Cavalier owners unite to demand change for their breed

CavsWhen I was nine years old my family brought home Sam, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. I adored my little pal, but at just two years old, Sam developed a heart murmur. We were devastated. Like so many cavalier owners, until Sam’s diagnosis, we were not aware of the crippling and painful diseases plaguing the breed.

There are several common diseases facing Cavaliers, including:

  • Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)
    Normally diagnosed following the detection of a heart murmur, severe cases can eventually lead to heart failure, most Cavaliers have this disease by the time they reach 10 years old (if they survive that long)
  • Chiari-like malformation (CM)
    The way the cavalier is bred to look, with a small head and pushed back snout often means that the dogs skull is too small to accommodate the size of their brain, this condition can often lead to…
  • Syringomyelia (SM)
    A painful disease most commonly caused by CM where fluid-filled sacks develop on the spinal cord near the brain. It is also known as “neck scratcher’s disease”, because one of its common signs is scratching in the air near the neck.

Cavalier owners stand up for health and welfare

Thankfully, Cavalier owners are fighting back and standing up for their breeds health and welfare. A new petition created by the Cavalier Health Campaign is calling on the Kennel Club to end the registration of puppies born to non-health tested parents. Whether you own a Cavalier, know one, or just care about dog health and welfare, please sign this important petition here.

dottystellyupsidepngAny cavalier owner whose dog has/had syringomyelia will tell you how utterly devastating this painful condition is. The feeling of guilt and helplessness you feel as your beloved friend deteriorates, often rapidly, before your eyes. I am all too aware of this as it’s a battle my Mum is currently going through with her two rescued ex-breeding cavaliers, Dotty and Stella, who have both been diagnosed with the disease (and just imagine how many of their puppies are now at risk of developing syringomyelia as a result).

The Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary showed syringomyelia at its most brutal and you can also see the crippling pain which many dogs experience as a result of the disease for yourself (be warned, it’s hard to watch.)

While it’s important to acknowledge that the Kennel Club (in partnership with the BVA) has set up a voluntary testing scheme for breeders, there is no mandatory testing required and the Kennel Club continue to advertise litters born to non-tested parents on their own website. Mandatory testing is not even required for those breeders on their ‘Assured’ breeders scheme.

Dog lovers – unite for change!

Everyone loves dogs, but what many people are not aware of is that some of our favourite and most popular pedigree breeds like the Cavalier are routinely living with chronic discomfort and pain as a consequence of how they’ve been bred and many have been misled to believe that these problems are simply ‘normal’ for the breed, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way…

Now is the time that dog lovers must unite for change, real change for our dogs. We’d like to see more people follow the Cavaliers lead, stop believing the ‘it’s just the breed’ fallacy and start getting angry on behalf of our dogs.

We need ‘Pug owners for Pugs’, ‘Labrador owners for Labradors’ and ‘Basset owners for Bassets’.

Imagine a world where cavaliers commonly reached their teens without suffering MVD or SM. Where Labradors and German Shepherds did not suffer from crippling hip dysplasia and where Pugs and Bulldogs were not increasingly having to undergo surgery to widen their airways due to poor breeding and ‘breed standards’ which in many breeds cases do not serve in the best interests of the dogs health and welfare. It can be achieved, lets make 2015, the year of the dog!

Act now for dog welfare!

- Violet, RSPCA campaigner

18 Responses to “Cavalier owners unite to demand change for their breed”

  • Diane cullimore

    It’s disgusting that dogs are bred to suffer like this

  • Anne sharp

    I gave a 3 year old cav she has no sign if heart disease ATM she did have patella luxation of which she has been operated on and is now fine although we have to watch her weight she is spaid so won’t pass on the patella she seems to be one of the lucky ones thank goodness although I’m aware she may have heart problems later we were careful when we chose her

  • Julie Jamieson

    Please stop the breeding of sick dogs

  • Jane Elliot

    this must be made mandatory – the cruelty of breeding these painful defects into dogs just for a desired appearance in a desired appearance in a show ring is terrible .

