Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniel healthy dogs

Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniel healthy dogs?

If you are interested in the cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and want to know if they are a healthy dog breed, then you are at the right place. Here I will talk about the hereditary diseases and the history of these dogs because this is not unimportant to understand how some conditions come about.

Unfortunately, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not healthy dogs. There is a relatively long list of hereditary diseases, such as a heart valve defect, a nerve disease due to the deformation of the cranial cavity, and brachycephaly. Which, unfortunately, very often makes life a misery for the cute Cavalier.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel health issues!

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was very popular in the English courts. In this regard, the history of these dogs is fundamental. From the 17th century, there are paintings in which the original “King Charles Spaniel” can be seen with the children of King Charles I.

On the English courts, he was extremely popular for serving the children and the ladies to amuse the boring palace and court life. To this day, the law enacted by then King Charles I allowing any King Charles Spaniel entry into all public buildings is still in effect.


Unfortunately, over time, the shape of the then-healthy “King Charles Spaniel” changed significantly. He became smaller and short-nosed due to cross-breeding from the Pug and other short-nosed breeds.

It was bred purely for optical reasons. The head became more and more round, and smaller which made the eyes look bigger and the nose became shorter and shorter. It also became more and more susceptible to disease, which the “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel” still suffers from today.

Even the effort around 1926 to breed the breed more originally again, by crossing the Papillon, did not help the breed, now called “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” out of its hereditary dilemma. It is still considered a brachycephalic breed, a torture breed!


Syringomyelia is a disease of the spinal cord. In this case, the Cavalier will develop insensations in the neck and shoulder area, leading to continuous scratching attacks. The affected Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will also become sensitive to touch in the head and neck area.

They will suffer from increasingly severe nerve pain, and neurological deficits will occur. According to some studies, this disease is prevalent, and the older the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gets, the higher the risk of contracting it.

Chiari Malformation

Chiari malformation is an even more common disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. This disease is not externally recognizable. This is also a nerve disease.

Because of the “small” breeding of the head, the brain is too big for the cranial cavity. Because the occipital orifice is blocked by the brain, which is too large, the normal flow and production of spinal fluid are impeded. Pressure is created in the cranial cavity.

This leads to several serious quality-of-life-reducing symptoms, such as severe pain in the back that can lead to cries of pain when lifting. Rapid fatigue or severe head rubbing on the floor.

Due to the squeezing of the nerves, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can also suffer from temporary paralysis, as well as temporary squinting. In addition, it is suspected among experts that the Chiara malformation, or Chiara-like malformation, may contribute to the development of syringomyelia.

According to a study by the University of Uppsala in Sweden, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel carries the most disease-causing gene mutations. The experts attribute this to breeding history. No other dog breed comes close.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

So it is with the heart disease Mitral-Valve-Disease (MVD). This is the most common heart disease in dogs and will affect a high percentage of any Cavalier.

It is a form of heart failure, mitral valve degeneration. If your Cavalier starts coughing, don’t wait long. Because if pulmonary edema has formed, he will only survive a few days without treatment.

Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome (CCS)

Curly Coat Dry Eye Syndrome (CCS) is a skin and eye condition that can include anything from mild symptoms such as dry and irritated eyes to loss of sight. This disease exclusively affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Epilespies and allergies

Due to its torturous breeding, the Cavalier is also prone to epilepsy and allergies. If it has a relatively short nose, it will always have problems with breathing. This will reduce its quality of life even more, especially in summer.

Unfortunately, there are hardly any specimens free from these severe genetic defects! This will not only be a psychological stress for the dog and owner, but it is also connected with high veterinary costs. Most of the diseases of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will require permanent treatment. Nerve and heart damage usually leads to dying sooner rather than later. You should think all this through.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Are prone to various diseases (contribution picture)

What should you consider when getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

If you decide to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, look for a reputable breeder who cares more about health than looks.

Make sure that no inbreeding has been done. This can be seen in the pedigree; no name should appear twice.

The parents should be examined for the most important diseases, so that hereditary transmission can be excluded.

Don’t buy a dog from a private backyard breeder because you can easily fall for breeders or dog dealers!

Think about good food for your dog from the beginning; you should not save money. Good nutrition promotes a healthy and long dog life. In my opinion, the dry food from Orijen is currently one of the best. It is free of artificial additives and has a high meat content.

If you have a sick Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, it can significantly affect the lifespan.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are suitable for beginners and have the reputation that they are “easy” to train, but he still does not educate himself alone.

This means that even a Cavalier from the beginning, consistent rules need and you should acquire education knowledge.

The Cavalier needs daily exercise and occupation for his physical and mental workout. Likewise, daily fur care should not be despised, which should not be neglected.

The coat will mat quickly, and the shine of the coat will tell you if your little Cavalier is doing well.

Conclusion: Is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a healthy dog breed?

Unfortunately, the Cavalier King Charles cannot be called a healthy dog breed. It is prone to various diseases due to questionable breeding goals and is still considered a torture breed today.

Alex (Contributed image)

I am Marco with my Cane Corso and my Broholmer


I am Marco, and I am very lucky to live with 3 big Mastiff-type dogs. In this blog, I want to share all my experiences and knowledge about dogs.

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