What Is Bad About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels? The Cons

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looking in the camera

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a “sporting toy breed” that features a combination of toy and spaniel traits. The comfort-loving breed enjoys cuddling and snuggling but has higher athletic instincts. It can be a chaser or a runner, but overall, it is gentle, playful, and sweet-tempered. I wanted to know all the cons of owning one before taking one in.

But what is bad about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels? While Cavaliers are loving, intelligent, and playful dogs that get along with people and other pets, they come with several cons. For instance, this can’t be your guard dog since it will end up entertaining strangers. Besides that, they suffer from multiple genetic disorders, need constant grooming, and are pretty expensive. 

The cons of having a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel include:

  • The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel needs much exercise.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a high level of anxiety.
  • King Charles Spaniels can be timid.
  • The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not a guard dog.
  • The personality of King Charles Spaniel is like a typical stubborn spaniel.
  • The Cavalier loves to lick you and show affection.
  • The coat of the Cavalier King Charles needs daily brushing.
  • They need their ears cleaned out regularly.
  • The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has some inheritable severe health concerns and a potentially short lifespan.
  • The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves food.
  • The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s instinctive drive can cause them to stop listening to you.
  • Is owning a King Charles Spaniel more expensive compared to other dogs?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Needs Much Exercise

These dogs need moderate/fair levels of exercise. You need to give your pup at least 45 minutes of daily exercise. You could split this into two walks (in the morning and evening) or one walk with around 30 minutes of playtime.

They love training and ticks if they get rewarded. As soon as I take the clicker from the closet, she sits next to me before I can blink my eyes. Mental activities drain their energy.

Note: Cavaliers love agility training

Be purposeful when exercising your dog and search for the best activities that your pet can do. This will help ensure that your pet is happy, healthy, and fit. 

This breed loves to participate in canine sports, but some days you might spend time indoors just lazing around your couch. Generally, it would help if you considered keeping your pet mentally and physically engaged to ensure they grow strong, socialize, and develop better cognitive abilities.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Have a High Level of Anxiety

Cavaliers are known for their clingy nature, i.e., Velcro pets. This breed has a reputation for suffering from intense separation anxiety. That’s why it’s essential to keep your pet physically and mentally occupied.

I have an article one the topic Can a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel be left home alone?

Luckily I have never had significant issues with my Cavalier King Charles in this area. Although, she did pee on the couch once when I left her home alone a little too long. I think it was more because I didn’t have much playtime with her. Other than that, I never had issues with her staying home alone. 

Thus, pet owners who intend to leave them for hours without attention shouldn’t get them.

Your Cavalier might end up barking, whining, or destroying furniture if it suffers from separation anxiety.

Anxiety can be triggered by panic attacks, boredom, or loneliness. Other types of anxiety that may affect your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel include:

  • Shelter anxiety: commonly affects dogs who have undergone traumatic events while abandoned or locked up in a shelter. The terrifying memories, especially when they are left alone in the shelters, might trigger a high level of anxiety. Fear mainly occurs if strangers or strange animals spook your dog. New creatures might easily make your pet nervous.
  • New environment: this includes environments with loud noises or strange visual stimuli such as those involving umbrellas. Motion can also trigger anxiety.
  • Old age: older dogs usually suffer from cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which can lead to stress resulting in anxiety. 

Note: Cavaliers love agility training

However, it’s still possible to manage high anxiety levels in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. This includes: 

  • Consistency: If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you can try to leave your home every day at the same time and over the same duration. It helps your dog anticipate your departure and arrival without so much stress. However, it will take weeks before your dog gets used to this consistency.
  • Play calming music: helps to provide your pup with comfort. The soothing background music can help to reduce the chances of panic attacks and other triggers. There are many anxiety-calming playlists online that you can use to manage anxiety.
  • Reward your pet: give your dog treats when responding positively to anxiety triggers. However, it would help if you did this with caution to avoid creating a situation that treats dependency.
  • Consider the services of a dog trainer: high anxiety levels might sometimes be challenging to handle. In this case, you should consider seeking the services of an experienced dog trainer who can educate you and train your dog in handling different instances of anxiety.
  • You can consult your vet: they are among the best professionals to speak to once you notice your dog has anxiety. Vets are experts who can give you the best advice with potential solutions to your problems. In some instances, they might assess your dog’s emotional and mental health before prescribing medications meant to relax your dog.
  • Aromatherapy: you can never go wrong with essential oils. They are good for humans and have the same effects on dogs as wells. It’s easy to use aromatherapy for anxiety since you can add just a couple of oil drops in a diffuser and let it produce the magic. However, be careful since some of these oils might aggravate underlying health issues.

