The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a sweet-natured toy breed that has long been a valued companion. Once upon a time, this breed was an exclusive possession of aristocrats. Today, however, the modern “Cav” is a pet, a therapy dog and a competitor in both agility and obedience, as well as being an elegant participant in conformation shows. This little breed requires only a negligible amount of trimming, but frequent brushing and combing are required to keep its silky coat in its best condition.
Place your dog in the sink. Use the spray attachment to wet your dog’s coat, starting at the back of his head and finishing at the tip of its tail. The water should be warm, not hot, to avoid scalding the dog.
Pour the shampoo into your hands, not directly onto the dog. Apply the shampoo from front to back, gently working it into the coat with the tips of your fingers. Massage down to the skin in all of the oily areas of the coat, particularly at the base of the ears.
Use the spray attachment or running water to rinse your dog. Start at the back of the dog’s head and rinse toward the dog’s tail, in the direction of the hair growth. Rinse until the water runs clear and no suds are present in the coat. Lather and rinse the coat a second time, if necessary.
Apply conditioner to the dog’s coat, in the same manner as used to apply the shampoo. Massage conditioner into any knots or mats that may be present; doing so will break up the knot or mat. Rinse the coat thoroughly, until the water runs clear. Some conditioner residue may remain in the coat. A small amount of residue is acceptable, as long as the coat is not oily.
Wrap your Cavalier in a towel to remove him from the sink. Blot his coat free of water. Do not scrub his coat with the towel, as doing so will break or knot the hair.
Remove any knots or tangles, using the process described in the next section. Blow the coat dry using a hand-held dryer set at low speed and temperature. Brush the hair from skin to tip while blowing your dog dry to give the coat some body and to hasten the drying process.
If you are not combing and brushing your dog after a bath, use the spray bottle to dampen the dog’s coat. Combing and brushing a dry coat may damage the hair.
If you need to remove a mat, hold the mat in one hand and the comb in the other. Beginning at the very edge of the mat, use the widely spaced teeth at one end of the greyhound comb to separate the hairs. If necessary, rub some conditioner into the mat to help loosen the hairs.
Once all mats have been removed, go over the coat with the narrow-spaced teeth at the other end of the comb. Gently remove any tangles that catch the teeth of the comb.
Use the pin brush to “finish” the coat. Brushing will smooth the hairs of the coat. It will also release natural and protective oils from the skin, giving the coat an attractive sheen.
Visually inspect the paws for mats, debris and excessively long toenails. Use your fingers to remove any loose knots that may have formed and separate the long hair around the toes.
Gently spread your dog’s toes and trim the hair between them. The hair on the bottom of the foot should not spread over the toes or the large paw pad. Do not trim the hair in front of the toes or on the side of the dog’s foot, if you are interested in conforming with the breed standard requirements.
Identify the location of the quick of the toenail. The quick is the triangular area in the nail that contains the blood vessels and nerve endings. It is readily visible in the clear nails of the Ruby- and Blenheim-colored Cavaliers, but may be obscured in the dark-colored nails of the black-and-tan variety. This blood supply should end at the curve of the nail.
Place the sharp cutting blade (guillotine trimmers) or the depression in the lower blade (scissors trimmers) underneath the nail, at the curve of the nail. If you cannot see the quick, you can place the nail trimmers a little farther down on the nail, as long as the nails will not touch the floor when cut. Cut each nail using a firm, single motion.