Learn More About Gillcrest Cavaliers

Breeders of Exceptional Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Since 2002

Gillcrest Cavaliers-About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a delightfully affectionate, playful, and intelligent dog that thrives in a loving family environment.

They typically weigh between thirteen and eighteen pounds and get along well with children, although puppies are best suited for children over the age of five. Cavaliers truly enjoy sharing their home with a companion Cavalier and do not thrive when left alone all day without human companionship or the company of another animal.

They are highly intelligent and require the same consistent and loving discipline as does a child. Cavaliers are active and sporty dogs that require regular exercise. Because they have an instinct to give chase to just about anything that moves, they should either be on a leash or in a fenced yard to ensure they are out of harm’s way.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have no self-protection instinct and their lack of fear sometimes causes them to put themselves at risk. They will approach any stranger, venture into uncharted territory, and approach large dogs without a second thought, so they need the protection of their owners. They are friendly, obedient, and gentle, which makes training them easy because all they really want to do is please, so training or disciplining a Cavalier is best done in a gentle manner … they are smart enough to quickly understand what you want and their anxiousness to please produces an almost immediate change in behavior.

Cavaliers are a natural “wash and wear” breed, with a luxuriously soft coat that requires no clipping or trimming. They shed a little, but that can be kept to a minimal amount with brushing weekly and bathing every three to four weeks. When bathing a Cavalier, care needs to be taken to prevent water from getting inside their ears. Nails and underside of the feet should be trimmed as needed. Special attention may be required to keep tangles out of your Cavalier’s ears and feathering.

A Well-Socialized Cavalier Tends To Be Friendlier and Less Fearful

Gillcrest Cavaliers-About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Much is said about the health and beauty of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, but not enough is said about importance of socialization. In fact, a puppy’s socialization process, in preparation for their life with you, begins at birth. The early bonds they form with their mother, litter mates, and first human family are the factors that determine the Cavalier they will become. This is why all of our Cavalier puppies and dogs live in our house with us as pets and members of the family.

The environment your Cavalier puppy spends the first part of its life in is extremely important. A Cavalier puppy needs a lot of attention and love devoted to it. They need exposure to different sights, sounds, toys, and surfaces, as well as people of all ages and other pets, to ensure they grow up to be confident and capable in handling new experiences.

Once your Cavalier King Charles puppy leaves our first home, the same socialization practices need to be continued in the puppy’s new adopted home. Please try to make each new experience a pleasant one for your puppy. Healthy treats are always a good way to calm your puppy in an unpleasant situation.

When You Bring Your New Cavalier King Charles Puppy Home

When you bring your Cavalier King Charles puppy home, we highly recommend that you make sure to have a few quiet days just to spend with your newest family member while he or she gets acclimated.

As difficult as it is not to take your new puppy out into the world, you will need to stay away from public locations where other dogs have been. Remember that your new puppy will not yet have received all of its vaccinations and the immunization process is incomplete until the age of sixteen weeks. If you do need to take your puppy out into the world before sixteen weeks, and especially when you visit your veterinarian, always carry him or her in order to keep germs at bay.

You can ask your vet to advise you as to the specific date that your puppy will be fully protected based on the vaccinations that have been given.

American Kennel Club and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club

American Kennel Club (AKC) and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC-USA) are the only two legitimate registries in the United States for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA was the original registry for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the United States formed in 1956. In March 1995, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The Health of Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Gillcrest Cavaliers-About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed that is not without health concerns. It is fair to say all genetics, good and bad, were compounded when the breed was re-created in 1927, using six foundation dogs from which all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels come from today. Some health concerns are more challenging than others for breeders to manage. Responsible breeders have knowledge of their dogs’ pedigrees and are diligent in their efforts to breed Cavaliers that are free from major health problems. As a whole, Cavaliers are a hardy, healthy little spaniel.

The majority of health problems seen in the Cavalier are common to toy dogs in general. Heart, eye, hip, and patella problems exist in all toy breeds, including Cavaliers. Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) seems to present earlier in the Cavalier than some of the other toy breeds. Also there is Syringomyelia (SM) found in the Cavalier as well as other breeds.

With Mitral Valve Disease, caused by endocardiosis, polysaccharide deposits in the valve leaflets which distorts the valve and allow it to leak. Although common in most breeds & nearly all toy dogs, it seems to present earlier in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cardiologist statistics worldwide, indicate that about 50% of Cavaliers will develop at least a mild heart murmur by the age of 5 years, 70% by age 7 and over 98% by the age of ten. Cavaliers can still lead perfectly normal lives for many years after developing a murmur, as the breed in general has adapted to the condition. Some may eventually need medication to help with symptoms & comfort in later years. A very small percentage can progress quickly with the condition despite medication. Eradicating this condition completely is not possible and it is fair to say that nearly all Cavaliers will eventually get a heart murmur, but continuing to focus on later onset is the constant goal. Knowing pedigrees, when the dogs within the pedigrees have gotten murmurs, how well those dogs lived with their murmurs as well using annual heart screening as a tool on our breeding dogs are all important aspects that need to come together to produce dogs with later onset MVD that also can live long quality lives after onset with slow progression of murmurs.

It is very important that the sire and dam of your new Cavalier puppy have had their annual heart and eye clearances done by a Board Certified Cardiologist and Ophthalmologist, and the breeder should have current copies of the clearances for you when picking up your puppy. Responsible breeders will test and clear their Cavaliers annually and will have fewer incidences of these conditions. Still, recessive genes exist and can crop up when least expected.

Syringomyelia (SM) is a inherited condition in our Cavaliers. It is a progressive neurological disease that varies in severity. Cavaliers unfortunately are affected by SM in larger numbers than any other breed. It is found in all colors, in all lines, and affects both sexes. Signs are usually noticed in dogs between 6 months and 3 years but it has been diagnosed in Cavaliers up to 10 years old. At present the condition can only be identified by MRI scan or by clinical signs. SM occurs when a Cavalier is born with not enough room in the space in the skull that contains the back of the brain. Damage is caused when fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain is forced through a smaller than normal opening, into the spinal cord. The most common symptom is scratching on, or in the air near, the shoulder when the dog is excited or walking on a lead. However this is not the only symptom and it is not always present. Some refer to SM as “neck scratcher’s disease” because scratching the neck is often a sign of the disease. It is similar to the human condition, Chiari type 1 malformation (or Arnold Chiari in some older texts). So far mandatory subsidized MRI studies in some European countries, have proven that breeding clear scanned dogs together unfortunately does not eliminate the condition. There continues to be a lot of debate on this subject.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Syringomyelia (SM) prove to be challenging problems to the breed and breeders. Although early onset and severe cases are minimal in responsible breeding programs, both conditions can show up, and there is no test or gene isolation available today to predict if or when a dog will encounter onset. All Cavaliers are susceptible of both conditions, regardless of the pedigrees. Responsible breeders do a good job minimizing the number of cases of affected dogs.

Additional Information for All Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Owners

Gillcrest Cavaliers-About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Books About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

  • “New Edition” – THE ART OF RAISING A PUPPY – by the Monks of New Skete
  • “New Edition” – HOW TO BE YOUR DOG’S BEST FRIEND: A Training Manual for Dog Owners

Informational Websites About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Helpful Suggestions for Dog Supplies

  • Revival Animal Health – www.revivalanimal.com
  • PetEdge – www.petedge.com
  • Doctors Foster and Smith – www.drsfostersmith.com
  • Chewy – www.chewy.com
  • Amazon – www.amazon.com
  • Cherrybrook Pet Supplies – www.cherrybrook.com