Note: Cavaliers are the happiest when they are together with their owners for most of the day. This makes them ideal for professionals who work from home, stay-at-home dads/moms, and retirees. If you are going to leave your dog regularly; you should get two dogs to keep each other company.


Are King Charles Spaniels Timid and Shy?

Yes. One of the possible issues with this breed’s temperament is timidity. It should be noted that if a young puppy isn’t allowed to socialize with other dogs, pets, and people, it will grow up and become nervous when exposed to unfamiliar situations.

If possible, you should consider taking your puppy to a pre-school. This will help him successfully interact with other dogs and mature into adulthood with solid socialization skills.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Is Not a Guard Dog

If you are looking for a guard dog, This breed is not a good choice.

This dog breed is gentle and friendly. They have a trusting nature, which quickly makes them poor guard dogs. They will betray you quickly when it comes to alerting or protecting you and your valuables. This isn’t the best watchdog or, even worse, a guard dog you can depend on.

My dog never sounds the alarm when a stranger enters the house. She doesn’t even look up when a cat enters the garden. Or, in some situations, she thinks it wants to play. Give her a cookie, and she is your best friend.

You might hear them barking when a stranger arrives at your home. But instead of deterring them, your pet will be more than eager to meet the visitor and even affectionately welcome them with lots of enthusiasm.

Besides that, they have small physical profiles, making it difficult for them to scare anyone away. Even if your dog decides to bark at a stranger, they won’t be intimidated. 

The Personality of a King Charles Spaniel Is a typical Stubborn Spaniel

A cavalier’s temperament might quickly change from sweet and calm to a highly hard-charging dog that’s stubborn. It’s worth noting that placid Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are sometimes known to be dumb, and this makes the stubborn ones challenging to train.

Additionally, some tend to develop the independent streak quickly, but this still gives them the reputation for being the typical stubborn spaniel. 

However, most of them often have a strong desire to please and obey their masters.

I train my dog with positive rewarding and sometimes it is just tough to get her off the rewards. Sometimes She just doesn’t want to listen when I have no treats in my hands. And she knows it. She will just do something else, which is easier to do, or walk away totally ignoring me.

The Cavalier Loves to Lick You and Show Affection

Cavaliers’ temperament makes it a loving pet towards everyone, including children and strangers. They love to lick to show affection, so this isn’t the ideal pet for you if you don’t enjoy your face or skin getting licked.

It is not really a problem for me, but the hard part is to get her away from friends and family.

Understand that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a lovebug. He will try and use any means of action to prove that it loves you – this usually includes using a sloppy tongue first!

Note: while Cavalier King Charles Spaniels usually lick humans as a sign of affection, they also relieve stress.

The Coat of the Cavalier King Charles Needs Daily Brushing

This is a moderate shedding breed that requires regular brushing. Note that shedding is a natural process involving the dog shedding old hairs and replacing them with new ones. But unlike most dog breeds, Cavaliers have topcoats that make them relatively easy to groom.

You need to brush the medium-length coat at least every other day, if not every day. Regularly brushing a Cavalier’s topcoat is important since this is a playful dog breed full of energy; hence its hair will tangle.

Besides that, you should set aside at least one day per week for thorough brushing to completely remove snags.

Use a medium-bristle brush for daily brushing. This helps to stimulate the hair follicles and spread the natural oils found on the skin to other parts of the coat. To prevent the formation of tangles and knots, then use a slicker brush. Don’t forget to brush your pet’s feet to ensure that they look fluffy.

I have written an entire article on Cavalier King Charles and shedding. You can find it here. Do you want to know if the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is hypoallergenic? You can read more about it in my post here.

Note: you need to comb out your pet’s fur every time outside, especially after every play session. These are pets with low profiles; hence, bugs, twigs, and grass are common to get stuck on them regularly.

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Need Their Ears Cleaned Out Regularly?

You should know all dog breeds can develop ear infections. However, some breeds, especially those with long hair like the Cavalier, are more likely to develop ear infections. That makes cleaning your dog’s ears a task not to forget.

