From the November 2019 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe. Above photo from the article “Behold! The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel” By Stephanie Abraham. ShowSight Magazine, July 2013.
We asked the following questions to our friends in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Community. Here are their responses.
- Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
- In popularity, Cavaliers currently rank #18 out of 192. Is this huge popularity good or bad? Is it difficult to find breeding stock? Placing puppies?
- Small dogs can fit into about any situation. Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion?
- The Cavalier’s attitude is, well, “cavalier.” What about him serves him well in the living room? In the show ring?
- At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
- Showing dogs is not for the faint of heart. What is it that makes it all worthwhile?
- What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging?
- What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
- What is your favorite dog show memory?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.
Paula Ayers always enjoyed the companionship of dogs growing up, including several mixed breed dogs, a German Shepherd and a Toy Poodle. After marrying in 1979, she and her husband shared their household with a Cockapoo for 15 wonderful years. In 1992, a Boston Terrier was added to the family which was feisty as ever. We lost Hogan (the Boston Terrier) at the ripe old age of 16.
In 1994, Paula’s sister, Brenda Martz, was dogless after the loss of her beloved elderly Keeshond. She attended a local fun match and there, also watching in the stands, was a couple with two adorable dogs. After inquiring, Brenda discovered they were Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and she knew she had found the dog for her! Paula became hooked as well when she joined in Brenda’s search for a breeder. In 1995, Brookhaven Cavaliers was born with the addition of “Luxxar Joyride”, a sweet tri-color female from Paula Campanozzi.
Joy became the foundation of Brookhaven Cavaliers. To date, as a breeder-owner, Paula has finished over 60 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the AKC, and has bred several Best in Show winning AKC and CKCSC, USA Champions. In 2015 it was a Dream Come True to gain an English Title on Eng, CKCSC USA CH and AKC GCH Brookhaven Believe It Or Not “Ripley”. Ripley has been the top Stud Dog in the UK for the past three years and the top Toy Stud dog for the past two years in the UK. In 2018 GCHG Brookhaven Here Comes Hogan checked another box by getting four all-breed best in shows (a very hard accomplishment for a Cavalier).
One of the highest honors to come to Brookhaven Cavaliers was achieving a Legion of Merit (LOM) on Ch Pascavale Enchanted, LOM and Register of Merits (ROMs) on AKC and CKCSC, USA Ch Brookhaven Fairmont, ROM, AKC and CKCSC, USA Ch Brookhaven Dream Lover, ROM; AKC Ch Orchardhill Brookhaven Bliss, ROM; Eng.; Ch Pascavale Pancho, ROM; CH Pascavale Stanley, ROM and Ch Pascavale Jamie, ROM. To see the dogs in your house that you believe in, produce the next generation of champions is what every breeder wants to accomplish.
Paula has been involved in many areas in the Clubs including Board member Conyers Kennel Club, and presently President of Cavaliers of Greater Atlanta.
I live in Madison, Georgia (60 miles east of Atlanta) and I work for Southern Company Services in IT.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? I think being popular can be good and bad. Good because our pet puppies typically go to wonderful loving homes. Bad because being popular can make family’s buy the in thing for the wrong reasons.
It is not difficult to find breeding stock, I mostly breed to my own dogs occasionally going to other reputable breeders.
Puppies are not hard to place as I only have a few litters each year. I normally have people waiting.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Cavaliers are wonderful pets and do well in most living situations—they are happy sitting in your lap or going for a walk in the field.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? Cavalier’s are very “Cavalier”—they love everyone and everything. In the living room they are great with old and young alike. They also do well with other pets. In the show ring they aim to please so with a little training they are a very happy fun to show dog.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I make my first cut around three months. I keep most of my promising puppies to between six months and one year. (Sometimes I still let the great one get away).
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Showing dogs is my escape from reality. You do have to have thick skin because some people like to feel good by talking bad about others. What makes it worthwhile—I have to say because of a little small dog I have friends all over the world!
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? The Cavalier should be a small sound little dog—moving like a sporting breed and when you take the head in your hands you should feel “Ahh” or “WOW”. Every judge should strive to put up not only type but sound specimens of the breed.
What is my ultimate goal for the breed? For the Breed as a whole is for established breeders to continue to share knowledge about type, soundness and health. The hearts have improved so much over the past 25 years we don’t need to become complacent.My favorite dog show memory has to be when GCH Brookhaven Believe It Or Not was in the UK and I traveled over to see him show in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Show to watch him win RBIS was truly a dream come true. To know you have bred a dog that can compete and in their country of origin.
Dr. Susan Barrett graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Zoology Phi Kappa Phi in 1976 and the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980. She received the Barber-Lundgerg Scholarship by the vote of the faculty as the top student in her graduating class for scholarship, leadership, and clinical proficiency. She also received a the Oklahoma City Kennel Club scholarship as the student most likely to succeed in small animal practice. Dr. Barrett was awarded a post doctoral Fellowship in physiology and anatomy and conducted research on reproduction before entering private practice for a year in Oklahoma. She moved to Sacramento in 1981 and opened Crossroads Animal Hospital, followed by Sunrise-Cirby Animal Hospital, Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital and then sold them before opening Watt Avenue Pet Hospital in the Arden-Arcade area in 1995. She has a special interest in internal medicine, dermatology, preventative care, dental preventative care, behavioral counseling and obedience training and cosmetic surgery. Her passion is teaching owners how to care for their pets.
Dr. Barrett is an AKC Breeder of Merit under her WynDancer Cavalier King Charles Spaniel banner for the past ten years. She got her first Cavalier in 2001 and began showing Cavaliers in 2005. In the past ten years she began a breeding program for showing dogs & has finished over 20 AKC Champion Cavaliers, many home bred. She has gone on finish many Grand Champions and has top ranked dogs who compete at Westminster and Eukanuba dog shows.
Dr. Barrett has two grown children and grand children. She enjoys volunteering to help others and is a member of Rotary International, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the California Veterinary Medical Rescue Corps, and is a docent at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, She has trained several of her dogs for the Canine Good Citizen certificate and had a therapy dog in Lend A Hart for five years.
Dr. Barrett is always available to help you with any medical, behavioral, or training concerns about your pet. Dr. Barrett would like to welcome you to Watt Avenue Pet Hospital. She prides herself on going beyond what is expected during the care of your pet.
