BOOK REVIEW

King Charles Spaniels by John Evans Cavalier King Charles Spaniels:
An Owner's Companion

by John Evans
pub. Crowood Press, 2003
New Paperback Ed., 176 pages, 14.99
ISBN 0 186126 639 1

King Charles Spaniels conjour up images of 16th and 17th century English monarchs posing for portraits with restive spaniels at their feet. Landseer too, immortalised the King Charles, though by the turn of the 20th century the breed was almost extinct.

After a pretty dry chapter on the 'history' of the breed John Evans gets down to more fundamental matters - for breeders and owners alike. Chapter Two reviews genetic and inheritance factors in KCs, even to the point of trying to predict colour inheritance in puppies, shape of eyes, nose, and so on. He also reviews the congenital health issues with the breed - weeping eyes, congenital cataracts, valvular heart disease and diabetes; the latter two causing severe distress in many dogs. For anyone interested in breeding KCs there is information on systems of breeding to improve the quality of the breed.

Anyone considering owning a KC will find ample advice on almost every aspect of buying and caring for the dog. Evans advises searching out reputable breeders to buy from, and looking for good physical traits such as round, not almond shaped, eyes, a flat head, and high set ears.

The author's extensive years as a breeder and show judge shine through as he guides owners through puppy management, and onwards to adolescent and adult years in Chapters 4 and 5. Reflective wisdoms, such as first time buyers tending to overfeed their puppy, are mixed with reassuring observations like KCs being one of the easiest breeds to train, and pointers to what to look out for in older dogs; KCs being prone to put on weight and become stiff and rheumatic.

Chapters 7, 8 and 9 are for those 'power' owners rather folks who merely want to own a classy pooch. We are dealing here with Showing and Judging KCs - with Evans providing bits of advice such as: 'Always carry a tin of paw wax', and describing how he makes up his own coat spray for the show dogs - and then into the high-end world of breeding and rearing KCs.

The last chapter deals with Ailments and Diseases, and lists lots of author-recommended canine herbal remedies, plus pointers on health matters ranging from obesity and ring shyness to worms, eye problems, and MVD [mitral valve disease].

Two Appendices are tacked on to the end of the book; one covering the British and American Breed Standards, and the second listing all KC champions from 1948 through to the present day.

Bottom line...
Very much a book for Spaniel enthusiasts, would-be owners, or anyone considering breeding for showing, rather than general canine interest. However, if you owned a KC without such lofty visions of breeding or showing, then there is plenty within the pages to help you with the health and care of your classy pooch.


Crowood Press titles can be bought online at their website: www.crowood.com or by calling 01672 520320.

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