Cavaliers need their ears cleaned out at least once a week out of basic care requirements. Their pendant-shaped ears require regular cleaning since dirt accumulation can easily make their ears susceptible to infections.

But as much as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are calm, friendly, and gentle, cleaning their ears, especially inside, isn’t easy. It’s usually difficult for puppies unfamiliar with this habit; hence you must be patient with your dog. However, older dogs quickly get into a routine, but you must always exercise caution. 

To clean accumulated wax and dirt, use a clean cotton cloth that’s moistened with warm water. Or use a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution and follow the instructions from your vet.

Avoid using sharp objects or Q-tips (cotton-tipped swabs) to penetrate your dog’s ear canal. We don’t want to hurt our dogs, and a Q-tip pushes the dirt further into your dog’s ear. This eventually can cause ear infections.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Has some Serious Inheritable Health Concerns And a potentially Short Lifespan

The lifespan of a healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is between 9-14 years. For a small breed, this lifespan is relatively short. It’s said that they have briefer lives due to the early onset of mitral valve disease, a terminal condition. 

The mitral valve is a valve between the left heart chambers. Many Cavaliers have problems with the valve leaflets not closing correctly, which can cause blood to leak backward. 

A couple of weeks ago, I found out my Cavalier Mayla has this disease. She is almost nine years. She now takes medication twice a day which helps. Sadly there is not much more we can do about it.

Besides MVD, this breed has inheritable severe health conditions. While most of these health issues are not congenital/not present at birth, they develop at later stages of growth. Most pets experience actual symptoms between the ages of two and six years.

Apart from Syringomyelia, here are the genetic health issues in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that are diagnosed via simple, affordable, painless, and non-invasive medical tests:


Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): almost 50% of cavaliers end up developing MVD before the age of five years. Additionally, nearly all of them will develop MVD by ten years.

Other heart defects in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel include Patent Ductus Arterious, pulmonary, and aortic stenosis. If you suspect that your dog has heart problems, the diagnosis should be made by a licensed veterinary cardiologist.

Back and Hips

 Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD): is a progressive disk/disc degeneration between the spine’s vertebrae. This condition occurs when the jelly-like cushion between the vertebras ruptures or slips, resulting in the disc pressing on the spinal cord. If the disease progresses and becomes severe, then your dog might lose its ability to walk. Early treatment is crucial, and this may involve surgery.

 Hip Dysplasia: a condition that features abnormal growth or development of the hip joint. This is the most common cause of hip osteoarthritis in dogs. Hip Dysplasia affects both sides, and the severity depends typically on the varying levels of loose tissues, malformation, and instability of the ball-socket joint. 

Cavaliers are small dog breeds, and clinical symptoms of hip dysplasia usually occur when the dog is much older. This is when the dog has been severely affected. 

Many Cavaliers with this condition will continue to lead everyday lives. For good quality of life, your pet’s hips should be re-evaluated biennially.


 Patellar luxation/dislocation: a condition that forces the kneecap to ride outside its femoral groove, especially when flexing the knee. The condition might not be severe while the dog is still young and might go unnoticed for quite a while. However, it can result in lameness, or the pain can significantly reduce Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s quality of life. 

Surgery is the ideal treatment option for dogs in pain.

Eyes and Ears

 Juvenile cataracts usually appear when the spaniel is six months old and might affect both eyes. This is a progressive medical condition and may result in total blindness with time. Juvenile cataracts usually occur alongside other ocular disorders.

 Dry eye: it’s also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This dog breed has a common genetic problem that prevents the tear glands from producing enough tears needed to keep the eyes moist. As a result, the dog will end up with itchy and sore eyes that are prone to infections.

 Deafness: it may be partial or complete. Besides that, it may be premature. The longer your spaniel lives, the higher its chances of getting deaf. Often Cavaliers are deaf by the age of 8 years. I must say I know three Cavaliers older than eight who are not deaf.

Brain and Spine

Epilepsy: it’s also known as idiopathic or primary Epilepsy if the cause can’t be established. The condition usually manifests itself between six months and three years. Epilepsy might result in various types of seizures. However, the Fly Catcher’s Syndrome is the most common type of focal seizure, and it’s characterized by the dog lunging or snapping at imaginary flies. These seizures can be treated with potassium bromide or alternative medication.