I live in Sacramento, California, and am a small animal veterinarian in practice for 38 years. I graduated in 1980 from Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine with honors.
Besides breeding and showing Cavaliers, I am a Rotarian and enjoy volunteering in my community and helping others. I also attend 30 to 40 hours of veterinary seminars a year in order to keep current in medicine and surgery. Most people do not know that I am a true crime sleuth and a published author of true crime. I also enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.
I think it is a given that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are popular. I don’t see a problem with their popularity at this point. It is easy to find good breeding stock if one breeds to show to our standard and to improve the breed. If one is known as a reputable breeder who exhibits their dogs, is a preservation breeder, does recommended health testing and joins in with fellow breeders at shows and events , there is no problem working with other like-minded breeders who are respected in our breed. I get at least 20 inquiries a week from people looking for a puppy. There is no problem selling a Cavalier puppy. Placing a puppy in a loving, forever home is always a challenge. Reputable breeders place a puppy with an agreement or contract, stay in contact with the owners for the life of the puppy, are involved with any health issues and always ready with advice, and will take a puppy back if there is any concern. So finding the right family that is open to do this with a breeder is a challenge. This has to be done in order to protect this breed from unscrupulous people who want a Cavalier to sell for a higher price or or to breed just for money. These types of people are the cause of all the problems with any breed, including puppy mills, health issues and too many puppies leading to a need for rescue. Our breed clubs work hard to help protect this breed and we have strong rescue groups.
I am not surprised that Cavaliers are a popular breed. They are the ideal household companion in my opinion. They are a companion breed with a friendly and outgoing temperament. As a toy spaniel they love to play and walk like a sporting breed. They have a moderate coat and are easy to care for, shed very little, and require no extensive grooming. They are 13-18 pounds by our standard and easy to travel with, including air travel in the cabin. They are also very cute and because they are a toy, they are puppies for life!
Cavaliers were bred to be companions to the kings of England and to keep them warm. They are mild mannered, calm, and not typically barkers in the home environment. They will bark to warn owners of danger. Cavaliers are easily trained and love to please and play games. So they love the show ring and it is all about fun for them! Cavaliers should have always have an outgoing, friendly temperament with a lot of confidence and a tail constantly in motion. They are fun to show.
As soon as they are born I start watching them for signs of show worthiness. Markings are important on the puppies in my opinion. I prefer white with well broken deep, rich color and about equal in those. Markings on head should be even and i always love the Blenheim spot on top of the head. I watch for which puppies thrive and are vigorous and seem inquisitive at an early age. I continue to watch the temperament and then the bite becomes important. In the boys, we need those testicles down. Sometimes one may not be all the way down until eight months. We want a scissor bite and under bites can occur since the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was derived from the King Charles with the short nose. The Cavalier King Charles was bred to be the opposite in many ways of the King Charles, including preferably no under bite. Bites can change and correct up to one to two years I have found, so I don’t place a nice puppy with a slight under bite too soon. Eight weeks is when some people like to see how they look, but I find that doesn’t always work with Cavaliers. Some who looked good may turn out too big or I don’t like the head for show or breeding as an example. A testicle may not drop on the most wonderful boy. Five to six months I can usually predict which puppies are going to do well in the ring, as well as spot those I love everything about for my breeding program. I sometimes finish a championship and place young champions in a pet home with great success. I have placed some with juniors who wanted to show as well as some as therapy dogs. I cannot keep them all as much as I love them. That is the hardest thing for me as a breeder—letting them go as I am so attached to them. A successful breeder with great lines has a lot of “show dogs”. Occasionally, we have one we can’t take our eyes off of—the one who may be able to be ranked which is another ballgame. Many can be championed, but few can be ranked to number one or achieve the grand champion gold or platinum. It is a lot of time, effort and expense to do that. As for breeding, we can finish them if we wish, but we have to look at what we already have that is better for breeding and continuing a type we love. Sometimes we have nice dogs that for some reason might not finish, ie one flaw, but we can breed them with the right dog without that flaw and get wonderful puppies. It is a game of chess in many cases or checks and balances. I usually start placing five month old pups on the table and putting on a lead just fun. I begin taking them to conformation classes at about six to seven months and start showing eight to ten months. I have had such nice puppies they started right at six months in the show ring and took off and did well. The bonding and love with my dog is what makes training and showing so worthwhile. Nothing is more fun or satisfying than training a dog for show and obedience, grooming the dog to make it beautiful and then going out and doing our best in the ring. It is a show. The dog must love it. I must love it—I enjoy going back to the hotel room if I am on the road and it’s just me and my or dogs and we cuddle in on the bed, take walks around the hotel and have people stop and greet us or chat. It is the greatest fun—just me and my beautiful and very happy dog.
Novices should keep in mind that no one can predict with certainly whether a puppy will be a show dog. Besides conformation and elements of our standard (which a novice should know by heart) the dog must like to show and have the temperament for the show ring. One can have the most beautiful dog, but if it doesn’t like the ring, is timid, won’t wag, it will not be a show dog. Novices should study the standard, go to shows and watch dogs and which ones the judges like, and go to breed club seminars when possible about structure and function. Join a breed club. Start with a pet Cavalier first. Novices should find out or ask about each element of judging. What is the judge looking for on the table? It is like an interview. Looking at the eyes—should be round, not bulging, and no white showing as Cavaliers should have pigmentation of the white of the eyes. The head should not be domed but have the appearance of almost flat with ears up high on the head. Judges will examine the bite and look for the scissor bite and novices need to know what that means. Judges put their hands on the dog and can tell structure of front and rear, top line, and tail set for example. What is a judge looking for on the down and back and the go around? Novices should know that type, temperament, our standard, and structure are the mainstays of a show dog and that even then it may not do well in the ring as it is difficult to get all perfect. Finally, there is no perfect dog. Our breed has a come a long way in type, beauty and structure since 1926 when the breeders in England where challenged to create the breed from the King Charles Spaniel. My goal is to keep the breed to our original standard. I feel it is getting too big and well over 18 pounds. I see 25 pound Cavaliers in the ring and rewarded. I also feel they are too heavily marked. Even though markings are not placed of much importance, they are still in the standard. The pearly white and well broken with deep, rich color is what iI think we should strive for and is what should be rewarded. We are getting too much coat and big, poofy ears. Although pretty to look at, the Cavaliers should be moderate in coat. Coat should be silky and not fuzzy. Finally, the long body and short in leg is a huge problem in the breed and a fault in my opinion. I feel judges need more training for Cavalier judging. It is getting to be where there are fewer and fewer Cavaliers to our original standard. My goal is to breed type and to the standard as well as for health.
