Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breed Magazine features information, articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
CHARLES SPANIEL CAVALIER KING
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel General Appearance: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active, graceful, well-balanced toy spaniel, very gay and free in action; fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate. It is this typical gay temperament, combined with true elegance and royal appearance which are of paramount importance in the breed. Natural appearance with no trimming, sculpting or artificial alteration is essential to breed type. Size, Proportion, Substance: Size - Height 12 to 13 inches at the withers; weight proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 pounds. A small, well balanced dog within these weights is desirable, but these are ideal heights and weights and slight variations are permissible. 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 the elbow is approximately equal to the height from the elbow to the ground. Substance - Bone moderate in proportion to size. Weedy and coarse specimens are to be equally penalized. Head: Proportionate to size of dog, appearing neither too large nor too small for the body. Expression - The sweet, gentle, melting expression is an important breed characteristic. 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 surrounding ring. 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 face. 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. Muzzle - Full muzzle slightly tapered. Length from base of stop to tip of nose about 1½ inches. Face well filled below eyes. Any tendency towards snipiness undesirable. Nose pigment uniformly black without flesh marks and nostrils well developed. Lips well developed but not pendulous giving a clean finish. Faults - Sharp or pointed muzzles. 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. 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. Topline - Level both when moving and standing. Body - Short-coupled with ribs well sprung but not barrelled. 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. 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.
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Forequarters: 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. Hindquarters: The hindquarters construction should come down from a good broad pelvis, moderately muscled; stifles well turned and hocks well let down. The hindlegs when viewed from the rear should parallel each other from hock to heel. Faults - Cow or sickle hocks. 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 be effectively eliminated from competition . Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed. 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 and 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, with a white blaze between the eyes. Rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears and on 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 on underside of tail. Faults - Heavy ticking on Blenheims or Tricolors, white marks on Rubies or Black and Tans. 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 muscled hindquarters. Temperament: Gay, friendly, non-aggressive with no tendency towards nervousness or shyness. Bad temper, shyness, and meanness are not to be tolerated and are to be severely penalized as to effectively remove the specimen from competition .
Approved Date: January 10, 1995 Effective Date: April 30, 1995
THE HISTORY OF THE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL
BY ROBERT A. SCHROLL
T he Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today really owes its recreation to three things—an American, paint- ings and prize money. The Cavalier gained its royal stature way back in the 1600s during the rule of the Stuart Kings Charles I and his son Charles II. The dogs were court favor- ites and trailed both monarchs around the various castles, occasionally to the dismay of other subjects. They were prominently featured in the paintings of Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough and others. At the end of their reigns and the annexation of Scotland into the Unit- ed Kingdom, they were replaced by other breeds. By the 1800s, the breed had morphed into the very short-faced, dome-headed English Toy Spaniel (or King Charles Spaniels over there). That look and type remained through the 19th century. In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge noted the absence of the old longer-nosed, flat-skulled span- iels he admired and so for five years offered a prize at Crufts of 25 pounds— a very tidy sum—to the dog and bitch most resembling the dogs in the paint- ings of the old masters. Roads diverge at this point as to how the recreation of the breed truly came about. Some would have you believe
“Young King Charles II of England with his Spaniel” by Van Dyck, c. 1600s. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
that Charlie breeders just began to keep their longer-nosed pets and bred them to each other, while still others suggest that Cockers, Papillons and even Welsh Springer Spaniels were added to the gene pool. I believe that the answer tru- ly lies somewhere in between the two. Whatever the case, in 1928 the prize was awarded to a Blenheim dog named Anns Son, and with him in the
center of a table surrounded by breed- ers, a standard was written and the club was formed in 1929. Breed popularity continued to grow until it eventually became the UK’s top toy dog. The first Cavaliers arrived on these shores in 1952 and in 1956 sisters-in- law Gertrude Polk Brown Albrecht and Sally Brown formed a club and approached the AKC to find out how to
“BREED POPULARITY CONTINUED TO GROW UNTIL IT EVENTUALLY BECAME THE UK’S TOP TOY DOG.”
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“IN TERMS OF AKC REGISTRATION NUMBERS, IN 2017 THE CAVALIER RANKED THE 19TH MOST POPULAR BREED
IN THE UNITED STATES, TRAILING ONLY THE YORKSHIRE TERRIER.”
get them admitted. Records were kept, shows were held (usually at Trudy’s farm in Louisville, Sutherland) and it languished in the miscellaneous class for twenty years. In 1994, the AKC made it clear that Cavaliers would be recognized with or without a Parent Club. The Border Collie Club went through a similar situ- ation and was recognized without a par- ent club. Faced with this inevitability, twelve concerned breeders (including those with many of the top winning and producing dogs) organized a club, wrote a standard and gathered the support of over one hundred other new members. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels became AKC’s 140th recognized breed on January 1, 1996. In terms of AKC registration num- bers, in 2017 the Cavalier ranked the 19th most popular breed in the United States, trailing only the Yorkshire Terrier. ACKCSC has chosen this article to reprint to honor the author and the his- tory of our breed. Robert Schroll has been selected by the ACKCSC Board of Directors to judge Best of Breed at the club’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in April 2019. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Schroll (Ravenrush Cavaliers): Robert met his partner John Gammon while working for the legendary handler Ted Young, Jr. After moving to Tennessee in 1977, they got their first two Cavaliers, littermates, a black and tan dog and a ruby bitch. They attended their first Cav- alier show in 1980, where the ruby bitch became the first in the US of her color to win a specialty! Since then, they have bred, owned and handled four ACKCSC National Specialty winners, five all-breed BIS winners (including the breed’s first BIS). Additionally, Ravenrush has nine Registry of Merit and three Legion of Merit Cavaliers. Robert and John were both founding officers of the ACKCSC. Robert continues to serve on the Judges Education Committee.
