View Full Version : The Snip

5th October 2006, 09:43 AM
Our dog Bertie is about 8 months old now and has such a wonderful character. Ok, sometimes he's a little TOO boisterous!!

We're starting to think perhaps we should have him castrated. We don't intend to breed from him and we believe there are health benefits. People we have spoken to all seem to have different opinions both for and against it, so we're a little unsure.

I think our main concern is will it change his character?

And at what age should it be done? Should we wait till he's at least a year old, or is it better to do it whilst he's young?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

5th October 2006, 11:25 AM
All mine had it done at 6 months, and I was worried that it would change them - alas no they are still all nutters. Health was a definate issue and I would recommend it.

5th October 2006, 02:32 PM
Another topic that I myself have concerns about. Wilson is 2 and I have'nt had him done as I am worried he will lose his character and get fat and fluffy!

5th October 2006, 03:53 PM
I really don't think it will change character, dogs are only fat if you feed them wrong and don't exercise, and am not sure about the fluffy coat - I wish Woody would get some more fur.

Cathy Moon
5th October 2006, 05:11 PM
Another topic that I myself have concerns about. Wilson is 2 and I have'nt had him done as I am worried he will lose his character and get fat and fluffy!

Geordie was neutered at approx. 6 months, and he is neither fat not fluffy! I think that's an old wives' tale you're repeating. ;)

5th October 2006, 05:18 PM
All mine had it done at 6 months, and I was worried that it would change them - alas no they are still all nutters. Health was a definate issue and I would recommend it.

I have a couple of aquaintances from across the pond-- I love the term Nutters in describing our dogs.

6th October 2006, 01:32 PM
Yes, I suppose it really is something he should have done.
He is getting rather desperate for a lady friend!!!
Can't breed from him as he has an umbilical hernia, so no reason not to do it really.

6th October 2006, 10:31 PM
I am wondering why so many here are having this done and not breeding?

I can't breed Toby due to underbite, were it not for that, I would love to breed him to get another Cav.

7th October 2006, 01:46 AM
The reason so many of us are not breeding is that that is the responsible choice to make.

First of all, a cavalier that was not purchased through a mentorship arrangement with an established breeder for showing and breeding, is a *pet quality cavalier* that is not intended for breeding and should never be bred because it is not considered to have genes that should be passed on. This doesn't mean the pet isn't a wonderful, treasured companion, but it is NOT a breeding or a show dog. Reputable breeders in the US in particular always sell their dogs on contracts that require the pet owner to spay or neuter so most likely you are required to neuter your fellow for more reasons than just an underbite.

We have also learned -- many of us the hard way, because we bought sickly cavaliers from backyard breeders who didn't breed for health -- that genetics and true breedings skills are important. We know we definitely do not know enough about genetics to understand how to breed to best avoid the very serious health issues that threaten this breed, pirmarily MVD, which nearly every cavalier will have by age 10, and half will have by age 5; we do not know enough about doing the pedigree research over a minimum of five generations and do not know enough about various cavalier lines to be sure we are making a match that always improves the breed, in terms of health, conformation and temperament, rather than causing a decline in any one of these areas; we do not wish to take on the risky task of breeding dogs, as there is always the chance of losing that loved cavalier we decided to breed -- if, as is not uncommon, she or her puppies have complications during the birthing process; we know that this is a breed that in some hands, already has been severely damaged, its lifespan on average reduced by a third to up to a half, by random breeding done by people who do not understand enough about any of the above subjects.

Again, this is why going to a reputable breeder is so important, because they are good caretakers of the breed as a whole and of immediate relevance, are far more likely to sell us a puppy that has all the best chances for a long and healthy life.

If there were no backyard breeders (for that is all anyone is who breeds without a total commitment to the breed and all these issues) and if all breeders had focused on health in the past two decades, we would not be seeing 50% of cavaliers with heart murmurs by age 5, and the average lifespan now described as 7-10 years instead of the 12-15 years it should be for a toy breed. Nothing destroys a breed, slowly and surely, like indiscriminate breeding. You can see it in every breed that has become popular -- as that creates a market for the puppy mills and the trash breeders. Poodles, Dalmations, German shepherds, goldens, cairn terriers, labs... so many of these breeds now have serious health problems that can be laid directly at the door of those who breed without knowing anything about breeding for health and conformation.