My favorite dog show memory is winning Best in Show twice at our Cavalier breed club shows. I have been able to meet so many wonderful people from many countries by attending shows all over the country.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the most wonderful dog I could ever imagine. They are pure sweetness, always playful and happy, and forever loyal and loving. The best thing i have ever done in my life is to be able to share it with Cavaliers. My greatest joy has been to birth and nurture Cavalier puppies and then see a puppy grow up to be my companion in the ring. The bonding i have with new mothers who trust me as we both care for their babies is precious to me. I am the luckiest person in the world to have them in my life.
Like many exhibitors, I did not grow up showing dogs so it was not until I was an adult that I purchased my first Cavalier and embarked upon learning how to show a dog. I purchased my first Cavalier in 1976 while I was living in England. My first choice would have been an English Pointer or Labrador but living in an apartment in Central London I did not think I could do the dog justice in terms of exercise. With all the many public parks in London I believe I was wrong in my opinion but ultimately it was fortunate I did get a small breed when we were transferred back to the USA and then travelled back and forth to both coasts in the USA. I knew about Cavaliers and how their temperament was similar to large breed dogs but they were a more portable size—all of these attributes attracted me to the breed. I learned so much from my first two Cavaliers and my first foray into dog shows was in obedience.
I came into dogs in the era of BC—before computers! There was no Google, no mentors, telephone service was extortionately expensive so the only place one could learn about showing and breeding dogs was at shows and seminars. I attended every seminar I could locate and in those days there were many. Basically, breeders learned solely from each other.
I have judged Cavaliers since 1984 and attended numerous Judges’ Seminars, International Breed Conventions, the AKC Judges Institutes, the ACEF in Conformation Judging Courses, Chaired/Presented CNE’s Breeder/Judges Symposium for two years and wrote two in depth handbooks for these Symposiums. More recently, I have presented to AKC Judges on a few occasions to instruct those who judge the breed.
The instruction I have been privileged to be exposed to, in handling, breed type, structure/movement and obedience and agility, have come from the very best individuals in their field—as an example the late, great Annie Rogers Clark.
Despite all of this education and the usefulness of the Internet, I expect to learn something new at every dog event I attend. If not, then I consider it a wasted day.
I live in Connecticut and I am solely focused on all aspects of the sport of dogs. I enjoy traveling and since I am originally from Scotland, I do tend to return to the UK annually.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? Popularity of any breed is never a good thing. With popularity comes higher prices which in turn attracts those interested purely in making money off the dogs without considering the myriad of health issues we see in Cavaliers. The AKC parent club for Cavaliers has identified four important health clearances that all breeders should perform and these are listed on OFA www.ofa.org. The recent surge in rankings for the Cavalier demonstrates the demand for the breed and therefore placing puppies is not usually difficult. As far as finding breeding stock, it is vital for anyone wishing to get started in Cavaliers to attend Cavalier specialties and locate a mentor with whom they have a rapport and whose dogs they admire. They should choose a mentor who seriously considers health and temperament as primary in their breeding program. Unlike years ago when breeders kept large numbers of dogs, today many breeders choose only to keep a few dogs and tend not to keep stud dogs and thus it can be a challenge to find superior quality males to breed. When a breeder has bred only the best quality of Cavalier, the bar is set so high that those breeders do have difficulty settling for anything less.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Cavaliers are perfect in any situation. From lounging on velvet pillows to a romp in the fields chasing bunny rabbits. Cavaliers just want to be with their owners and are game for anything the owners want to do. They get along equally well with children as well as seniors and live well alongside other species as long as they are socialized with them from the beginning.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? One must always remember that a dog whose personality is ideal for both the living room and the show ring are trained to be that way. They are not born to be show dogs. They must be trained to behave appropriately in different situations. Their inherent relaxed, snuggle-type attitude allows them to be a natural for the living room. Their love of a game, especially when it entails a treat, allows them to perform in the show ring or performance ring, for that matter.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Markings play a huge part in whether the Cavalier has show potential. So sometimes as soon as they are born it is possible to identify a pup that will be placed as a family companion on Limited Registrations to be spayed/neutered. I find Cavaliers to be a bit behind other breeds in terms of their maturity, both physical and mental. So for me, I like to see puppies of three months playing with their siblings. This is when I can usually identify show-worthiness.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Showing dogs is a fun game that allows exhibitor and dog to create a strong bond and relationship. I love playing with my dogs and my favorite is showing puppies because there is no expectation and judges don’t care if they act up. Breeding dogs is what is not for the faint of heart. What makes breeding all worthwhile is the pet owner who adores the puppy you placed with them and who often becomes a close friend and who always comes back for another later on because they appreciate the effort placed on breeding healthy and temperamentally sound Cavaliers.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Novice judges need to spend an inordinate amount of time learning about correct Cavalier breed type. Whilst it is important that a Cavalier has a balanced outline and moves correctly from all angles, this is a head breed and without that typical Cavalier type the dogs are not Cavaliers. Novice judges, in a nutshell, need to look for small, compact Toy spaniels with correct movement, whose tails do not fly like a flagpole. The breed standard is emphatic about trimming—they should not be trimmed, sculpted nor stripped. They should have large, limpid dark eyes, showing no white and a full muzzle. It is the “awe” factor that is so important when you look at that Cavalier face.
My ultimate goal for the breed would have to be small, happy spaniels with outgoing temperaments and a healthy, long life. In order to attain that longevity, breeders should be health testing for as many diseases as recommended by the parent club.
My favorite dog show memory? I have many wonderful show winning memories but I believe my proudest moment was judging the National Specialty in England where the breed comes from. That was such a great honor.
I have been involved in purebred dogs most of my life. I have put championships, obedience titles and agility titles on Shetland sheepdogs, Great Danes, a Pomeranian and cavaliers. I have bred two MACH cavaliers a few therapy dogs and others with the new scent work titles. I will be taking out my Great Pyrenees this winter in addition to some new upcoming cavaliers. I have been involved with cavaliers for over 25 years and hope to continue for another 25!