“Study of a King Charles Spaniel” by Chalon, c. 1800. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
(Photo © Downey)
“A King Charles Spaniel” by Manet, c. 1866. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
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Taming the Genie– JUDGING CAVALIERS
By Stephanie Abraham
udging the Cavalier well is a bit like catching a genie in a bottle. Just when you think you’ve “got it right,” some new aspect of the breed shimmers before you, to remind you that you really
didn’t quite understand it at all! Nonethe- less, we persevere, and if you are a careful student, you will find that you can succeed in spite of what’s inside the genie jar. For one thing, while the Cavalier is a true Toy spaniel, he should never be light boned nor fragile. Just as his ancestors bred by the Duke of Marlboro had “to be able to go all day behind a horse,” so too the mod- ern Cavalier must be a sturdy little dog with good spring of rib to accommodate adequate heart and lung room. He must be easily able to enjoy a good hike with his family. He must be as sound as any good moving dog is sound—even tho he is not called upon to race or to pull a cart or to bring a wild boar to bay. In other words, his toy status does not give him license to be a weakling or unable to physically exert himself. Th e Cavalier is actually a very sporting dog and those who own one will soon learn that they have a keen penchant to chase things that move—butterflies and birds beware. Size and proportion pose another slippery slope for many judges—and breeders—alike. Th e Cavalier is the larg- est animal in the Toy Group, but a Toy nonetheless. He stands slightly o ff square, although he may “look” square at first glance. He is actually a bit longer than he is tall. While the Standard tells us 12"-13" inches at the withers, it is sometimes di ffi - cult to grasp the very significant di ff erence in appearance that variation represents. Add to that the acceptable weight variation of 13-18 lbs. and it is easy to see that there is considerable—acceptable—di ff erence in size for this breed. Add to that gender considerations and the presumption that
Lovely expression in a whole color.
“THE CAVALIER IS ACTUALLY A VERY SPORTING DOG and those who own one will soon learn that they have a keen penchant to chase things that move— BUTTERFLIES AND BIRDS BEWARE.”
males are larger than females—but not always in every case—you can appreciate the dilemmas facing judges in the ring. Th e best solution is to educate your eye by immersing yourself in the breed—watch- ing literally scores of Cavaliers in order to
sort out what is ok and what is not. Oh- did I forget? Th ere is no DQ for size. So maybe, just maybe, your best Cavalier in the ring will be a little under or a little over that 12"-13" recommendation. We need to remember that the world will not come
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aspects, but one of the things it does not address is that there should be cushioning under the eye—to contribute to the dog’s soft, gentle aspect—helping to give that melting “look” that we come to know so well. Th e dark eyes are frontally placed, round and full—never oblique. Another thing to keep in mind is that while the Standard says that the skull is “Slightly rounded, but without dome or peak; it should appear flat because of the high placement of the ears”—it usually appears flat only when the ears are at attention and framing the face of an alert dog. When the dog is at rest, there actually can be a slight rounding at the top of the skull (not a pro- nounced curve). Th is is perfectly accept- able in the breed. Th e Cavalier is not a breed that sin- gle tracks at the brisk trot. Rather, his rear legs move parallel to each other tho there is slight convergence when speed increases. Th ey should move straight and true—and angulation front and rear should balance so that reach and drive is maximized. Hackney action in front is not acceptable. Again—he may not be doing arduous tasks in the field, but he is built so that he COULD do whatever came his way, commensurate with his size limitations. Note: the Cavalier was bred to be strictly a companion animal. Along the way his ancestry undoubtedly includ- ed some sporting and perhaps hunting breeds—with some breed historians sug- gesting lineage as diverse as the Spanish tru ffl e dog. While he may exhibit some traits that acknowledge his roots, he was never intended to be anything but a lap dog and companion. Tail carriage is sometimes a sticking point to judges. Ideal carriage should not be much above the level of the back, with carriage between 2 and 4 o’clock being acceptable. But remember—males some- times will posture in the ring and raise the tail. As judges, it is up to us to decide what to do about that. Personally, I would for- give a tail that I deem to be a bit excitable, rather than put up a poorer conformation specimen. Remember, anyone of us can see a true gay tail in the air…it doesn’t take rocket science… but sometimes I think the easy criticism takes undue precedence
Tricolor male with excellent breed type.
