King Charles Spaniel Health Issues


The King Charles Spaniel is a breed of small dogs that originates from the United Kingdom. King Charles Spaniels are playful, cuddly, friendly-minded lap dogs with an average life expectancy of 9 to 15 years.

Due to the very similar name and appearance, some confuse this breed with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Although of the same origin, King Charles Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are two different breeds, and the main difference between these two is in size and in the shape of their head and muzzle. The King Charles Spaniel is slightly smaller and has a shorter muzzle.

Do King Charles Spaniels Have Health Issues?

King Charles Spaniels belong to brachycephalic breeds, and due to the specific shape of their head, muzzle, and throat, these dogs are sensitive to anesthesia and very susceptible to heatstroke. This breed is also known to suffer from some eye and heart problems.

The health issues reported in King Charles Spaniels over the years are the following:

  • Orthopedic issues: patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, scoliosis, arthritis, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Skin problems: demodectic mange, dermatitis, ichthyosis
  • Eye problems: cataracts, corneal dystrophy, corneal ulcers, keratitis, keratomalacia, distichia, entropion, retinal dysplasia, microphthalmia, optic disc drusen (ODD), “cherry eye”, keratoconjunctivitis sicca/”dry eye”, conjunctivitis/”pink eye”, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), canine blindness
  • Ear problems: primary secretory otitis media/”glue ear”, congenital deafness
  • Gastric problems: colitis, gastritis
  • Heart problems: mitral valve disease (MVD), tricuspid valve disease, congestive heart failure, patent ductus arteriosus, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary valve stenosis, aortic thrombosis
  • Blood clotting disorders: idiopathic asymptomatic thrombocytopenia, macrothrombocytosis, hemophilia
  • Urinary problems: urinary tract infections, bladder and kidney stones
  • Birth defects: cleft palate, umbilical hernia, open fontanelle, fused toes
  • Periodontal disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Chiari-like malformation (CM)
  • Syringomyelia (SM)
  • Allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic disorders

Please keep in mind that the list is not arranged in any particular order; so it doesn’t mean that the health issues from the top of the list occur more often than the health issues from the bottom of the list and vice versa.

Although this breed is prone to developing the aforementioned diseases, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these health issues will certainly occur in every King Charles Spaniel, but it is good to be aware of them if you own this pet or you are planning to get one.

If you are just thinking about getting a King Charles Spaniel puppy, do so from a responsible breeder who provides the certificates that confirm that puppies are free of genetically inherited diseases.