I live in Dix Hills, New York which is on Long Island With the recent comeback of bald eagles on the island, when the weather is nice I love going down to the harbor where their nesting area is and watching them. When my husband was alive we went target shooting all the time and the nice weather was used for taking his cobra out for a drive. I quilt when I have the time and I have recently started needle felting. I own a construction company so between the dogs and work I have to find time to squeeze other things in Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? I hate the fact that they have become so popular and fallen into the hands of the puppy mills and back yard breeders but it is inevitable with any sweet natured breed that popularity will soar once word gets around. The upside to being popular is that people get to enjoy this breed that they would otherwise be missing out on. Placing puppies is never a Problem but finding the right homes can be. The gene pool is growing so there are always dogs to use at stud, the trick is finding the right ones who produce well and have passed their health tests.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Absolutely. They are great apartment dogs due to the fact that they are not barkers. They get along with all kinds of animals and are great with kids. They adapt very easily to almost any situation.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? Given enough exercise, when they come in they like nothing more than to cuddle up on the sofa with their owners. That “cavalier” attitude is what makes them great little show dogs The crowds and noises of the shows don’t usually faze them and those tails will wag all day long.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I have always said (and I feel this is true of almost any breed) that if they are balanced and still beautiful at four months, chances are they will stay that way. However most puppies, even the best of them can go off. Nothing is really show quality until they are done growing and have all their adult teeth. Anything promising before that time is only a show prospect.What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? When the time comes and you have those special wins at your national specialty. It is such an honor to be recognized and awarded by your peers who are experts in the breed.
The other thing that makes it worthwhile is when you receive those letters and emails from your pet families, telling you how much they love their dog and how it has made such a positive impact on their family.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? First and foremost that just because it is a toy dog that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t move well and keep their topline on the move. Also to keep in mind they are toy spaniels and the standard calls for no more than 18 pounds.
What is my ultimate goal for the breed? For the breed in general, to overcome some of the health issues we have so that in the future they will all live long happy and healthy lives.
My favorite dog show memory? Oh I have so many but I would have to say my AOM with a home bred dog at our independent specialty during our national and Best In Futurity with a home bred boy at our national. Both of these judges are very knowledgeable and well respected judges. I feel overall the breed is in good hands as there are many excellent breeders in this country. I am looking forward to see what the future holds for these wonderful little dogs .
Malinda M. Pope
I have always had dogs but did not get into the world of pure-bred dogs until the 1990’s. At that time, I put my “toe in the water” with a beautiful black standard poodle. I had not seen or heard of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels until I saw one around 2001 at a Florida dog show. By 2003, I had not been able to locate a nice puppy (that a breeder would trust me with—I was a “newbie”) so used a handler contact in England to search for my initial dog. That Blenheim boy came from the Meadowpark Kennel (known for their Bernese Mountain Dogs) but also bred an occasional litter of cavaliers from the old English lines. After much correspondence, “Roddy” was sent to me with a note from the breeder that said” Once you finish his championship, I’ll send you a bitch”. That was in early 2003. By the end of 2003, Carrie was sent over and I had my start. In the next few years, John Gammon and Robert Schroll (Ravenrush Cavaliers) advised me and also provided me with my first bitch bred in the U.S.A. I also received invaluable help from Robert and Heather Lamont (Moorfields Cavaliers—Northern Ireland). I bred my first litter in 2004.
My educational background was in Biology and Community/Family Public Health. I worked as a classroom high school teacher, Director of Science Education at an Alternative Education Center for court-ordered “at-risk” students, and as a Hospital-Homebound instructor. I have been a Past President and Judge for the American Cockatiel Society, Past President of the Mid-Florida Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, and contributing writer for the Royal Dispatch (American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club magazine) and Bird Talk magazine.
My husband and I live in Venice, Florida. We participate in church activities, play “pickle ball” most mornings, enjoy beach time and our grandchildren. We are also avid Auburn University football fans, take periodic trips camping in the Smoky Mountains and spending time at Lake Martin (Alabama). Since retirement, I have made several trips to Uganda and Haiti where I learned to cultivate a tropical tree, the moringa, that is used in developing countries as a food supplement.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? As with most things, you will find the good and the bad. Cavaliers make exceptional companions for young and old, alike. They adapt to most situations, have a happy attitude and just want to “be with their people”. Cavaliers do, however, shed a moderate amount and require regular grooming sessions. These dogs will not adapt well to being left alone for hours each day. I do not place puppies in homes where everyone goes to work/school hours every day unless there is a caretaker in the home or arrangements are made for daily socialization.
However, with the growing popularity of Cavaliers, the breeding of these beautiful, sweet dogs can be viewed as “easy money” for some people. Locating a responsible breeder that does the needed health testing, pre-breeding health checks, breeding procedures and appropriate pedigree (phenotype and genotype) research can sometimes be difficult. Do not rely on nice ads or low prices when selecting a breeder. Most puppy buyers will have to first find a breeder they have a rapport with and get on a waiting list.
Because there is a real sense of “protectiveness” among responsible breeders, it is not uncommon to co-own initial breeding stock with your breeder. This is for the protection of the breed, the individual puppy, the reputation of the breeder’s kennel name, and to make sure the new owner is mentored appropriately. In my opinion, it is a real “red flag” if a Cavalier breeder offers a puppy to a pet home with no breeding restrictions or without a contract outlining future plans.