Side gait showing excellent reach and drive.
crashing down if we reward the very best specimen who may be a bit outside the guidelines. Even the Standard reminds us that “slight variations are permissible.” Temperament and ring behavior is another area where the unwary judge may find himself wanting. I have encountered any number of judges who are convinced that the only good Cavalier is a Cavalier whose tail is constantly wagging. Now, a wagging tail is a very nice thing in our Cavaliers, and the tail DOES wag when the dog is in motion. But as judges we must remember that these animals are not automatons. When standing, many of them will wag sometimes and other times... not. As judges, it is up to us to dis- cern that the exhibits we like and want to reward are happy to be in the ring. We can
tell that by the expression in the eye, the willingness to do what the handler wishes, and overall “biddability.” Any single dog’s worth should NOT be measured in terms of wags per minute. Please understand that I am not advocating any Cavalier be rewarded for atypical behavior. Tempera- ment is the very essence of this breed—a glad, kindling expression, friendliness to all, and an abiding, happy outlook on life. Th ere are any number of ways to determine whether or not you are judging a happy dog. Wagging is perhaps one of them, but no Cavalier should be penalized because he forgot his ‘wagger’ at a crucial moment during judging. Quality is all. Th e head and expression of the Cava- lier is a quintessential part of his breed type. Th e Standard is explicit about many
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when we reward instead a dog with straight shoulders or sickle hocks. Bites in the Cavalier sometimes give both judges and breeders absolute fits! Our Standard says that “A perfect, regular and complete scissors bite is preferred.” If we are lucky breeders, our hopeful puppy has a scissors bite from birth and never chang- es. But this breed is notorious for having its occlusion alter over many months and even years. Th at promising puppy may go from scissors to undershot and back to scissors again—I know of one that “came right” at the age of 5! Of course, as judges we can only judge on the day… but many judges do tend to give the benefit of the doubt to Cavaliers who are still in the Puppy classes and have a slightly undershot bite. It’s up to you. Overshot bites are rarely shown and I have never known one to improve. Please do not expect the Cavalier to stand at riveted attention in the ring—or at least, not for very long. Th e Cavalier nature is to fidget and dance about—and this should not be held against them. At the same time, they should be shown on a loose lead and NOT hand stacked in the ring—handlers may get their attention with bait or toys, but bending or kneel- ing down to re-set a leg on the floor or the grass is not an acceptable way to show this breed. Please so advise those handlers who did not get the memo! Meticulous stack- ing is reserved for the table exam. Just as we want the Cavalier’s true happy nature to shine through with a wag or a dance, we also demand that he NOT NOT NOT be trimmed. No sculpting, no thinning, NO trimming! “Specimens where coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penal- ized as to e ff ectively eliminate from com- petition.” Dear judges—this means you! Th e Parent Club is so emphatic about it, a letter was sent out to all licensed judges a few years ago, imploring them not to reward trimmed animals. Th e Cavalier is fun to breed, fun to live with, and believe it or not—fun to judge well. All it requires is that you appreciate the ideal of Type as defined by the Stan- dard, and expand your knowledge just a bit beyond those wise words. Th at genie is tameable, after all!
“PLEASE DO NOT EXPECT THE CAVALIER TO STAND AT RIVETED ATTENTION IN THE RING— or at least, not for very long.”
“Just as we want the Cavalier’s true happy nature to shine through with a wag or a dance, we also DEMAND THAT HE NOT NOT NOT BE TRIMMED.”
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JUDGING THE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL
BY DR. JOHN V. IOIA
I had the great fortune to be a guest on May 2, 1997 at the first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel National Specialty, hosted by the ACKCSC in Plymouth Meeting, Penn- sylvania. The entry of 188 held many exceptional speci- mens, but what captivated me was the demeanor of the dogs. Partic- ularly in the Specials Class, all of the exhibits seemed to be wagging in unison. I had never experienced such a happy breed of dog. This simple trait of a “tail in constant motion” gives ample indication as to why the Cavalier is such a joy to own, breed, show, and judge. A judge will often be met by a sniff, a lick, dancing front paws or even a bit of chatter. We ask new judges not to dismiss this as ama- teur handling, but to understand it as a trait that breeders treasure and encourage.
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, good reach, and making good use of the hindquarters.
“THE CAVALIER IS DEFINED BY ITS BEAUTIFUL HEAD AND ITS GENTLE, WELCOMING, AND AFFECTIONATE PERSONALITY.”
There are many excellent articles on judging this Royal Breed, and I struggled over what new approach to take. The Cavalier is defined by its beautiful head and its gentle, welcoming, and affec- tionate personality. Otherwise, it’s a fairly generic dog. The Cavalier should give a first impression of grace and ele- gance, gay temperament with royal dignity, and yet maintain the same fearlessness and sporting character of its larger cousins. The natural, silky coat must never appear trimmed or sculpted. The correct Cavalier is a small, well-balanced dog of 13-18 lbs. and 12"-13" height that approaches squareness, although the mea- surement from point of shoulder to point of buttock is slightly lon- ger than the height at the withers. Also, the distance from withers to elbow equals that from elbow to ground. Substance and bone are moderate and in proportion to size. A proper Cavalier should not be weedy, coarse, too large or too small. Be aware of size. There’s a tendency toward bigger dogs, which will make the correct-sized dog appear small, but in all things, quality is the bottom line.
Coming at you, the front legs should also be straight and true; they should not be out at the elbows or exhibit paddling. This is typical, happy Cavalier expression.
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Some examples of typical Cavalier heads and expression: Left, a lovely young female head in repose; middle, a young female alert; right, an alert male. All demonstrate lovely heads.
