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Pet of the Month - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Fairly Easy to Train

Pet of the Month - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Chow Chow

Country of Origin: Great Britain
Height: 12–13 in
Weight: 11–18 lb
Coat: Long, silky, straight or slight wave; feathering
Colors: Blenheim (chestnut markings on white background), tricolor (black markings on white background and tan markings), ruby (rich red), black and tan (black with bright tan markings)
Registries (With Group): AKC (Toy); UKC (Companion)

Origin and History

Toy spaniels were developed in Great Britain circa CE 1016, and their first function was that of a hunter. By the 1500s, their hunting days long gone, these dogs were companions to the wealthy, as only the rich could afford a dog who didn’t earn his keep by ratting or hunting. In the 1600s, both King Charles I and King Charles II adored the breed, and it was from the latter that they were eventually named the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. During the Victorian era, the breed was crossed with Pugs and the Japanese Chin and became what is now called the King Charles Spaniel (“Charlies”) in the United Kingdom and the English Toy Spaniel in the United States. By this time, the “old type” of toy spaniel was almost extinct, as the Victorians preferred the domed skull of the Charlies.

In the 1920s, curious as to whether any of the longer-headed Cavalier toy spaniels often depicted in paintings still existed, American Roswell Eldridge began offering prize money to exhibitors at the Crufts dog show in England who could bring him “Blenheim Spaniels of the Old World type.” The offer of cash was tempting enough that several breeders worked to bring back the old style. These dogs became what is known today as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Since its recognition by the Kennel Club (KC) in 1944, the Cavalier has achieved notable popularity, counting among his admirers such high-powered people as Princess Margaret and President Ronald Reagan.

Personality Profile

While some can be reserved, it is the rare Cavalier who does not greet everyone and everything with great joy. Still, he is not a hyper dog at all; rather, he is naturally well-behaved and downright adoring, with big expressive eyes and a tail that seems to be constantly wagging. Large enough to be able to handle romps in the great outdoors but small enough to fit snugly in a lap, he is a versatile, endearing dog. Because Cavaliers are so people-oriented, they are not content to spend a lot of time alone. They get along well with children and other animals.

Care Requirements

  • Exercise: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel needs regular exercise but can adapt to the activity level of his owner. He is especially fond of walks around the block with his family and daily play sessions, both of which will keep his exercise needs satisfied.
  • Grooming: The silky coat of the Cavalier is easy to keep clean and shiny using a firm-bristled brush and wide-toothed comb several times a week.
  • Life Span: The average life span of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 12 to 14 years.
  • Training: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels want to please and are fairly easy to train. They may need some extra time with house training, but they eagerly respond to positive training.

One of the oldest breeds, this bearlike dog is known for his independent nature.

This distinctive-looking dog breed has a proud, independent spirit that some describe as catlike. He can be aloof — if you're looking for a cuddle buddy, this probably isn't the best breed for you — and downright suspicious of strangers. But for the right person, he's a fiercely loyal companion.

Vital Stats

  • Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs
  • Height: Generally 1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 8 inches tall at the shoulder
  • Weight: Generally 40 to 70 pounds
  • Life Span: 12 to 15 years

With his deep-set eyes and large head, accentuated by a mane of hair, the Chow Chow (Chow for short) is an impressive-looking dog. His looks might make you think he's mean or ill-tempered, but a well-bred and well-raised Chow isn't aggressive.

Instead, it's said that the Chow combines the nobility of a lion, the drollness of a panda, the appeal of a teddy bear, the grace and independence of a cat, and the loyalty and devotion of a dog. He's also dignified and aloof, as befits a breed that was once kept in imperial Chinese kennels.

He's not really fond of being hugged or fussed over, but he'll be a quiet, attentive companion to his favorite person, and his loyalty extends to other family members. If he's raised with children, he'll accept them willingly, but he's not the type of dog to tolerate abuse, so he's best for homes with older kids who know how to treat dogs.

If he has lots of positive encounters with strangers during his impressionable puppy-hood, he'll handle strangers with equanimity. This is, however, a highly territorial and protective breed, who'll give a clear warning to anyone approaching without his person's welcome.

The breed's most memorable physical feature may be his blue-black tongue. According to Chinese legend, the tongue got its blue hue at the time of creation, when a Chow licked up drops of the color as the sky was being painted. He also stands out for his almost straight rear legs, which give him a stiff, choppy, or stilted gait. He's not speedy, so he's not the best choice for a jogger, but he has excellent endurance and can be a good walking companion.

When it comes to training, a verbal correction is usually all that's required to set the Chow Chow straight. No dog should ever be hit, but it's especially counterproductive with this breed. The fiercely proud and independent Chow will never respond to physical abuse. But earn his respect with firm consistency, and you won't have any problem training him.

If you admire the Chow Chow's unique appearance and independent spirit, you'll have a fiercely loyal companion who will be a true treasure in your household.

Some compare the Chow Chow's disposition to that of a cat: aloof, reserved, independent, dignified, intelligent, and stubborn.

Despite his scowl, a good Chow should never be aggressive or shy. Chows tend to mind their own business and don't usually start trouble. They'll play with their people, but strangers are of no interest to them unless they're approaching the Chow's home without invitation from his owner — in which case he'll challenge the trespasser. He will, however, let strangers touch him if introduced by one of his owners.

A Chow Chow must be extensively socialized — introduced to new people, dogs, and situations — as a puppy if he's going to be safe and relaxed as an adult.

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