DISCUSSION NOTES: The first impression of the Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel should be that of a graceful, well-balanced
toy spaniel which has the fearless, sporting character of
its larger cousins, yet at the same time is royal in
appearance with a typical gay temperament. The natural,
moderately long, silky coat should always be
Size – Height 12 to 13 inches at the withers; weight
proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 lbe. A small
well-balanced dog within these weights is desirable but
these are ideal heights and weights and slight variations
DISCUSSION NOTES: The measurement from withers to elbow is
approximately the same as from elbow to ground. They should
appear neither short legged or up on leg. Much leniency is
given in weight with 13 – 18 pounds being ideal. Even at
that, the standard allows variations in height and weight in
order that correct type should prevail over adherence to
precise measurements. Bone is moderate. Weedy and coarse
specimens are to be equally penalized.
Proportion – The body approaches squareness, yet if measured
from point of shoulder to point of buttock, is slightly
longer than the height at the withers. The height from the
withers to elbow is approximately equal to the height from
elbow to ground.
well balanced dog that appears square but is slightly longer
than tall. The breed should never appear long and low nor
should they be up on leg.
Substance – Bone moderate in proportion to size. Weedy and
coarse specimens are to be equally penalized.
Cavalier should never appear delicate or fine boned. It
should have sufficient moderate round bone, combined with
deep chested heart room. They look better well-padded than
thin, and most well-shaped Cavaliers lift heavier than
they look. Judges and prospective judges of the
cavalier may wish to familiarize themselves with this
concept when they are paying kennel visits.
HEAD - Proportionate
to size of dog, appearing neither too large nor too small
for the body.
Correct head type is an essential element of the breed.
Correct head type is necessary to distinguish Cavaliers from
their cousins, English Toy Spaniels. English Toys with
their globular heads, short noses and deep stops are the
antithesis of the Cavalier standard and on no account should
the two breeds approach similarity in head type. Gentleness
and softness must be the key to all the head properties.
Expression – The sweet, gentle, melting expression is an
important breed characteristic.
DISCUSSION NOTES: Soft, sweet, gentle and trusting. No head
would be correct without the soft melting expression. This
expression is the result of the flat skull and the large
round eyes with the slight padding underneath, framed by the
Eyes – Large, round, but not prominent and set well apart;
color a warm, very dark brown; giving a lustrous, limpid
look. Rims dark. There should be cushioning under the
eyes, which contributes to the soft expression. Faults
– small, almond-shaped, prominent or light eyes; white
DISCUSSION NOTES: The most important feature of the head
and, arguably, of the breed, is the eye. Cavalier eyes
should be large, round and dark brown, spaced well apart and
looking directly forward. All of the trust and gentleness
of the Cavalier’s soul is communicated through its lustrous,
limpid eyes. A slight cushioning or padding under the eyes
contributes immeasurably to the softness and correctness of
of the following eye faults will detract from the correct
sweet expression: prominent, protruding or bulging eyes;
small or almond shaped eyes; eyes too light or with a
prominent white ring showing around them; obliquely set eyes
or those set too far apart. Correct eyes mirror the “soul”
of the Cavalier and are an essential breed characteristic,
easily lost if overlooked by breeders or judges. Light eyes
are one of the hardest faults to breed out so should be the
Ears – Set high, but not close, on top of the head. Leather
long with plenty of feathering and wide enough so that when
the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the
Ears are set high but not close together; leathers are long,
wide and well feathered with long silky hair. Cavaliers use
their ears when alert, the cartilage stiffening to bring the
ear up and slightly forward. This forms a straight line
with the top of the skull and brings the leathers forward so
that the feathering frames the face. Ears set too high will
give a startled look, set too low will give a rounded
skull. Black and Tans and Tricolors will usually have more
feathering than Rubies and Blenheims – though not longer
Once the soft melting expression; the large, round,
expressive eyes; the balanced unexaggerated head and the
proper silky ears are seen in one package, correct type
becomes apparent and no amount of flash or showmanship
should persuade you to look elsewhere.
watchword in heads is moderation. A deep stop, high
forehead and drooping lips make for a very fancy head,
though totally incorrect and lacking in softness.