“CORRECT HEAD TYPE IS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THIS BREED AND MAKES ITS FIRST IMPRESSION. HERE IS WHERE KNOWLEDGE OF BREED HISTORY AND ORIGIN IS IMPORTANT. THE SHORT NOSE, DEEP STOP, AND GLOBULAR HEAD OF THE ENGLISH TOY SPANIEL IS THE ANTITHESIS OF THE CAVALIER. THE CAVALIER MUST HAVE A SOFT, MELTING EXPRESSION AND THIS IS THE RESULT OF A FLAT-APPEARING SKULL, THE FRONTAL PLACEMENT OF LARGE, ROUND EYES WITH SLIGHT CUSHIONING, FRAMED BY HIGH-SET EARS.”
to allow the head to be carried proudly. The neck should slope gracefully into well- laidback shoulders. Upright shoulders will promote a steeper head carriage, a short- ened stride, and an incorrect gait. There is a growing tendency toward upright shoul- ders and some shortened upper arms. A well-balanced dog should appear square, but is slightly longer than tall. The breed should never appear long and low nor should they be up on leg. Long backs/ short legs are becoming too common. The chest should be moderately deep and reach the elbows, with a slight swell. Cavaliers are short-coupled, meaning there is a short distance from the last rib to the hip or loin. Hindquarters should come down from a good, broad pelvis, very slightly sloped to give an attractive tail carriage. Topline is level... end of discussion. The tail is a projection of the spine and should be level with the topline, carried between two and four o’clock, with three o’clock being ideal. Please be aware that
Correct head type is an essential ele- ment of this breed and makes its first impression. Here is where knowledge of breed history and origin is important. The short nose, deep stop, and globular head of the English Toy Spaniel is the antithesis of the Cavalier. The Cavalier must have a soft, melting expression and this is the result of a flat-appearing skull, the frontal placement of large, round eyes with slight cushioning, framed by high-set ears. The eyes must be large, round, dark brown, lus- trous, and welcoming. Light eyes, promi- nent eyes or eyes surrounded by white are a serious fault as they detract from the expression. “All of the trust and gentleness of the Cavalier’s soul is communicated through its lustrous, limpid eyes.” Ears and ear set are very important and often misjudged. Ears should be set high and not too close together, with long leath- ers and silky hair. Cavaliers can “use” their ears when alert, stiffening the leathers and fanning them forward to frame the face.
This will also raise the ears to a straight line across the topskull. When at ease, the ears may relax and make an otherwise cor- rect skull appear rounded. The adage, “examine them on the table but judge them on the ground,” could never be truer. Don’t expect an exhibit to wag on the table—although they may. Use the table to check bites, ear leather, inspect layback of shoulder, and reinforce opinions made from observation on the ground. Approach the dog with a light heart and hand, cradle the head with both hands, gently check the bite, feel the topskull and origin of ear, ear leather, and move on to neck and shoulder. One more point; a scis- sors bite is preferred, but a level or slightly undershot bite in a young dog could be overlooked, as many correct by 18-24 months. And don’t make checking a bite a test of strength. A heavy hand has ruined many a good Toy dog. A perfect neck has a slight muscular arch at its crest and is of sufficient length
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“THE BREED IS FREE-MOVING AND ELEGANT IN ACTION, EXHIBITING GOOD REACH AND DRIVE, COVERING GROUND WHILE MAINTAINING A LEVEL TOPLINE.”
free-stacked. Handlers should be remind- ed not to get down and pose their dog— and this includes juniors. The Cavalier should be moved on a loose lead and at a medium trot. The breed is free-moving and elegant in action, exhibiting good reach and drive, covering ground while maintaining a level topline. Cavaliers do not single track at the trot, although there is some tendency to con- verge as speed increases. Coming at you, the front legs should also be straight and true; 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, good reach, and making good use of the hind- quarters. Remember, the tail is to be in constant motion. Enjoy the experience of this Royal Spaniel.
males, in particular, will posture and flag when excited, but will drop the tail back naturally when relaxed. Cavaliers come in four lovely flavors: Blenheim, with rich chestnut markings on a clear pearly white ground; Tricolor, with jet-black marking on a field of pearly white and rich tan marking over the eyes, on the cheeks, inside the ears, and under the tail; Black and Tan; and Ruby, a whole-colored, rich red. There is no color preference, but heavy ticking on the broken colors is a fault as are white spots on Rubies and Black and Tans. Please keep in mind that the Cavalier is meant to be shown naturally, free-stacked, and the only trimming that is permitted is the hair growing between the pads of the underside of the foot. The Standard states that a trimmed dog is to be so severely penalized as to virtually eliminate it from competition. Judges are expected to respect and enforce this sec- tion of the Standard. Exhibits should be
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. John Ioia and his wife, Barbara, have been involved in purebred dogs since 1971, first with Shih Tzu and now with Cavaliers, breeding and showing in conformation, obedience, and rally. John is licensed for all Toy Breeds, about half of the Terriers and Non-Sporting, Best in Show, and Juniors. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from SUNY Downstate Medical Center and his MD from Albany Medical College. He is an Orthopedic Surgeon, practicing in New York’s Hudson Valley.
