Cavalier King Charles Spaniels...

sillysally

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#1
I just got back from the benched IKC show in Chicago and met some Cavaliers I was quite taken by. There was one that would go to agility at a place we've taken classes but other than that I have very little experience around them.

What are people's thoughts on and experiences with the breed?
 

Whisper

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#2
I've only met two, so I don't have much to offer, but both of them were incredibly sweet to everybody and very in tune with their owners.
Unfortunately the male I met had chronic ear infections. I don't know how much of that is a breed thing, though.
Overall in my albeit limited experience, they're gentle, listen quite well, and while they're bright, cheery little dogs, they're also kind of low-key in what level of exercise they need.
Honestly, I'm considering a CKCS for when I need a dog who's a bit less intense than say, Fable. :p
 
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#3
They're so, so sweet. I've never met one that didn't love everyone. But man, they can be a heartbreaker as far as health goes.
 

Whisper

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#4
The health problems kill me. :( I've even read somewhere that when you bring a Cavalier home to try to have a certain amount of savings for vet bills (and no, not vaccinations and stuff). :/
 

BostonBanker

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#5
I have friends who breed them, and holy cow am I in love with their dogs. They are sweet as sugar with people; all their dogs, including their intact ones, can be loose together; none are reactive to outside dogs that I've seen. They run agility with several of their dogs, and are very competitive in their height classes, but they are very willing to admit that snuggling on the couch is pretty much what their dogs like best.

You do have to be careful with health stuff, but my understanding is that the life expectancy of the breed is increasing. One of their dogs is still running very well at 9, and I was just reading about one (not theirs) that just retired from agility at 12 due only to deafness.

After getting to know these dogs, I would not be shocked if at some point in my life I wind up with one. They just seem like the perfect house pet.
 

Laurelin

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#6
Sweet sweet dogs but so prone to severe health problems. The cavalier memorial sections of their forums are just heartbreaking.

I have known some who lived long lives but I'm not sure how common that is.
 

Sekah

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My agility instructor breeds/competes with them, and they're very competitive - not just in their height class, but overall too. I have a friend who also does agility with hers (despite being from a less [read: not at all] performance-oriented breeder) and just rocketed up to Masters level once she worked the initial motivation kinks out. They're generally sweet dogs. I've met a few who are kind of asses, but they're overall good dogs. I know a few folks who've gotten mean-spirited CKCs and they weren't equipped to deal with them. I feel that the audience who is primarily attracted to the breed is not prepared or willing to deal with the odd behavioural issues that crop up.

Their health is pretty much just a disaster.
 

Zoom

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#9
I ADORE these little dogs. We had a ton of them come into daycare and such and they are always some of my favorites. I nearly got one myself, but then Virgo came back home instead. The health issues are tremendous but there is progress being made! We had one old girl named Molly who was 9 or 10, which for a Cav is tremendous.

I still may end up with one someday; they're my "old lady" dog choice, lol.
 

Laurelin

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#10
When I asked the breeder I was talking to about health he gave an *extensive* list of things he tests for-it's amazing that a dog that small could have so much go wrong with it.
The breed was founded on 6 individuals. There is no genetic diversity.

Just for the record papillons are much healthier and the same 'family' of dogs. The foundation dog for cavaliers was half papillon.
 

crazedACD

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#11
They're generally sweet dogs. I've met a few who are kind of asses, but they're overall good dogs. I know a few folks who've gotten mean-spirited CKCs and they weren't equipped to deal with them. I feel that the audience who is primarily attracted to the breed is not prepared or willing to deal with the odd behavioural issues that crop up.

Their health is pretty much just a disaster.
I have found the same...a lot are very mild, chill, happy and friendly dogs. A few I've met were very.. (pardon this description) but obnoxiously OMG OMG type dogs :p kind of frantic in general.

Also, on the health...I don't know if this is still relevant, but a website is maintained on MVD in cavs...
Degenerative mitral valve disease (MVD)* is the leading cause of death of cavaliers. It is a highly-heritable, polygenetic acquired heart disease which, statistics show, afflicts over half of all cavalier King Charles spaniels by age 5 years and greater than 90% by age 10+ years, should they survive that long.
That sucks :(.
 

Sit Stay

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#12
I want a Cav so badly - my "plan" is that if I ever get up to three dogs, my third would have to be something easier going and smaller, and a Cav is at the top of my list.

