Puppy Information Page


Rattlebridge Puppies

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small toy spaniel, averaging 13 to 18 pounds and 12 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder. The Cavalier is a companion lap dog, bred solely for companionship and it is characterized by a desire to be with its owner or family or another animal all the time. Cavaliers are adaptable to many different living situations from families with children, to a single person with an active lifestyle, or even a less active elderly family. The Cavalier simply wants to have human contact, and will adjust to nearly any living situation as long as it is able to give and receive affection from another person or animal frequently.


About Cavaliers



One of the oldest of the toy spaniel breeds, Cavaliers have made a real comeback since 1928 when the breed was resurrected from almost total extinction. Cavaliers are noted for their mellow, affectionate, and very loving dispositions. They are happy, fearless spaniels which enjoy playing with children as well as warming the lap of an adult. This quiet companion dog has avoided over breeding by inexperienced breeders which in other breeds has produced yappy, snippy dogs. They are usually twelve to thirteen inches tall, and weigh thirteen to eighteen pounds. Characterized by long flowing ears, and large soft eyes, Cavaliers come in four colors: Blenheim (pronounced blenum; chestnut red and white), tricolor (black and white with tan points), ruby (all red), and black and tan.


The ancestors of the Cavalier can be seen in many pictures of the aristocratic families of England during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Cavalier or English Toy Spaniel was a favorite of King Charles I; the name King Charles Spaniel became quite popular during his reign.

The blenheim color of the Cavalier derived its name from the spaniel fancier John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. It has been told of a spaniel accompanying the Duke to the Battle of Blenheim. Legend says that a spaniel bitch sat on the lap of Sarah the Duchess, as she held the bitch with her thumb pressed on the top of the bitch's head. Later, when the bitch whelped, the puppies had a small spot on the top of their head, the size of Her Grace's thumb. Hence, the "Blenheim spot" or lozenge (diamond) which is still a part of today's Cavalier.

In 1923, the name Toy Spaniel was changed to King Charles Spaniel with its popular dome head and flat face. The Cavalier was nearly extinct at this time as breeders bred for the flat face style King Charles Spaniel. Then, in the early 1920's, an American by the name of Roswell Eldridge went to England to purchase a pair of long nosed spaniels as he had seen in paintings. In 1926, after his inability to locate this type of King Charles Spaniel, he offered 25 pounds at Cruft's for the next five years to go to the best dog and best bitch of the long nosed older type of King Charles Spaniel. This type became the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and in 1928, a small group of breeders formed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club in England.

Popularity of the Cavalier spread throughout England and the United States, and in 1956, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (CKCSC), USA, Inc. was formed. The breed was later entered into the AKC's Miscellaneous class as they worked towards full recognition of the breed. The issue of AKC recognition was voted on in the 1970's and 1980's by the CKCSC, USA, Inc. and was turned down each time. In 1992, AKC invited the CKCSC, USA, Inc. into the AKC as a fully recognized breed and informed them they would very much like to work with them. AKC also said that if the CKCSC, USA, Inc. decided against recognition once again, the breed would then be recognized through another parent club. Despite the obvious future of the breed, the club voted overwhelmingly against recognition.

A new club was formed by organizing the breeders of the year in the U.S., the top stud dog owner, specialty breed judges, and some of the top show kennels in the U.S. These people cared deeply about the potential overbreeding or change in type that AKC recognition could bring, and through formation of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, Inc., protection of the breed continues through the start of a new era. AKC voted to recognize the Cavalier beginning with registrations March 1, 1995, and showing in all breed competition beginning January 1, 1996.

Today, the Cavalier ranks as the most popular small companion dog in England and is being bred by back yard breeders with no other objective but to make money. We hope that through intense education and encouraging limited registration, the same situation does not happen in the U.S. This breed is truly a sweet, friendly, companion lap dog, not shy or yippy. It is the goal of Rattlebridge to do our best to maintain the uniqueness of this breed through health testing, selective breeding, and selling all pets on a limited registration with a signed spay/neuter contract agreement. Excerpts taken from: Evans, John. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. New York: Howell Book House, 1990.

