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Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Pictures, Care, Info, and More

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

two little cute teacup cavalier king charles spaniel puppies are sitting in a wicker basket

Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Pictures, Care, Info, and More

They say good things come in small packages; one of the smallest you’ll find is a Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel. They’re physically identical to the traditional version of the breed except for their size and are popular but controversial.

In this article, we’ll look at the history and origins of the Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel. We’ll also cover some important facts about these pups, including the controversies in breeding and selling teacup dogs.

The Earliest Records of Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in History

Because the Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel is just an extra-small version of the original breed, the earliest records of the dog are found among the toy spaniels of European nobles during the Renaissance period. In 17th century England, King Charles I and King Charles II helped popularize one color variation of the breed, while additional noble families bred others.

These small spaniels were eventually developed into the Cavalier King Charles spaniel we know today, starting in the early 20th century. We don’t know who bred the first teacup version of the Cavalier, but it most likely occurred in the early-mid 2000s as part of the overall teacup dog fad that exploded at that time.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog close up puppy
Image By: Roman Milavin, Shutterstock

How Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Gained Popularity

It’s generally thought that the teacup dog fad dates to the popular early 2000s reality show “The Simple Life,” which featured a teacup Chihuahua as the pet of Paris Hilton. As is often the case, pop culture visibility sparked a real-world demand for tiny pups. Many breeds received the teacup treatment during this time, including the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Methods of producing these extra-small Cavalier King Charles spaniels varied, but all are pretty controversial, as we’ll discuss later in this article. Unfortunately, as with many popular breeds, a rush of breeders with questionable ethics emerged, looking to cash in on the fad.

Formal Recognition of Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Unless it is created by crossing Cavaliers with smaller spaniel breeds, the Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a purebred dog but is typically not eligible to be registered with kennel clubs.

The United Kennel Club formally recognized the Cavalier King Charles spaniel in England in 1980. In America, the first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was founded in the 1950s. This group worked to establish breeding standards, their dog show circuit, and a code of ethics.

Interestingly, this thriving breed club voted repeatedly to avoid formal recognition by the American Kennel Club because they didn’t want the Cavalier bred on a large scale to protect the dogs’ health. Finally, in the early 1990s, a group splintered from the larger Cavalier Club and voted to be recognized by the AKC.

The original Cavalier club still operates as well, and if their wishes to avoid commercial breeding had been granted, the Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel probably wouldn’t exist.

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Top 3 Unique Facts About Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

1. They come in five different colors.

Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniels come in the same color options as the standard version of the breed.

These colors are:
  • Black and tan
  • Black and white
  • Ruby (red)
  • Blenheim (red and white)
  • Tricolor (black, white, and tan)

Black and tan is considered the rarest of these colors, which will probably also make dogs with this coat the most expensive to buy.

2. They are controversial.

We touched on this topic earlier, but breeding any teacup dog, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, is controversial. Unless you cross the Cavalier with a smaller breed, such as a Toy Poodle, there are only a few ways to produce a teacup dog.

One is to breed dogs with a genetic mutation for dwarfism deliberately. These dogs often have many health problems besides dwarfism, which makes producing them quite unethical.

Teacup dogs may also be produced by breeding two “runts,” which are naturally small but usually due to health problems. Again, breeding such dogs is not a good idea. Worst of all, some “breeders” deliberately underfeed their Cavaliers to keep them small, allowing them to sell them to unsuspecting buyers as “teacup” dogs.

3. They often have health problems.

Standard Cavalier King Charles spaniels are already prone to several inherited health conditions, including a severe heart issue. Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniels are also subject to the same health issues that plague other teacup dogs.

For example, the tiny dogs are incredibly fragile and can easily suffer broken bones, especially as puppies. Their blood sugar can drop dangerously low anytime they don’t eat regularly. Teacup dogs are also more likely to have liver shunts,  which is a congenital condition that must be surgically corrected.

They may have dental problems due to the size of their mouth. Teacup dogs are also more likely to develop a brain condition called hydrocephalus, where spinal fluid builds up in the brain, leading to damage and even death.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy lies in a white blanket
Image By: Roman Milavin, Shutterstock

Does Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Make a Good Pet?

Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniels typically have the same gentle, calm temperament as full-size Cavaliers. They’re playful, independent little dogs ideally suited to living in small spaces. These pups don’t like being left alone and may develop separation anxiety and destructive behavior.

While they usually get along with other pets, you’ll need to be cautious about allowing a Teacup Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to interact with larger animals because they’re so tiny and fragile. They aren’t the best choice for homes with small children, and most toy breeds are not.

Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniels can make good pets, but finding a healthy dog and a responsible breeder can be difficult. Owning one of these dogs also requires you to be extra vigilant about keeping them safe due to their size. You must also be aware of the potential for increased medical costs and prepare accordingly.

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While owning a Teacup Cavalier King Charles spaniel is rewarding, it can be challenging to keep them safe and healthy. Puppy mills and backyard breeders often view teacup dogs as their ticket to making quick cash, with no regard for the animals’ health.

If you have your heart set on a tiny Cavalier, consider adopting rather than buying one, possibly rescuing a dog who came from one of those unethical breeding situations. When buying is your only option, be extra careful when researching a breeder and avoid any who don’t allow you to come to view their location or who dodge health questions.

Featured Image Credit: e-Kis, Shutterstock

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