View Full Version : Mitral Valve Disease??

27th March 2007, 08:34 AM
So I have been reading up on Cavaliers and came across all the health issues and mitral valve disease came up. It said that it was the number cause of deaths in Cavaliers and that all Cavaliers at one point of time will develop a hurt murmur which could lead to the MVD.

Now, I have always wanted a Cavalier but it is kinda scary knowing this about MVD. I realize it is important to find a good breeder but how do you ensure you don't get a pup that will develop MVD?? I guess the part that scares me is that they said that all Cavaliers will develop a heart murmur sometime in their life which could lead to the MVD and that this is why Cavaliers have such short life spans.

So how do you do it?? How do you get a Cavalier and not constantly worry about it?? I don't think I could handle the heartbreak of having a Cavalier go through MVD. Is it possible for the good reputable breeders to have Cavalier puppies that won't ever have this problem?? It just seems like the stakes are very high for them getting it and it talks like there is a slim possibility of it not being a problem with cavaliers.

Can anyone tell me why they get this and why is hasn't been or can't be weeded out?? For example, with yorkies, liver shunt is very common and has killed many yorkies. Yet they have weeded it out so that if you buy from a good reputable breeder who tests all their dogs you are very unlikely to get a yorkie with liver shunt.

I am so disappointed. Can anyone shed some light on this or does anyone have anything encouraging to say about this??

27th March 2007, 12:04 PM
First some context: heart disease is the single most common illness in dogs, and one of the most common causes of death in elderly dogs., especially in small breeds. The issue with cavaliers is that they have a widespread genetic predisposition to get MVD early, years before it would normally be present in a dog. It is often not an old age affliction but something that can arrive as early as age 2 or 3.

The reason it cannot be weeded out is that, unlike the condition in yorkies, MVD is most likely polygenetic -- that means it isn't just on one gene that can easily be bred away from, but is on many genes which, when they combine in certain ways, brings on early onset MVD. It is also so widespread that eliminating all potential carriers would remove im[ortant genetic diversity. Breeders now face the same problem with a second serious and devastating illness in the breed, also probably polygenetic, syringomyelia (see www.sm.cavaliertalk.com for more info).

It is almost statistically impossible to get a cavalier that will not eventually get MVD -- unless it dies of something else first. However many cavaliers live til 12-14 with a murmur. It IS something that must be accepted by the owner however -- that the dog will almost certainly get this condition, perhaps earlier rather than later, and that people need to plan around needing the finances to treat it.

Choosing a breeder who breeds for health, cardiac clears breeding stock, and follows the MVD breeding protocol does greatly increase the chances of getting a puppy that will get MVD later rather than sooner.

Also many cavaliers die of other illnesses including plain old old age -- so MVD isn't necessarily the dog's death sentence.

Those of us who love the breed accept this is an issue we must deal with in our dogs and must work to support ONLY breeders who breed for health -- never buying dogs from backyard breeders, a petshop, a friend who has a litter, an internet site for a breeder whose bona fides cannot be confirmed with a national club. Buying from anyone else passes a longer sentence of suffering onto the breed as it supports those who keep spreading this condition further, and who allow it to grow ever more severe.

There's a lot more on MVD and all the key breed health issues here:


Barbara Nixon
27th March 2007, 03:06 PM
Though most, but not all, cavaliers get mvd, not all are ill from it. My Monty is 11 and has had a low to medium murmur for about four years, but has no symptoms. In contrast Izzy developed a medium murmur at about the same time, but died, aged almost 10, from a high grade one onlylast week. In the last two years, when his murmur has been bad, he had ups and downs ( breathlessness, which lasted no more than a day), but due to drugs had a good quality of life and suffered very little.

27th March 2007, 05:43 PM
I was concerned about this when looking at Cavaliers however once looking though the info on this site, speaking with vets, researching cavaliers I know of and how long they live plus looking at vet insurance I decided although a risk, it is no more a risk than alot of other breeds have with their own health concerns. Insurance companies charge more for certain breed illnesses but I found it interesting they dont rate the Cavalier higher in fees as they do for alot of other breeds and their genetic illnesses - to me that says something about the numbers. As well I looked at my own breeders dogs - none have died before 9 yrs and most 11 on. Again I compared that to labradors (mine lived to 15 but that was way past expectancy). My brothers lab is a flat coat and only has a life expectancy to 9 yrs where as the cavalier is 10-11. The vet tech at my office cavalier was put down this fall at 14 yrs. She had MVD but not till later in her life and obviously she lived well past expected time.

I think going into this breed knowing this, you keep them trim, very active and fit and feed a good diet (but really its something you should do for any dog but the awareness of MVD should make you more determined to follow it).

Although SM is very rare at a serious level, that is the illness in this breed that gives me nightmares.