The last study done in the U.S. showed that 50% of Cavaliers will have a murmur by the age of five, and 100% by the age of ten. Cavaliers can still lead perfectly normal lives for years after developing the murmur, and many are never affected at all by the disease. If they are affected, it is usually very late in life and can be treated to some degree with medication. The main thing to keep in mind when looking for a pet for yourself, is that this problem must be tested for by breeders, and that any breeder that says they do not have this problem in their bloodline is either not telling you the truth, or is not educated in the disease. Mitral Valve Disease is in ALL bloodlines of Cavaliers, but with proper testing and knowledge on genetic inheritance, breeders can produce very healthy dogs that live normal lives for 10-13 years. Much progress has been made in the last two decades to prolong the life span of the Cavalier. The life span has steadily lengthened from 8 years to 10-13 years. Although most Cavaliers will eventually develop mitral valve disease, we can attempt to prolong the development of the disease through breeding older stock which is still without a murmur. When we do use younger dogs for breeding, it is done only if we know that their parents were free from a murmur until later in life. As the decades pass by, selective breeding such as that of Rattlebridge will lead to longer lifespans.


Dishes, Toys, the Crate, Grooming Supplies, and Food

Practical Dishes: Practical dog dishes are easy to clean and very difficult to tip over. You should have two separate bowls, one for food and one for water. Don't buy two bowls bonded together as you can't take away just one or the other if needed. Place the bowls where they are easily accessible to your puppy and will not slide around when he eats or drinks.

Toys: There are many unsafe and few safe toys on the market. Cavaliers are smaller dogs and therefore, have smaller throats and are more likely to choke on pieces of toys which can be chewed off. All rubber toys must be made of hard rubber so your puppy cannot chew them up and choke on small pieces. Also, many toys have squeakers which are small white plastic at the air opening and these squeakers will come out after being chewed on. This is not a big concern to a bigger dog, but it could be the last toy your Cavalier ever played with. So, look for squeaky toys which have a small opening but not a separate piece that makes it squeak. Our favorite toys are tennis balls (safe for Cavaliers but maybe not bigger breeds), Nylabones, and very tight solid rope bones (good for puppy's teeth).

Grooming: Little grooming is required for Cavaliers, especially puppies. Cavaliers do not come into their adult coat until they are 1-2 years old. A good brushing once a week with your basic bristle dog brush will prevent you from having a matted coat. Cavaliers will develop longer hair feathering of their ears, chest, tail, and behind their legs. These areas can develop knots and are easily removed with a wire slicker brush. You may on occasion have to cut one out if it is left unattended for a long period of time. There is to be not trimming of the Cavalier except for between the pads on the underside of the feet. These areas will make it easier for your Cavalier to walk, and will prevent him from picking up dirt, mud, ice balls in the snow, etc. .. Do not trim off the hair growing on the top of the feet, as this will develop into the look of "slippers" which every Cavalier should have. An article of puppy grooming is provided at the end of this booklet.

The Crate: Every dog needs a place of its own where he feels safe and secure. Dogs are naturally den animals, as were their ancestors, and instinctually enjoy seeking refuge in a small cozy area. This is why it takes very little time during the initial training phase to allow your puppy to become comfortable with crate training. This will be his area to go when he is tired and wants to get away from all the action in order to get some rest. This is the place where he can go and you cannot. Through our experience in raising Cavaliers and other breeds, we have found great satisfaction both on our part and the dog's when using crate training as part of our routine. We have therefore included a copy of the article entitle "Successful Housetraining" which should tell you the basics. You will want a size 200 Vari-Kennel crate, or size medium of another type which will be large enough for your adult Cavalier. We do not recommend cages as they are more open and puppies do not feel as secure as something more closed. Crates aid in housebreaking because puppies learn quickly not to soil their bed.

