How to Groom a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

by Jo Chester
This tricolor Cavalier displays the large lustrous eyes and plentiful ear feathering called for in the breed standard.

This tricolor Cavalier displays the large lustrous eyes and plentiful ear feathering called for in the breed standard.

king charles cavalier spaniel dog image by Colleen Matheson from

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. Be sure to thoroughly brush your Cav's coat to remove any tangles or knots before getting him wet to avoid damaging the hair.


Step 1

Brush your dog's dry coat thoroughly before placing him in the tub. Use the spray attachment to wet your dog’s coat, starting at his neck and finishing at the tip of its tail. The water should be warm, not hot, to avoid scalding the dog.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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. It's best to wash your Cav's head last so that he doesn't lose body heat and get too cold.

Step 4

Apply conditioner to the dog’s coat, in the same manner as used to apply the shampoo. Massage conditioner into any knots that may be present; doing so will break up the knot. 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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Brushing & Combing

Step 1

Comb or brush your dog before a bath. Mats or knots can be made worse by getting them wet.

Step 2

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 detangler into the mat to help loosen the hairs.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Feet and Nails

Step 1

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. Seek guidance from a professional groomer or veterinarian on how to properly and safely trim your dog's nails.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog shampoo
  • Towel
  • Blow-dryer (optional)
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Dual-action, two-tiered comb/dematter (optional)
  • Metal greyhound comb
  • Slicker brush
  • Pin brush


  • The Cavalier measures from 12 to 13 inches high at the shoulder and should weigh between 13 and 18 pounds.
  • A Cavalier can be bathed in either a sink or a tub. Access to a spray attachment is preferred, but it is not vital as long as plenty of fresh, clear water is available to rinse.
  • Holding the spray attachment close to your dog’s skin when wetting the coat and while rinsing will reduce any stress he may feel with the spray.
  • Use a dematter on very tight or very large mats.
  • No trimming is necessary, although occasional stray hairs can be trimmed away to give the dog a neater appearance. If you will be showing your dog in the conformation ring, the coat on the dog’s body should not be trimmed at all.
  • Begin handling your puppy’s feet when he is very young and he will object less to have his toenails cut when he is older.


  • Wash your Cavalier no more than once or twice a month, unless he becomes extremely dirty, to avoid drying out the coat.
  • Using a hot dryer at high speed can dry out the dog’s fur and cause it to break when being brushed.
  • Allowing your dog’s nails to grow too long will cause your dog pain when walking. If nails are left long over an extended period, the bones of the feet will spread and may eventually cause lameness. It's best to have a professional teach you how to trim your dog's nails before attempting to do it yourself.


Photo Credits

  • king charles cavalier spaniel dog image by Colleen Matheson from