Grooming your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel isn’t difficult. A little care on a regular basis will keep your Cavalier’s coat silky and shiny. Regardless of the color of your Cavalier’s coat, these simple grooming principles will guide you through the process.
Caring for Cavalier Puppies
It can take a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy six months to a year or more to grow into their long, luxurious coat. Thus, puppies need very little grooming. Your job is to help prepare your dog to be at ease and enjoy grooming sessions as an adult dog.
Introducing grooming to your Cavalier should be a gentle process. While holding your puppy, begin by moving your hands over your Cavalier’s body with an easy light touch. Gently using your fingers to massage each of your puppy’s toes will pave the way for clipping your dogs nails later. Over time, your puppy will become more and more comfortable having you hold his paws.
For puppies, a soft bristle brush is likely to be the only tool you’ll need for grooming. You may choose to use a grooming glove, as well, with a light massaging action.
As your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s coat lengthens, expand your collection of grooming tools to include a metal comb (ideally with two different size teeth) to help with snarls and tangles, a pin or slicker brush for your dog’s body, and eventually a de-shedding tool. With each new tool, give your pet a chance to see and smell the item, and begin using it in short sessions until your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel understands there is nothing to fear.
Safety comes first
It’s important to find a safe place for grooming your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This depends largely on your dog’s age and how familiar he is with your grooming ritual. Puppies in particular may squirm around or make a sudden jump while being groomed.
If you decide to lift your dog to your standing height (e.g. to a table top or kitchen counter top), secure your Cavalier with a tether to protect against possible injury should they pull away or try to jump down. Though it’s perhaps less comfortable for the owner, it may be safer to sit on the floor to groom your Cavalier.
A Typical Grooming Approach
To prevent hurting your dog and damaging his beautiful coat, make sure your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is completely dry before grooming your dog. Wet or sticky knots of fur are especially difficult to work through.
The general approach is to begin with a pin or slicker brush, making short strokes at the very tips of your Cavalier’s fur. As long as you don’t feel any resistance from tangled fur, then take progressively longer sweeps with the brush. Once you’re confident the brush moves easily through your Cavalier’s coat, you can use a comb for the final finishing strokes.
For the average pet owner, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to groom your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s coat. It may be best to begin with your dog in the “sit” position, brushing out the fur on the chest and then down his back, before your dog relaxes into his “massage,” by lying down. Laying your Cavalier down on his side, you can easily brush his stomach, under his legs and the long feathering of his legs. Hold the long plume of tail feathers out of the way until you’ve brushed or combed out the fur along his hind quarters.
The famously long and lustrous ears of your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will generally require an extra gentle touch. Turn the ear over on to your dog’s shoulder and begin by brushing the ends of the inside of the ear, and gradually moving closer to your pet’s head. Turn the ear over and follow the same approach for the outside of the ear. This is also a perfect time to clean your Cavalier’s ears.
If your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s coat needs further thinning, run a deshedding brush over your pet after you have thoroughly brushed and combed your dog’s coat.
Snarled and Matted Fur
The hardest part of grooming your Cavalier King Charles will be dealing with snarled or matted fur. It’s not unusual for their fur to become tangled under their ears, in the feathering of their chests or under the tail. Regular grooming is the best prevention against these difficulties as brushing removes dirt from your pet’s coat and distributes their skin’s natural oils throughout their coat.
When you do encounter a snarl or matted fur, set the brush aside and begin by trying to ease the knotted hair apart with your fingers. If you find it necessary to use your metal comb, begin with the widest teeth and hold the comb as you would a knife. Slowly, pull a few strands of hair out of the knot a little at a time until you can free the tangle.
If you find mats under your Cavalier’s ears, in particular, this is a good time to clean your pet’s ears. Ear wax and dirt make snarls more likely to occur. Wet a cotton ball with a safe, non-alcohol-based ear cleaner to remove dirt from your pet’s ear canal. (I always used Life’s Abundance Ear Care Formula to clean Bentley’s ears.) You may also use the ear cleaner for the fur around the ear.
To Shave or Not to Shave
Many pet owners (myself included) believe a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s cost should never cut or shaved aside from clipping fur between the foot pads. Other owners like to shave their Cavaliers’ costs in warmer weather. Bentley was never professionally clipped as my neighbor’s Cavalier sported a thick curly coat after been shaved every summer. However, unless you’re planning to show your Cavalier, it’s strictly a matter of personal preference.