Tips for grooming a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have beautiful coats. They are long haired dogs, with lovely feathering, and ears that almost touch the floor. However, some people choose to shave their pups. Cavs have double coats, which actually keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer time, and this sensitive make up means that it’s a bad idea to shave them. Ted is the only Cavalier in our area that isn’t shaved, flaunting his coat like a show dog!

Sometimes though, our Cavs decide that they don’t want a beautiful coat, and choose to run through mud, or roll in fox poop. Then you’ll find yourself with a disgusting dog, possibly weeks away from your next groomer appointment. What do you do? Well, you’ll have to create your own little dog spa and do it yourself!

I always advocate taking your dog to a groomer unless you are professionally qualified to do it yourself, but if you’re reading this post, it suggests you’re like me: sat with a filthy dog that really needs a wash.

What you’ll need for your home dog spa

  • Dog shampoo
  • Towels
  • Hair dryer
  • Long tooth comb
  • scissors/blade
  • nail clippers

Bathing your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Stage one of grooming a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is to bathe them. Because Cavs are small dogs, you don’t need to hose them down in the garden like a Labrador. No, Cavs can easily fit into your bathtub. When I’m bathing Ted, I like to use the shower head to do the work rather than dunking him in a pool of water, which would cause more matting.

I use lukewarm water, on a light spray. You wouldn’t spray a toddler in the face with a hot, powerful shower, so it’s not a good idea to do to the dog either! Once he’s fully damp, we use a doggy shampoo to massage in, especially in the ‘high traffic areas’ like his feathering, his paws, and his ears.

Grooming your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavs’ ears take an eternity to dry. Once Ted is out of the bath, we wrap him up in a towel and take him downstairs into the kitchen. Why? Well, dogs will roll around the floor in an attempt to dry themselves, and Ted is no exception.

Blast your Cav all over with warm air from a hairdryer to get rid of sodden patches – if you brush them while soaked, you’ll only create more matted knots, which is not what you want. Then when slightly damp, brush their coat with a long tooth comb as you blow cool air. You might need to spray your pup with detangle spray at this point – it’s essentially leave in hair conditioner! Expect drying your Cav to take a while, but if you keep a bag of low calorie treats nearby – I like to use Coachies – they will likely stay in place.

If you’re brave enough to trim your dog’s nails, now is an ideal time. They should be trimmed every two weeks, and it’s also a good idea to trim the hair on your Cav’s paws too if you can get there. This is the one thing I’m nervous to do, so I don’t blame you for wanting to wait to get in to the groomer.

Daily maintenance of your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

You should brush your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel every day, or every other day at the very least. Since their hair is long, they are likely to mat easily. Matting is particularly uncomfortable as it pinches the skin the tighter and closer it gets to the body. Key areas where Ted’s fur mats are behind his ears, his chest, his bottom, and his groin. If you catch them early enough, a small mat is easy to get out by massaging and gently brushing. You might find that you need to make a small cut vertically with a blade or scissors to release the knotting, then brushing is easier.

I hate to do it, but sometimes, if the matting is too severe, I have to cut it out. Only last week I had to cut a chunk of my poor boy’s tail.

Unfortunately, keeping on top of the coat isn’t the only aspect of grooming when you have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Since their jaws are weak, it can be tricky for them to chew on bones which would otherwise clean their teeth. If your Cav is anything like mine, they don’t even bother trying. That means you have to clean their teeth with doggy toothpaste.

Also, Cavs are susceptible to tear stains. To keep your pup looking gorgeous, you might have to use a special formula to remove the stain. We use Eye Envy but there are lots of alternatives which I expect work the same.

Related: What To Expect When You Neuter Your Dog

All responsible dog owners understand that grooming isn’t just aesthetic, it’s crucial for having a happy, healthy dog. We sometimes need to get our hands dirty and do it ourselves.


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