The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the smallest field-bred dogs in the world. Classified as a toy breed, the Cavalier is often under 30 cm (12 inches) tall and weighs less than 6.8 kg (15 lbs). Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are intelligent, friendly dogs that interact well with children and other pets, making them extremely popular in many parts of the world. Breeding a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should be done only after extensive research of the breed and thorough medical testing to keep from passing on any serious health problems that plague the breed.
Schedule an appointment with your vet to have your female examined. Cavaliers are prone to a number of genetic conditions such as mitral valve disease, hip dysplasia and syringomyelia, all of which are genetic and can be passed onto any litters you breed. Your vet will give her a thorough physical to make sure she is in prime breeding condition.
Choose an appropriate stud for your female. You should select a stud that has been cleared of any genetic conditions and displays the calm, friendly demeanour desirable in Cavaliers. The two dogs should also be similar in size to minimise any chance of complications with large puppies from a larger stud dog.
Place your female with your male when she is in season. Most Cavaliers will come into season once a year and be receptive to the male for approximately seven days. The dogs will sniff and explore each other and the female will stand still and allow the male to mount her if she is receptive. Watch them closely but do not disturb them unless either dog becomes aggressive.
Follow up with your veterinarian to determine if the mating was a success. At 25 days postbreeding, your vet can listen to your female’s abdomen and detect heartbeats of any potential puppies. At approximately day 45, an X-ray can be taken to give you an accurate count of how many puppies to expect. Cavaliers normally have small litters, with between three and five puppies an average size.
Set up your whelping box around 55 days after mating. A normal pregnancy for a dog is 63 days, although the Cavalier female is small and may go into labour sooner if the puppies place too much stress on her body. Pad the bottom of the box with old blankets or towel to provide a soft nesting space for your female and add a few of her favourite toys to make her as comfortable as possible.
Take your female’s temperature twice a day in the week leading up to her due date. Her temperature will drop by at least a full degree approximately 24 hours before labour begins. A normal dog temperature is around 38.3 degrees C (101 degrees F), so anything below 37.7 degrees C (100 degrees F) is an indicator that labour is approaching.
Watch her closely for signs of labour. She will seem very restless and uncomfortable and you will notice a tightening and loosening in the muscles of her abdomen, which are contractions. The first puppy should appear within an hour of the start of labour, with the remaining puppies appearing within thirty minutes of each other. Cavaliers are a small-boned breed and can have trouble with a natural birth, so call your vet if there is a delay of any more than an hour between puppies.
Observe your female and her new puppies quietly after birth. Place a heating pad inside the whelping box and move the puppies onto the heating pad to keep them from becoming chilled. Make sure your female is allowing the puppies to nurse well and that she is cleaning them and keeping them warm. Handle the new litter as little as possible to allow the puppies plenty of time to bond and allow your female to relax and learn her new family.
Never breed your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel if she shows any health or temperament issues.