Skull – slightly rounded, but without dome or peak; it
should appear flat because of the high placement of the
ears. Stop is moderate, neither filled nor deep.
The skull needs to be
broad enough to accommodate the wide-set eye placement it is
slightly rounded but appears flat because of the high
placement of the ears. A pronounced curve with low-set ears
is undesirable. However, a puppy may have a pronounced
occiput which would give the required width when the head
The head is broken up by a
moderate stop neither deep nor filled; midway between the
shallow stop of the English Cocker and the deep stop of the
English Toy Spaniel. Any exaggeration of head properties,
i.e.; stop too deep, too much forehead or lip, or excess
padding on the cheeks will change the correct melting
expression to one that is hard or coarse, the whole head
looking heavy and overdone. Too little in the same areas
will create a snippy or foxy headpiece as will a lack of
cushioning beneath the eye.
Muzzle – Full muzzle slightly tapered. Length from base of
stop to tip of nose about 1 1/2 inches. Face well filled
below eyes. Any tendency toward snippiness undesirable.
Nose pigment uniformly black without flesh marks and
nostrils well developed.
DISCUSSION NOTES: The
muzzle is approximately 1 1/2 inches long (about two fingers
width), and this was recently changed from “at least” 1 1/2
inches, which tells us we want enough muzzle to distinguish
Cavaliers from English Toy Spaniels. The muzzle tapers
gradually to give a clean finish to the face without
lipiness or houndiness. A good bit of underchin is
important in preventing snippiness or a face that seems to
fall away underneath, although underchin is not mentioned in
the standard. The really classic heads have a certain
amount of chiseling and molding that is not the same as
cushioning. This detail also isn’t mentioned in the
standard but is readily seen on the best heads. The length
of muzzle depends slightly on the size of the dog, but it
should be in balance with the width of the skull between the
Nostrils should be black
in all coat colors. Some may go off with the weather and
bitches may be affected by their season but dense black
pigment is highly desirable. Flesh color marks may
sometimes be seen in young dogs. The young dog with a small
flesh mark will usually have year ‘round black nostrils when
it fills in. Older dogs should be penalized but not to the
extent of putting an inferior specimen over an otherwise
Lips – lips are well developed but not pendulous, giving a
clean finish Faults – Sharp or pointed muzzle.
DISCUSSION NOTES – Lips are preferably black. Although the
face is rather plush with well-developed lips, the tapering
from eye to nose keeps the lip line clean and pretty without
being pendulous or houndy.
Bite – A perfect, regular and complete scissors bite is
preferred, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the
lower teeth and set square into the jaws. Faults –
undershot bite, weak or crooked teeth, crooked jaws..
DISCUSSION NOTES: A scissors bite is preferred. Teeth
should be strong. A slightly level or undershot bite in a
young dog could be overlooked as many bites correct by 18 –
24 months. A correct head shape with a level or slightly
undershot jaw, that looks all right in profile, is preferred
to a snipey head with a perfect bite.
NECK, TOPLINE BODY
Neck – Fairly long, without throatiness, well enough muscled
to form a slight arch at the crest. Set smoothly into
nicely sloping shoulders to give an elegant look.
DISCUSSION NOTES: The perfect neck has a slight muscular
arch at the crest and is of sufficient length to allow the
head to be carried proudly but never thrown back. The neck
makes a graceful transition into well laid-back shoulders.
The under neckline should be clean with no throatiness.
Topline – level both when moving and standing.
Straight and level.
Body – Short-coupled with ribs well sprung but not
barreled. Chest moderately deep, extending to elbows,
allowing ample heart room. Slightly less body at the flank
than at the last rib, but with no tucked-up appearance.
Moderately deep chest,
reaching the elbows with a slight “swell” of forechest that
adds about a half inch, excluding coat, to the outline. The
rib cage is well sprung but not barreled and is
comparatively long for a toy dog, with the forechest to the
last rib being about two-thirds of the dog; the remainder is
comprised of the loin and hindquarters. Looking down on the
dog there is a slight “waist” between the last rib and the
flank but with no tucked appearance from the side.
