View Full Version : Save Our Dogs campaign

2nd April 2007, 04:55 PM
Bet Hargreaves asked if I could crosspost her comments from another list here. She is interested in people's thoughts on this.


From Bet:

This Campaign to be called SAVE OUR DOGS ,which is to be shortly started by a Dog Magazine ,could be of particular interest for the Cavalier Breed ,which at the moment is afflicted by two serious Health conditions /

MVD ,and the insidious SM condition .

The mention was made ,how in a short period of time ,humans drastically reduced the gene pools ,for the Cavalier Breed there are Cavaliers with in-bred co-efficients in the mid 30% ,there is even one Cavalier pedigree of 44%
This is the highest in-bred co-efficent ,one Genectist has ever seen in any Breed
The other mention was also made how the dog's appearance has changed for aesthetic reasons.

I dont think anybody can argue how the Cavaliers' appearance has altered in the past 25 years ,to what it is like to-day.
A more rounded fore head ,deeper stop, and smaller in size
I dont know ,but until the Research at Cambridge University ,England is concluded ,to find out whether the dimensions in Cavaliers's caudal fossa has a link with this ,the answer wont be in the Cavaliers'SM Problem

There are now many demands for Mandatory Health Testing being made ,including an Animal Welfare Organisation ,Concerned Breeders of all Breeds,and last but not least Pet Owners ,who have lost their beloved Pets to a Hereditary Disease

The Cavalier Breed ,could I believe be one of the Breeds to benefit most ,if Mandatory Health Testing as imposed ,since the problem it has from SM and MVD ,leaves the future of the Breed very bleak indeed

Bet Hargreaves

3rd April 2007, 12:22 AM
Nicki posted a link to this story elsewhere, which gives background for the campaign Bet mentions. Interesting that it was carried in the Daily Telegraph -- a thoughtful but quite conservative newspaper.

Often such campaigners are accused on being on the animal rights side (meaning that in a negative sense, and as opposed to animal welfare activists) and thus are dismissed by many in the professional dog world (eg the show and working dog world). The fact that such a campaign is coming from a well-respected, mainstream magazine carries a lot of weight. No punches pulled in this strongly worded piece.

This is the story:

Should Crufts be banned?

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 07/03/2007

Dirty tricks and eccentric topiary are one thing. But on the eve of Britain's biggest dog show, Beverley Cuddy asks whether we are endangering man's best friend

News: cruelty row on eve of Crufts

We're all suckers for puppy dog eyes. Maybe that's why the BBC has, for the second year running, allowed Ben Fogle to present its Crufts coverage, which begins again tomorrow. It obviously doesn't matter that he can't tell his Affenpinschers from his Estrelas; most of his audience will drool in any case.

Unfortunately, for the excessively jowled breeds like the St Bernard, Newfoundland and Bloodhound, the drooling will continue long after the credits stop rolling.

I'm far from immune to canine charms, but increasingly I find myself wondering whether it would not be better if Crufts were banned. After all, what good does it do? For me, showing dogs must have some higher purpose than simply accumulating rosettes. I'm no killjoy - the exhibitors can all have their bit of fun with the silly walks and eccentric topiary - but surely someone has to look after our best friend's best interests.

We've all had a snigger over the past few years at the bizarre goings-on in the show world: the poison pen letters that led to the Best in Show judge resigning in 2004; the drugging of rivals' dogs; even the case of the terrier that had three testicles - the owner had implanted a fake one (just one of the dog's testicles had descended into the scrotum and the judges require two on display), only to have the retained testicle drop during the show. As a result, the owner was banned from showing dogs for several years.

But behind the outward eccentricities of the owners and trainers, real dogs' lives are being increasingly affected by this seemingly mad and ferociously competitive world.

Sadly, health concerns seem to be close to the bottom of the show dog agenda for the canine governing bodies in Britain and America. There are just over 200 pedigree breeds in Britain and, shockingly, more than 150 of them have significant hereditary diseases.

At the moment in the UK, testing dogs for health issues is purely a matter of personal conscience. Most people believe all the beautiful dogs at Crufts are perfectly healthy. I'm afraid many are anything but.

Let's put Crufts into a historical context. Dog and man have been best friends for 100,000 years or so. Dogs helped us catch our dinner; they protected us while we slept. In return they shared our food and homes. Over time, the genetically elastic dog was changed into different shapes to help us more. Thankfully, our dabbling with eugenics didn't harm the dog, as we selected for function not fashion.

