Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Today


 Click on the cover above to go to this book at

This breed guide is very much a book geared to people interested in showing and breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, rather than mere pet owners. There is a lot of detail on the breed’s history, famous Cavaliers, the breed standard, colours and markings, all this in both the UK and abroad. There are three chapters on breeding and rearing Cavaliers, and a chapter on health care. Lovers of this breed will of course find such a detailed history fascinating, and will pause to gaze adoringly at photos of famous cavaliers.

The most endearing characteristic of Cavvies is that generally they have wonderful temperaments, and love everyone. They may be a little difficult to housetrain, but persistence pays off, and who could get annoyed with a dog with such expressive eyes? Cavaliers are also generally very good with other dogs. Sheila Smith describes them as bold, though they are sometimes a little shy with other dogs on first acquaintance, especially if the other dogs are large and boisterous.

Cavaliers tend to relax as soon as they realise that acquaintances are harmless, and do well in households with other dogs, so long as the other dogs are not too rough. Households with just Cavaliers tend to have few spats between the dogs, compared with households of most other breeds. Perhaps, then, Sheila Smith could sing the praises of Cavaliers a little more loudly, since they are an ideal breed for people who want more than one dog.

Cavaliers are also a little more versatile than Sheila Smith gives them credit for. They make fine agility dogs, with the jumps adjusted for their size. It would perhaps be worth stressing their need for exercise a little more, since it is easy for owners to see Cavaliers as cuddly dogs with no need for a daily walk. Without enough exercise, Cavaliers can become fat and bored, whereas given enough exercise and interesting things to do, they stay fit and alert.

The biggest grumble about this book is that it makes breeding seem too easy. Readers are told that studying genetics is not worthwhile, and that they should instead rely on common sense. There is, indeed, a lot of common sense advice on breeding in this book, but it is not really enough for someone wanting to breed Cavaliers. This is a serious deficiency because many owners of pedigree dogs have hopes of breeding them, and Cavaliers are prone to some hereditary diseases which can shorten their lives. At the very least, readers considering breeding could advised to study the subject in greater depth, and be offered a list of resources for further research.

These grumbles aside, Sheila Smith’s guide to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is a very enjoyable book for those of us who love this breed.