When 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.
Any 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!