With industrialisation, the dog's employment opportunities started to dry up. It was around this time that Britain invented the dog show and Kennel Clubs. The face of British dogs was to change as the concept of human beauty became the reason to breed. In an era where bearded ladies were considered interesting, many oddities were prized when they should have been avoided. Physical traits such as hairlessness and squashed faces were encouraged.

When the first Kennel Club was formed in 1873, the gene pools for hundreds of pedigree dogs were soon to be sealed. It wouldn't have taken a genius to predict that there would be trouble ahead as relatively small numbers of dogs were then mated together for the next 150 years.

There are now more than 30,000 genetic defects identified in pedigree dogs, with a new one being discovered every month. As well as the inevitable in-breeding caused by the cult of pedigree, dogs' health has been further challenged by the peculiar fashions and foibles of the show world, which has kept "improving" the appearance of breeds.

The Bulldog is the obvious example of a breed changed almost beyond recognition. Show judges began to favour a massive head, so it grew ever larger, unchecked. However, the pelvis remained the same size, meaning Caesarean births became the norm. Almost every breed has been changed to a degree - the Chow used to have fairly normal eyes, but the judges took to favouring tiny eyes, with devastating results.

Many Chows now have to have their painful in-growing eyelashes removed. The judges liked the Dachshund to have a longer back and shorter legs - unsurprisingly, spinal problems resulted. It has not taken long for 100,000 years of breeding for function to be undone.

If you wanted to breed from a dog that's deaf, blind, crippled with hip dysplasia or suffering from a heart condition, you'd probably expect the Kennel Club to refuse to take your money. Sadly, you'd be wrong. At the moment - I think shamefully - KC registration is no mark of quality. It'll proudly compare itself to Debrett's. It'll say it is paid to record lineage, not intelligence or health. But it doesn't have to be this way.

Twenty or more years ago the Swedish Kennel Club decided to reform its practices and made health tests mandatory. It also ensured that breeders took notice of the results by simplifying the complex systems of testing for hereditary diseases, so people had clear guidelines on what to breed with what.

It even came up with ways of ensuring the breadth of the gene pool was preserved by establishing quotas so that no stud dog could be overused - unlike in Britain and America, where a top winning stud dog can sire an unlimited number of litters, meaning that almost every dog in the breed can end up a half brother or sister.

The Kennel Club (as the British KC likes to be known), however, has left it to the breeders to police themselves. It has softened a few words in the breed standards that constitute the blueprint which the judges are meant to aim for - but hasn't disciplined any judges for continuing to favour the unhealthy exaggerations that make even breathing hard work for many breeds.

Over the past 50 years, our pedigree breeds have been growing increasingly unhealthy, life expectancies have fallen drastically and some breed characteristics have become exaggerated almost beyond recognition. For example, the Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed that increasingly suffers from cancer, is now lucky to reach the age of seven. The Irish wolfhound, selectively bred for its massive size, has been left susceptible to bone cancer and has a similar life expectancy. Your average mongrel will live two or three times as long.

Those who sport the hallowed KC members' badge at dog shows radiate pride. But while everyone wants to wear the badge, few seem to want to reform the system. Maybe history has taught them to keep their heads down. About 20 years ago, the Kennel Club decided to expel one of its members for publicly saying it should do more to prevent health problems in dogs.

That member was Dr Malcolm Willis, probably the world's leading expert on hip dysplasia in dogs. The club has taken him back now, but sadly no one listens to his demands for mandatory health testing in dogs that will be bred from and are disposed to hip dysplasia.

Similarly, no one at the KC seems interested in the British government ratifying the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. To date, 21 countries have signed this, including Turkey.

As well as laying down minimum requirements for good animal welfare, the convention highlights a list of breed characteristics that need to be modified for the dogs' best interests. The KC argues that we don't need Europe telling us what to do - the breeds are safe in its hands, it says; it has got it all under control.

The KC's expensive Clarges Street offices in London are hung with beautiful canine art from an era before the show world distorted the shape of so many of our wonderful breeds. The dogs in those pictures left the destiny of their pups to the KC - and it has let them down very badly.

I'll still watch Crufts. After all, I'm an optimist. I'm just hoping someone will soon stand up and start making Crufts not just the biggest dog show in the world, but the best.

