View Full Version : Umbilical Hernia

24th September 2006, 10:24 AM

Newbie to the forum, seeking some advice & comment.

Having decided on our 1st CKCS, a black and tan bitch, for companion with option to breed/show, we searched (and searched!) avoiding farms looking for a good line. Finding one that was just born, we put down a deposit. The breeder knew what we wanted and has informed us how she is doing via email. Making the long journey to the breeder to see our girl at just under five weeks, we were informed she had an umbilical hernia.

This has put us in a position of real dilemma. Whilst I understand no one can make the decision for us, I wonder if others agree it was wrong of the breeder not to advise previous to our visit. Securing her and waiting, having pictures and informed how well she was doing, she feels like ours and has made this a really tough call. The breeder knew of the hernia and did not tell us until we had the little one in our arms. It would still be a difficult situation knowing earlier, but an easier decision none the less.

In addition to the concerns that the breeder kept this from us, she has said she will have it 'corrected' with an operation at six weeks. Our reading tells us this is not perhaps necessary, unless more serious than we have been led to believe. Further more, although not an issue, more a point of principle, the breeder made no mention of reduction in the high price.

So there we are, we have our heads and hearts in turmoil. Would other breeders act in this way? Is it normal? To us it seems very unfair and not something we would do.

Here's hoping some comment will come that will help.

Russ and Claire.

Harry & Heidi's mom
24th September 2006, 10:45 AM

When i fell in love with Harry (my cav) i also had to decide what to do as he also had a health problem, he has an overshot jaw.
we decided that as long as he was otherwise healthy (heart/eyes/hips) we would still have him,
Harry is now 1 and a half and is very healthy and his jaw does not affect him in any way.
even though his breeder informed us right at the start of his problem i still paid full price for him which i didn't mind and he has brought so much joy to us.

good luck in your decision

Bruce H
24th September 2006, 11:10 AM
I'll start out by assuming you are working with a reputable breeder. I say this because she is taking care of the hernia, no questions asked.

Umbilical hernias are quite common in this breed. Many times they go away on their own, but once in a very great while, they have to be fixed. I suspect your breeder may not have mentioned it because they are so common, it just may not have occurred to her to mention it til you were there in person. I can only think of a couple hernias we have had to get fixed. The biggest problem we have is when a vet tries to convince one of our puppy people that all umbilical hernias have toi be fixed, regardless of size; not often this happens, but once in a while. After we look at it, if we disagree, we suggest a second opinion.

Having said all that, I also assume your breeder is experienced. The only reason I say that is we have never had a hernia that needed to be fixed that early. But I really don't want to second guess another breeder without seeing the hernia. Perhaps she is just doing it while she can keep a close eye on the puppy to be sure all is all right. Perhaps her vet is someone she has worked with for years and she knows is a good vet that she can trust.

You should also know that fixing an umbilical hernia is a very easy procedure with very minimal risk. It should not affect showing your puppy. So, would I have mentioned the hernia immediately? Tough question, just not sure it would occur to us because it is so common. We will always point out a hernia when people come to see their puppy for the first time because they just want to know what it is. I have to say, though, that we would NEVER offer a puppy to someone if we thought it had a potential problem without a LOT of disscussion up front.

24th September 2006, 11:27 AM
Thanks both,

My reading has found out lots about the hernias, they do seem quite common Bruce. The puppy has not seen a vet but the breeder was certain what it was and that an operation would be needed. I think she has experience, perhaps too much in this area? 6 weeks does seem young to have it done, especially as reading says it is generally unnecessary.

It's so tough as we are feeling very selfish as it's not the puppies fault that she would not be able to breed or show.

It just all adds to things that we are upset that the breeder wasn't upfront, leading us to look at things more closely.

Russ and Claire.

Bruce H
24th September 2006, 12:06 PM
Maybe I misunderstood or you misunderstood. Generally, fixing an umbilical hernia would not stop a dog from showing. Has the breeder said something about not being able to show because of this hernia? You mentioned breeding; does your breeder know this is an option you are considering? Is she going to mentor you? If you have never bred dogs before, you should know there is a LOT to it. If you go toward the end of the list and look under "Caring for Your Cavalier", there is a lot of information about breeding the right way and for the right reasons.

24th September 2006, 12:31 PM
Thanks Bruce,

The breeder knew from the outset that we wanted the option to breed and indeed show. I know that currently in the UK it is under consideration to allow a small hernia op in showing, but not written in stone as yet. The whole area of umbilica hernia does seem an undecided one with opinion divided, yet my conclusion was one of pure inheritance.