  • Janet Clayton

    My Charlie died in October due to metral heart. problem , he had this problem for eight years and it was awful to see him finally give in to this terrible disease, I agree there needs to be stricter guidelines for this breed, they are so loving and trusting , unfortunately I can’t say the same for some of the breeders, how do you put a price before scruples with these lovely dogs .

    • RSPCA Official

      Hi Janet, so sorry to hear about Charlie – poor boy. We are doing all that we can to try and improve breeding standards.

  • Lisa Emery

    I have a 10 year old rescue Cavalier, who has SM, CM and MVD, and it breaks my heart to hear her scream with pain. Please act now Kennel Club- these gentle, loving dogs deserve so much better.

    • RSPCA Official

      Its such a shame breeding standards let this happen. Thank you so much for adopting a rescue – we truly appreciate your support Lisa.

  • Deb Hart,

    This should be illegal its animal cruelty.

  • jane mcbrien

    Why do humans have to interfere with everything natural? Let dogs be and breed, without creating defects and abnormalities in their lineage. It is not fair that such a loving and affectionate breed of dog should be prone to such awful medical conditions.

  • Gillian Manning

    Kennel Club and Breeders must be made to sort this out as a wonderful breed has been spoilt, by their attitude to ignore the problems and not in the least concerned how the owners suffer seeing their much loved pet suffering

  • Wendy Shirley

    Our little dog suffered too. Spine defect and enlarged heart. It is cruel to breed these dogs simply for greed which sadly is the way society is now in almost every aspect.

    • RSPCA Official

      So sorry to hear that Wendy. It’s stories like this that keep us fighting for better breeding standards.

  • Maddy Pennock

    I lost Rupert, my black and tan Cavalier in 2013 aged 15 years. Although he had a slight murmer that developed late in life he never required medication and died as an old man albeit helped along the way by our trusted vet. He was bred by a reputable breeder who did the heart and brain scans prior to breeding. As a result the initial cost was higher to buy a puppy from her, than from other breeders.

    My other Cavalier is a ruby bought from a puppy farm in Wales. At the time we were unaware of what was going on, but now are completely aware of the dreadful set up. We were naive in the extreme, but that was 12 years ago now! Henry has been pretty good until this year when what appeared to be a long standing minor heart murmer developed into full blown mitral heart disease, putting into heart failure. He is on the usual heart medication. He has also developed a luxating patella that cannot be operated on because of his heart failure. I can’t explain the anguish I feel seeing my beloved pet suffer so much.

    I have become quite involved in contributing to Cavalier rescue sites on social media and actively doing my bit to educate about puppy farms and the dreadful suffering incurred by, not only the breeding bitch but also her puppies. I have become an active voice to stop these puppies being registered and given pedigree papers from the Kennel Club and therefore am very keen to see that the RSPCA are strongly behind our petition to improve the health of this delightful breed. I am hugely disappointed that the Kennel Club are ignoring our request.

  • Totalpetcomplex

    So tragic and it is inexcusable that the government are not doing more. I own a Vet in Glasgow and have sadly dealt with Cavaliers with the above mentioned issues. Its good someone is doing something about it and please sign the petition that is in the article

  • Donna

    My first cavalier was from a kc assured breeder, I thought I had done everything correct and that I would not have to worry about hereditary conditions. Little did I know that being an assured breeder did not require the breeder to carry out the recommended health tests, as they are only recommended and not mandatory. I trusted the ‘Assured breeder’ status and thought that was enough. I tried to be responsible and not buy from puppy farms and I thought I had done my homework. If these tests had been mandatory, then maybe my lil cavalier would be well and not be suffering as he does. I will never trust the kennel club again, they are not concerned with protecting the public. Since then, I have adopted 3 further cavaliers from cavaliers in need rescue, I know there may be health issues, but at least I’m giving a rescue dog a chance of a happy life, rather than funding a kc registered show breeder who does not care.

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