Beverley Cuddy is editor of Dogs Today magazine

Link http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml;jsessionid=3JHTQZ0RBBA01QFIQMFCFF4AVCBQ YIV0?xml=/health/2007/03/07/ftcrufts107.xml&page=1

3rd April 2007, 01:36 AM
They are some excellent & very legitimate points that Bet makes. I can well imagine in many circles it would be an unpopular view, but she sure has my support.

It is a real tragedy that the dogs that we are "improving" are the ones that are suffering the most and it primarily is in the name of aesthetics. I've certainly heard more than one vet say that the dogs that are genetically the most healthy are the mutts. Of course we all here love our pure-breds but it sure would be nice if more attention was paid to health rather than looks.

Anyway, gutsy woman!

3rd April 2007, 03:37 AM
I was intrigued to read this in one of Bet's articles

Is this now the time for Cavalier breeders, for the future of the breed, to bite the bullet in order to widen the genetic pool of Cavaliers and start using Cavaliers for breeding that are not winning in the Show Ring?


matties mum
3rd April 2007, 09:11 AM
When I take my dogs to the vet one of them say that he likes to see the big cavaliers because they are more like the older cavaliers
Going on from there Sam is breed stardard the nomal size I took him to the vets to see two very small cavaliers and ask there owner if they were English Toy Spaniels or Charles they were very small they even made Sam look big ----Aileen and the gang (Jazzie----Barney---Sam)

3rd April 2007, 09:20 AM
Today I received a book that I bought online.

It's CKCS champions 1928-1999 all with pictures and pedigrees of each dog. 4th edition.

You can just SEE the difference in the heads etc from todays Cavaliers. There is no mistake, they are so very different.
It makes a very good read.


3rd April 2007, 10:03 AM
I don't have any opinion one way or another on the shape of head theory any more, after the London seminar, though I am inclined to think breeding for a larger head or a specific shape might be of help in slowing or reversing the trend with SM. The problem with the heads theory on SM is that none of the researchers are finding any correlation between measurements of skulls, size of skulls, and whether a dog is affected or how badly it is affected. This was discussed at much length in London and consistently -- researchers were all taking detailed measurements trying to find correlations -- the only thing that was slightly significant was caudal fossa volume but not enough to be a smoking gun, so to speak.

One paper that summarises work that is pretty much repeated in separate international studies is Harvey Carruthers' paper, paper number 4 here, which seems to suggest width of vertebral cervix is relevant:


My notes say:

There were no significant correlations between the caudal fossa volumes measured and incidence of SM, except for reduced volume. But there were some interesting measurements in cervical width of C2-C3 junction associated with the presence of syrinxes, and also between the width of the widest point of C3 and the presence of syrinxes.
* A greater width at C2/C3 is associated with a syrinx
* A greater width at C3 is associated with a syrinx: this was a surprise finding fro the group

So while there is a possbility that a shift in head shape MAY have something to do to some degree with the spread of SM, the problem is it definitely isn't a head size issue -- maybe a head shape, but not head shape related to size but to something interior. All the neurologists say they see SM consistenetly in large cavaliers and small ones, big headed ones and small ones, breeder lines and BYB dogs. If breeding for show heads was a major or the greatest factor then one wouldn't expect BYB/puppy mill dogs to be equally affected.

Perhaps it is some element of interior skull shape, and nothing to do with head size -- but again, this must have been set in the cavalier skull a long, long time ago by foundation dogs for the breed (there were only 6; Clare Rusbridge thinks SM can be traced back to two key 1950s bitches) and seems somehow to be connected with the brachycephalic skull shape. Something about the cavalier head seems to encourage the restriction of CSF flow. The latter is far more important than how severe the malformation is (same in humans -- this is why the neurologists dropped malformation measurements as an element in grading dogs on MRI scans as it hasn't been very relevant).

I know a lot of people at the London event were a bit discouraged that there wasn't a clear head size correlation because that would make it easier to tackle the problem. But this was proven not to be a significant factor in separate, unconnected studies in the UK, France and US.

Nonetheless the problem, whatever causes it, is genetic in origin and can be scanned for, and there are suggested breeding guideleines in place.

Setting aside SM the MVD protocols are established for over a decade now -- yet only sporadically followed and not a requirement in any kennel club except in Sweden.

