Pros and Cons of owning a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with Union Jack and Crown and cup of English tea
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When it comes to choosing a pet, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to ensure the breed fits well with your lifestyle and expectations. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beloved breed, famed for its gentle demeanour, adorable features, and loyalty. Cavaliers do, however, come with their specific and sometimes difficult challenges.

We will explore the advantages and potential downsides of owning a Cavalier. There are certain caveats to some of these points, and you will absolutely need to do your homework before adopting or purchasing a Cavalier. Suppose you do not buy from a breeder that health tests their breeding dogs for heart disease, chiari malformation and syringomyelia, eye tests, and DNA tests, at minimum. You are leaving yourself open to a lot of heartbreak in the future, not to mention suffering for the dog which should not be underestimated.

Pros of Owning a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Friendly and Affectionate

Cavaliers are renowned for their warm, friendly nature. They *typically get along well with children, other dogs (and many even cats), making them an excellent choice for families or multi-pet households.


These dogs are known for their adaptability. Whether you live in a city apartment or a house in the countryside, Cavaliers tend to adjust well. However, they have moderate exercise needs, so they will need plenty of exercise, a minimum of 2-3 miles and play sessions daily. They do need decent exercise and will not be happy or live their best life if they are stuck in a sedentary lifestyle. They love to chase birds, squirrels, etc- do not forget they are Spaniels!


Cavaliers are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement methods, typically making them a good choice for first-time dog owners.


Cavaliers are known for their loyalty and love for their humans. They enjoy being part of family activities and make excellent companions. Due to their gentle and loving nature, they’re often used as therapy dogs. But of course, as with any dog, their needs, including exercise and stimulation, must be met and well considered.

*There is a BIG caveat to this- many Cavaliers suffer from painful chiari malformation with pain and this can alter their tolerance levels. Some do become aggressive, unfortunately, when they do not get their own space or are disturbed by noise. Some Cavaliers also have resource guarding issues, which is more common in Spaniels.

Cons of Owning a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Health Issues

One of Cavaliers’ significant drawbacks is their predisposition to a range of health issues, including heart conditions such as mitral valve disease and neurological disorders like chiari malformation and syringomyelia. Other common health problems in the breed include dry eye, dental disease, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia and pancreatitis. Be prepared both emotionally and financially for this commitment. A good breeder can show you copies of MRI for chiari and syringomyelia, Heart test scheme results, etc, patella x rays, etc for BOTH parents and ideally grandparents. DNA tests are not ‘full health testing’.

Regular vet check-ups are extremely important and choosing a reputable breeder that carries out tests for these and other conditions can help manage this risk. Still, potential owners should be prepared for possible health challenges as they still happen with the best intentions from breeders.

Separation Anxiety

Because of their strong attachment to their humans, Cavaliers can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for more than a couple of hours. Therefore, Cavaliers are NOT the best choice for individuals or families who are away from home frequently or intend to leave them for hours alone while at work.


Cavaliers have beautiful, silky coats but require regular grooming to keep them looking their best. They’re moderate shedders, and their ears, in particular, need regular checks and cleaning to prevent infections. You will need to brush them ideally daily to prevent knots from forming which can cause them to be extremely uncomfortable.


Now the big one….

All dogs have costs for food, grooming, insurance, and vet care, but Cavaliers are much more expensive due to their specific health needs. Potential health problems can lead to high insurance premiums and vet bills, and these dogs often command high prices from breeders due to their popularity and the level of testing the breeders should be doing.

Average insurance premiums for a £10,000+ a year policy are from £50-£350 monthly. These will increase as your Cavalier ages. Due to the dramatic rise in veterinary costs, we believe these premiums will continue to increase. You really do need to have a minimum of £10,000 in cover annually. For example, this would cover disc surgery, a hip replacement, or a week of hospitalisation.

Think long and hard

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a fantastic breed known for their adaptability, friendliness, and deep bond with their owners. However, potential owners must consider the associated challenges, particularly their grooming needs and potential health problems. As with any breed, it’s so important to understand what owning a Cavalier fully entails, ensuring they’re the right fit for your lifestyle and that you can provide them with the love and care they deserve.

They are likely to become extremely expensive in veterinary care as they age as commonly they have a number of health problems that will require testing and medication.

Ideally, if you are purchasing a puppy, you will get a recommendation for a health-testing breeder or a recommendation for a good rescue that ensures the dog’s conditions are highlighted prior to adoption and its behaviour has been assessed in a foster home. But unless you have £10,000+ to hand in savings for veterinary fees, it is so important to get a comprehensive insurance policy.

The most common reasons Cavaliers are surrendered into rescue are behavioural issues, or owners not being able to afford veterinary vcare.

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