I love this breed too much to risk adding to its existing health challenges. And I know there are many wise breeders who have spent years working initially with a mentor, and then constantly learning more through experience, involvement with clubs, involvement with showing, and research. Those are the people in whose able hands all breeding should be left.

Here's good place to start reading about why people should not breed cavaliers unless they are ready to start the long road of full commitment to the breed:


And also:


Gingers Mommy
7th October 2006, 02:04 AM
I have to say that Karlin summed it all up. From all my research and devotion to cavaliers before and now that I have ginger, everything she said is why you dont just breed a cavalier to have it have puppies or not neuter/spay them because your afraid their personality & coat will change. I thought Ginger was pricey (and she was!) but now realize how important it is that she came from a reputable breeder and a good family. Even with good intentions its obvious how harmful it can be to breed these amazing dogs without total knowledge on the subject. I dont always post, but I felt I had to show my support in Karlins post which as I said was right on.

Cathy T
7th October 2006, 03:29 AM
You hit it right on the head Karlin. That is exactly why we don't breed. Love Jake and Shelby to death. Great personalities and wonderful dogs. But, I wouldn't dare have bred either of them. Breeding this particular breeds requires so much. I just don't have it in me. I'm very happy to be "just" a pet owner and leave the breeding up to the pros.

7th October 2006, 05:44 AM
I guess if I knew that my family members and friends would really like a puppy, I would love to raise at least one litter of puppies, as long as both the parents were healthy dogs. I wouldn't want to raise puppies to sell them, I just wouldn't be able to do that (it's just me, have no problem with people who breed dogs responsibly....I just get too attached)....but I would like to raise a litter only if I were going to keep one or two for myself, and only if my friends or family really, really wanted one for themselves and it was a forever home. My friends, that are dog owners, are like me, they have their pets for life and they are a member of the family and not "just a dog". But, I do agree, this breed does require a lot when it comes to breeding.


7th October 2006, 11:13 AM
I agree with Karlin, if anyone wants to breed Cavaliers then they should ensure that they have ALL the necessary health testing done and only breed from dogs that they know the genetics of. Nothing angers me more than people buying a Cavalier 'just to have puppies'. To me it's almost like having a baby just to have grandchildren :yikes

There's nothing I would like more than to have a houseful of Cavaliers and loads of puppies round my feet all day long (the nights up wouldn't bother me either). However, even though I bought Maxx with the intent to show him and maybe use him for stud at a much later date, it wasn't to be as he had an undescended testicle and we had him neutered. It didn't bother me though, I love him just as much :lol: (he was picked and bought to show and his breeder was going to mentor me - she's still my first port of call for any advice over 7 years later).

He has got a fluffy coat but it's lovely to snuggle up to and he did get a bit podgy but that was thanks to his secret feeder in the shape of his Daddy :roll: Once I found the culprit it stopped :lol:

So, yes, if you have an un-neutered male and are did not buy him with a Show/Breed contract then please for goodness sakes get him neutered - you could be saving him from cancer :flwr:

7th October 2006, 01:30 PM
Here's a general answer to a number of points above:

The issue of anyone truly knowing if they have 'healthy dogs' for breeding is actually very tricky. The problem is that finding whether one has healthy dogs that could be bred requires years of cavalier breeding experience and knowing the full health and especially heart history of both grandparents and parents. For example, to adequately follow the heart protocol, you need at least five years of information on the parents and grandparents, plus all other health tests on both sides, an understanding of genetics and pedigree analysis. Why?

The genes that control the immune system are passed down together, one set from each parent, they are found close together on the chromosome. When in breeding occurs the chance that a puppy will inherit an identical set of these genes from each parent increases and this cuts the functional ability of the immune system in half and seriously compromises the quality and duration of life for the puppy.

Those of you who have had a Cavalier with allergies with demodectic mange or without the ability to fight off a deadly disease, know the tremendous suffering this involves both for the dog and its owner. So there are environmental reasons for an impaired immune system but the bulk of literature suggests that in breeding plays the greatest role.
As is well known our Cavalier Breed was founded on a small number of stud dogs and to get our breed established Mother was mated to Son, Father to Daughter, Brother to Sister, thus a genetic defect that was very rare in the source population now can be very common in a particular breed, because one or more individuals in the new population carried that defect.

