Do you have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that seems larger than most dogs of the same breed? There are several possible reasons why your Cavalier may be bigger than expected.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the common causes and what you can do about it.
Overview of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed of dog recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995. True to its name, it has a royal heritage and was a favorite pet of King Charles I and II in the 1600s.
Some key facts about Cavaliers:
- They typically stand 12 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder
- The average weight range is between 13 to 18 pounds
- Cavaliers have a silky, feathered coat in four color variations
- They have an affectionate, gentle temperament and thrive as companion dogs
So if your Cavalier is significantly bigger than these averages, it may come as a surprise. Let’s look at some of the most common explanations.
He’s a Mix or Crossbreed
One obvious reason your Cavalier could be large is if he’s not a purebred. Crossbreeding with larger dogs can easily produce oversized puppies. Some popular Cavalier mixes include:
- Cavachon: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Bichon Frise
- Golden Cavalier: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Golden Retriever
- Cavalierpoo: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Poodle
If you adopted your dog from a shelter or bought from an unreliable breeder, unintentional crosses can also occur. DNA tests can confirm if your pup is part Cavalier but has other breeds in the mix as well.
It’s Just His Genetics
Even with purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, some natural variation in size occurs. Like people, dogs can inherit genes that make them taller or heavier than average.
Professional breeders do try to carefully select breeding stock to maintain consistency. But fluctuations can happen, especially if less scrupulous breeders aren’t monitoring traits closely.
So while your Cavalier may come from a long lineage of registered dogs, he still could’ve ended up with genetics making him bigger than the breed standard. It’s not necessarily a cause for concern if his parents are toward the top of the height and weight scales too.
Carrying excess body fat can also lead to a Cavalier looking much larger in person. These tiny spaniels only need around 30 minutes of exercise per day. Without proper activity levels and diet regulation, obesity can become an issue.
Overfeeding high-calorie treats is a very common problem as well. Their begging eyes make it hard to resist! But all those extra treats and table scraps add up in daily calories.
Monitoring your Cavalier’s weight, establishing a consistent feeding schedule, measuring proper portion sizes, and avoiding unhealthy snacks are all key to keeping the pounds off.
He Has a Health Condition
In some cases, atypically large size may indicate an underlying medical condition. Two possibilities include:
The thyroid gland manages metabolic function. When it becomes underactive, a lack of thyroid hormones can stunt growth and cause weight gain. Hypothyroidism most often develops in middle-aged and elderly dogs.
Symptoms generally include lethargy, obesity, skin problems, and feeling cold. Luckily hypothyroidism can be managed well long-term through daily medication.
This disorder involves the overproduction of growth hormones. Usually diagnosed in middle-aged dogs, the excess hormones spur bone overgrowth and enlarged organs. Often the symptoms develop slowly over time before owners realize their dog seems outsized.
In addition to increased stature, warning signs involve elevated appetite, excessive thirst/urination, respiratory issues, and joint pain from bones thickening abnormally.
Getting a definitive diagnosis requires advanced imaging tests of the pituitary gland. Depending on the underlying cause, medication, radiation therapy, or surgery may help slow progression of the disease.
When to Worry About His Size
While genetics or mixed breeding are often harmless explanations for a big Cavalier, health issues are a major concern. Rapid growth in puppies also raises some red flags:
- Puppies should reach 50% of their adult weight by about 4 months old. Significantly exceeding expected gains might indicate a problem.
- Contact your vet if you notice lumps, bone deformities, lameness, or pain. Bone disorders should be evaluated promptly.
- Monitor your Cavalier’s energy levels, appetite, thirst, etc. Personality changes and new symptoms warrant medical attention to test for conditions like hypothyroidism or acromegaly.
- Consider getting an Embark Dog DNA test to check your Cavalier’s genetic background if uncertain about possible crosses.
As long as your oversized pup seems healthy and happy though, try not to worry too much. Every dog has unique traits that make them special! Focus on providing proper nutrition, adequate exercise, lots of affection, and annual vet check-ups to give your big Cavalier the best quality of life.
Tips for Managing a Large Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Caring for a Cavalier who far surpasses the breed’s typical size does take some extra preparation and planning. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Accommodate His Size
- Get food and water bowls big enough to comfortably accommodate his muzzle
- Ensure he has enough space to stand, sit, sleep, and move around comfortably
- Provide ramps or stairs to access furniture more easily
- Obtain a large crate tailored to his measurements for safe confinement when necessary
- Have restraint methods like harnesses and seatbelt tethers adapted to fit properly
Feed Him Appropriately
- Follow your vet’s advice for ideal nutrition suited to his size and activity needs
- Stick to a scheduled feeding regimen instead of free-feeding
- Carefully measure out portions instead of just filling the bowl
- Select kibble or canned formulations specifically designed for larger breed dogs
- Avoid overloading with fatty scraps or too many treats between meals
Exercise Him Sufficiently
*Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of activity every day to maintain healthy muscle tone and weight
- Take regular, longer walks and hikes to keep him fit
- Play more high-energy games of fetch compared to a smaller Cavalier
- Monitor his pace and endurance to avoid overexertion of his bones, joints, and heart
With extra planning and personalized care scaled to his size, your bigger Cavalier can lead a long, healthy, and active life! Reach out to your veterinarian if you ever have questions or concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about why your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is so much bigger than usual? Here are answers to some common queries:
Is it bad if my Cavalier is really big for the breed?
Not necessarily! As long as health screening doesn’t reveal issues, larger size alone is not problematic. Focus care to match his measurements and needs. Monitor for pain, lameness, changes in appetite/thirst, etc.
Do oversized Cavaliers have more health issues?
They can be predisposed to certain orthopedic conditions if bones & joints develop too rapidly or unevenly. Issues like hip dysplasia become more likely. Rate/direction of growth matters more than adult size itself.
Is an abnormally large Cavalier still expected to live a typical lifespan?
Yes, size itself doesn’t impact average longevity as long as no related illnesses develop. Cavaliers generally live 12-15 years. Maintaining a healthy weight via proper diet and exercise helps ensure a long life at any size.
Let your veterinarian know if you have any other questions related to your Cavalier’s unusual size. They can suggest next steps for a full evaluation if anything seems amiss. With attentive care tailored to his needs, your bigger buddy can remain happy and healthy!
If your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel far surpasses typical height and weight for the breed, several explanations are possible. Crossbreeding with larger dogs or natural genetic variation can produce oversized Cavaliers. Obesity also contributes significant bulk if overfeeding and inadequate exercise are ongoing issues.
Rapid, abnormal growth may signal a medical condition like hypothyroidism or acromegaly in some cases. Discuss any concerns over new symptoms or odd changes with your vet. If your big pup checks out health-wise, focus on making adjustments to comfortably accommodate his larger frame!
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