Here are some info that might be helpful for those looking for a Cavalier King Charles pup.

Let's start with the premise that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a very popular breed. This means that you may not be able to find one available on a moment’s notice. Many people are surprised when they are told that they will have to be on a "waiting list" for a Cavalier but it is a reality.

BREEDERS: There are several types of breeders and/or people who are selling Cavaliers in today’s market. It is very important that you know the difference.

HOBBY/SHOW BREEDERS are the people who are breeding to the AKC published breed standard. These people live by a code of ethics and have develop specific knowledge on how to improve the bred.

Therefore, they breed for the superior qualities they are trying to perpetuate in the Cavalier and these qualities, as well as the health of the dogs they are breeding, are of paramount importance to them. They do not always have a litter available but when they do they try to get the very best homes possible for the puppies they are not going to keep. When you contact one of these breeders you may be asked many questions and in some cases, you may be asked to fill out an application form.

THE "WAITING LIST:" In working with a reputable breeder, you may be asked if you would like to be on their waiting list. This is a list that some breeders will keep of people who they feel may be particularly qualified to have one of their puppies. Many new Cavalier owners have waited up to a year to get a dog from the breeder of their choice. It is rare that a puppy is available immediately. You may expect this breeder to have done all the health testing on the sires and dams before they were ever bred. They will be happy to tell you about the general health of their dogs as well as answer specific questions.This type of breeder will also be willing to refer you to other breeders they may know in their network who also breed to high standards. You may contact several breeders before you find one that you are comfortable with and want to work with. When you do find this special person, work with them exclusively toward getting the puppy or dog of your dreams. Do not use the "shotgun" approach to puppy buying. This has not proven to be an effective method of acquiring a pet. Never purchase from ads you may see in the newspaper or internet website as many are brokers, puppy mills and less than reputable breeders advertise this way. The hobby/show breeder will almost never advertise in a newspaper because they have all the calls they can handle from word-of-mouth and referrals.

BACKYARD BREEDERS: This type of breeder is usually the person who has one or two dogs who breeds an occasional litter but does not have any affiliation with other breeders nor are they bound by any codes of ethics. They may or may not do health testing and may not be familiar with proper care and conditions for raising a healthy litter of puppies. This type of breeder most often advertises their puppies for sale in the local newspaper or many puppy mill websites. Usually these breeders will be happy to underprice their puppies and will allow you to breed the dog even though you have no knowledge of how to breed. I would advise not to support your backyard breeders because they sell to puppy mills and have no awareness of how they hurt the breed. They also have no knowledge of how to improve their breeding practices.

IMPORTERS/BROKERS: These people are not breeders but instead, they import dogs from foreign puppy farms. These poor puppies are born and raised in poor conditions and many have multiple health and personality problems. They usually advertise in the newspaper and their ads usually begin with something like, "Imported from Ireland," or "Belgian Imports." The dogs are usually selling at prices far below those of the ethical breeder, the parents have not had the proper health checks before breeding, and there is no way they can give any guarantees. Their main goal is to breed for the money and they breed often similar to a backyard breeder. They will often sell to puppy mill and pet shops and pups often end in local recues.

COMMERCIAL BREEDERS/PET SHOPS: Commercial breeders (sometimes known as puppy mills) are just what the name implies. They have a commercial breeding operation, operated for profit and most frequently sell the puppies born at their breeding establishments to pet stores although some do sell "out the door" at their kennels. Commercial breeders have large kennels with hundreds of dogs although there are probably some that operate on a smaller scale.
It is up to you to decide which type of breeder you want your puppy to come from. Once you decide, you will have to be patient. It is rare (although it does happen) that a reputable breeder will have a puppy available immediately.

A Few Points to Remember:

1.  Always ask what CKCS clubs your breeder is affiliated with. If they do not belong then run.
2.  Buy the breeder first and then the dog.  You want someone experienced and knowledgeable who you will be comfortable with for the lifetime of the dog.
     They  should be there to answer questions, help with training, etc.  They will want to know of any problems you are having and will require you to notify them if
      you are unable at any time for any reason to keep the dog.

3.  Ask as many questions of the breeder as a reputable one will be asking you--where the puppies were raised, what the breeder did to socialize them, what clubs
      the breeder belongs to, why this particular breeding was done, what good points these dogs have, what are their bad points? If the parents are not being shown
      (and winning!) ask who evaluated them as breeding quality--besides the breeder!!   Be comfortable with the answers you get.

Ask many questions BEFORE deciding whether to even go meet a breeder/see puppies so you don't make an impulse purchase (which is what keeps dogs in pet stores and pets in Rescue.)

4.  Be sure and see certificates of health testing on parents.  The appropriate ones for Cavaliers are: 

HEART--The latest research presented at the International Heart Symposium in May 98 says sire and dam should be at least 2.5 years of age and heart cleared by a CARDIOLOGIST within the previous year (not just regular vet). THEIR parents should still be heart clear at age 5.  Mitral valve disease is a major concern in the breed.

EYES--Sire and dam should have a current (within the last year) CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) test by an OPHTHALMOLOGIST (this also cannot be a regular vet). 

PATELLAE--Luxxating, or slipping, patellae, or kneecaps, are a common problem in toy breeds, including Cavaliers.  A (regular) vet needs to check sire and dam before breeding. Certification can also come from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America).

HIPS--hip dysplasia DOES happen in small dogs.  Approx. 11% of Cavalier x-rays submitted to the OFA show hip dysplasia and since the really bad ones are never sent in, they estimate as much as 1/3 possibly have HD.
An x-ray is taken by a regular vet and sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for a grading of excellent, good, fair, borderline, or degrees of dysplasia. A regular vet does NOT read the x-ray--it must go to the OFA. The OFA website has some excellent info and you can check the status on any dog who has passed (assuming the owner has sent in the results).

5. Make certain the Mother is present with her puppies and if possible, ask to meet the Father too.  Be sure the mother has a good temperament. She will influence the puppies more than the father.

6. The Cavalier comes in four accepted colors--ruby (solid red), Blenheim (red and white), black and tan, and tri color (black and white with tan markings). They are 12-13 inches at the shoulder and 12-18 lbs.

7.  Red flags-- "I have any color, male or female available right now,"
"The whole litter is show quality,"  
"The testing is not reliable,"
 "If you don't trust my word, I don't want to deal with you,"
 "My line has no problems." 
"I will sell this dog/bitch with breeding rights at this price and sell this same pup at a pet price."

Please support good breeding practices and not the bad breeders- these folks breed for profit and not for the dog! They will have a litter every one to two months.  Please take a deep breath and be patient.