We would not enter into breeding lightly and are aware of the implications. We are asking ourself hard now if this is a true option and it is. Had we had a reply from the breeder that the puppy was unable to breed, then we would have persued no further. Whilst hernias may be common, we feel somewhat duped by the breeder as she knew our intentions and to leave it until we had the puppy in our arms, well. Personally I would never put someone in this position.

Doubts have been raised now about the breeder and much as we do want to have faith. Things aren't ringing as true as they seemed.

It's so difficult.

24th September 2006, 03:35 PM
Don't take this the wrong way and I apologize in advance if it sounds harsh but...I would question the Breeder solely on the fact that she is willing to sell a Cavalier puppy without a spay/neuter clause to someone who doesn't have experience with this breed. There are so many health issues within this breed due to the small gene pool and it is a disservice to the breed to allow inexperienced people the option to breed their cavaliers. :flwr:

With that being said...Brodie had an umbilical hernia...very common as mentioned above. Not a huge deal...was fixed when he was neutered and I paid full price.

Good Luck with your decision.

24th September 2006, 04:15 PM
I agree with Lynn here. I personally have never met a decent breeder who is willing to sell a pup to anyone with no experience of the breed without either a spay / neuter clause or a clause reading that they are willing to mentor any breeding or have the bitch back to them for breeding.

One thing I can't understand is why you seem to have this idea that you won't be able to show the dog ? The hernia may not need correction and even if it did then it would be corrected and you'd then be able to show.

If you are planning on breeding, would you be prepared to pay for all the necessary health checks first (including scanning for SM)?

I agree that you really DO need to read up on breeding Cavaliers and realise that it is NOT something which can be taken lightly.

You say you feel let down by the breeder but surely, you wouldn't really know until the bitch is old enough, whether or she can be bred from anyway. She may get pyometria after a season or just not be able to conceive - would this be the breeders fault too?

I picked Maxx when he was under a week old. When i got him at 13 weeks old he had an umbilical hernia and also an undescended testicle. I was unable to show him because of this but I love him just the same and he'll always be my little champ. I paid full price for him too .....

I personally would question whether I still wanted to own a Cavalier if I was letting a small thing like an umbilical hernia get to me. If this is giving you so much upset then I would really wonder how you would cope if you ever encountered anything more severe or serious and also how you'd cope if you did manage to breed from her & there were problems?

24th September 2006, 04:20 PM
Thank you Lynn,

I do appreciate your comment although as said, breeding would not be entered into lightly should it be considered. Although 'inexperienced', that's how we all start out and I certainly would not persue a path I did not feel entirely comfortable with for myself or any other being.

The internet is a great place for research, but all too often conflicting. If, and I say if, as posts here come to the conclusion that it is totally a heriditary issue and nothing to do with cord pulling, if, it is that common, there must be a lot of breeders continuing it in their lines.
Of the litter of 3, all have the same condition.

I'm sure that all will be well with her but I don't understand the need for an operation, especially so young, when it seems that a daily massage helps tremendously. I hope my vet will be able to help answer this tomorrow.

The jury is still out but I have to be honest and say we are thinking it would be better to go elsewhere. We do have doubts in the breeder now as several things don't add up. Perhaps it is such a common condition that breeders don't mention it, but I cannot understand this when it means that a bitch could not have a litter.

We should also be exthralled at the prospect of our new arrival, not days of debating what's best to do, swinging one way then the other. That alone isn't right.

Why do we have a head and heart sometimes.

24th September 2006, 05:25 PM
All I can say in reply is that if you are having doubts and things are not adding up then do not get this puppy.

Sometimes our sixth sense kicks in and tries to warn us of impending problems - we should all use out intuition and not ignore it...

The are PLENTY of good breeders out there, who carry out all health testing. I personally wouldn't buy a puppy from anyone who didn't scan for SM in their breeding stock as well as having all other required health tests performed by specialists.

Breeding properly is an extremely expensive business and if someone is doing it to make money then they're obviously not doing it properly!!!!

You don't say where you are in the World but i'm sure we could help you find a good breeder who does have all the health checks on their dogs and bitches and hold clear certification for them :D

24th September 2006, 05:25 PM
I also have a B/T bitch- and apparently she had a hernia- possibly the kind you refer to-which was not discovered until the breeder was petting her the other night whilst spending time with the new pup! They said it was nothing to worry about as it had almost certainly been there from birth, and was totally healed. Incidentally, Holly has given me no health issues whatsoever, is a beautiful example of the breed, and the breeders were disappointed that I'd had her spayed since they would have liked to have gotten a litter out of her. Maybe- since you appear to have fallen for this little bitch- you'd be better taking her as a pet, and learning the breed first hand? You could show her as suggested and learn the ropes that way, and leave breeding for a while until you've had more experience at assessing and looking at Cavaliers, as well as owning them. I might be way off base, but from your posts I get the impression that you've never owned a Cav before. Either way, good luck!