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JUDGING THE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL BY STEPHANIE ABRAHAM Submitted by the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club J udging the Cavalier well is a bit like catching a genie in a bottle. Just when you think you’ve “got it right,” up jumps some new aspect of the breed to remind you that you really didn’t quite understand it at all! Nonetheless, we persevere, and if you are a careful student, you will find that you can succeed in spite of the pitfalls before you. For one thing, while the Cavalier is a true Toy Spaniel, he should not be light- boned or fragile. Just as his ancestors (bred by the Duke of Marlborough) had “to be able to go all day behind a horse,” so too the modern Cavalier must be a sturdy little dog with good spring of rib to accommodate adequate heart and lung room. He must be easily able to enjoy a good hike with his family. He must be as sound as any good-moving dog is sound—even though he is not called upon to race, or to pull a cart, or to bring a wild boar to bay. In other words, his Toy status does not give him license to be a weakling or unable to physically exert himself. The Cavalier is actually a very sporting dog and those who own one will soon learn that they have a keen penchant to chase things that move—butterflies and birds beware!
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whose tail is constantly wagging. Now, a wagging tail is a very nice thing in our Cavaliers, and the tail does wag when the dog is in motion. But as judges, we must remember that these animals are not automatons. When standing, many of them will wag sometimes, and other times... not. As judges, it is up to us to discern that the exhibits we like and want to reward are happy to be in the ring. We can tell this by the expression in the eye, the willingness to do what the handler wishes, and overall “biddability.” Any single dog’s worth should not be mea- sured in terms of wags per minute. Please understand that I am not advocating any Cavalier be rewarded for atypical behavior. Temperament is the very essence of this breed—a glad, kindly expression, friendliness to all, and an abiding, happy outlook on life. There are any number of ways to determine whether or not you are judging a happy dog. Wagging is perhaps one of them, but no Cavalier should be penalized because he forgot his “wagger” at a crucial moment during judging. Quality is all. The head and expression of the Cavalier is a quintessential part of his breed type. The Standard is explicit about many aspects, but one of the things it does not address fully is that there should be cushioning under the eye—to contribute to the dog’s soft, gentle aspect—helping to give that melting “look” that we’ve come to know so well. The dark eyes are frontally placed, round and full—never oblique. Another thing to keep in mind is that while the Standard says that the skull is “Slight- ly rounded, but without dome or peak; it should appear flat because of the high placement of the ears”—it usually appears flat only when the ears are alert. When the dog is at rest, there actually can be a slight rounding at the top of the skull (not a pronounced curve). This is perfectly acceptable in the breed. The Cavalier is not a breed that single tracks at a brisk trot. Rather, his rear legs move parallel to each other though there is slight convergence when speed increases. They should move straight and true—and angulation front and rear should balance so that reach and drive is maximized. Hackney action in front is not acceptable. Again, he may not be doing arduous tasks in the field, but he is built so that he could do whatever came his way (commensurate with his size limitations). Note: The Cavalier was bred to be strictly a companion animal. Along the way, his ances- try undoubtedly included some Sporting and perhaps hunting breeds—with lineage as diverse as the Spanish truffle dog!
Size is another slippery slope for many judges—and breeders alike. While the Stan- dard tells us 12-13" inches at the withers, it is sometimes difficult to grasp the very sig- nificant difference in appearance that varia- tion represents. Add to this the acceptable weight variation of 13-18 lbs and it is easy to see that there is considerable—acceptable— difference in size for this breed. [Then] add gender considerations and the presumption that males are larger than females (but not always in every case), you can appreciate the dilemmas facing judges in the ring. The best solution is to educate your eye by immers- ing yourself in the breed; watching liter- ally scores of Cavaliers in order to sort out what is ok and what is not. Oh, did I for- get? There is no DQ for size. So maybe, just maybe, your best Cavalier in the ring will be a little under or a little over that 12-13" rec- ommendation. We need to remember that the world will not come crashing down if we reward the very best specimen who may be a bit outside the guidelines. Temperament and ring behavior is another area where the unwary judge may find himself wanting. I have encountered any number of judges who are convinced that the only good Cavalier is a Cavalier
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2021 | 307
JUDGING THE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL
While he may exhibit some traits that acknowledge his roots, he was never intended to be anything but a lap dog and companion. Tail carriage is sometimes a stick- ing point for judges. Ideal carriage should not be much above the level of the back, with carriage between 2 and 4 o’clock being acceptable. But remember, males will sometimes pos- ture in the ring and raise the tail. As judges, it is up to us to decide what to do about that. Personally, I would forgive a tail that I deem to be a bit excitable, rather than put up a poorer conformation specimen. Remember, any one of us can see a truly gay tail in the air (it doesn’t take rocket sci- ence), but sometimes I think the easy criticism takes undue precedence when we reward, instead, a dog with straight shoulders or sickle hocks. Bites in the Cavalier sometimes give both judges and breeders abso- lute fits! Our Standard says that “A perfect, regular and complete scissors bite is preferred…” If we are lucky breeders, our hopeful puppy has a scissors bite from birth and never changes. But this breed is notorious for having its occlusion alter over many months and even years. That promising puppy may go from scis- sors to undershot and back to scissors again—I know of one that “came right” at the age of five! Of course, as judges we can only judge on the day, but many judges do tend to give the benefit of the doubt to Cavaliers who are still in the Puppy Classes and have a slightly undershot bite. It’s up to you. Overshot bites are rarely shown and I have never known one to improve. Please do not expect the Cavalier to stand at riveted attention in the ring—or at least not for very long. The Cavalier nature is to fidget and dance about, and this should not be held against him. At the same time, he should be shown on a loose lead and not hard-stacked in the ring. Handlers may get their attention with bait or toys, but bending or kneeling down to re-set a leg on the floor or the grass is not an acceptable way to show this breed. Meticulous stacking is reserved for the table exam.