Cavaliers are short
coupled which refers to the length between the last rib and
Tail – Well set-on, carried happily but never much above the
level of the back, and in constant characteristic motion
when the dog is in action. Docking is optional. If docked,
no more than one third to be removed.
DISCUSSION NOTES: Tails are carried happily but not much
above the level of the back. Males, in particular will
posture at one another, flagging their tails up, but once
settled and on the move they generally drop them back to
their natural carriage.
There is a slight rounding over the rump. This is an almost
imperceptible plumpness of the hindquarters that adds to the
spaniel appeal and is a good broad base to support an
ever-wagging tail. It is not just a low tail-set or a steep
or sloping croup, but a slight, gentle rounding at the area
of the tail set, which does not come absolutely dead off the
length of tail should balance with the body. Docking (not
more than one-third) is allowed but almost never done
anymore. Cavalier tails almost never stop wagging,
especially when the dog is in motion. This is a breed trait
and an excellent barometer of the correct, gay temperament.
tail is feathered with long, silky coat.
Foreqaurters - Shoulders well laid back. Forelegs
straight and well under the dog with elbows close to the
sides. Pasterns strong and feet compact with
well-cushioned pads. Dewclaws may be removed.
shoulders should be well laid back. Straight shoulders
often go with a short appearing neck and can cause the short
and sometimes high action which is so undesirable. Withers
should be fairly prominent and have sufficient space between
shoulder blades to allow for freedom of movement.
Forelegs should be straight when viewed from the front with
feet turning neither in nor out, elbows close to the side,
and placed so as to give width to the chest for good heart
and lung room. Moderate bone that is in balance with the
body. Pasterns should be strong.
Cavaliers stand on compact feet with well-cushioned pads.
Nails and pads can be any color. The long hair on the feet
(slippers) is a feature of the breed and should never be
trimmed. Dogs who are kept on gravel or hard surface will
wear the slippers down during normal activity but it will
still be obvious that they have not been trimmed into neat,
tight little feet. It is permitted to remove excess hair on
the underside of the foot between the pads.
Hindquarters – The hindquarters construction should come
down from a good broad pelvis, moderately muscled; stifles
well turned and hocks well let down. The hind legs when
viewed from the rear should parallel each other from hock to
Faults – Cow or sickle hocks.
DISCUSSION NOTES: Hindquarters should come down from a good
broad pelvis, very slightly sloped to give an attractive
Coat – of moderate length, silky, free from curl. Slight
wave permissible. Feathering on ears, chest, legs and tail
should be long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature
of the breed. No trimming of the dog is permitted.
Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming,
clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely
penalized as to effectively eliminate from competition.
Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet
may be trimmed.
Hair on the face and skull is naturally short, graduating to
a moderate length on the neck, back and body.
Feathering on the ears, chest, legs and tail should be
longer. Most coats do not develop until about 18 months
old. The coat is single, soft, silky and free from curl,
although a slight wave is permissible. With undesirable
curly coats, the texture is often coarse, and with the dense
coats, the hair is often short with less feathering.
Keep in mind that the only trimming that is permitted is the
hair growing between the pads of the underside of the foot.
The Standard states that the trimmed dog is to be so
severely penalized as to virtually eliminate it from
competition. Judges are expected to respect and enforce
this section of the standard. This means NO whisker
or feet trimming, No thinning out the neck or
cleaning out the throat area, NO sculpting of
shoulders and hindquarters.
Cavaliers should be turned out for the ring clean, brushed
and shining. Back coats can be coaxed flat with toweling
and proper drying but NOT with thinning shears and
stones. A few stray tendrils of lovely coat here and there
is part of the natural soft look of the breed.
COLOR – Blenheim – Rich chestnut markings well broken
up on a clear pearly white ground. The ears must be
chestnut and the color evenly spaced on the head surrounding
both eyes, with a white blaze between the eyes and ears, in
the center of which may be the lozenge or “Blenheim spot.”
