A question often asked by new or would-be owners of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel is related to how long they will live. One reason they ask this question is that they have heard that this breed has a short lifespan. Well, as you can see from the below, this isn’t quite accurate.
What is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s lifespan? The lifespan of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ranges from 9 to 14 years. To me, this sounds similar to that of many other breeds of dog. Have a read through the rest of my article to find out all you need to know and how you can ensure yours has a happy and healthy long life and even how you can extend it!
A Brief History of that Grand Name
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel descended from the small Toy spaniels popular in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Toy spaniels were a common pet of the ladies of the court in Tudor times. In the 17th century, they were given the rather royal title of King Charles Spaniels, apparently because King Charles II always had several at his heels.
Why is it thought that a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a short lifespan?
There seem to various reasons why people think these adorable little dogs have a short lifespan.
The breed is notorious for having dental health problems and this can lead to a reduction in their lifespan of up to 3 years.
As it is a small dog this means it can easily be over-fed and so obesity is another factor which reduces its life expectancy.
Spaniels are genetically predisposed to suffer from heart disease, which is a leading cause of death in older dogs.
How to improve a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lifespan
Sadly, Mitral valve disease (MVD) can be quite a common disease in Cavalier King Charles spaniels. It is a disease of the heart, caused by the deterioration of one of its valves. Due to the damage to the valve, with each heartbeat, some blood is forced backward from one chamber into another rather than out of the heart. Cavaliers should be screened for heart murmurs annually, beginning at age one year. If MVD is detected your vet will advise you of the best way to manage the disease.
Spay or neuter?
It is highly recommended to have your Cavalier King Charles spaniel spayed (if female) or neutered (if male). In females, the procedure involves the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus, and in males, it involves the removal of the testicles. Spaying or neutering reduces the chances of certain types of cancers. It also removes the possibility of your dog becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Whilst this surgery is being performed, your vet can check for other diseases your dog is likely to develop.
Always supervise your spaniel closely. Think about how you might make a house safe for a toddler and apply the same process when you have a spaniel. Keep doors to unsafe rooms closed, pick up after yourself, be careful with hot drinks and make sure your dog can’t escape from the house.
As I mentioned earlier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often have serious problems with their teeth. To help keep your dogs’ teeth healthy ensure you brush them at least three times a week! Please make sure you don’t use human toothpaste though! This is really important. The toothpaste that we use has Fluoride in it, this is poisonous to dogs so don’t let it anywhere near them.
Brush your Cavalier’s coat from a young age. This will mean it will learn to love being groomed and will save you expensive trips to a groomer. You should really try to groom it every day to prevent it from becoming matted. It is not necessary to have a cavaliers coat clipped and some people say this spoils their appearance. You may want to trim the hair around their toes.
A spaniel’s ears should be cleaned weekly, from a puppy. Its long floppy ears tend to collect a lot of dirt and debris so you should check them every time you groom your dog. If you neglect a Cavalier’s ears they can become itchy and cause the dog a lot of bother. Dirty ears could become infected.
To clean a Cavalier’s ears, use an alcohol-free, non-irritating ear wash made specifically for dogs. Pull back your dog’s ear, moving the hair out of the way. Insert the tip of the bottle of ear wash into the ear canal. Squirt just enough solution into your pet’s ear to partially fill the ear canal. Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear for a few seconds to help dislodge ear wax and debris. Then, use a cotton wool ball or pad to wipe away the liquid and dirt. Repeat this process until the cotton ball comes away clean.
Cavaliers tend to get mucky eyes which will need cleaning. A Cavalier’s eyes are sensitive so only clean around the eyes. If there is a build-up of muck, wipe it clean with a soft, damp cloth or clean tissue. Wipe around the eye very gently. Muck in its eyes can be flushed out with a dog-friendly solution. Position the bottle at a downward angle near (NOT IN) the dog’s eye and squeeze gently on the bottle. The liquid should flush out any dirt and debris.
If you are going to walk a Cavalier on pavements regularly then its nails should not grow too long. If your walks are mainly over grass and fields you may find it necessary to clip your dogs’ nails. It takes some confidence to know where to safely clip to and so it is advisable to have a vet show you the safest way to do this. It’s important not to let a Cavalier’s nails become overgrown because they can curl around and puncture the paw pads.
Spaniels can be sensitive to extremes of temperature so make sure you avoid any prolonged exposure to hot or cold areas. Spaniels can suffer from heat stress so keep an eye out for the signs which included excessive drooling, glazed eyes, and a rapid heart rate.
A Cavalier King Charles spaniel should be given high-quality food specially formulated for small breeds. This will ensure the correct balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Protein is the most important constituent of a dog’s diet because it helps to fuel healthy growth and development.
For a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, protein should come from high-quality sources like chicken and fresh fish. Fat is also very important for small-breed dogs because it provides a high concentration of energy. These should be animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil.
A Cavalier King Charles spaniel also needs to eat carbohydrates to provide dietary fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Choose whole grains and other easily digestible carbohydrates such as brown rice and sweet potato.
Avoid low-quality carbohydrates like corn and wheat as these do not provide much nutritional value and can cause allergies in dogs. If your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel develops food allergies you may need to switch to a limited diet to identify which ingredients have caused the allergy and eliminate them in the future.
Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give it food intended for people.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels do not need a lot of exercise, only about an hour a day. You could split this into 2 or 3 walks.
One thing you should be very aware of is that these Spaniels possess no road sense whatsoever (and I can vouch for this as I’ve witnessed my neighbor’s two meandering all over the road) so you will find it nigh on impossible to teach it any. Another thing to note is a Cavalier is a natural born chaser and it will chase absolutely anything (cars included). So bearing both of these traits in mind it is a good idea to keep this breed on a lead. Regularly check your garden fence too as Cavaliers are highly intelligent animals. If there is a small hole you can bet your life this dog will find it!
Love and attention
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are friendly and affectionate dogs. They mix very well with other animals and children. Their cuddly nature has lead to the nick-name of comforter spaniel’. Don’t consider one for a guard dog, the worst it will do is lick someone to death!
They adore human company and can’t get enough of it. So be prepared to give this breed lots of attention and you will find you have a very devoted pet. This dog will pine for you when left alone for any length of time so is best as a member of a household where someone is often home. Try not to leave a Cavalier alone for more than 3 hours.
So what is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lifespan?
I think it is safe to say that the lifespan of this beautiful dog is dependent on many factors, some of which are in your control and some that are not. All you can do is follow the advice above to give your dog the best chance of leading a healthy life and long may that life be! With a bit of luck and some good attention from you, one could reach the age of 14 which is a good number for a dog.