Incidentally, my little bitch had a bad start- her dam's owner got fed up with breeding and let nutrition suffer. Holy- along with her mother and aunt (I think) were to all intents rescued by the sire's owners when she was eight weeks. Apparently a few weeks earlier everything had been fine...The sire's owners worked with Holly to restore her health, and I paid full price for her when I got her at 12/13 weeks. I don't regret it. She may have had a bad start, but her lines are excellent.

24th September 2006, 05:53 PM
I would back everything that Bruce, a very experienced and reputable breeder, is saying here. Umbilical hernias are extremely common in the breed. Both mine (from a good breeder) had them and generally they are not considered a major problem and very often, vets fix them at the time that a dog is spayed/neutered. My breeder did mention that they are common. If you were looking for a breeding/show dog your breeder may have assumed you would know this was a common and minor issue for most cavaliers... the fact that she didn't suggests she hasn't really talked to you enough breeding and showing generally and perhaps about some far bigger issues (which would raise concerns about the breeder, for me -- see below); and also suggests you might need to sit back and spend some more time investigating the breed and seeking the right breeder/mentor before considering breeding (also see below).

Given that hernias are pretty minor, I would wonder here about broader health issues in the breed and whether you have examined the breed enough to be fully aware of the implications of those. The breed is under some considerable pressure at the moment due to much bigger health problems, primarily mitral valve disease which will affect nearly every cavalier during its lifetime and give 50% of them heart murmurs by age 5 -- which has to be very carefully bred around with a knowledge of genetics, lines and pedigrees, and with proper testing by a certified cardiologist -- and increasingly, a potentially serious neurological problem, syringomyelia. I would hope that if you are considering showing and breeding, that any breeder would have discussed these issues in detail with you, and that you would have investigated the breed thoroughly enough to verify that your chosen breeder has done parents and grandparents cardiac clearances and follows the 15 year old heart protocol for breeding herself. The fact that not enough breeders are following the protocol has been raised recently with the CKCS club by the club cardiologist, who has found no decline in incidence in the UK due to so many breeders not following the protocol. The difference can be cavaliers that die routinely at age 5-7 in a line, vs cavaliers than live a largely heart mjurmur free life into old age. You can see his comments on this issue on the UK club site at the moment.

Likewise, any prospective breeder should be aware of the growing incidence of syringomyelia in the breed and the attempts of the UK club in particular to establish low cost MRI screening and grading programmes for breeding stock. You can read more on the UK club site on both MVD and SM and there's much info here as well in the Library section under Health.

You sound like you are doing a lot of reading a research and taking the right steps but make sure you are focusing on what is important here. Be sure to choose a breeder who 1) has followed the far more important heart protocols and talks openly about SM, and also tests hips, eyes and patellas in addition to hearts; 2) is willing to mentor you for both showing and breeding -- no reputable breeder would sell a dog for potential breeding purposes without wanting to offer a strong guiding hand to a novice, not least to continue to help protect a breed that does have some very significant potential health issues that can easily arise in every breeding and to protect his/her own lines and the time the breeder has already put into breeding for health as well as temperament and conformation. I cannot stress the second point enough -- this alone will help determine whether you have chosen a reputable breeder as the overall health and welfare of the breed is more important to any breeder and his/her line's integrity than selling a potential show/breeding dog.

24th September 2006, 06:14 PM
Thank you for your comment Donna, the latter very much appreciated.

The reason for thinking that she would not be able to be shown was I believed it to be the KC rules. As in an earlier post, this may change, but for now I believed this to be correct. The operation to correct is, somewhat oddly, classed as cosmetic and the breeder was in no doubt that an operation was required and happening at 6 weeks. I have read that no cases of notifying the KC have been allowed for this and animals stripped of awards when caught undisclosed.

There is no doubt that we would love and care for anything less because of a problem. But, and a big but, we wanted a girl who had the possibility of breeding and showing, and as such if the dealer (I will use that term instead) had be honest from the outset, we would have gone elsewhere, as indeed we did with the mass of farms and other unsuitable types/outlets.

I think it is great that it is suggested that mentoring generally takes place amongst this breed. I would certainly appreciate it and think more of the breeder for requiring it. I have only come to realise that from this posting, so thanks for that.