I have tried to breed healthy, well-adjusted and socialized puppies, be responsive to all puppy inquiries and help new owners for as long as assistance is needed. Most of my puppy requests come from previous puppy buyers or from referrals. I generally have a waiting list prior to the whelping of a litter so don’t have problems placing puppies in wonderful new homes.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? In the early stages (prior to eight to ten weeks of age), I look for more “eliminating” factors for a show prospect than positive attributes. For example, since markings are of importance on a parti-colored Cavalier, a puppy with no white blaze between the eyes or a poorly marked boy is put on my “wait-and-see” list. This is not to say that these babies will be totally eliminated from consideration, but they will have to end up with outstanding structure and movement to overcome the lack of nice markings. With my litters, I watch and handle the puppies every day. How do they react to stimuli as part of the litter and when alone? Do they have that “look at me” attitude? At eight weeks of age, I use various tools to get a big picture—puppy evaluations, taking individual puppies to different surfaces to evaluate body structure and movement, etc. By ten weeks of age, I usually have a good idea of which puppies (if any) will be kept back as a show prospect.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? While I feel that most judges are fair and knowledgeable in their selections, I appreciate a judge that selects a well-made, structurally sound, correct moving Cavalier. Moderate—not overdone in head, coat or size with tail moving in a happy manner. It does no good for judges to select the dog or handler based on current popular thought. To do so encourages new breeders to forget about the written standard and base their programs on the winners in the ring.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? I love the excitement of the show ring and especially appreciate the “bred-by-exhibitor” classes and “owner-handled” competitions. For me, dog shows provide the opportunity for others to see my dogs and for me to see dogs that I feel come close to our visual and written standards for Cavaliers. All the research, planning, whelping, WORK that goes into producing a nice dog or bitch becomes worthwhile when others appreciate what you have produced—when your five month old baby goes Best-in-Show at an all-breed Puppy Competition or when you finally get a Group 1 in a Bred-by-Exhibitor show. For me, those times are the best.
My favorite dog show memory? One of the most thrilling experiences in showing my own dogs did not come with a ribbon attached. A few years ago, I was showing a Blenheim bitch at an out-of-state show. The (well-known and respected) judge came up to me while my girl was on the table and asked if I was the breeder of this cavalier. I said that I was—not sure if this was going to be a good thing or a bad thing and he said “just keep breeding”! I felt as if I had won Best-in-Show. That’s what I am—a breeder!
I live in North Sioux City, South Dakota. My passions outside of dogs? I have spent the past 40 plus years of my life as a restorative dentist. Due to some ergonomic problems which have caused physical limitations, I spend most of my energies on my puppies, planning future litters and seeing to their health and well-being.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? The popularity of the breed is entirely understandable. They are such a loving breed that they are truly irresistible. Is the popularity good? I think as with anything, it is a mixed bag. There are good things and bad things about being popular. I have not found it difficult to find good breeding stock, but then I tend to associate with other breeders who are as concerned about health as I am. Placing puppies can get challenging, especially if ‘backyard’ breeders are undercutting prices and claiming to do ‘the same health testing’ that I do.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Yes, I think the Cavalier is a perfect household companion. However, I recently made a move because I felt they needed more space in which to run. They are athletic and they truly enjoy running full speed in our new grassy fields.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? Not every Cavalier is suited for the show ring. Some much prefer the sofa! As with any breed, personalities vary. Showing a Cavalier requires the breeder or owner to select not only great conformation and beauty, but also the personality that will endure the stresses of showing.At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? We can see structure and gait around four to six months of age. We make our final cuts around this timing.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? It is fun when the owners remember that this is a sport. It is supposed to be fun. It is fine to compete in the ring but then we should be able to leave the ring and socialize as friends. I have found that there is a certain percentage of people who are unable to do this—mix the ‘business’ with pleasure. These folks are not well suited as owners!
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Temperament. Temperament is the single most important thing inherent in these dogs. You can have health and beauty, but if you do not have a sweet loving temperament, it is NOT a Cavalier.
My ultimate goal as a breeder is to improve the breed. I am very particular about my dogs, probably even more than I was about my children. I check for every health issue in the book, including doing MRI screening on my prospective breeding candidate, both male and female.
My favorite dog show memory? I have been truly blessed with great handlers (Laura King and Robin Novack) and memorable show ring experiences. My most memorable experience associated with showing was winning BOB at Westminster in 2018 with my homebred boy. I nearly fell off the bleachers. I was in complete shock! It was truly the thrill of a lifetime!
I love my dogs. They put a smile on my face every day. I love to show them and work with them. At the end of the day, however, I feel that I have accomplished what I am here to do in dogs where I receive pictures and videos of my pets in their ‘forever homes’. They are so loved—it almost brings me to tears. I have people write and say that their home is ‘completed’ because of our puppies. It just warms my heart!
I acquired my first CKCS in 1997, knowing nothing about dog clubs and sports. I attended the CKCSC USA Nationals and talked to many breeders. I also visited the Houston World Series of Dog Shows and watched all the dog sports offered. I was fortunate to find skilled mentors who guided me and encouraged me to participate in conformation, agility, and therapy work. I joined international, national, and local dog clubs, eventually becoming an AKC Breeder of Merit. I have bred, shown, and finished confirmation championships in all 4 colors of Cavaliers. I am most proud of having titled Cavaliers in agility, nose work, obedience, and even farm dog certified. I have enjoyed encouraging new Cavalier owners to compete in dog sports and get involved with clubs. I am very honored that one of my ruby dogs is the first whole color Cavalier in history to be invited to the 2019 AKC NOHS Finals.
My philosophy has always been to continue to educate myself about health issues and to test as many of my Cavaliers as possible for accurate data to improve as a breeder. I look forward to seeing what Cavaliers can accomplish in the future.
I live in Houston, Texas. Outside of my dog activities, I am active in my sorority alumnae group and their altruistic projects. I also like to garden.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? Popularity can be a double edged sword. Breeders who are focused on preservation breeding will always have very limited stock for potential puppy buyers. Any increase in popularity often leads to an increase in producers who might not have the best interests in preserving the characteristics that make the breed so special. In finding breeding stock, your reputation proceeds you. When you strive for superior health, temperament, and structure, finding good breeding stock is not difficult. These breeders will work with your breeding plans and enjoy the successes you have in using their stud dogs, etc.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? The Cavalier has always been bred for their companionship. They are incredibly versatile dogs who are more than just couch potatoes. This is not a dog to be left alone for long periods of time. Their favorite activity is just to be with their families. Whatever the plans for the day, they want to be included. They are happy to curl in your lap, take a long walk, run an agility course, or chase squirrels in the backyard.What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? This gay, happy, eager to please temperament is the most enduring characteristic of the breed; it serves them well in the home and in any sporting activity.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? This is a very difficult breed to evaluate as they change so much during the first year or so. I start to make a judgement at eight to nine weeks old and again at 12-16 weeks. I may run on one or two in a litter and make another decision at one year of age.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? I love seeing Cavaliers that I have bred succeeding in a variety of dog sports, as well as adding so much joy and love to their families. I want my chosen dogs to be evaluated by others so I can make my decisions on future potential breedings. Honest criticism can only help my program. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Not sure I understand this question, are you referring to novice judges? The Cavalier should not be judged solely on their beautiful faces and eyes but on the whole package. Good judges consider structure, movement, and temperament as well as expression. If you are referring to potential buyers who have never owned a Cavalier previously, they should do their homework by going to shows, talking to different breeders, attending dog club events like meet the breed, and reading as much as possible about Cavaliers. Good breeders will want to build lifelong relationships with new buyers, not just sell them puppies. New buyers should expect a comprehensive interview and application process as part of their purchases. What is my ultimate goal for the breed? Maintaining the breed standard, along with improving their health and longevity. Just having a beautiful dog is not enough if they do not have that fabulous Cavalier attitude—gay and fearless.