Just as we want their true, happy nature to shine through with a wag or a dance, we also demand that they not be trimmed. No sculpt- ing, no thinning, no trimming! “Specimens where coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severe- ly penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition.” Judges, please heed this and have the fortitude not to reward the trimmed dog, even if he is the best one before you. Or else, what are Standards for? The Cavalier may not be an easy breed to judge, but he is such a merry, happy dog that most judges enjoy their Cavalier assignments. Just remember to catch and tame that genie in the bottle! For further information on the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or a list of breeders, visit: ACKCSC.org .
308 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2021
A JUDGE’S Point of View by marilyn mayfield, aKC/CKCS, USa JUdge/CKCS Breeder
I am a judge for both the Ameri- can Kennel Club and the origi- nal Cavalier King Charles Span- iel Club USA, known as the “Old Club.” I have judged Cavaliers all over the world for many years. I have been a breeder of Cavaliers for 20 years. I am the breeder/handler of the current #1 Cavalier in Ameri- can Kennel Club and finished over 100 Champions, 26 from the BBE class. However, for this article I am removing my breeder/exhibitor hat and will don my judge hat. I will touch on issues that hopefully exhibitors and judges of Cav- aliers will seriously take to heart. The numbers of CKCS are increas- ing in this county at an alarming rate, as was predicted by both the National Parent Club and the “Old Club” when the breed was removed from the Miscel- laneous Class and admitted to the Toy Group. Cavalier rescue, which had very little work before AKC recognition, is now bursting at the seams because this charming and loving little breed, once a well kept secret in this coun- try, has now been discovered and are being bred in alarming numbers, by many puppy mills and uneducated back yard breeders. Entries of 2-5 were normal when Cavaliers were first admitted to the Toy Group. The numbers have climbed considerably, with an average of 25 per show, and many of these entries in the BOB class. The judges predict quite often, by the winning ribbons they hand out, who will be used for breeding. For this reason it is extremely important the Parent Club continues to educate them, something the Parent Club has fallen down on. I know this because I judge, and NEVER receive reminder letters (like I do from other breeds I judge) on what is expected of judges
regarding how CKCS should be shown and moved, and addressing reminders on trimming, something out of control in this country. Just being approved to judge Cava- liers does not make that person a good judge of the breed. In the beginning Cavaliers were a “filler” breed and needed for judges to advance through a group: today Cavaliers are a principal big numbers breed, quite often the larg- est Toy entry at a show. Many judges that judge this breed truly have no clue as to what makes a quality Cavalier. Many think they should be dripping in coat, NOT TRUE. Coat is moderate! In fact, the dripping coat is often for hiding faults! With this in mind, I feel there are some important issues relating to judg- ing (and showing) the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and I will attempt to touch upon a few. A common judging mistake is allowing exhibitors to race Cavaliers around the ring, with the handler lop- ing like an antelope, and further allow-
ing any han- dler to be on the ground hand stack- ing. This, according to the Parent Club is not how the Cav- alier is to be
shown and at one time years ago, sent letters to the judges stating this. The Cavalier is a natural breed and does not need to be stacked like a statue. I find it interesting that at the Old Club monthly shows, each with the numbers of entries of an AKC Specialty, and pro- fessional handlers only allowed to show dogs they own or co-own, NO ONE runs or gets on the ground. If a judge or prospective judge really wants to learn and cannot go to a National Specialty or at least a specialty, then attend an Old Club show. Mentors are available at all and the quality is high. I hear judges discussing dogs during lunch or at the Group rings. They say
"the JUdgeS PrediCt qUite often, By the winning riBBonS they hand oUt, WHO WILL BE USED FOR BREEDING. for thiS reaSon it iS extremely imPortant the Parent ClUB ContinUeS to edUCate them, Something the Parent ClUB haS fallen down on."
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"THE EYES ARE SO IMPORTANT IN THE CAVALIER, aS they giVe the Soft exPreSSion the CaValier iS Known for."