We are going to seek elsewhere. If this had happened over a couple of days, contact, deposit, viewing and being told of the problem, well, a lot easier to decline. Sad though as it is not the puppies problem and that really tugs our heart but I am sure, and hope, she finds a loving home. It is much like turning down a puppy from a farm or wanting to home all the dogs from the rescue centre, it's hard to say no but we know it's for the best.

Reading the last but one post, if the hernia was our only concern then perhaps at this point it would be different, but it surely isn't right for a breeder to know we wanted her as consideration for breeding and not mention this along with any mentoring. Karlins comments also pend to this 'dealer' perhaps not being favourable and I think the choice has been made on those issues alone without taking the hernia into consideration.

I hope it's felt we are making the right decision. I feel now we are making it much less so on the hernia and more on the breeder.

Both I and the good lady have done much in reading and taken advice where given, it's the only way we learn. Today, a learning curve again.

We do want to home a b/t girl, of good line, with at least the initial ability should her outcome prove suitable to breed and show.

We are based on the border of Wales, near Shrewsbury, if anyone can recommend a good breeder.

Our thanks to you all.

24th September 2006, 08:11 PM
Just to put my 2 penneth in - I'm no expert, but if you don't feel right - its not meant to be.

I personally would not be bothered by an umbilical heria ( if it is so common) I had an unbilical hernia and it never did me any harm ( unless you call being not maternal towards human children being a side effect!)

Best of luck in your decision but don't penalise a little baby just because his breeder may or may not be the type of person you would choose to be friends with. After all its how enjoyable and loving you make your fur baby's life thats important......

25th September 2006, 06:47 AM
I always say," If it doesnt feel right, dont do it". It sounds like you were already questioning your decision on the pup. I can also understand that you want the best whether you breed or not. You want to be safe in the knowledge that the breeder is open and honest with everything, and that they will help you through all the ups and downs of breeding and showing.
My mentor was and is fantastic. She was there for my first 2 litters and I still call on her now, even though I have different breeds to her. Personally, I prefer to get a show and breed quality dog even though I may not do either because then I feel asured that if a reputable breeder would use it then it may not have to many health issues. Even though it doesnt always work out that way. It may sound twisted but a lot of people feel this way. But on the same token, think seriously on whether you want to breed cavies. I just know with all the health issues and the testing that needs to be done, I would leave that one alone and just have them for showing and have some fun with obedience and agility. Make sure you have fun with your dog. That to me is the most important thing of all.

25th September 2006, 10:33 AM
i'm confused. I thought umbilical hernias were minor, common and of no consequence as far as showing and breeding go. In fact, i think it's the rule rather than the exception--one would expect it. It would not need to be disclosed by a breeder. Several people posting on this thread confirmed this impression. roscoe86 says this impression is wrong and that dogs who have had hernias can't show or breed, which is a serious matter--roscoe86 was quite insistant about this, if i understood right. At first i thought roscoe86 was just naive about how common and inconsequential umbilical hernias are, and that it was understandable and no big deal that the breeder didn't mention it, as people informed about the breed would not be surprised about it, nor concerned. It would not be at all important to disclose. but roscoe86 said they have done research and have found that umbilical hernias are serious matters with respect to showing and breeding, citing the kennel club.

which is true?

i do think it's a bad sign if a breeder is willing to sell a puppy to someone with no experience, without a spay/neuter clause. My impression has been that novices often are eager to have litters, and plan to breed too early in their dogs' lives to know yet about whether the dog will develop early onset MVD, not expecting to wait the necessary number of years. As roscoe86 said, everyone must start somewhere, but to me, it seems best to start with something so advanced as cavalier breeding only after having some direct experience with cavaliers as pets and companions, and with the cavalier "world," the world of SM fears, and other things that draw cavalier owners together into a sort of information sharing and emotional support community. It seems important to have put some time and long term learning into the process that eventually leads to breeding as a labor of love, a crash course is not adequate. There's so much to learn, especially about the monumental health issues and related genetic implications, that to plan breeding right off the bat with a first cavalier strikes me as premature. So i agree with others who made this point, that if the breeder had no problem with this, then this is a red flag.

It's like Woody Allen said: "i wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member." If someone wants to get a cavalier from a reputable breeder, they would want to get one from someone who makes them promise not to breed the dog.

25th September 2006, 11:48 AM
Our thanks again for the comments,

Selina is right in her point that we do want the best whether we breed or show or not and do want trust, faith and honesty in our breeder.

I too am confused by the whole hernia issue. Not from what I have read, but from the differing opinions from those of which advice was sought. As for Judy saying that it was of no consequence to breeding or showing, one truly wonders, as at the very least, even in pure naiviety, I considered that one does not breed from any bitch with such.
With the important view of maintaining the lines and quality of the breed as expressed throughout, surely this is contrary to everything?

