King Charles Spaniel or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Many people are unable to recognise the difference between King Charles Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. They are two entirely different breeds and apart from sharing the same coat colours, have totally separate breed standards, characteristics and identities.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as we know it today was not given official Kennel Club recognition until 1945. The King Charles Spaniel whose history has been documented since the 15th Century has its origins in the courts of Europe. In 2000 only 185 King Charles Spaniel puppies were registered with the U.K. Kennel Club while the registrations for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies exceeded 11,400.

The media often incorrectly describes most Cavalier King Charles Spaniels when they appear in the press as being King Charles Spaniels, this only causes more confusion. It is very alarming for new owners when presenting their puppy to a Veterinary Surgeon for examination to be told that their beautiful, well reared King Charles Spaniel is an extremely bad specimen of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This has happened on several occasions, causing the purchaser much distress and has led to threats of legal action against the breeder. Several of the reasons quoted have been:

1. Because the dog has a domed head it most probably has Hydrocephalus.
2. Because the dog has an Undershot Jaw it may need corrective surgery in the future.
3. Because the dog has Fused Nails and Pads it may need future surgery.


All these i.e. Domed Skull, Undershot Jaw and Fused Toes are breed specific to the King Charles Spaniel Breed Standard. To quote from the two breed standards:


The King Charles Spaniel The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Head and Skull

Distinctive Domed head full over eyes. Nose, large wide open nostrils very short and turned up to meet skull.kcs_head Skull almost flat between ears.
Shallow stop, length from base of stop to tip of nose about 1 ½”kkcs_head


Bite should be slightly undershot.kcs_mouth Jaws strong with perfect regular and complete scissor bite.kkcs_mouth


Compact, well padded and feathered, toes well knuckled, round cat shaped foot, well cushioned, pasterns firm. Occasionally central pad and nails fused together.kcs_feet Compact cushioned and well feathered.kkcs_feet


Weight: 8 – 14 lbs. Weight: 12-18 lbs. A small well balanced dog well within these weights desirable.


Black and Tan, Tricolour, Blenheim, Ruby Black and Tan, Tricolour, Blenheim, Ruby


Docking previously optional. N.B. Some King Charles Spaniels are born with a short tail, a kinked, or an apparently broken tail. Docking previously optional when no more than one-third was to be removed.


Reserved, gentle and affectionate. Gay, friendly, non-aggressive, no tendency to nervousness.