Cavaliers ARE under serious threat of survival, acording to most researchers I have spoken to. Already they fear there are not enough A graded dogs to enable the breed to have good strong genetic diversity especially as so few breeders are scanning to identify them. Hence many A dogs are probably going to pet homes when they should be retained for breeding (Jaspar was one of these -- a rare totally clear dog :( ). And many dogs with syrinxes are being used for breeding.

How worrying is this? Dr Rusbridge has said that 93% of top stud dogs in the UK are closely related to 1 or more dogs with SM and the pedigrees of these dogs are similar to Champions worldwide.

Even if she is drastically wrong -- say if it is only 50% -- that's still a frighteningly high number.

This is an issue that is going to need money for research and strong club support to even begin to address... but signs right now are that this isn't, and won't, happen. Already however there is some evidence that puppy buyers are growing wary of the breed because of its health problems -- not yet in the US but in Britain, where the breed is more common and where there seems to be a better knowledge now of SM amongst vets, for the first time ever, registered breeders cannot sell the puppies available on the club's puppy register.

Personally, from talking with some breeders and club people and several researchers, I fear the breed won't last out the next 30-50 years (at best) in between MVD and SM. It is one of the reasons I implore people so strongly to carefully select breeders who health test and avoid the temptation to get the cheaper dog from the internet source or the person down the street who has done no testing and breeds without an understanding of their lines, genetics, and so forth. Every purchase of such a dog further seals this unwanted fate for the breed -- no future. If the clubs won't require , as the Swedish clubs do, breeding for health as a basis for registrations and club membership, then it will be left to puppy buyers to force change through their pocketbooks.

3rd April 2007, 12:17 PM
I meant to also say that I now know several very experienced, long-time owners of cavaliers -- people who had numerous dogs for decades, since the 50s and 60s -- who won't own them anymore because of the gradual increase in very serious health problems. I believe Bet is of this group -- Bet I know that you have publicly said in the past you no longer felt you could own a cavalier because of the pain of losing them to MVD, despite your years of involvement and continued interest and research on the breed.

I think these are important voices to heed. Rather than looking for the next champions, we should be looking for the best genetic stock for the future of the breed. Ideally, both can be done at the same time by the many committed and caring breeders out there, with ongoing support for researchers.

3rd April 2007, 12:52 PM
Rather than looking for the next champions, we should be looking for the best genetic stock for the future of the breed. Ideally, both can be done at the same time by the many committed and caring breeders out there, with ongoing support for researchers.

Oh yes indeed. cl*p


3rd April 2007, 06:34 PM
Could I just say ,that after Pippa Died ,we said ,that's it ,no more Cavaliers
We went to the Scottish SPCA ,center in Glasgow ,and SUZY ,a bit of everything ,came home with us

I do hope you all dont object to me to me spouting on the Health of the Cavaliers ,I ve still such an interest in them ,and commenting on their problems
Could I just mention that Ive still this thought though, about how their Head Shape has altered in the past 25 years ,
Not the size ,but the shape
Many noe have a more rounded fore-head ,deeper stop ,and are smaller in size
This look started in the early 80's ,a link or a co-incidence ,that SM appeared about the same time
Alison ,the Book of Champions that you mentioned, Ive sent to the Researchers for them to Study ,along with Photos of this new look that many of to-days Cavaliers ,to let them see the difference .
I just dont know whether there's a link or not ,but in the early 80's there certainly was another alteration to their skulls .
The first alteration was in the 1930's when to get the flat shaped skull required for the Cavalier Breed ,the dome shaped skull of the King Charles Spaniels was altered
There is no other Dog Breed that this has happened to
Was the second alteration to much for some of the Cavaliers to take?
You just feel that those alterations could have had an influence on the shape of their heads changing
I know that its now being agreed by the Neurologists that ,perhaps upto 90% of Cavaliers could have the Malformed Bone

Is it not possible that because of the Malformed Bone ,and the alterations that have been done to the shape of their Head ,that just maybe could be linked to their SM problem ?
AS Karlin has just said , and if maybe my thoughts could be having a ring of truth in them
Then because so many of to-days Cavaliers have this shape of head ,that in the not too distant future ,there is big trouble ahead for the Breed ,and the way is for Cavalier Breeders to MRI scan their Breeding Stock to see whether there's a Syrinx present or not


3rd April 2007, 06:54 PM
Bet, I couldn't agree more. When I was a child some neighbours had a wonderful Cavalier that I was completely in love with (so much nicer than my mother's yappy poodles :lol: ). I remember him having a completely different head to most of the Cavaliers I see today. I also remember him being a much larger dog than most of the Cavaliers we seem today though maybe this is just my imagination I don't know.