I'd like to know as this seems to discredit everything I thought true.

25th September 2006, 12:12 PM
If you are troubled about breeding from a bitch with an umbilical hernia dont be. My Griffon bitch had a huge hernia and although she was to big for showing, she had great bloodlines so we decided to use her anyway.
She had 2 litters of 9 pups with no problems at all. Don't worry we were all surprised that such a small dog had so many. When I had her desexed I had the hernia fixed. But it never caused a problem in her life, and the only reason we had it fixed in the end was for cosmetic reasons. I know I am talking about a different breed of dog but I am pretty sure it is the same for all breeds.

25th September 2006, 01:05 PM
I've just spoken to one of the regional representatives from the Cavalier Club here in the UK and was told that there was no problem in breeding from a bitch with a hernia, they had done it many times and is no way a problem.

I've also spoken to my vet and she said it was a dis-service to the breed to ever breed from a dog or bitch with an umbilical hernia as it is a hereditary condition that should not be continued.

I guess this is just one of those issues that there is never a clear answer on, but from my 'naive' position I have certainly learnt a great deal.

25th September 2006, 03:34 PM
Misha had an umbilical hernia that was repaired at age 4/5 when he was neutered. Seeing as Misha is 10 and murmur free and other than the occasional injury has been super healthy his whole life, I think he would have made a good breeding dog! Then again, I'm not a breeder so this is all speculation. I guess I'm assuming breeders have to outweigh the risks/benefits in any situation. If a dog's only fault is an umbilical hernia, and they are completely healthy otherwise, I'd assume their genes should be kept in the pool so to speak.

25th September 2006, 06:10 PM
I did a google search on this and found a link to a page of comments from the public about the 2005 Crufts show. Apparently some members of the public believe umbilical hernia repair should disqualify a dog as a "defect," but the breeding/showing community does not agree, a disappointment to the commentator:

I attended the first day and had a great time. The one point which concerns me is why are dogs or bitches that have had operations eg cosmetic dental treatment or repair of genetic defects like umbilical hernias allowed to enter shows, possibly win and then be bred from, increasing the risk of these defects being passed on to the next generation. Over the years so much work has been done to prevent certain problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, but perhaps there are other things that should be considered also.

Something that i am thinking about related to this, is that these sweet dogs have terrible hereditary illnesses which make them suffer terribly, precisely because they are inbred to achieve certain "perfections," a certain look, a certain temperament, and even the inbreeding done to try to breed out congenital health problems can result in other health problems being inbred or caused by pressure on such a restricted gene pool. To place further pressure on the gene pool by restricting breeding based on minor and easily correctable 'defects' such as umbilical hernias would seem not worth the price that would have to be paid. These poor little guys must suffer enough already so that humans can be provided with the pleasure of their sought after characteristics--a tragic irony i think.

To the vet who told you it was a disservice to the breed to every breed cavaliers with umbilical hernias, since it's a hereditary condition, i would want to ask about whether trying to eliminate such small defects woulld be considered (by the vet) worth the price that these dogs would have to pay due to additional reduction of the gene pool.

Vets make a lot of money treating cavaliers for the results of inbreeding, but i dont' believe this was what was behind your vet's comment. I just think that this reveals a way of evaluating cavaliers that is not addressing the terrible problems caused by inbreeding, a subject i would like to see discussed in more depth among cavalier lovers.

26th September 2006, 09:58 PM
Hi Russ & Claire,

My story is similar to yours, except we didn't find out about Charlie's hernia until we took him home with us! :sl*p:

Since I'm new to dogs in general, I thought it was just a "cute navel". :roll: Then my husband read the scribble on Charlie's health record which stated "reversible umbilical hernia". Great. The breeder told us nothing of this.

So, our vet says that next month, when Charlie turns 6 months, he will have his hernia surgery & get neutered at the same time, and that it is not a very big deal.

Just wanted you to know that you are not alone.

:flwr: Good luck w/ whatever you decide!

27th September 2006, 10:54 AM
We'd like to thank you all for your comment, much encouragement, knowledge and sound word that has helped us greatly.

Ultimately, it is a decision that we will take, having researched to learn as much as we can and sought advice from professionals, along with using a big chunk of our natural instincts.

Best wishes.

27th September 2006, 04:41 PM
best of luck, and happy cavaliering! (assuming you are still planning to get one) cavtiny

27th September 2006, 07:49 PM
That Judy, is something that would never be in doubt!!