You will need to begin a regimented routine as soon as your puppy comes home. A puppy 8-12 weeks old will need to go out about every two hours the first day or two just to learn where it is he goes out when he needs to relieve himself. This time can quickly be lengthened so that within a few days, you only have to let him out about every four hours, depending on the puppy's age. Watch for what he does right before he relieves himself. This will clue you in as to when he needs to go out the next time. NEVER crate a puppy for more than four hours in the beginning. Most puppies can go longer overnight as long as they are let outside immediately before going to bed, and first thing in the morning. We are not talking 12 hour nights though. Try for 6 and build up to 8! He should let you know if he can't wait any longer. Let him sleep in his crate close enough to you that you can hear him. If he needs to go out at 3 a.m., he will most likely voice his concern until you respond.

Leave the crate available to him with an open door during the day. You will be surprised at how quickly he will become comfortable with it and go in for a nap when he is tired. Teach any children that this is the place for the puppy to be alone. If he goes in there, the children MUST leave him alone. Otherwise, he will not view it as a safe place to go when he needs to rest.

Food: Puppies are very active and, like babies, have special nutrition requirements. A high quality puppy food which has a high protein content, derived from meat as its primary product, should be used. A dog food containing corn or other bulk product as its first ingredient is only about 50% digestible. A dog food in which the first ingredient is chicken, or lamb, or beef is about 80% digestible. When a dog eats a "corn" diet, 50% of it stays in him and 50% of it is waste. when a dog eats a "meat" diet, 80% of it stays in him and only 20% of it is waste. So, when a higher quality dog food is used, your puppy gets better nutrition, less food can be fed, and less stool is excreted.

We recommend meat-based foods such as Natural Life, Nutro-Max, Purina Pro-Plan (NOT PURINA PUPPY CHOW IN THE GROCERY STORE!), and a few others. READ THE LABELS! If the first one, two and maybe three ingredients are not meat and meat by-products, don't buy it! If the label says, Rice, ground corn, chicken meal....., then your puppy is not getting what he needs. Also, some manufacturers use "beet pulp" instead of rice or corn or wheat as an additive to provide bulk. We have found that beet pulp can turn the hair on the feet of Cavaliers from white to a pink tinge. Avoid this also.

If you decide to switch your puppy's food, wait until he settles into his new home, then feed 75% present food with 25% of the new food for 2-3 days. Then use 50%-50%, then 25%- 75%, and finally 100% of his new food. This is just a guideline. It doesn't have to be exactly like this, but make the change gradually over a period of a week or so. This will prevent stomach upset and diarrhea from the change of food.

A good guide for feeding your puppy is to feed him three times daily until 12 weeks of age, then twice daily until 6 to 8 months old. By this time, a once per day feeding should be sufficient. Feed according to the recommendations on the puppy food bag, but adjust this amount to your puppy. If he is plump, then he is eating enough, if he is slim, feed a little more. If the puppy will not eat, try mixing some canned meat, such as Pedigree chopped chicken or beef, in with the dry dog food. Remember that a growing puppy needs proper nutrition, but once grown, he must NEVER be overfed, as this can shorten his life span dramatically. Also, DO NOT get into the irreversible habit of feeding your Cavalier table scraps. We can guarantee you that this will lead to a begging Cavalier at the dinner table that is overweight and unhealthy. Also, table scraps will build up tartar on teeth faster than dry dog food, which will lead to gum disease and may predispose your Cavalier to mitral valve heart disease.


All dogs need obedience training in order for you to have control over them in public situations or when visitors come to your home. Not everyone loves dogs as much as you and I, and therefore, it is necessary for your dog to come when called and sit quietly when asked.

There are many training methods. There is the totally positive reinforcement method where the dog is never corrected, but is rewarded for good behavior. At the opposite end is the totally negative reinforcement method where the dog is corrected until he does what is required. Cavaliers are easily trained, but are also easily hurt emotionally by too much negative reinforcement. They are eager to please you and easy to train. A proper balance of the above two methods is essential.