3rd April 2007, 07:02 PM
I do think something about the alteration to shape rather than size may be at the root of the problem for brachycephalic breeds generally, or a contribution to the problem... especially in cavaliers as it goes so far back, to when the breed was first recreated from limited stock (original small spaniels had long noses and weren;t brachycephalic). I would say the huge amount of inbreeding that happened during WWII with the limited surviving cavaliers, when people could not easily travel to breed dogs and many due to restricted resources had to give up breeding, also cemented this problem at some early stage in the breed.

Bet you know so much about the breed that no one would ever feel you haven't a right to offer insight and perspective that few of us have because we don't have your historical view or knowledge of breeders, dogs and pedigrees. And you are often the one who gets everyone talking. :lol: Talking and even arguing is much better than a code of silence -- which too many still want to observe all across dog (and cat) breeding.

On head shape again -- if you look at the MRIs of my Jaspar (top image) and Leo (bottom pic) here:


you can see a quite different headshape. Leo is more domed (he is my SM dog) but with a steeper occiput. Jaspar is a clear dog without the malformation.

Laura Lang (breeder) who has viewed many MRIs thinks these head shapes come up again and again in affected and less affected or unaffected dogs. I thibnk she takes the opposite view, Bet, that the flatter and broader skull with a more moderate occiput seems a better, less likely to be affected headshape.

There is SM in King Charles Spaniels, along with several other breeds-- all have been brachycephalic dogs. Maybe they are all slowly moving towards higher levels of incidence; maybe the CKCS jumpstarted into this due to narrower gene pool and the two affected bitches... ?

3rd April 2007, 07:22 PM
Alison ,the Book of Champions that you mentioned, Ive sent to the Researchers for them to Study ,along with Photos of this new look that many of to-days Cavaliers ,to let them see the difference .

Well from looking through the book they will certainly see a difference in the overall shape, (not size) and not just head shape but necks, muzzles and shoulders as well.
Lets hope they inform us of their thoughts and results of the study sometime.


3rd April 2007, 07:34 PM
Laura has made those observations too about general body shape. :) She thinks there's a trend towards cobby (compact) cavaliers now. Some of the heads on puppies look really weird to me -- almost like squares with a muzzle on the front, and those are apoparently considered the 'promising heads'. One breeder sent me a sequence of puppy head pictures noting the most extreme skull was the one some show breeders were fighting over to buy. I don;t have the experience in viewing heads and skull shapes that many of you do hence I am reluctant to ofer an opinion, I am mostly reporting what researchers said in presentations and in response to questions from breeders back in November. The head question always comes up. But certain heads look weird, even to me!

Alison where do you order the book? I'd love to have pictures stretching over such a time period!

4th April 2007, 12:08 AM
Being a new cavalier owner (or will be in 3 weeks), I find this discussion sad, alarming and scary. To think that a breed of a dog or cat, can be altered b/c some judge in Timbucktu, feels that he/she knows all and therefore sets forth precendence is crazy!!!

Where are the governing bodies to reside over these problems and to prevent future ones?

Could someone please post pics if they have them of what cavaliers used to look like?

4th April 2007, 12:21 AM
It is a complex and long-developing issue. Remember judges are also breeders, and trends develop because both judges and breeders co-influence each other.

I have heard many breeders complain that few judges today actually judge according to the breed standard and that many dogs are winning that would not have won in the past.

However that is probably separate from the development and worsening of health issues in breeds, due to lack of health testing or understanding of genetic issues (or interest in them in some quarters!). Some issues are definitely caused by the desire for a certain appearance -- hence the problem with bulldogs mentioned in the long article above. Sometimes the changes are so small over time that big changes are almost imperceptible as they happen.

This is a fascinating site for a research centre in Switzerland that has the best dog skull collection in the world. This article should be of interest to anyone interested in the changing fashion in dog head shapes! Just look at the shift in the St Bernard in 100 years. :shock:


Top two skulls , circa 1900; bottom skull, present day:


The breed used to look like this:


This is interesting, on the purpose of the collection and why they measure skulls (they are considered to have the most accurate methods in the world for such measurements):

But the results should also be published for the public interested in dogs, like breeders and judges. We'll try to show this with an example. Many standards insist on a strong or on a weak stop, the stop being the angle between the brain skull and the muzzle. This can very easily be done by selecting such dogs while breeding. The problem is, that a changing of this angle always results in an absolute shortening of skull size.

