How to Groom a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Introduction

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may look easy to care for with their luscious locks and sad brown eyes, but maintaining their coat can be a real pain in the tail if you don't know what you're doing. The reason grooming silky-haired dogs like spaniels is fur-strating for many pets and owners is because their hair is finer than most breeds. 

Don't get your fur in a bunch, though. We'll show you exactly how to groom your Spaniel in a way that's comfortable for both of you.

Dog's Perspective

A visit to the groomer can be quite overwhelming for a shy breed like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. New smells, loud blow dryers, unfamiliar dogs, and strange sensations can be scary for a dog who doesn't understand what's happening. Even DIYing your dog's 'do at home can be an adjustment for a pet who's never been cut and styled before.

Grooming Cavalier King Charles Spaniels at home from a young age can help get your dog accustomed to the process. Spaniels' coats grow quickly, and their long, fine hair is prone to painful matting. Regular brushing, conditioning, and trims will train the hair and help them stay more sanitary.

The Show Dog Style Method

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Spray
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Comb
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Give fido a thorough bath
Some breeds you can get away with using cheap dog shampoo, but the King Charles Spaniel is not one of them! Wash your pet twice with a high-quality moisturizing shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Then, lather on a healthy dose of conditioner and let it sit on the hair for 5 minutes to absorb into the hair cuticle.
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Wet brushing
Gently comb out any tangles with a slicker brush.
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The blowout
You'll need to dry Fido's hair and give brush it again before you can start the trim. Many groomers prefer to use a blow dryer since air-drying can make spaniels hair wavy and frizzy.
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4
Thin out the legs
With your dog standing, use your non-dominant hand to gently hold the hair on the back legs. Hold your thinning sheers with your dominant hand and position them in a downward direction. Using a downward snipping motion, use the scissors to take off the ends of the leg hair. Take off small bits of hair at a time until you reach the desired length. Thinning sheers cut differently and don't remove as much hair at one time as straight scissors. Many groomers find that thinning shears are also more forgiving if you accidentally take off more hair than you intended.
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Trim the "undercarriage"
Using the same cutting motion as you did with the legs, position the trimming sheers at an angle following the hair's natural growth pattern.
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The sanctuary cut
The one of the most essential parts of a grooming a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is clipping the in their groin and hind area. Due to the long hair on the tail and back end, poop often gets trapped and causes unsightly matting. Position your dog facing away from you and raise their tail with your non-dominant hand. Using your dominant hand and your straight scissors, cut the hair surrounding the anus. Then taking the same scissors, lift each paw and cut the excess hair that sticks out between the toes and the paw pads.
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Trimming the ears
Next using a spray bottle, lightly mist your pet's ears, and comb them out. Using your straight scissors carefully even out the length on your pet's ears, making sure not to nip their skin.
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Using a stripping stone
The last step is to remove the old, dull coat from the head with a stripping stone. A stripping stone is just a textured tool that grips and removes old hair while leaving soft, shiny hair behind. Use the stripping stone as you would a brush, moving it in the direction of the hair growth, in swift, gentle motions.
Recommend grooming method?

The Au Naturale Method

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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Clipper
Step
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Shampoo and condition twice weekly
Keeping your Spaniel's long coat clean is half the battle when it comes to grooming. Like humans, their hair needs to washed and conditioned regularly to keep it looking optimal. Invest in some good quality shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in conditioning sprays to keep your pet's coat sleek and healthy.
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Brush daily
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need to be brushed at least once a day, even more, if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Leaves, sticks, briars, and feces can accumulate underneath the visible hair, causing mats.
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Trim where they need it
If you notice your dog's belly always gets muddy while playing outside, take your thinning sheers and shorten the ends. Use your straight scissors trim around their genitals and anus and to remove excess hair from the bottoms of their feet. Trim away random mats as necessary.
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Smell pretty
Finally, spritz your pup with your favorite paw-fume so they can smell as lovely as they look!
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

Neutering males spaniels may cause the coat texture to change from silky to wirey. If this happens, you'll need to adjust your technique to the new hair texture.

Cavalier's coat texture and growth pattern are comparable to Afgan hounds and Setters. The hair grows longer on their ears, legs, abdomen, and tail than other parts of their body, so you'll need to pay special attention to these fast-growing areas when maintaining the hair.  

Spaniels are particularly susceptible to inner and outer ear infections due to their floppy ears, which hold moisture. Gently dry the inside of your dog's ears with a soft cloth after bathing to prevent inflammation and infections. Some Spaniel groomers also pluck or trim the sparse hairs inside the ear canal to increase air circulation. Be very careful if you choose to remove your dog's inner ear hair--this area is very delicate and vascular. 

Conclusion

Grooming your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel doesn't have to be "im-paws-sible." Avoid common grooming "fur-pas" like brushing too hard and not using conditioner. Don't forget always to dry your Spaniel's ears and give lots of treats!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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