Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Temperament

Different breeds of dogs herald many different traits, some are friendly, some are working dogs, and others are used to guard the workplace or home. The breed of dog you select depends on the temperament, but what about a family pet? You don’t want a savage guard dog around the children, so what is the temperament of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel actually like?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s temperament is gentle, playful, and affectionate, and they love to be around children and adults alike. Therefore, they are an excellent choice as a pet and can be a great addition to the family home.

There are many more qualities to a Cavaliers temperament, which make them the perfect companion to many types of people, such as stay-at-home parents, the elderly, active people, and even people that live a sedentary lifestyle.


From an early age and into adulthood, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like nothing more than playing. Whether that be playing fetch, tug-o-war, or even catch with a frisbee, a Cavalier just likes to play.

My Cavalier, Lady, has always liked to play with a fluffy toy dog in the house, and a burst soccer ball when we are out in an open field. Yes, a ‘burst’ soccer ball. One day she accidentally burst a ball in the garden and since that day she has loved playing with it.

She not only loves playing with a burst soccer ball, but she has also burst a space hopper and started playing with that too. You can see her in action on our YouTube channel.


Cavaliers are very sociable creatures, not only with other dogs and humans but with other animals too. As long as your Cavalier is socialized with other animals at an early age, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

However, if not socialized, then your Cavvy’s natural instincts may kick in and chase squirrels, small animals such as mice, low flying birds, and even insects such as butterflies.

If you have an older Cavalier that hasn’t been socialized with other dogs or a rescue Cavvy and you are unsure how they are around other dogs, then it is advised to introduce them to gentle dogs, that won’t make them uneasy.

Always remember to supervise introductions to new dogs, as they may not get on as planned, and you can move them away from each other before anything untoward happens.


Now I know what you are thinking here, have I accidentally come to the wrong website, but hear me out. Cavaliers are 100% fearless when a stranger is at the front door. Immediately our Cavvy will leap up and bark until the stranger has either left or been let into the house.

As soon as they are in the house, however, the barking stops and the tail starts to wag with so much force the entire body moves along with it.

Lady is also fearless across the street, if there is someone she’s not sure about or another dog that isn’t too kind, on the other side of the street, she will be mean, barking like crazy. That is until they cross the street, and she hides behind my legs.


Cavaliers are extremely affectionate, although there is a slight difference in affection between male and female Cavaliers.

Females are not as clingy as male Cavvy’s, and will quite often like to sit on their own, whereas males are extra affectionate to their owners. In a family situation, a female will divide her attention among every member of the family, but a male will pick one family member, and follow him or her everywhere they go.

I wrote another article on ‘Is it Better to get a Male or Female Cavalier‘ which delves deeper into the differences between the two sexes.

Cavaliers were actually bred to be companions or comfort dogs, and as a direct result of this, their affection towards humans is undoubtedly the strongest of any dog breed.

They are also known as therapy dogs, and by just being affectionate, do great work with youth and children, adult shelters, assisted living homes for seniors, and many rehabilitation facilities.

Researchers have studied the therapeutic touch that dogs have on us, and has now been scientifically proven that within minutes of petting a dog, oxytocin and dopamine are increased., while cortisol levels, an immunosuppressant associated with stress are decreased.

Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding, and is present in pregnant humans and animals.

Dopamine is synthesized by neurotransmitters in the brain and plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior.


Cavaliers are very gentle breeds and rarely show aggression, as they want to please their humans they would rather give you a doe-eyed expression, or roll on their backs rather than snarl at you.

There are times, however, that your Cavvy may show signs of aggression, some may be totally reasonable given the situation, but other times could be totally out of character.

Reasons for Aggression

Although we are taught from an early age that aggression is never the answer, in the animal kingdom, sometimes aggression is the only answer. The majority of the time it is simply a warning to back off, in a Cavalier these reasons may be due to the following;

  • Cornering them, or causing them to fear you
  • Taking away their food, or interfering with meal times
  • Inherited or learned behavior when living in a nasty environment (mainly rescue dogs)
  • In pain, or has a health condition

If your Cavalier shows any signs of aggression, then there is probably a very good reason why. Please visit your local veterinarian for a physical examination. Remember, dogs can’t talk, so this may be their way to let you know that something is not right.


If patience is a virtue, then Cavaliers are the most virtuous. My Cavvy will patiently sit in front of a bowl of food until I tell her it’s okay to eat.

This was a side effect of training, I had trained her not to eat any food she found on the ground, as when she was very young, she would regularly eat gum that she had found discarded on the street. Heaven knows how many germs could have been on them, and also I had read that xylitol is extremely poisonous to dogs.

So now I can literally walk out of the house, and Lady would not touch a full bowl of food until I get back and say that she can. Now that’s not only patience, but it’s also stamina, there is no way I could do that.


Cavaliers were bred for Royalty and noble ladies, and so their mannerisms are graceful and their appearance is so dignified.

Named after King Charles, these graceful pooches used to roam freely around Whitehall palace and even played at his feet whilst he conducted state business. To read more on the history of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, I wrote an article called Where Do Cavaliers Originally Come From?

Cavaliers are so very graceful that they are regular contenders in the Crufts Dog Show, which is an international event that is held annually in the UK and is the largest show of its kind. A Cavalier called Alansmere Aquarius won the ‘Best In Show’ award in 1973.

Crufts consists of many canine competitions, but the ‘Best In Show Award’ is the main competition of the entire event. It is highly contested by both dogs and there owners throughout the world.


One of the greatest attributes of a Cavalier is their adaptability to their surroundings and the way their owners behave. A Cavvy can be very energetic and go hiking with you or can be a couch potato and just watch TV with you all day.

Couch potato is maybe the wrong thing to say, as they will sit very calmly and patiently with the elderly or disabled, as a lapdog they are the perfect companion and will love you forevermore.

Our Cavvy, Lady, was very energetic when she was younger, however, if any of the family is ill, she will lay down with you in bed, or on the couch until you are feeling better, only moving for toilet and food breaks. Of course, as soon as you are well again, you need to repay such dedication and adaptability by taking them on their favorite walk, and maybe a special treat.

My Final Thought

Cavaliers are the most adaptable, selfless creatures that like nothing more than to see you happy. If treated with the respect and love that they stow upon you then they will have the very best temperament you can expect a dog to have.

3 thoughts on “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Temperament”

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