Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Grooming Advice

Over the years it seems the most requests for assistance with coat grooming are from the Cavalier exhibitors. This delightful breed seems to elicit all sorts of questions from all over the world and the recent Crufts was no exception.

As the standard calls for a longish silky coat that is free from curl with plenty of feathering, there is a lot of scope for advice. Whilst wave is permitted, curl is not.

You will want to have volume on the ears but keep the body of the coat lying closer and the featherings dried smoothly. The different coat colours allowed for also generate different techniques to keep in optimum condition. Colours must be kept rich and not allowed to fade.

You can’t beat the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo for coat shine. The Plush Puppy Herbal Whitening Shampoo is great for the white areas and the Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo brilliant for more intense cleansing or to remove unwanted buildup of products. Use all shampoos at a ratio of 5 parts water to one part shampoo. The Whitening Shampoo is a toning shampoo so is effective for minimising unwanted warm tones in the coat e.g. yellow, rusty tones and to generally cool down reddening on a black coat. Will leave a pearly finish to whites.

I am not the greatest advocate of conditioner. I find it softens and tends to make coats fly away and unmanageable for a couple of days. However, if soften is what you need to do with an old or hardened coat, then use conditioner - Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner at a ratio of 10:1 (10 parts water to one part conditioner). However stay away from the ears as you want to keep volume here. Oiling a coat is preferable in most cases to keep the coat hydrated and maintain the true texture. Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil is water soluble and is a great alternative way to achieve elasticity in the coat and to prevent snarls and tangles. Use at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 lt water. Sponge thoroughly through to saturate well to the skin and leave in - do not rinse out. You’ll find the featherings will stay nicely maintained and your Cavalier won’t resemble a compost heap, gatherings leaves and twigs, when outdoors. You can apply the Seabreeze Oil directly from the spray bottle to the ears in between shows to deter breakage.

Watch the toplines of the coats for fading and burning if your Cavaliers are outdoors in sun a lot. The Seabreeze Oil will go a long way to maintain the moisture content but a good sun prevention, Plush Puppy Sunshade applied every couple of days as well won’t go stray.

For brushing this coat, make sure you are using a moisturiser first rather than attacking a dry coat. Plush Puppy Revivacoat is a super moisturiser and can be applied directly to the hands and run through to the ends of the coat or mixed for easier application in a spray bottle -one golf ball sized amount to 1 cup/250mls water. Spray and leave in and then brush.

Most of the work for a good show coat comes from putting in the hard yard weeks before a show. It is a constant discipline to remember to do the rituals of good maintenance. We can all tapdance and fly into panic trying to remedy a coat that is less than wonderful prior to a show but it sure is easier to have a good coat condition to start with. Should the coat need salvage techniques just prior to a show then Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream - 1 tbspn to 1 cup/250 mls water - will instantly soften and flatten an overly dry coat but unfortunately won’t grow the length on those featherings for you.

For show time grooming, you will need to do two techniques - one for the body and featherings and one for the ears where you want more lift and fullness. The featherings should not be curly so apply Plush Puppy Swishy Coat at a ratio of 1 dspn to 2 cups water. Saturate the featherings with a liberal spray or sponge through. You can dilute further or less but this is a good starting point for the average coat. Variations will occur with coats so you will need to adjust this dilution rate to suit.

Using a cushioned oval Plush Puppy Pin Brush, dry till ¾ dry as this won’t stretch the featherings then switch to the Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush which is an oval cushioned half bristle/half nylon brush to finish by smoothing the featherings. I use the two brushes as it is detrimental to the coat to overly stretch hair when wet hence the use of the Pin brush first till almost dry. The Swishy Coat will help to keep the coat smooth and straight and shiny.

Now apply the Plush Puppy Volumising Cream at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and spray well onto the ear featherings or sponge on liberally. Use the Pin Brush to ¾ dry and either finish with the air from the dryer and your fingers for a more tousled finish or lightly complete with the Pin Brush for a more regulated but still loose but full finish. The picture you are trying to achieve with this breed is for a wider look to the ears so that they appear to fan forward to frame the face when alert.

Now the hardest part is done and out of the way. The rest is a roll down the hill to the show. It’s a good feeling to have the hard work done and the fluffing only to do on the day. Just keep those ears dry with a snood and keep the and a dryer handy for the featherings underneath when the dog pees indiscreetly. Note: If you are religious with the oiling of the coat during the week you won’t get pee stains.

Tear stains - well, don’t get them in the first place is the best option, but have stains already? - then you need to get rid of them. You can’t put bleach near a dog’s eyes but you do need more than a wet cloth to move that reddening. Try using a Whitening/Smokers Toothpaste applied with a Q tip/cotton bud and leave on for 10 - 15 minutes and then dry wipe off and then wet wipe off. Doing it this way eliminates the possibility of washing the excess into the dog’s eyes. I find that a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in the dog’s food each day - they hate it to start with so intro a bit at a time - helps to keep the gut alkaline and you will note a reduction in the staining around the eyes and between the toes after a few weeks. You won’t get rid of all the reddening with the toothpaste but it will reduce it. For covering it up on show day use the Plush Puppy Coverup Cream dabbed lightly with the finger or a Q tip and then another light dab till cover is achieved and dry with a light application of a chalk block. Brush out excess. Good also on ticking.

The show ring beckons and for the fidgety exhibitors such as myself you will have no problems finding things to do so let’s make it effective. A light sprinkle of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust onto the brush and tapped lightly through the coat just catches the glints of sunlight or spotlight. Not too much. Your little pixie is not the glitter fairy so don’t turn him into one. If you can see it when you put this on, then you have gone overboard. It does look sensational but needs a wise hand. Finally, a very light spray of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb onto the topline and sprayed from a distance to keep it spread lightly and effectively and you are ready to hit the stage.

The Cavalier was a favourite of the royal courts and is a favourite of yours and many others today. He is a gay and happy little chappy and shown to perfection with a great grooming routine, he is just something else again. He has a lot of natural ability in his appearance that just needs tender loving care. Such a wonderful breed.

- Cheryl Le Court