Different dogs: King Charles are not Cavaliers

Article about the difference between King Charles and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
By Laure-Anne Viselé, June 2010

I am often surprised to see that that a lot of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels owners think it is the same breed as King Charles Spaniels. Dog geek that I am, I had to do some research. Here is what I found out:

Confusion all around

Even the professionals get confused, it seems. According to cavaliers.co.uk, “The media often incorrectly describes most Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the press as being King Charles Spaniels.” Even vets get frequently confused, according to cavaliers.co.uk, occasionally going as far as suggesting that a perfect King Charles is a faulty Cavalier. In extreme cases, this can result in misdiagnoses and unnecessary surgical procedures such as:

  • unnecessary surgery for fused toes
  • incorrect hydrocephalus diagnosis (because the dog has a domed head)
  • unnecessary surgery for undershot jaw

Facts true for both breeds

  • Belong to Section 7 of the FCI (English toy spaniels) of Group 9 (Companion and toy dogs).
  • Coat colours allowed for showing are:
    • black and tan,
    • ruby,
    • Blenheim and
    • tricolour.

Traits unique to King Charles Spaniels

  • FCI #: 128
  • Character (FCI): Reserved
  • Stop (FCI): Well-defined
  • Nose (FCI): Very short and turned up to meet the skull
  • Jaw (FCI): Lower jaw wide. Bite should be slightly undershot. This ‘prognate’ look is reminiscent of other ‘squashed-face’ dogs such as the pug.
  • Ears (FCI): Set low
  • Chest (FCI): Wide and deep
  • Weight (FCI): 3.6 to 6.3kg, making them the smallest spaniel breed.
  • Head (FCI): domed
  • Foot (cavaliers.co.uk): Compact, with occasionally central pad and nails fused together
  • History (FCI): Documented (in Great Britain) since at least 15th century
  • Numbers (cavaliers.co.uk): In the year 2000, 185 were registered at the UK Kennel Club

Photos of King Charles Spaniels: [nggallery id=164]

Traits unique to Cavaliers King Charles Spaniels

  • FCI #: 136
  • Character (FCI): Fearless
  • Stop (FCI): Shallow
  • Nose (FCI): Well-developed
  • Jaw (FCI): Perfect, regular and complete scissor bite
  • Ears (FCI): Set high
  • Chest (FCI): Moderate
  • Weight (FCI): 5.4 to 8kg
  • Head (cavaliers.co.uk): Skull almost flat between the ears
  • Foot (cavaliers.co.uk): Compact
  • History (cavaliers.co.uk): Not recognized (by UK Kennel Club) until 1945
  • Numbers (cavaliers.co.uk): In the year 2000, over 11,000 were registered at the UK Kennel Club


Any comments

I would love to hear from you if you’d like to share your view on the topic. I would particularly like to hear your comments:

  • If you own, breed, or have contact with King Charles and/or Cavalier King Charles.
  • If you would recommend, or discourage people from getting these breeds? What are the pros and cons?
  • If you have a breed of dog (or a mixed breed) that is frequently confused for another breed.
  • If you are often advised, even by pet professionals, that your King Charles is a faulty Cavalier.

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