decided that a Cavalier is the one for you, the first big decision, and one the breeder will ask, is do you want a male or female puppy. There’s not much difference between a dog or bitch Cavalier. Unlike other breeds, male Cavaliers are as affectionate as females and have similar temperaments. Unless you neuter your puppy the differences will mainly be dealing with the bitch going on heat and the dog marking his territory.
The next decision is color. Cavaliers come in four colors, Blenheim (tan and white), Tri-colour (black and white with tan markings), Black and Tan, and Ruby. Blenheim and Tri-colour are the most common colors, so depending on which color you prefer you may have to wait a while, particularly if you want one from a specific breeder.
Where to Buy Your Cavalier Puppy
It is always best to buy a Cavalier puppy from a reputable breeder, not from a pet shop or online. The UK Cavalier Club has a puppy register with details of regional contacts who will have a list of breeders with puppies available. The US and Canada have their own clubs. The advantage of buying a Cavalier puppy from a breeder registered with the Kennel Club is that a good breeder will test their Cavaliers for both heart and eye problems. Cavaliers can also suffer from syringomyelia (SM), a condition where a cyst can develop on the dog’s spinal cord causing sensitivity and sometimes neck and shoulder pain. Although there is no guarantee that your Cavalier won’t go on to develop SM or heart problems such as mitral valve disease (MVD), you will at least have peace of mind that your puppy has been bred from healthy parents.
What to Consider When Viewing Puppies
Make sure you visit the puppies in the breeder’s home and that you meet the Mum and if possible any extended family such as grandma, aunts, and cousins. It’s not always possible to see the father but you can always ask if the breeder has a photo and find out any information about him. You can also ask about heart and eye certificates on this visit.
Write a list of questions that you want to ask the breeder. It’s easy to forget to ask about vaccinations, worming and what they eat when you’re cuddling a six-week-old pup. It can be overwhelming meeting a litter of puppies for the first time. They will all be adorable, so how do you choose? If you specifically want a dog or bitch or a certain color then there may be only one suitable puppy – at least that will take away the agony of having to choose between them. But if there are a few? Find out as much information from the breeder about them, for example, which one is mischievous or dominant or playful and see if that helps you make your mind up. Choose the one that comes and plays with you rather than the one that runs away and hides.
Bringing Your New Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Home
At around eight-weeks-old Cavaliers are usually ready to leave their Mum and siblings and come and live with you, their new family. Before your new Cavalier comes home you will need to puppy proof your house. If possible confine your puppy to a small room such as the kitchen where there’s easy access to the garden if you have one. Be prepared and make sure you have bought him the essentials, such as a warm bed (vet beds are ideal), food and water bowls, a collar and lead plus the food the breeder has been feeding him with. He will also need a grooming kit and a couple of toys to play with, including ones you can stuff with his favourite food. It is also advisable to buy him a crate or cage, which will not only keep him safe at night and out of mischief, but it will be his own personal space.
Lastly, and most importantly, give your new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy lots of love, attention and cuddles, and you will end up with an adorable and faithful companion.
Dogs 101- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- The Cavalier Club – official website
- Authors own experience of buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy