It's daunting - we get it!
So much information and yet you have more questions.
Hopefully, we will be able to answer some of your questions below.
What should I expect from my Breeder?
You should view buying a puppy as buying a breeder. A breeder should offer support, knowledge and care. You should be able to trust your breeder. If you don't, walk away.
You should be able to see where the puppies were raised; the puppies interacting with their mother and with the breeder. Check that the puppies look comfortable with the breeder, does the mother look comfortable with the puppies? This is to check the puppies are from the place you think they are, not from a puppy farm or back yard breeder.
Paperwork, you should expect Kennel Club Registration Certificate, Details of a Microchip, a Sales Contract, a Receipt, a feeding & worming information sheet, copies of Health Certificates from both parents and details of insurance the puppy has.
Physically you should be provided with some of the food the puppy is on. Potentially some water which the puppy has been drinking and some bedding which smells of the litter or mum.
A Dog or a Bitch ? Is there much difference?
Yes there is a difference but not much. There are pros and cons to both, girls are more independent and generally have less coat. They will have seasons, (see below regarding spaying)
Boys are more loving often with softer personalities, have thicker coats but shed less. They will be interested in girls but are easily trained.
Generally though every single Cavalier is different, a girl could be stronger than a boy, boys could be more independent. Embrace them, it's what makes them special.
How old does the puppy need to be before I can collect him/her?
At least 8 weeks, many breeders keep their puppies longer to make sure they are completely weaned and ready to leave. Some breeders will spread the puppies leaving out, so they don't all go at once as it's easier on Mum. Whilst some breeders will go with how the puppies are, when they were weaned and if they are independent and strong.
It will depend on your breeder, they know their dogs, 8 weeks is the minimum.
Will a Cavalier mix well with my other pets?
Absolutely, make sure you supervise introductions and give them space to get away from each other. It may take a while but gentle introductions and they'll be firm friends in no time.
Should I get my Cavalier Spayed/Castrated?
This is your decision, and one that should be researched.
There are many pros and cons to neutering, and a lot of research out there. Many vets will recommend neutering as soon as the dog turns 6 months. Remember you are the client and it's your dog so it's your decision.
The reproduction organs have a lot of essential hormones for development, not just physically but mentally as well. Dogs will not be fully mature until at least 12 months of age. Every dog is different and will mature at different times.
In Cavaliers it is common that a neutered dog's coat will change, it is often observed that a Cavalier's coat will become thicker and wool-like after neutering, making it harder to keep and often results in the owners resorting to shaving the coat off.
How long can I leave a Cavalier?
Cavaliers are 'People Dogs'. They love to be with someone and crave attention. They will not get on well being left all day every day. For this reason, many breeders will refuse to sell to someone who works full time with no other arrangements.
This being said you need to go out, leaving them for 3-4 hours should be fine as long as they have access to water.
Should I use a crate?
Simple answer it's up to you!
They are brilliant 'safe places', you can put your puppy in whilst you are out or to sleep in overnight. Crates should not be seen or used as a punishment. Rather a space where your dog wants to be.
Often puppies are used to sleeping in crates. They would have been born in a whelping box and kept in puppy runs. It will ease their transition into your home if they have somewhere familiar.
You should avoid going into their space, particularly if you have children who would think it a great game.