The petite Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a joyful, gentle dog that is a true delight to own and care for.
These smart and sensitive dogs are currently the 18th most popular purebred dog breed in America, according to the American Kennel Club‘s annually updated breed popularity list.
As a toy size dog breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel requires special handling at bath time. There are certain things you need to know and precautions you need to take to keep these dogs comfortable and calm during baths.
In this article, we explain how often you should bathe a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and help you get set up for at-home bath time success.
How Often Should You Bathe a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
The general consensus among experienced Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owners is that these dogs should not be bathed more frequently than once every two weeks, as the popular Cavalier Talk owner forum highlights.
The reason is simple: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s skin contains beneficial skin oils that help to nourish the coat and keep it shiny and healthy.
Learn How to Bathe a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel From an Owner
There are special considerations whenever you are bathing a very small, sensitive breed like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
In this helpful YouTube video, you can hear important tips from an experienced Cavalier King Charles Spaniel about how to make bath time the safest and most comfortable, pleasant experience for your dog.
2 Key Signs You are Bathing Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Too Frequently
There are certain warning signs you can watch for that may indicate you are giving your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel too many baths.
1. Itchy, dry or flaky skin
As you learned in an earlier section here, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s skin contains beneficial oils with hydrating and moisturizing properties.
These oils keep skin supple and healthy.
Sometimes the first sign owners have of too-frequent baths is a dog that starts to scratch at their skin more. Dry or flaky skin is also a warning sign.
However, before you assume over-bathing is the cause, be sure to check with your canine veterinarian to rule out other possible health issues.
2. Dull, flyaway coat
The same beneficial skin oils provide shine and body to the coat and help control frizz and static.
If your dog’s coat starts to look dull or seems dry and frizzy or full of static electricity, this is another possible warning sign that your dog is getting too many baths.
Supplies You Will Need to Bathe Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel At Home
These supplies will make bathing your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at home easier and faster as well as more comfortable for your dog.
- Dog-safe shampoo and conditioner
- Dog-safe de-tangling spray
- Dog-safe tear stain remover
- Dog-safe ear cleaner and soft cotton pads or cloths
- Slicker brush
- Pin and bristle brush
- Stainless steel round-tip comb
- Dog-safe blow dryer
- Dog nail clippers and/or Dremel drill
2 Key Tips to Make Bathing Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a Positive Experience
Many Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owners choose to take their dogs to a professional groomer for bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, anal gland expressing, and coat trims.
But it is also possible to learn to do some or all of these tasks at home yourself, which can potentially save you money as long as you have the time to learn.
1. Only use dog-safe products
You need to make sure you use products that are specifically formulated for use with dogs.
Do not use people shampoos (even those made for human babies), conditioners, detangling sprays, or perfumes. These will not have the right pH for canine skin and may irritate your dog’s skin.
The same holds true with any products you use to wipe away tear stains or discoloration on the coat. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
2. Make sure you keep the praise, pats, and treats coming
Bath time is not usually a dog’s most favorite activity. This can especially be true for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel since these dogs are particularly sensitive to the cold.
You want to be sure that you keep the pats, praise and dog treats flowing freely during the bath so your dog learns to positively associate bath time with other good things they love.
Steps to Bathe Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at Home
You can use these general steps to start bathing your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog at home.
If you feel unsure about whether you are doing it right, you may want to bring your dog to a professional groomer at least once and ask to stay and learn the ropes.
Most groomers are happy to help answer questions and demonstrate the basics to new owners.
Start by brushing and de-tangling your dog’s coat
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s soft, fine, hair-like coat can tangle and mat all too easily between baths, especially when their long ears dangle in food or water bowls.
As Grandeville Cavaliers explains, once the coat gets wet, these tangles and mats will get even harder to work out.
For your dog’s comfort (and your sanity), give your dog a thorough brushing before each bath. Gently work out any tangles or mats with de-tangling spray or conditioner and then give your dog a bath.
Make sure you have everything you need close at hand
You want to have all your supplies set out and within your grasp before you place your dog in the bath to minimize time spent in the bath.
Aim for lukewarm-to-warm bathwater
Even though the petite Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is very cold-sensitive, you don’t want to have the bathwater too warm, as this will dry out the skin and coat and may cause burns or overheating.
Lukewarm to slightly warm water is ideal. You can test the water temperature on the inside of your wrist before you put your dog in the water to be sure it is not too cold or too hot.
Shampoo and rinse twice before conditioning
As Pet Care RX explains, when you bath your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you will be removing the old skin oils that have built up on your dog’s coat along with any dirt or debris that is present.
So you need to shampoo your dog twice – once to break down the oils and once to remove them. Luckily, your dog is quite tiny and this process goes quite fast.
The one area you don’t want to shampoo is around your dog’s eyes and nose. You can use a damp cloth to bathe these areas to avoid getting shampoo in your dog’s eyes.
Be sure to rinse your dog thoroughly after each shampoo to get all the soap out. If you are not using a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray, do a third thorough rinse to remove all the conditioners.
Towel dry and then blow-dry your dog’s coat
You want to be prepared with a warm, dry towel and a blow dryer to dry your dog as soon as the bath is done.
Blot your dog’s coat gently with the towel. Do not rub – this can cause the coat to tangle or break. Then put the blow dryer on the lowest heat setting and hold it far enough away from the skin to avoid overheating or burns.
Keep the blow dryer moving continually and make sure to dry the insides of the ears. Because the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s floppy ears cut off airflow to the inner ear canal, residual damp can easily give rise to a yeast infection.
As the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club points out, for this reason, you should check and clean the ears weekly even if you don’t bathe your dog nearly that frequently.
Check and trim the nails as needed
It is a good idea to trim the nails after a bath since they will be softer and easier to clip or file.
As with the ears, you will want to get into the habit of checking the nails weekly and trimming or filing them as needed.
Trim or groom your dog’s coat as desired
If you plan to show your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel competitively, check with your local breed club or the American Kennel Club (AKC) for specific coat requirements for the show ring.
Otherwise, many owners prefer to keep their dogs in a puppy clip or short sport clip as this makes it easier to bathe and brush the coat.
Your canine veterinarian or grooming professional can answer any specific questions you may have about your individual dog’s bathing, grooming, and coat care needs.