My favorite dog show memory? On the last day to qualify for the AKC Agility Nationals, making that last jumpers run for a needed double Q with just seconds to spare! I told my Cavalier to go ahead of me over the last series of jumps as everyone was screaming at us to hurry! He responded like the champion he was, leaving me in the dust. Learning that we qualified for the nationals as a result of that run was an amazing moment. There are four colors in this breed, and each come with their unique characteristics. This is a legacy that should be preserved. Our national club, the ACKCSC, and their regional club have taken a strong lead in researching health conditions commonly found in our breed. They have encouraged comprehensive health testing which has lead to significant health gains in the breed. When I first started in Cavaliers, many Cavaliers did not reach double digits in age. These days it is not uncommon to see healthy, active, senior Cavaliers. This is a direct result of improved preservation breeding and an achievement that should be celebrated.
Sharon & Jim Utych
Jim and Sharon Utych (Finnickyskye) live in Alpharetta, Georgia with their Cavaliers. They entered the Cavalier world in 2008. Jim is the treasurer for the Cavaliers of the South (CKCSC USA) and also a member of the AKC breed club, CKCSC of Greater Atlanta. You can also see Jim working the head table at CKCSC USA shows as table steward. Sharon is the newsletter editor for the Cavaliers of the South, a member of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC), Secretary for the CKCSC of Greater Atlanta and coordinates the Parade of Veterans for the CKCSC National Specialty and Cavaliers of the South. They have two adult sons, Stephen who is a professor at Boise State University and Michael who works at INFOR. They are also grandparents to Michael’s Boston Terrier, Willy.
We live in Alpharetta, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta. Sharon is retired and was a Director in Network Engineering for AT&T wireless. Jim is a Regional Finance Director for First Student. Outside of “dogs”, we like to travel and visit historical sites. Jim is a big sports fan and follows all the teams from his hometown of Detroit. Our first grandchild will be born in November and we are already spoiling her with baby items and, of course, a stuffed toy Cavalier!
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? Being a popular breed is a double-edged sword. As the Cavalier gained popularity, more and more backyard breeders and commercial breeders have begun breeding Cavaliers. We believe that this affects the overall quality and health of the Cavalier. Hobby/Show breeders or “preservation” breeders have the well-being of the breed first and foremost. With these preservation breeders studying the pedigrees and attributes of the lines, we believe that they have wonderful stock to breed to here in the States and abroad. When we are asked to use any of our boys for stud, we ask for the pedigree to see if it would be a good match or can add something to improve on for their lines. As we have only stud dogs, but we know how important it is for our breeder friends and mentors to place their puppies in the absolute best homes for them.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? We believe that they are the ideal companion. They are after all, the “comforter” spaniel for very good reason. The Cavalier needs a home where people are around most of the time. We believe that if you are working or traveling long hours or have a busy schedule, where the Cavalier is home alone most of the day, it is probably not the breed for you at that time. Cavaliers crave being with you, they truly are a breed that is “in love” with you.
New owners should also familiarize themselves with the Cavalier breed prior to welcoming the breed into their homes. Know what the suspected health issues are, how much grooming they will need, dietary needs, etc. With those big, round Cavalier eyes staring at you, you must resist overfeeding them. They need to be groomed regularly, so be prepared to brush daily! Realize that one day, your Cavalier will be a senior and may require medications and vet/specialist visits as they age.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? The Cavalier’s gentle, loving temperament is one thing preservation breeders strive for along with health and type. Cavaliers of course rule the roost in our home. They are our family members along with being show dogs. At home, they get a lot of exercise running in our fenced in yard, chasing butterflies or anything that flies by them! They play chase together, sleep on our laps in a pile on the sofa or chair and just their fun-loving attitude at home makes you smile every day at their antics and love for each other. In the show ring, their happy attitude and wanting to please with tails wagging makes for a pretty picture in the ring.
At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? For us, we get a general impression early on but look at the eight-week mark to see how they are progressing. Are they over/under shot in their bite? Does their head shape fit what we like in the breed type? How do they stack up? Do they seem to have a nice cobby shape to their body? Is there white in the eye, are they double pigmented? And of course, for the boys, has all the necessary equipment dropped.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? We got started in the fancy with our veteran boys (Finn and Skye) and were mentored by some of the best people in the breed. For that we are forever grateful. Showing started off for us as something we could do together with our boys when we attended CKCSC USA shows. The connection we had with our veteran boys in the ring was so very special and we believe that is what made it all worthwhile for us in the beginning along with making new friendships and learning more and more about the breed. The show bug then bit us and we enjoy being with our dogs as owner handlers. Unfortunately, Sharon blew out her knee in the show ring and had to recently undergo a total knee replacement and cannot take the boys in the ring at present. Jim has stepped up to the plate and has done wonderfully in the show ring. We are so touched by the camaraderie of the Cavalier world by the outpouring of help we received this past year in helping us show and groom our boys. We will forever appreciate all this help, especially from Kathy Gentil (Sumara) and Jamie and Ellen Seidman (Tassajara).
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? We would say, stay true to the breed standard. That to us is paramount. We have seen trimmed and sculpted Cavaliers in the ring when no trimming is expressly mentioned in the standard and still be put up. Look for a Cavalier that has great movement, a great tail set with tail wagging, coming straight off the back. It’s a beautiful picture to watch like they are floating on air. Look for a head that when you cup it into your hands melts your heart with the large, round, dark eyes, cushioning around the eyes, beautiful ear set and proper scissor bite. Short coupled, with well sprung ribs in the adult, moderate bone are some of the hallmarks of the breed type.