Since there are pedigrees of Cavaliers with in breed coefficients of 44.6% in the 1940's perhaps greater care should be taken by Cavalier breeders when planning their breeding programs and also a study of pedigrees so as to avoid in breeding and paying particular heed to have as many long living Cavaliers in the pedigree background as possible, since those Cavaliers have proved their health status by living to a normal old age.

from: http://www.cavaliers.co.uk/articles/articleinbreeding.htm

Consider how confusing most of us find inheritence of coat colour (eg which colour matings might produce which colours, and why). Now consider that though it is very complex -- depending on whether coat colours are themselves dominant or recessive, and then whether a given dog, due to its parentage, is carrying dominant and recessive genes for colour (see a chart expressing this here: http://www.fckc.com/sante/genetique/possibilites.html )-- this is all actually VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD in genetic terms. Health issues, especially some of the major ones in cavaliers, are far more complex and require careful study and health histories of both lines, going back at least 3 and preferably, 5 or more generations. This is because many of these traits are being carried but not expressed -- in other words, your outwardly healthy cavalier may well give ALL its puppies severe early onset MVD or syringomyelia even though he or she does not have or show outward signs of either.

No one but experienced breeders currently keep records to help make such informed decisions. Genetics itself is extremely complicated -- for example, just read this *basic* introduction to understanding breeding coefficients:


and how traits are inherited in dog breeding:


And this good basic intro to genetic issues in breeding:


and this basic background article from the famous Dr Gerome Bell:


How many of us could follow these basic recommendations he reprints, for a healthy breeding?

With an established testing program, the breeder can monitor the frequency of the defective gene in the breeding population, and work to decrease the percentage of carriers.

Suggestions to Improved Planned Breedings (by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia)

Check the following when screening study dogs:
1. Frequency of the desired traits occurring among his ancestors (three generation pedigree)
2. Frequency of the desired traits found among his littermates
3. Number of carriers, affected littermates, and ancestors in his three generation pedigree
4. Number of pups produced with desired traits

Steps to eliminate carriers:
1. Not repeat the breeding
2. Not use the sire/dam again
3. Test the offspring and not breed from carriers
4. Exclude littermates of those affected
5. Not breed to close relatives of those affected

Characteristics of Good Brood Bitches:
1. Whelps naturally without problems
2. Milk supply sufficient to support litter size
3. Encourages puppies to nurse
4. Careful and calm with pups
5. Is attentive with pups

People may think their supposed one-off breeding is 'just for friends' but how many of those friends and family will have just one litter, and on and on... with your original breeding decisions influencing the genes in the breed for decades beyond? The just for friends reason is one of the main ways breeds have already been gradually undermined... til we have the situation today where half our beautiful dogs will have heart murmurs by age 5! :( I cannot stress enough that WE have the ability to help the breed's overall health by the decisions we make on who to get our dogs from, and to not breed ourselves. Who would not be ashamed to contribute to the breed's decline in order to breed in an underinformed way ourselves?

Any breeding decisions made in an uninformed way mean many more cavaliers (and a higher likelihood within the immediate litter) who die at age 6 or 7 after suffering thru heart collapse, who end up needing knee surgeries, who have severe syringomyelia, who inherit terrible conditions like curly coat (Alison can tell you how horrific this condition is -- so bad that most breeders will pts any puppy born with it... but how would an inexperienced breeder know to identify this condition? Alison's curly-coat affected dog was a puppy farm rescue. While she was forced to have many litters, no one understood she had this and she probably sent many litters of puppies out to unsuspecting UK owners, all carrying the rare curly coat genes. And I've no doubt many of those piuppies will eventually be bred by home breeders who are enjoying their seemingly healthy dog... and thus the terrible circle widens and widens).

And, here's a really good article to help anyone consider if they want to breed:


Finally: One of the main reasons Bruce and I carefully discussed the pros and cons of having his breeding forum here on his two litters was 1) a fear that it might encourage backyard breeding, wieghed against 2) the pleasure it would give so many people, the insights into the complexities and responsibilities that come with breeding, and the chance to offer people who would love to be part of such a process but responsibly recongise they should not be, an opportunity to vicariously experience a breeding and growth of a litter (or two!!). I know both Bruce and I have hoped that his forum would continue to give positive pleasures and information -- and I hope board members here who are ever tempted to breed might keep in mind all the above points, but also might go back to, and enjoy again, his documentation of his own litters. :)

7th October 2006, 02:11 PM
There is so much more to breeding then putting two pups together. So many sad outcomes for those that don't respect their breed and/or dog and do not consider what they are doing and the effect it will have.
Bruce's thread is a wonderful resource/learning tool that shows a breeder who truly loves the breed and worries about the outcome with every step in the process.

