What to Feed a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Updated July 20, 2017

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an easy-going toy breed that is especially well suited for families with children or resident grandparents. This breed has no special dietary requirements, beyond the need all dogs have for high-quality protein and balanced nutrition. Whether you're committed to organic food sources, conventional commercial pet foods or a homemade diet, just keep in mind the conditions under which the breed was developed, as well as the activity level of your own individual pet.


The modern Cavalier is descended from the King Charles Spaniel, named for King Charles II of England. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the breed was an extremely popular lapdog that was often included in portraits by such masters as Gainsborough, Titian and Van Dyck. In the late 1600s, the spaniel was interbred with pugs, making the breed smaller, with flatter noses and protruding eyes. An American, Roswell Eldridge, determined to restore the slightly pointed muzzle depicted in the portraits, started to breed for that characteristic in the 1920s. Finally, in the 1940s, the dogs were recognised as a separate breed and were given the prefix Cavalier.

Despite its recent history, the Cavalier is descended from centuries of breeding. Its development was fuelled by the same staple foods as would have been given to, for example, the English Cocker Spaniel. This would have included potatoes, mutton and game birds, such as woodcock. As a result, today's Cavalier should do well on a commercial diet based on lamb, poultry, potatoes, oats and wheat. Avoid beef, saltwater fish, corn and soy. No additional supplements should be necessary.

Tendency to Overweight

As a breed, the Cavalier King Charles tends to put on excess weight, so it's important that you not overfeed. Be sparing with treats, and choose them carefully to be sure they're low in fat and low in carbohydrates. Many Cavaliers enjoy raw vegetables as a crunchy treat; cut green bell peppers or carrots into bite-size bits. Also try ice cubes; they're cool, fun to play with and completely free of calories.

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Kat Milner has 35 years' experience in publishing and design, both for print and for Internet. Her background includes business, technical, and educational writing and editing; book editing (fiction and nonfiction); news editing; feature writing (celebrity interviews, music reviews); and publication design. She attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.