things like “that Cavalier is too big or does not have enough coat.” Very uned- ucated statements! What is TOO BIG? What is not enough coat? Some CKCS are at the top of the standard, 13 inches. The standard is very loose on height, as it states slightly bigger/smaller is acceptable. Well that leaves it to the judge, and I have rarely seen a Cavalier that is too big. In UK most the top males are larger. In the UK they don’t care and feel if a dog is in balance with the proper head, it is correct. You never hear a judge saying that Cavalier is too small…12 inches is the bottom, and slightly smaller… OK— Yes it’s a Toy breed, but the biggest of the Toys. If a 13 inch dog is stand- ing next to a 12 inch dog, the 13 inch CKCS will look giant! One inch makes a BIG difference and judges need to get a handle on this before they step in the ring to officiate. If the dog is balanced and within standard and looks correct, that is all that matters with size. Most top winning males weigh 1-3 pounds OVER the 18 pounds the top of the stan- dard calls for because of good bone and body, most certainly not because they are too big. Of the top 25 Cavaliers cur- rently being shown in the USA, NONE are over 13 inches, in fact most are in the 12.5 range, but many weigh more than 18 pounds. CKCS has enough coat if ears, tail and leg feathers are long. Correct body coat is moderate, not long! Much more serious is bad structure. Short necks and bad shoulders go hand and hand and are a problem in Cavaliers at this time. The short necked dogs are quite often longer with shorter legs and often a topline that is not level. Tails up in the air above topline more than 1-3 inches or curled gaily over back, some judges are rewarding. This is as seri- ous a fault as white in the eye, with the
worst a ring of white, or not ROUND and dark. Lots of almond eye shapes are showing up, VERY faulty! The eyes are so important in the Cavalier, as they give the soft expres- sion the Cavalier is known for. I have had other judges ask me how to know a face is correct. I feel if you look at any Cavalier face and your heart skips a beat and you feel like saying awww- wwwwwww, with no questions, I find it correct. The dogs that win are normally bred, which is the reason we are seeing so many inferior Cavaliers in the ring today. The correct dog/bitch often looks different from most the entry. Judges rarely have the courage or knowledge to withhold a ribbon. The dog that has a ribbon withheld today can win the next day. The owner of the dog of course says the judge that withheld is an idiot, but big applause to the judge that with- held. Good breeders consider you as the best for our breed. At a National Specialty, several years ago, an entire class of bitches (9) had ALL RIBBONS withheld. That took guts! As a judge I would not hesitate with- holding a ribbon to keep an inferior exhibit out of my Winners class. I per- sonally have given a third place ribbon to a class of one. That dog may well be a Champion today, but not with my name on record as rewarding it. Grooming and cleanliness are of the utmost importance to a judge. Yel- low hair, that according to the CKCS standard should be pearly white: dirty teeth or eyes, long nails and not freshly bathed are turn offs to judges. What should be more of a turn off are TRIMMED coats, mostly ears/backs and feet! I am the first to acknowledge that CKCS are “neatened,” however it’s the PRO handlers who started trimming
ears and top lines, etc. Worse yet are the judges that are rewarding these exhib- its, when the standard clearly says they should not be in the ribbons! Cavalier ears do not grow round (the same look as the totally shaped ears of the Cocker Spaniel), yet the top handlers of Cava- liers have perfect rounded bell ears all layered to be fat and full. Very cute indeed and totally incorrect! Dips in top lines are the handler spe- cialty, as they use thinning scissors to cut in above and below to level it out for appearance. However you can still FEEL IT! Most of the winning Cavaliers that have a bad rear assembly (cow hocks, etc.) grow the hair very long on the rear and it’s hidden from most judges but you can still FEEL IT and see how the pads come up as they move away. Sad that some judges only judge by what they see visually and have not a clue of these faults when examining on the table. It is a great sport and one that I have been in since I was a child. I read a book just before I showed my first dog, by Virginia Nichols, 50 years ago, title was How to Show Your Own Dog , which is most likely out of print, but that book taught me so much, even to be able to use and say the word “bitch” correctly without cringing. From the judge’s point of view to exhibitors, we are very forgiving of nov- ice handlers showing their own dogs. Don’t be afraid to show your own dog. It is OK to make mistakes, that is very normal and how we all learn. Just as many owners have put Championships on their dogs as professional handlers. From the judge’s point of view to judges, when you look at Cavaliers and your heart hopefully skips a beat, let’s make sure you are perpetuating this beautiful dog for correctness.
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BEHOLD! THE CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL By Stephanie Abraham N o other breed of pure- bred dog has evolved amidst more drama than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Small in size, gentle in
In 1649, the unfortunate Charles I is reputed to have lost his head to the executioner’s blade with his little spaniel dog “Rogue” under his robe—the ulti- mate “conforter spaniel.” His son and successor, Charles II, was besotted with the breed, and his dogs roamed freely throughout his palaces. Th e diarist John Evelyn stated “He took delight in having a number of little spaniels follow him and lie in his bed chamber, where he su ff ered the bitches to puppy…” At his bedside when he died there were about a dozen Cavaliers. Charles’ brother, James II, con- tinued the royal love a ff air with the toy spaniels, some immortalized in the art of Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Titian, and Gainsborough—and later Maud Earl, Fragonard, Stubbs, and Landseer. Th e fi rst illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” featured a small spaniel dog. James resumed the breeding of those animals Charles left behind. Th e reign of William and Mary began in 1689. Th ey were not particularly enam- ored of the toy spaniel, and favored the pug. However, the little spaniels still fl ourished as lady’s pets and were kept
nature, with a most sweet and appealing expression, toy spaniels were not uncom- mon in European court society in the 15th century. In 1486 Dame Juliana Ber- ners wrote a monograph called “ Th e Boke of St. Albans” where she included in a list of dog breeds “small ladyes puppees that beare awaye the fl ees…” Th e palace physician to Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) called these small Spaniels “delicate, neat, and pretty kind of dogs, called the Spaniel comforter… Th ese dogs are… pretty, proper, and fi ne, and sought for to satisfy the delicateness of dainty dames.” (De Canibus Britannicus, 1570). But nowhere has the Cavalier been more adored and reviled as by the English monarchs Charles I and Charles II, who championed these little dogs—and their courtiers who often found them repulsive and unsanitary even by dubious seven- teenth century health standards.