What is our ultimate goal for the breed? We both wish for longevity of the breed, discovering a marker to help in reducing mitral valve disease in the Cavalier and that breeders breed for that beautiful temperament and to the breed standard.
Our favorite dog show memory? Oh gosh, we have several for being in the fancy for such a short time. Taking our boy Edgar (MBIS CKSCS & MBVISS AKC GCHB CH Brookhaven The Dream Lives On at Finnickyskye) to the 2018 number one owner handled Cavalier in the AKC NOHS Series. That was most certainly something we wanted to achieve as Owner Handlers and we did! We would also say Edgar’s first of many Best In Show placements at CKCSC, USA shows. What an honor because at these shows are the best of the best! Edgar and his son, Catcher both placing in the 2019 CKCSC Top 20 (Edgar the number one overall Cavalier and Catcher the number 13 overall Cavalier). And lastly, our “old man” Finn (Karvale Brookhaven Finn THDA CGCA) who began his career as a veteran and in almost four years in the ring won 59 Best Veteran in Show awards, three AKC Awards of Merit, one CKCSC USA Award of Merit, seven Best Veteran in Sweepstakes, one AKC BOBOH and three BOS to Best Veteran in National Sweeps at the ACKCSC and CKCSC, USA.
We are relatively new to the Cavalier and show world (since 2008) and we could not have had the unbelievable success we have had with our boys had it not been for the friendships and mentoring we received and still receive. We especially like to thank Paula Ayers and Brenda Martz (Brookhaven), Linda Whitmire (Almeara), Nikki Parente (AutumnHill), Jamie and Ellen Seidman (Tassajara), Pat and Juhan Mixon (Tudorose), Lisa Carnes (Legendcrest) and of course Kathy Gentil (Sumara). They always say it takes a village and it certainly does. These people have become lifelong friends and mentors and we cannot thank them enough.
Erica Venier & Rachel Venier
Erica: I began breeding Shelties on a limited basis in 1974. Over the years the Shelties were replaced by Cavaliers and a handful of Norfolk Terriers for comic relief. In our rather small but precise breeding program my daughter Rachel and I have produced a line of specialty winning Cavaliers. We have won the ACKCSC National Specialty four times, three times with home bred dogs. We are enormously hard on ourselves. We take the responsibility of breeding seriously and are determined to “first do no harm.”
What is the most important thing for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Please forgive us while we take this question and run!
Erica: In the Cavalier I am most concerned with two things; I will address each individually as both aspects are integral to correct breed type.
First, shape and balance. From a distance my imaginary dog should be easily recognized as a Cavalier. I visualize a moderate dog with ample bone in proportion to its size. Slightly longer than tall, standing over a lot of ground with a gentle transition of neck into well-angulated shoulders. Upper arm in equal proportion to the shoulder; front legs set well under the body for support and ease of movement. Solid top line, hard back and tail a gentle extension of the back.
In this breed correct make and shape are easily recognized from a distance; as a judge I like to ask the dogs to trot into the ring and move to a far corner. This initial introduction gives me a quick glimpse into each animal’s shape and balance.
Walking down the line the head should be a pleasure to look at, with large, dark, round eyes placed directly on the front of the skull. The essence of breed type in a Cavalier is reflected in the eyes; large, dark, round eyes placed directly on the front of the dog’s face mimic that of a baby animal. A Cavalier’s limpid, kind eyes should elicit a human response: the viewer’s heart melts.
Ample cushioning under the eyes helps create the desired soft, sweet expression. “Cushioning” does not mean over-done wrinkles or pendulous lips. Neither of those traits should ever be present in a correct Cavalier. Rather, “cushioning” refers to a slight amount of fat under the eyes which helps to soften the animal’s expression.
Although drop of white in the corner of an eye should not be penalized, overwhelming white surrounding rings are a jolt to the senses and an anathema in a Cavalier. In a serious breeding program puppies displaying a distracting amount of white in the eye are never bred, but rather placed as pets in loving homes. To reiterate: a small amount of white in the eye is acceptable. A distracting amount of white is not. As breeders we are all judges. We are judging breeding stock, and “white of eye” is practically impossible to eliminate from the gene pool. Therefore, as a breeder-judge I will overlook a slight drop of white which does not affect the dog’s expression. But I would never reward nor breed from an animal whose eyes exhibited a startled expression. The importance of a soft expression in this breed cannot be over-emphasized.
Rachel: Soundness is also a part of proper breed type. Every breed has a defined structure and movement that is correct for that individual breed. A dog with proper breed structure will have the correct breed outline standing and on the move. On the move the Cavalier reaches at least to his chin and preferably further; the furthest extension of the front legs should be where the legs touch the ground, rather than somewhere in the air. The imagined animal tracks up equally well with a driving rear. On the move the tail is carried happily, level or just above, a natural extension of the spine. The dog tracks straight coming and going. Well-set shoulders and a properly angulated rear will give a Cavalier reach and drive, but will also contribute to the proper Cavalier outline both baiting and moving. When we view a Cavalier across the ring, we want to see the outline of a Cavalier, not an American Cocker or English Toy Spaniel.
Focusing on correct make and shape has meant that as breeders we occasionally place beautiful dogs in pet homes because of a structural fault that we do not want to present in the ring or introduce into our breeding program. But we hope that we are coming closer to producing the ideal Cavalier (that we hold in our minds’ eye) by focusing on breeding dogs that are correct as well as pretty.
The importance of coat quality should not be overlooked. Coat quality is not an “extra.” It is an essential part of breed type. More coat is not automatically better; the coat should be straight and silky with moderate undercoat and furnishings. Throughout history breeds have begun by separating dogs based upon coat. Remember that if you really diverge far off the correct Cavalier coat, at some point you have altered an essential characteristic of the breed.
Erica & Rachel: Finally, we are both more than willing to personally mentor anyone aspiring to judge Cavaliers or to simply hone their skills in understanding breed type. It is important that those of us who are privileged to award points understand that Cavaliers are historically a very young breed and breed type may sometimes seem elusive. But the breed has made great strides in the last twenty-five years. Judges, when you find a Cavalier which reflects the desired breed type its limpid, kind eyes will elicit a human response and your heart will melt. And that’s a promise.