Cathy T
7th October 2006, 06:44 PM
I just think of how awful I would feel if I produced a litter of puppies for family and friends and then one by one saw them develop health problems (at the least) and then watch my family and friends have to go through the terrible grief of losing their dog to health problem. I say to family and friends if you want a Cavalier I will do everything in my power to help you find a fantastic breeder so you can purchase a puppy with the best possible chance of being healthy and living a long life with you.

7th October 2006, 08:03 PM
Where can I find more info on cancer in un-neutered dogs? Is it considerably higher?

7th October 2006, 08:07 PM
Well, you know I really do agree about not breeding Cavaliers without doing a lot of research, but you know....those experienced breeders had to start somewhere too, I think that if someone is totally commited to the health issues and doing all the research, why not breed. Not saying I am going to breed my dog, because I bought him as a pet and companion, and not for breeding.... but, I do think there are some very responsible people out there who could also be responsible breeders, but it isn't to be taken lightly.

7th October 2006, 11:59 PM
I think our main concern is will it change his character?

And at what age should it be done? Should we wait till he's at least a year old, or is it better to do it whilst he's young?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Hi. I had Zack neutered at 7 months and it did not change his character at all. He has only become more 'himself,' not necessarily because of neutering, but just as he grows and develops, his personality is blossoming. He (for whatever reason) is definitely more energetic since being neutered (i don't think it's related to the neutering). By energetic, i don't mean hyper, he's not hyper at all. But he sleeps very little when i'm home, and he plays almost continuously, he engages me in fetch, or he plays by himself, he likes to go outside in the backyard.

I wanted to try to wait until after he was a year old because intuitively, i thought it would be better for his health, i thought the hormones must play a positive role in development and it might be better to remove the source of them after he was fully grown. but at 6 months he started marking and i started having him with other dogs for the first time at that point, at the dog park, and there were reasons related to that which led me to decide to go ahead and do the neutering. I hope there was not a negative effect on his health, long term. In the short term, he is healthy and lively and curious and happy, and I'm glad it's done.

By the way, he has not gained any weight since before the neutering. He is the right weight for his frame, he's perfect, neither thin nor fat, but he has not grown in the past 6 months, unless the scales were wrong. He seems a bit more substantial than he did some months ago, but his weight on the scale has been pretty stable for months. His feeding amount is the same, about a cup of kibble a day and a couple of small treats a day on average.

8th October 2006, 12:03 AM
karlin, thanks so much for the links to all those articles. I'm so interested in this subject, related to the health problems, and have just started trying to find out the role of inbreeding, and as you say, it's a steep learning curve, to put it mildly, and i'm unsure if impressions i'm forming are correct, it's great to have these things to read.

8th October 2006, 12:39 AM
in reading the discussion on indiscriminate breeding, including well intentioned but uninformed unmentored breeding, it's hard for me to imagine how this problem could be controlled as cavaliers become increasingly popular.

Considering this, at least one thing that can be sure to help is for pet cavaliers to be neutered.

Are there any organizations that are buying up irresponsibly bred puppies and then neutering them? Would that help? I know that obviously it would put money in the pockets of the irresponsible breeders, allowing them to continue what they are doing, so that doesn't sound feasible. Yet one would want to plug the flood of these dogs into the gene pool, should they be bred. I have a helpless feeling about it.

I know that in many locations in the US today, there are certain interests (such as PETA) who are trying to pass mandatory neutering laws, and the laws that I've heard about are too general, they would make breeding dogs very difficult or impossible for all breeders, including responsible ones.

It might help if there were laws that would make it illegal to breed dogs without passing stringent health-related criteria, as well as other criteria through which responsible breeders could justify their breeding, and distinguish themselves from people who are breeding simply for profit and purely as a business, as well as people who would breed just for personal reasons such as having an offspring of their dog.

I don't know anything about existing legislative efforts or whether there are legislative possibilities that could help our breed.

Does anyone know anything about this, or have ideas/opinions about what role if any mandatory legislation might play in restricting unhealthy inbreeding of cavaliers?