popular by Mary’s sister, Henrietta. Th e apocryphal story of Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, is often cited—she allegedly pushed her thumb repeatedly on top of the head of her little red and white span- iel while nervously waiting for news of her husband fi ghting at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704—therefore identifying the famous ‘Blenheim spot’ still desired among breed- ers today. Queen Victoria had a cherished pet tricolor named Dash who was with her at her coronation in 1838. After 1840, despite Queen Victoria’s love of the breed, the Cavalier type of toy spaniel began to fall out of favor in Brit- ain. It was supplanted by a shorter muzzled, domed headed variation with low set ears, antithetical to the longer muzzled, fl atter skulled Cavalier. Leighton’s 1907 New Book of the Dog referred to the more extreme type as “goggle-eyed, pug nosed, pampered little peculiarities.” Th ey were known as King Charles spaniels and remain a sepa- rate breed today. It is likely that breeders after 1850 may have included pugs in their breeding programs, to achieve the desired short muzzle much faster. Th e fortunes of the Cavalier and the King Charles spaniels
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Th e fi rst Cavaliers in the United States were imported in the 1940s. Th e Cava- lier King Charles Spaniel Club-USA was founded in 1954 as a registry separate from that of the American Kennel Club. It has remained an independent group that has resisted recognition of the Cavalier by the AKC. As a result, the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was founded in 1993 by former CKCSC-USA members and remains the Parent Club and custo- dian of the AKC breed standard. In 1996 the Cavalier was indeed recognized by the AKC as the 140th AKC breed of dog. At present there are 25 AKC regional clubs across the USA. Th e Cavalier in the USA is something of a status symbol to some who have seen it on television and the movies, and remem- ber President Reagan’s Cavalier ‘Rex’ in the White House. Th e Cavalier ranked 20th in AKC registrations for the year 2012, up from 40th a mere 10 years before. Breed- ers have understandable concerns that the characteristics that endear the Cavalier to its devotees—its a ff ability, easy trainability, gentleness, and compatibility with other dogs-- may also be responsible for increas- ing numbers of unwelcome puppy mill- ers, importers, and backyard breeders—all seeking to capitalize on the relatively high price tag associated with puppy purchases across the country. Erica Venier, Orchard Hill Cavaliers, worries that “ …because it is so vastly popular, it is easy to purchase a dog on the Internet without necessarily consult- ing conscientious breeders. We have a good core group of breeders who really care about health issues as well as conformation. To lose that would be to lose your heart.” Indeed, the heart is easily touched by the personality of the Cavalier—he is dif- fi cult to anger, devoted and loyal to his family, and utterly at ease with most other friendly dogs. If you should add a Cavalier to a room full of other Cavaliers—within 5 minutes of gentle jostling, sni ffi ng, and adjusting, the “new” dog will be an accept- ed member of the group. Fighting among Cavaliers is almost unknown in his totally “polite” society. A gently wagging tail is a hallmark of the breed. In addition to all these attributes, the Cavalier is an ‘easy keeper’—easy to feed, and relatively easy
share much early history and even in the nineteenth century both types were bred together. Four colors evolved—the red and white Blenheims, Tricolors, Black & Tans, and solid red Rubys. Th e Cavalier not only owes his origins to a kinship with the King Charles, but he is also a product of the breeding of several di ff erent types of spaniels in the early centuries—“little cocking spaniels” used for hunting woodcock, the some- what larger Blenheims bred by the Duke of Marlborough (of whom it was said that they “should be able to go all day behind a horse”), and even the Water Spaniel as suggested in the work of Mrs. Neville Lytton published in 1911 ( Toy Dogs and Th eir Ancestors ). Although the Cavalier is keenly inter- ested in birds and small game, there is little evidence to suggest that historically he was set to the hunt. Th e chief “duty” of the Cavalier throughout history was as a companion. He was a small lap dog who was a cherished family member then as now. While small, ideally 13-18 lbs. and not over 13" at the withers accord- ing to the present breed Standard, he is not fragile. He is quite happy to go on long walks with his family or to with-
stand the vigorous ministrations of responsible children. While the Cavalier was nurtured, developed, feted, and loved in England, it is ironic that it was an American million- aire from New York, Roswell Eldridge, who is credited with a major role in sav- ing it from obscurity. Having become interested in the type that was represented by the Cavalier, as opposed to the more popular “Charlie,” Mr. Eldridge o ff ered £25 at Crufts in 1925 (and for 4 succeed- ing years) to winners of ‘Cavalier’ classes that he sponsored. Th is award stimulated a small and dedicated band of breeders to begin the di ffi cult revival of the breed, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club in the UK was founded in 1928. Early litters were undoubtedly born of the longer nosed Charlie “rejects’ because it was important to select for the character- istics that had been well nigh lost—the fl atter skull and higher set ears, while maintaining the large round eyes that so contribute to ideal soft expression. None- theless, despite the hard work of the early breeders, the Cavalier King Charles Span- iel was not recognized as a separate breed in the UK until 1945. Today, it is the most popular Toy dog in England.
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