King Charles Spaniel vs Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

At a dog park, you might often hear the terms “King Charles” and “Cavalier” thrown around interchangeably. To the untrained eye, these two dog breeds might appear identical.

However, enthusiasts and breeders know that the King Charles Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, while closely related, have certain characteristics that set them apart.

So, if you’d like to delve into the differences between the King Charles Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and explore their physical attributes, intelligence, and temperament, you’re in for a treat.

King Charles Spaniel vs Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Overview

Due to their shared history and resemblance, it can be challenging to spot the differences between a King Charles Spaniel and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at first. However, distinct features differentiate the two breeds.

The King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel) is slightly smaller, with a dome-shaped head, a short nose, a flat face, and a docked tail, while the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a flatter head, a longer nose, and a typically undocked tail.

King Charles Spaniel vs Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comparison chart

Origins and History

King Charles Spaniel

The King Charles Spaniel, also known as the English Toy Spaniel, has a rich history that can be traced back to the 15th century. This breed was a favorite among royals, particularly King Charles II, after whom the breed was named.

These charming dogs were bred primarily as lap dogs. Their purpose was to provide companionship and to keep their owners warm by sitting on their laps. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on the other hand, has a more recent history. This breed was developed in the 1920s in an effort to recreate the appearance of the original King Charles Spaniel.

Dog enthusiasts were concerned that the breed would lose its historical appearance due to excessive breeding for specific traits, like a flatter face. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel shares many similarities with its predecessor, including its friendly and affectionate nature.

Related Article: Cavalier vs Maltese

Physical Characteristics

King Charles Spaniel

The King Charles Spaniel is a smaller breed characterized by its unique dome-shaped head and large, round, dark eyes. They have a distinct appearance due to their short nose and slight underbite. 

Their ears are long and feathered, framing their face and providing a sense of elegance. They sport a silky, smooth coat that can be found in variations of black and tan, ruby, Blenheim, and tricolor. You’ll notice their fur can be wavy or slightly curly but always appears well-groomed.

You’ll also find that King Charles Spaniels have a compact, sturdy body with a distinctive domed head and long, silky ears.

Weighing between 10-15 pounds and standing 9-11 inches tall at the shoulders, their body is compact and slightly longer than tall. Additionally, their tail is often docked, giving them a clean appearance.

Cavalier King Charles

On the other hand, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, while still small, has a more balanced overall look. Their heads are flatter, complemented by slightly smaller, almond-shaped eyes, rendering a softer expression. 

Contrasting the King Charles, their nose is longer and they don’t have an underbite. These dogs also have long, feathered ears, but their expression leans more towards sporty than elegant, with a less rounded head and more subtle facial features. 

They weigh a few pounds more than the English Toy Spaniels on average (between 13-18 pounds) and stand slightly taller at 12-13 inches at the shoulders. Their coat, which is just as silky, tends to be more on the wavy side. Color-wise, they too can be found in black and tan, ruby, Blenheim, and tricolor.

One notable difference is their tail; the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel usually has a longer, undocked tail. This gives them a more natural and graceful appearance.

Temperament and Behavior

King Charles Spaniel

The English Toy Spaniel has a friendly and affectionate temperament. They enjoy spending time with their owners, crave human interaction, and are generally good with children and other pets, making them an excellent choice for families. 

Their playful nature means they adapt well to various types of environments, making them a great fit for city living or country homes.

Although King Charles Spaniels can be shy around strangers and may require some socialization to overcome their timid nature.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels share many of the same charming characteristics as their King Charles counterparts. They are known for their friendly and loving nature, thriving on human companionship. 

They get along well with children, other dogs, and even cats. However, they tend to be more outgoing and energetic than King Charles Spaniels. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to be great therapy dogs because of their gentle demeanor and ability to form strong bonds with people. Socialization is essential for this breed to ensure they are comfortable with new experiences.

Health and Lifespan

King Charles Spaniels have a life expectancy of 10 to 16 years. On the other hand, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a life expectancy of 9 to 14 years

They share many health concerns. Some of the common health issues include:

  • Heart conditions: Mitral valve disease is a common issue and is the leading cause of death in both breeds.
  • Eye problems: Regular eye examinations help identify and treat conditions like cataracts and dry eyes early.
  • Patellar luxation: This issue affects the dog’s knees, causing discomfort and mobility problems. Maintaining a healthy weight and providing joint supplements can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Syringomyelia: A neurological condition where fluid-filled cavities form within the spinal cord. Symptoms include scratching, pain, and weakness. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for this condition.
  • Hip dysplasia: A malformation of the hip joint affecting mobility. A healthy weight and regular low-impact exercise can help.

Care and Maintenance

King Charles Spaniel

When it comes to the King Charles Spaniel, a consistent routine of grooming, exercise, and a nutritious diet is essential. Their lustrous coat benefits from brushing at least three times a week, using a soft-bristle brush, to ward off mats and tangles. 