Also should have clarified that not ALL breeders go for the weird shaped puppy heads, of course! Many are appalled and/or concerned at some of the shapes that have become desireable in some places.

4th April 2007, 02:11 AM
What about the Cavaliers/Toy Spaniels in Landseer's paintings, Karlin? They are very recognisably Cavaliers in the modern sense- the picture on your post looks very early 19th c to me- maybe even 18th c? But the head shape certainly correlates to the skull pictures.

I find the discussion on body shape very interesting. Holly is of the compact type, with a shortish neck and very deeply sprung rib cage. Amber has a much more fluid line with a noticeably longer neck. It would be interesting to know what the MRI results would be on them- they really do look completely different.

4th April 2007, 11:00 AM
There can't have been many spaniels at Landseer's time that looked like that (and remember he painted quite fanciful and romantic paintings in accordance with time period and thus, probably quite a bit of artistic licence. I'd say it is more likely the painting influenced how breeders decided to MAKE the reconstructed breed look! Remember they started from a pretty blank slate) -- and they also look very little like the original King Charles Spaniel either (never a set breed anyway -- people didn't breed that closely and 'breed' was a fairly loose idea, as the Telegraph article reiterates). That one 'cavalier' Landseer painting (and modern cavaliers) do not even fit the description for the 1920s competition to produce an old style spaniel -- this explicitly stated it should be a narrow-headed dog without a strong stop -- hence not that blunter brachycephalic face of the modern cavalier at all, but more like the King Charles portraits.

The 'cavalier' Landseer of the longer nosed cavalier type seems a bit of an oddity as very few other pictures of that time show spaniels with faces like that. If there had been more, it wouldn't have taken so long and so much effort to reconstuct the breed in the 20th c.

Arguably numerous of the cavalier's health problems not related to MVD are due to its highly foreshortened face that deliberately makes it look like a puppy, not an adult dog -- eye problems, respiratory problems, almost certainly the prevalece in the breed of the malformation causing SM. As with pugs, whose eyes are known to fall out of their heads on occasion -- yes you read that rigt -- the breed pays a significant price for that 'cute' apparance.

From the ACKCSC website (you can see the modern cavalier is not at *all* like this description):

In the mid-1920's, Roswell Eldridge, an American, went to England to try to find the old type "nosey" spaniels. He was very disappointed that he did not find the dog he had seen depicted in old paintings. For five years he offered a prize of 25 pounds at Crufts to the persons who presented the dog and bitch "as shown in the picture of King Charles II's time, long face, no stop, flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the center of the skull."

The breed has gotten shorter and shorter nosed -- eg more and more brachycephalic. The Chiari-like malformation in the skull is ONLY known in brachycephalic breeds. Perhaps that is what breeders should be looking at, rather than the back of the head?

Lisa I'm not sure what your last comment means -- which skull do you think the image corresponds to? Not sure if you are saying the dog does look like the early skulls or looks like the later skulls. The image is indeed of an 1850s St Bernard. It isn't at all like a modern St Bernard (the skull at the bottom) though it is more like the top skulls, which already look much heavier than the image of the dog. I think many dogs keep getting more extreme. :( St Bernard heads are massive now, even compared to when I was a child. Many breeders think cavalier heads have changed significantly in the past 30 yars as well (Bet's and Alison's comments). I agree that they have, probably not for the better of the breed either.

Body shape incidentally has had no relation at all to MRI results.

4th April 2007, 11:21 AM
Some Landseer images:

long, narrow nosed spaniel that looks like it has a lot of papillon:


Famous image of Q. Victoria with Dash -- longer nosed spirnger-like spaniel:


Another longer nosed spaniel:

This one is probably the most famous and has the shortest noses but still the domed skulls of KCs:

I think he just liked the slightly longer nosed spaniels -- of which by all accounts there were very few by the 19th and early 20th c -- and painted those in that (to me, somewhat nauseating!) sugar-sweet Victorian style. But there's obviously pretty wide range of what might have been around as far as spaniels went; they were interbred, there were lots of colours, people crossbred to other breeds, and remember he is painting those two cavalier spaniels at the bottom 'as if' they were in King Charles' time -- but they are clearly some of the longer nosed but still quite flate faced, dome-gheaded versions of the flat faced KC (these were considered less desireable than the flat faced dogs and were not recognised as a breed, but were definitely used to help develop the CKCS -- which was quite controversial at the time).