Syringomyelia: it affects the back of the skull. Syringomyelia is the small occipital bone found in the back of the head. It prevents the free circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid. As a result, the fluid is forcefully channeled into the spinal cord. This consequentially creates a cavity- known as syrinx. Syringomyelia is characterized by scratching the ears, neck, or shoulders without any evidence of ear or skin disease.

Immune system

 Blood problems include macro, a benign disorder that affects the production of platelets. Macro, also known as the giant platelet disorder, affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by producing abnormally large

and sparse platelets.

 Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: it’s characterized by pale gums rather than the usual red or pink color. However, almost 75% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with this condition usually make a full recovery.

 Hypothyroidism: it’s an autoimmune, genetic disorder that destroys the thyroid gland. While hypothyroidism isn’t a life-threatening condition, it significantly reduces the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s quality of life. The progressive disorder can’t be cured and can make the livelihoods of dogs with MVD difficult.

 Digestive disorders: one of the most common digestive issues these dogs face is gastritis- the inflammation of the stomach lining. Note that gastritis may be chronic or acute with signs such as fatigue, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting.

 Allergy: atopy- a skin allergy, is the most common condition that affects Cavaliers. Atopy’s symptoms typically begin between one and three years and tend to get worse every year. Symptoms tend to manifest on the belly, feet, skin folds, and regions around the ears.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Loves Food

You must be ready to provide your pet with an adequate food supply. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is passionate about its food because they love to get human attention frequently. The first indication of this degenerative disease is a murmur. Once this condition has been detected, the dog can have a lifespan of 1-3 years, unlike other dog breeds that can live up to five years more.

However, you should consider when, how, and what you feed your pet. If you feed your dog from a large bowl, it’s going to overeat. Don’t be tempted to over-indulge your dog with numerous treats because they will ask for it several times throughout the day.

If you notice that your Cavalier King Charles is always hungry with an enormous appetite, then it probably has polyphagia. This is a medical condition caused by underlying medical conditions such as tumors, diabetes, worm infestations, and other infections.

Growing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies may be small, but they need more food for growth. So, you will need to feed it around 3-4 times until the puppy is around six months old.

Generally, you shouldn’t feed this pure breed dog dry foods such as extruded pellets like kibble. This is because dry foods require more carbohydrates to bind other food ingredients.

Consider giving your Cavalier pet whole grains and digestible carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice, tapioca, and sweet potatoes. Avoid low-quality carbs such as wheat and corn since they have ingredients with less nutritional value.

But how much should a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel eat? The amount of food is directly proportional to the dog’s age, weight, and activity level. Active adults weighing 15+ pounds need 530+ calories every day.

Always check its ribs to ensure that your dog isn’t overeating or eating too little.

How do you know if your King Charles is too big? Please read my article about it here.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Instinctive Drive Can Cause Them to Stop Listening to You

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are susceptible dogs that have hunting instincts. Often, you will find them chasing after birds, cars, and balls while outdoors. Their chasing instinctive drive can, therefore, cause them to you.

But this doesn’t mean that you should scold your pet since this is a sensitive breed, and it could end up with long-term behavioral problems. To prevent additional issues, don’t allow them to freely chase small creatures, only in an enclosed space such as a lawn with a fence or a protected dog park. 

If you are walking your dog, it must always be on a leash. 

Note: the strong prey drive is quite dangerous and what makes it worse is that your dog might not come back even when called. This means it might get lost while chasing or running blindly after the prey. Additionally, they might end up with severe injuries during their “hunting” missions.

Is Owning a King Charles Spaniel Expensive Compared to Other Dogs?

King Charles Spaniels are generally more expensive than the other dog breeds. This is a pure breed dog, and that’s why it’s costly. Most breeders sell King Charles Spaniels for $1000-$2500. This amount is attributed to the care the puppy needs. Once you buy the dog, you should set funds aside for food, maintenance, and medical needs.

Most pet owners usually spend an average of $3,000 during King Charles Spaniel’s first year. After that, you should be ready to spend around $1,000 annually after the first year. But most costs incurred will be towards training informal classes and medical expenses.


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a fantastic dog if you can give it all attention it needs. It is very affectionate and great for families with little children. 

Mayla is such a loving, playful, and fantastic dog I would not change anything. They require more medical attention than other breeds, perhaps. If you are up for it, then yes, in my eyes, it is all worth it.

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

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