I’ve been in dogs all my life. My parents raised Beagles and Westies when I was young and at the age of 13, I whelped my first litter solo. In 1963 I participated in my first dog show where I took a 3rd place ribbon (which I still have) and a BOB in the match later that same day.I worked for my first vet in 1974 right out of high school and owned and operated several grooming shops and a busy boarding kennel throughout the years. In 1995 I bought my first two Cavaliers and built my breeding program using the Ravenrush dogs to set my ideal Cavalier type. I hold the Gold medallion from AKC for BBE champions and am the breeder-owner-handler of the oldest Cavalier to earn a GCH and the oldest Cavalier to earn a Lure Coursing title—both dogs achieved this at the age of 12 1/2. My foundation, Ch Excalibur Pearl Jam has her ROM as does her grandson, Ch St Jon Live Wire CA.I live in Martin, Georgia. What do I do “outside” of dogs? Not much, but I do love to cook.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? As far as popularity of the breed being good or bad, I think it’s a double edged sword. Those wanting to make easy money , or so they think, will become interested in breeding with profit as their motivation. It’s our job as guardians to attempt to steer these individuals in the right direction to better their breeding through education. Starting in this breed isn’t always easy. Breeding stock isn’t something easily accessible. I believe anyone wanting to break into the breed needs guidance. It often comes with co-ownership for new individuals with little control over which direction they proceed with. Those ling time breeders know their line and what to seek out and what to avoid. If you’re not willing to enter a contract like this, a Cavalier may not be where you want to start.
Placing puppies is a challenge all in its own. Sex in the city and Cavaliers featured in adds and movies peak interest in the general market for puppy buyers. Screening potential homes can be challenging at time but worth every minute. Successful, permanent homes is every breeder’s goal. Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Cavaliers are among the most versatile of toy dogs. One hundred percent companion, they will mold themselves to their new family’s lifestyle. But all new owners need to understand that the couch potato they’re seeking starts out as a typical puppy with puppy behavior.What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? A Cavalier wants nothing more than to be with you—24 hours a day and are very eager to please. So when it’s time for an afternoon soap opera or watching the latest pay per view movie, they’re happy just to be hanging with their peeps. As far as the show ring goes, the same often applies. Happy traveling to a show and strutting their stuff. (Some happier than others)
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Chutzpah shows in the whelping box! It’s that puppy that’s first to do everything. First up on their feet, first to play, first to climb out and self stack. I find that independent, outgoing puppy makes for a show dog who lives for the ring.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? It’s finishing a dog, often from the BBE class, that you produced and earned a championship on its own merit for me.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? It’s any dog on any given day. Hold true to the standard and don’t compromise ethics for instant success.My ultimate goal for the breed? I would love to see the ability to eradicate our health concerns through science. Our tools for healthy generations increase daily, it seems. But with that being said, I never want to lose what makes a Cavalier, a Cavalier.My favorite dog show memory? Easy peasy, the day GCH CH St Jon Fire And Ice took Best Veteran In Show under Barbara Dempsey Alderman. It was an all breed show where rumor had it that a seven year old, ranked Dalmatian was slated to win!
Cavaliers work their way under your skin and into your blood. Once owned by one, no other breed compares. They are always there when you need them—always ready to please and often support. My dogs were my focus when I was dealing with cancer. I needed to survive because no one would love them as I did. They were my constant companions and emotional support team. The world is a better place because they are in it.
I live in Manhattan and Pound Ridge New York with my many Cavaliers. I breed one to two litters per year and the majority of my dogs are sold to performance homes and companion homes, and occasionally that outstanding breed puppy will go to a show home. I raise my puppies until they are 16 weeks old, at which time they are house trained, and have basic obedience training. I believe a trained dog is a happy dog and I encourage my new dog owners to continue in the training of their Cavaliers. They leave my house with videos showing them exactly what I expect.When not raising puppies, training dogs, grooming dogs, showing dogs, either in breed or performance I like to write children’s books using my Cavaliers. I also enjoy sculpting mine and other dogs in various mediums. I have three children and four grandchildren all of whom reside nearby. They also share my same love for Cavaliers, some even have some of my older dogs.I live in Manhattan, I write children’s books and I sculpt. I also enjoy going to the theatre, watching movies, reading books and spending time in my country home in Pound Ridge. Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? I am happy they are 18 and not more popular as that encourages unreputable breeders. I am my own breeder and all my puppies are sold by word of mouth so I’ve never had to advertise to sell my puppies and nor would I advertise. Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Family fathers often find that the Cavalier is indeed a big little dog that meets all their expectations in terms of hiking, boating, running, frisbee, or any other outdoor activity. Mothers and children always adore Cavaliers and need no introduction to them. The Cavalier can fit into almost any situation. They have wonderful outgoing temperaments and are adored by children, adults and other furry friends.What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? In the living room the Cavalier can be a couch potato, an excellent TV companion and/or interact in a game of fetch. In the ring the Cavalier should be a proud well mannered happy dog, always attentive to its owner/ handler with a wonderful, waggy tail. He should also be receptive to the judge while being examined on the table as well as gating back to the judge in the ring.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? At six months I am able to determine whether a puppy is ready for the show ring or would prefer agility, obedience, or companionship/ therapy dog. This is all based on their temperaments which I have observed over the six month period.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? When you have a Cavalier that loves the show ring and is your teammate the showring is one place that I find very exciting. When I have a good dog on the end of my lead who is happy to be there and show off then I am pleased with a feeling of satisfaction.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Structure and temperament.
My ultimate goal for the breed is to keep to the breed standard as written. Always keeping in mind the importance of correct temperament, structure and good health. Unfortunately at this time I am finding many Cavaliers that are not meeting the breed standard especially in terms of leg length and ear set. I am hoping that breeders will breed to the breed standard and not to the “popular dog” that is incorrect but winning.My favorite dog show memory was my first best in show in the Langley Kennel Club in 1999 in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The most important thing I want to keep is the breed as it is with all its attributes as a small sporting dog with many capabilities, such as companion dog, agility dog, therapy dog, obedience dog, scent hurdle dog, barn hunting dog, lure coursing dog, scent work dog, as well as the outdoor activities in which they excel, hiking, boating, frisbee, etc. In short, the Cavalier is a very well rounded small dog companion. I like to place my older bitches in forever homes where they make their new owners proud as companion or therapy dogs.