4th April 2007, 11:28 AM
As with pugs, whose eyes are known to fall out of their heads on occasion -- yes you read that rigt -- the breed pays a significant price for that 'cute' apparance.

OMG...instant queasiness!!!!!

4th April 2007, 11:38 AM
Here's how different they could look, at the same time time period: a portrait of a KC spaniel by another famed dog artist of the time:


Breeders clearly picked some ideas they liked and eventually came up with Ann's Son.

4th April 2007, 11:57 AM
:flwr: Thank you so very much for this topic Karlin! It's been very interesting and has even sent me to the dictionary to find out what "brachycephalic" meant! (probably shouldn't admit that) :sl*p:

It's my sincere hope & prayer that the breeders are forced to breed for health... but I do have to ask, could the temperment of this loving breed change in the process? For me, their best quality is not how they look, it's how they act.

Again, thanks so much for this topic! :thnku:

4th April 2007, 12:18 PM
What interesting Photos youve put on the Site,thank you so much ,and for explaining how the shorter nose of the Cavaliers,just maybe could be being involved with the SM problem

This look that many do seem to have now - a - days did start to appear in the early 80's ,when some with it were beginning to win in the Show Scene ,then it just snow-balled when other Cavalier folk saw what was happening in the Show Ring ,but has it been a terrible price to pay ,for maybe SM to have appeared around the same time.


Bruce H
4th April 2007, 12:24 PM
Don't have much time to post, but I had to comment about size. I agree that the overall appearance is changing. In this area it seams like the judges are going more and more for the Cavaliers on the smaller end of the scale. It gets very discouraging when you sit at a show and watch very nice dogs get dumped and the first 2 or 3 placements are very small. I really think that the problem is that, in AKC, the Cavalier is in the toy group and is the largest of the toy group. The judges that are looking at them are also toy judges, so they tend to like the smaller, more petite dogs; maybe they are not even aware they are doing it. I understand a couple times in the past there have been half-hearted attempts to move the Cavalier to one of the other groups, but it never went anywhere.

The other thing I want to comment on is health, particularily SM. If there is any problem that has the potential for doing this breed in, it's SM. I truly believe now that what is needed is a LOT more research so we can better understand what we are dealing with and how to deal with it. And, naturally, research takes money, lots of money. Clare Russbridge really is on the cutting edge of SM research and I know she needs support to continue that research. I would appeal to all of you that are concerned with the future of this breed to make a contribution to Clare, through Penny Knowler. Karlin, you posted somewhere how contact Penny, maybe you could post that link again. For your donation, you will get Clare's PhD thesis in book form. It's a little technical in a couple spots (for me at least), but mostly it's a good read. It may be a cliche, but every little bit helps.

So much for my "Begging for Dollars" speech ;)

4th April 2007, 05:15 PM
This is very interesting discussion - thank you everyone for reading and commenting - Bruce it is especially good to hear a breeder's view.

As most of you know, SM is very significant to many of us, heartbreaking to live with, and most especially when you have to make a dreadful decision that the dog is not enjoying a good quality of life with SM :( :(

Karlin the pictures are very interesting - I do agree with your comment, that it is the artists view of the Cavalier - it's a shame that photography wasn't invented then! If you look at paintings of Cavaliers now - there is a huge variety of shapes and sizes depicted...

THe book Alison mentions is available from the Cavalier Club


I think you would need to contact them Karlin with regard to shipping to you - if it's a problem, let me know and I'll have them sent here and send them on...

4th April 2007, 06:38 PM
Here is the breed standard for the marlbrough blenheim taken from my 1920's toy dog book

Head long, pointed nose, no stop indentation, flat skull not at all inclined to be domed,ears long & set high.
eyes large & rather light in colour, coat long & silky, rich tan broken over pearly white, weight 10 to 14lb

Perhaps the problem in modern dogs lays with trying to have a flat skull AND deep stop & shortened nose.
Presumably a flat skull has less room for the brain ( & perhaps the airways? our previous two cavaliers couldnt walk far withought gasping)
and If the nose is shorter & the stop deeper there is less room at the front of the skull. then if they have the Sm malformation at the back :?

Personally I like dainty cavaliers more like the papillon.As our first cavalier was.