I don't have extensive experience with the breed, but every one I've met has been extremely friendly, people oriented, and easy going. Just happy, happy little dogs. As others have said, the health issues are the one thing that makes me nervous about them.
 

Elrohwen

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#13
They're so, so sweet. I've never met one that didn't love everyone. But man, they can be a heartbreaker as far as health goes.
This. I would love one some day, but it's nearly impossible to find a line free from scary health issues.

They are the sweetest dogs though. They seem to think their purpose in life is to make people happy.
 
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#14
I was looking into them a while ago, since a friend of mine had two that I absolutely adored - they are sweet, sweet dogs, very biddable and happy. The health issues made me turn away, though - mitral valve disease and syringomyelia are the major ones, I believe.
 

Laurelin

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#15
They are the sweetest dogs though. They seem to think their purpose in life is to make people happy.
That is Summer's temperament, too. And Nard and Beau and Rose- all with varying amounts of energy. All four are very sweet, social, happy dogs.

Not saying everyone should get a papillon but in my opinion they're another option for people looking into small spaniel type personalities. They get forgotten about in the spaniel category a lot.
 

BostonBanker

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#16
The papillions I've known tend to be much higher energy by nature than the Cavs I've known. Granted, I haven't spent as much time around paps, so maybe that's incorrect? If someone like my parents were interested in getting a dog, I'd be very quick to recommend a Cavalier, but much more hesitant about a pap.

I know there are lines of Cavaliers that have zero family history of SM. The heart disease, from my understanding, is a matter of "when" (and how quickly it progresses) rather than "if".
 

Laurelin

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#17
The papillions I've known tend to be much higher energy by nature than the Cavs I've known. Granted, I haven't spent as much time around paps, so maybe that's incorrect? If someone like my parents were interested in getting a dog, I'd be very quick to recommend a Cavalier, but much more hesitant about a pap.

I know there are lines of Cavaliers that have zero family history of SM. The heart disease, from my understanding, is a matter of "when" (and how quickly it progresses) rather than "if".
I would say on average that is true. I find paps a little sharper and higher in energy/more exciteable than most spaniels. That said there's a lot of variety in temperaments in papillons. Rose is super mellow. Bernard is very chill/zen too as was Harry. Beau and Summer are high energy but very happy, friendly with everyone dogs and still incredibly biddable. Summer is deceptive though- she can appear to be insanely high energy in public, especially at agility. At home she is very easy and always has been. Mia's do happen obviously in the breed but she's an extreme. Most are a lot more like a Summer, Beau, or Nard.

The main downside is size. Paps are smaller and finer boned.

Paps, English toys, and cavs are all very closely related. I think English toys are just as bad off as cavs health-wise though. English/American cockers might be another breed to look at.
 

casey82

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#18
That is Summer's temperament, too. And Nard and Beau and Rose- all with varying amounts of energy. All four are very sweet, social, happy dogs.

Not saying everyone should get a papillon but in my opinion they're another option for people looking into small spaniel type personalities. They get forgotten about in the spaniel category a lot.

Totally off topic but, I see a Papillon some day in my future. I love sweet, sassy dogs with just a bit of edge. They are just too cool. I think cockers and paps would go well together.

P.S. if anyone has questions about cockers, especially American, feel free to ask. I can't say enough good things about my dog.
 

Whisper

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#19
Might not be a popular opinion, but maybe they should be outcrossed for more genetic diversity? I understand not wanting to take an established purebred and mix it (especially of course if you're involved in showing), but it could be in the dogs' best interest.
I don't know. Just a thought.
I'd get a papillon instead, but one of the things I like about Cavaliers is their size. Plus, they have much different energy levels, lol. Usually I really like drivey, intense dogs, but if I ever am looking to get a CKSS that won't be what I'm looking for. And I'm not interested in any other spaniels. Sigh. :/
 

Catsi

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#20
Oh I love them. They are sweet, fantastic little dogs and I could imagine having a lot of fun with one, dabbling in dog sports etc.

I'm not sure how to put this without making a sweeping generalisation, but I get the impression that they suffer a little from being an 'easy' breed. Obviously, their exercise requirements are different from a sporting/herding/working dog etc, but so many I know are overweight and possibly under-exercised. I suppose you see that with a lot of smaller dogs.

I've always thought they were sweet dogs, but I saw some at a show once that just blew me away. Same sweet disposition, biddable but athletic and clever at the same time. I've seen some lovely individuals doing agility as well.

Having said that... I'd not own one currently. From a health perspective. I wonder what breed/s you could potentially outcross too.
 

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