Gentle strokes work best. For a meticulous grooming experience, many opt for professional services every 6-8 weeks.

Ensuring they’re active daily, whether through walks or park escapades, not only keeps them lively but also curbs the risk of weight gain. Feeding them high-quality dog food and steering clear of human leftovers can make a huge difference in their health.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Switching gears to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, there’s a shared emphasis on regular grooming, movement, and quality nutrition. Their soft and lustrous coat also asks for grooming attention about three times a week

A slicker brush or a comb is apt for them. To maintain their coat’s health and appearance, professional grooming every 6-8 weeks is a smart choice.

Cavaliers, with their spirited nature, cherish their playtimes. A daily activity, which can include invigorating walks or fun-filled games like fetch, keeps them fit and happy. 

As for their meals, a diet rich in high-grade dog food is essential. Given their predisposition to gain weight, it’s crucial to keep an eye on their portions.


King Charles Spaniel

The King Charles Spaniel is known for its friendly and affectionate nature. It is also a fairly intelligent breed, though it might not be at the top when compared to other breeds. 

However, training sessions with your King Charles Spaniel should be enjoyable, as this breed loves to interact with their owners.

Although these dogs might not outperform some of the most intelligent breeds like Border Collies and Poodles, they can still excel at basic obedience and even participate in activities such as agility.

Cavalier King Charles

The intelligence level of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is quite similar to their King Charles Spaniel cousins, but they may have a slightly stronger drive to please their owners.

Cavaliers can be trained in basic obedience as well as more advanced activities. Despite not being the most intelligent dog breed in the world, they learn quickly and are able to pick up new skills when given the proper guidance.

Training and Exercise Needs

King Charles Spaniel

King Charles Spaniels are eager to please, which makes training relatively easy for them. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as praises and treats, and consistency are key.

They do not require extensive exercise but still enjoy daily walks or play sessions.

A brisk 30-minute walk is generally sufficient for their needs. Due to their hunting instincts, they love to explore and sniff around, so it’s essential to keep them on a leash during outdoor activities.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also enjoy pleasing their owners. The same methods, like gentle positive reinforcement, work best for training them. They have slightly higher exercise needs compared to English Toy Spaniels, however.

Daily walks of about 30 minutes to an hour or multiple shorter walks throughout the day will keep them stimulated and healthy. They also enjoy playing fetch, and off-leash time at a fenced yard or dog park can enrich their lives.

Just like their King Charles Spaniel cousins, they should be monitored outdoors due to their hunting instincts. For an in-depth look, check out our detailed article on the exercise requirements of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Energy Level

King Charles Spaniel

The energy level of King Charles Spaniels is generally moderate. These dogs enjoy taking casual walks and engaging in short play sessions, but they also have a calm nature that allows them to adapt well to a more relaxed environment.

Socializing with other dogs or family members can help keep their energy levels stimulated.

However, as is the case with every animal, individual energy levels can vary. Factors such as age, health, and personal temperament will influence King Charles Spaniel’s energy levels.

Cavalier King Charles

On the other hand, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel also has a moderate energy level, but slightly higher than the King Charles Spaniel. They are a bit more active, enjoying longer walks, playing fetch, and engaging in various activities.

Like the King Charles Spaniel, factors such as age, health, and temperament can influence their energy levels. However, since both breeds are quite adaptable, their energy often aligns with the activities of their owners.


The initial cost of purchasing a King Charles Spaniel can range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on factors like the breeder, location, and the dog’s lineage. Being slightly more popular, the price of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel typically ranges between $1,800 and $3,500, although those from champion bloodlines can be even more expensive.

Keep in mind, however, that the initial cost is just the beginning. You should also factor in regular expenses such as food, toys, supplies, grooming, and routine veterinary care.

Some additional costs you may encounter include:

  • Vaccinations and health checks
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Training classes or professional assistance
  • Insurance or emergency funds for unexpected veterinary expenses

King Charles Spaniel vs Cavalier: Which One is Better?

Deciding between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the King Charles Spaniel is akin to comparing two equally cherished works of art: the choice hinges largely on personal taste. Both breeds are rooted in rich histories and have been favored companions among many famous and royal people around the world.

According to the AKC in 2022, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels enjoy a tad more popularity, ranking 14th in the list of most popular dog breeds, while English Toy Spaniels are further down the list at 134th. When it comes to temperament, both breeds are affectionate and crave companionship, but Cavaliers might have a dash more energy. Health concerns are relatively similar, with slight variations in lifespan.

Ultimately, the decision boils down to one’s lifestyle, aesthetic preference, and the kind of bond one seeks with their four-legged friend. Whichever you choose, both Spaniels promise a world of joy, loyalty, and affection.

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