The lozenge is a unique and desirable, though not essential,
characteristic of the Blenheim. Tricolor – Jet-black
markings well broken up on a clear pearly white ground. The
ears must be black and the color evenly spaced on the head
and surrounding both eyes, which a white blaze between the
eyes. Rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside
ears and on the underside of tail. Ruby - Whole
colored rich red. Black and tan - Jet-black with
rich, bright tan markings over eyes, on cheeks, inside ears,
on chest, legs and underside of tail. Faults – Heavy
ticking on Blenheims or Tricolors, white marks on Rubies or
Black and Tans.
DISCUSSION NOTES: The Cavalier is presented in four
distinct colors. The broken colors are Blenheim and
Tricolor; the whole colors are Ruby and Black and Tan.
There is no color preference. All colors should be rich and
glossy with markings as neat and attractive as possible.
particolors, so long as head markings are as listed, body
markings can be broken in endless varieties and still be
correct. Heavily and lightly marked dogs may still fit the
standard. The chestnut color of the blenheim is a rich,
reddish color; never liver, sandy blond or orange. Liver is
a warning sign of loss of pigment.
whole colors, the Ruby should be a very rich red. Often the
longer feathering of the Ruby is acceptably paler in
coloring than the body. Ruby puppies usually deepen in
color as they mature. The black color on the Black and Tan
should be jet black and should not have a rusty or brownish
cast to it.
GAIT – Free moving and elegant in action, with good reach in
front and sound, driving rear action. When viewed from the
side, the movement exhibits a good length of stride, and
viewed from front and rear it is straight and true,
resulting from straight-boned fronts and properly made and
DISCUSSION NOTES: The Cavalier is free moving and elegant
in action and should exhibit good reach and drive, covering
the ground with topline level. Moving away the hocks should
be straight and parallel. Coming at you the front legs
should also be parallel converging slightly toward the
centerline as speed increases; they should not be out at the
elbows or exhibit paddling. In profile the balance of the
dog should be obvious, making an elegant picture from nose
to end of tail in one flowing movement, with proud head
carriage and good arch of neck, making good use of the
hindquarters. Regular rhythmic steps with hind legs moving
well forward under the body giving plenty of drive. There
should be no hackney action in front – a common fault in
Cavaliers with short upper arms or lacking in balance.
appropriate gait for the show ring is on a loose lead and
not too fast, but with enough spirit to convey the correct
gay temperament. This is clearly indicated by a tail which
is in constant characteristic motion when gaiting.
TEMPERAMENT – Gay, friendly, non-aggressive with no tendency
toward nervousness or shyness. Bad temper, shyness and
meanness are not to be tolerated and are to be so severely
penalized as to effectively remove the specimen from
Standard descriptive words on temperament are: gay,
friendly, non-aggressive, active, graceful, fearless,
sporting, gentle and affectionate. The word “fearless” is
not meant to suggest the fearlessness of a warrior, but that
of an innocent who cannot imagine any harm coming to it,
thereby inspired to confidence and trustfulness.
Cavaliers are a joy to judge as they most always seem to be
thoroughly enjoying themselves. An approaching judge is
likely to find little front feet dancing up his pant leg or
have a hand licked or sniffed if offered. This should not
be dismissed as amateur handling; it is a trait that
breeders treasure and encourage.
Nervousness, meanness and shyness are not to be tolerated
and should be met with the same weighty penalty as the
trimmed dog, i.e., virtually eliminated from competition.
Shyness does not refer to puppies or novice dogs who have
yet to get their bearings, but rather to obvious mistrust
and fearfulness. Sweet gentle temperament is the Hallmark
of the breed. As long as “their people” are nearby with a
pat and a kind word, Cavaliers are perennially happy little
Cavalier fanciers only ask that judges be as gentle with the
breed as the breed itself is, that they reward naturally
presented dogs that fit the standard and that are worthy of
this phrase from it; “It is this typical gay temperament
combined with elegance and royal appearance which are of
paramount importance in the breed.”