8th October 2006, 04:01 AM
What a plethora of answers and information. My thanks to each and every one of you.

Yes, my responsible breeder did make me sign a contract that Toby would be neutered, and she blacked out a space on the AKC forms that aslo indicated that he must never be bred.

I am thrilled that I bought my baby for only $600.00. And now that I have him, he us utterly priceless. I would have had to wait a very long time to pay two thousand dollars for him. The prices I found when seeking a Cav were 2K for a female and a min of 1500 for a male.

It is my understanding that my breeder kept Tobyand his brother because they appeared perfect for showing. As Toby grew older, his underbite became obvious. He is, in fact, perfect for showing if not for the underbite. He was 7 months old when I was blessed with finding him. His brother, who did not have the same birth defect, was sold for $1100.00, the cost also discounted because they were older. And, both dogs were sold, ultimately, because of an extremely serious health problem with their humans.

He was created via artificial insimination, so I think that the breeder took health issues into consideration and went for the best.

You all are going to really HATE this question, but, what about the Cav/Poodle thing? I am not, repeat, am not, going to do anything that is foolhearty or damaging to the breed. I am simply curious.

I have friends who have a Labradoodle, or however you spell it, and that dog is totally adorable, and possibly on the way to becoming a recognized breed.

Is there a chance that the cavoodle, or what ever you call it, could do the same? Or are they just breeding a totally sickly, and cursed animal?

8th October 2006, 10:30 AM
The way the inexperienced gain experience is very simple: you actually work to GAIN IT... join the clubs, get involved in showing, find a mentor amongs the people also involved in the clubs who show and breed, and give thanks that someone will now help a novice to learn the wealth of information one needs to know before they are ever ready to breed themselves. If you read through the links I posted, you'll note that at least one mentions that spending 2-3 years before breeding is considered standard before a person can even begin to pick up what they need to know to start. And that would still be with breedings guided by a mentor for several years. Anyone who thinks 2-3 years advance work is a waste of time is stating right there that they don;t find the breed worth putting any time into and that says it all in terms of breeding. I've now had cavaliers for close to three years and don;t feel remotely close to being able to make breeding decisions. How genes work still make my head pound and I am a science and tech journalist by trade!! :)

Second: No animal is a sickly and cursed animal. :)

Labradoodles were created for a specific purpose and have been -- by ethical people -- carefully bred for a long time to serve as guidedogs. They also have a blen of looks and personality that many people like in a pet. It is unfortunate as far as I am concerned that they were given such a stupid name -- not least because almost all dog breeds except some very ancient breeds evolved though mixing breeds for a purpose (but note that purpose was carefully thought through -- it wasn;t a matter of throwing any two dogs together and giving them stupid 'blend' names to sell to silly people with too much money, when there are millions of mixes badly needing homes in every pound and helter in the world, every day).

The problem now is that the people who do the crosses, despite what they make themselves out to be, are trash breeders. No ethical breeder wishes to see a blend of cavalier and poodle that brings out all the worst genes in each lines (which is just as likely as getting the desired qualities, and is why there are some health and behaviour problems -- and no consistency in appearance -- in these crosses). So no ethical breeder would sell a good quality dog to someone without a spay/neuter clause and with the expectation that it's careful breeding would be used for trash crossings. Therefore you can expect the breeding stock of crossbreeders to be of extremely poor quality, greatly raising the likelihood that the crosses will get plenty of negative genes, on both health and behaviour front, and/or will pass these along if the dog is then bred itself (and none would be sold on any kind of restricted contract of course).

And people who are selling crosses are making a mint off a stupid public. Spend any time at a shelter and you can find the same cross for nothing. Or one that is equally or more charming. Given the murkiness of the kind of people who would deliberately breed dogs in this way, I'd doubt a lot of the time thast these are even the mixes people say they are so people are doubly ripped off.

There are other lists and forums where people are very happy to go talk about mixes and breeding -- this isn't one of them, and ways of breeding is not even open to debate here (one of the few topics that isn;t -- but I feel very stroingly about this from working on both the cavalier health and rescue front, and as an owner of a dog with symptomatic syringomyelia) -- so I am going to close this thread now (which unfortunately was hijacked well away from the original topic -- if people wish to introduce totally off topic subjects, please start a new thread as it isn't fair to the person who might have been seeking answers or help or encouragement to have the thread used for a completely different purpose. :thmbsup: