Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a calm, playful nature and are usually friendly dogs. This calm nature makes them well suited for use in animal-assisted therapy. Even though the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed, they are quite intelligent and can participate in dog sports such as agility, tracking, and obedience as sport. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are commonly quite food motivated, which facilitates learning and training and furthers the dog's bonding with its family. Their reputation as a good family dog allows them to be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dates back to the sixteenth century and is a direct descendant of the King Charles Spaniel and the English toy spaniels of that period. The breed was developed to be a ladies' lap dog, offering both companionship and warmth. The dog also assisted by attracting fleas so the dangerous insects would not bite the owner of the dog, thereby protecting its owner from the plague. King Charles II loved his spaniels so dearly that he established a law allowing the dogs to walk within the House of Parliament, something that had previously been unthinkable. In the 1920's a gentleman by the name of Roswell Eldridge went to a dog show and offered prize money to those who would show a King Charles Spaniel with a long nose. As the breed developed and the long nose became increasingly common, King Charles Spaniels featuring the longer face were classified as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, to differentiate them from the King Charles Spaniels with the shorter snout. The breed came to the United States in 1952 and received American Kennel Club recognition in 1996.