4th April 2007, 09:01 PM
THe book Alison mentions is available from the Cavalier Club


Thanks for doing the link Nicki, :flwr:

It's the one with the red cover on it Karlin, 11th down the list.


5th April 2007, 01:15 AM
Just to reiterate, the domed head is actually the one that some feel is *more* not less associated with SM. Possibly smaller dogs too, in that this further miniaturises the breed with unknown side effects, but potentially creates even less room for a brain in an already too-small skull for the majority of cavaliers. This is one reason some researchers feel the move to smaller dogs is also alarming at the moment. Domed skulls also are more associated with hydrocephalus in many breeds (KC spaniels and chihuahuas amongst them). A flat skull is actually more the normal shape for a dog's skull; the attempt was to breed away from the domed skull of the KC spaniels and back towards a more normal spaniel (and dog) head (if you will).

That 1920s breed standard is fascinating -- almost nothing recognisible in today's cavalier except the flat skull and high set ears!

For people interested in donating to SM research, amounts no matter how small are deeply appreciated (lots of small donations grow quickly!). Penny and Clare are not doing hugely expensive research -- they need money to gather more MRIs from dogs they are scanning, for example. They are mostly funded through donations from people like YOU as well as occasional once-off donations from clubs and charitable trusts so every individual can make a difference. :)

Right now as Bruce says a reasonable donation will result in a copy of Clare's thesis, which is all her published work on SM in cavaliers, basically, as part of her PhD required having her chapters approved as standalone publications -- it was very rigorous. You can email Penny Knowler for more information, penny.knowler@ntlworld.com. If you want to just send a donation of any size, simply go to PayPal, click on send money, and enter her email address which will bring up their research account.


Alison, thanks for the further book info.

5th April 2007, 02:16 AM
Thank you Karlin for sharing your vast knowledge with us and for this forum. You help so many each and every day. :flwr:

I've just sent a donation to Penny.

Bruce H
5th April 2007, 02:37 AM

5th April 2007, 03:56 AM
This thread has been fascinating to read through. It seems as though there could be an insidious vicious circle happening here, with dogs having to achieve "champion" status in the show ring in order to be bred for "quality," yet that very process of being shown means they are being judged by people who are only looking subjectively at form, not substance, and thereby putting all the wrong pressures on the breed itself.

Last month, acting on a recommendation I saw here on the board, I ordered Margaret Workman's book "The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel," from The Book Depository in the UK (via Amazon). In it there are a lot of wonderful pictures of Cavaliers going back to the late 1920's, and you sure can see the difference, as it evolved over the years, both in size of dog and head/snout shape.

I wish that there could be some sort of edict made that would require these dogs only be bred for health and temperament henceforth--nothing else, even if it means they are no longer shown for however many decades it takes to save them. As someone else said, I don't really give a darn about conformation for its own sake--all I care about is having a great, healthy dog.

5th April 2007, 09:43 AM
Just to reiterate, the domed head is actually the one that some feel is *more* not less associated with SM. This is one reason some researchers feel the move to smaller dogs is also alarming at the moment. Domed skulls also are more associated with hydrocephalus in many breeds (KC spaniels and chihuahuas amongst them). A flat skull is actually more the normal shape for a dog's skull; the attempt was to breed away from the domed skull of the KC spaniels and back towards a more normal spaniel (and dog) head (if you will).

That 1920s breed standard is fascinating -- almost nothing recognisible in today's cavalier except the flat skull and high set ears!

But is the head domed in sm cavaliers because thats how the dog is or because they have pressure in the skull making it that way ?

I'm not arguing just interested in learning :lol:

I have king charles & I don't like some of the extreme headshapes i'm seeing.

Apparently the marlbrough blenhiem still existed in the early 20th century though very rare. So why did they create a new breed rather than resurrect them? The photo that goes with the standard is of a stuffed blenhiem from the 1840's that can be seen on the natural history museum site.

5th April 2007, 11:53 AM
Thank you Karlin ,for your latest Post .

It was so interesting to read that some Researchers feel the move to Smaller Cavaliers is also alarming at the moment

This is what Ive noticed at the recent Cavalier Championship Show ,how so many had altered since Id last been at a Cavalier Show about 15 years ago
If this is the case that Cavaliers are being Miniaturised ,and there's so many Cavaliers around now like that ,including Champions and potential Champions ,and others winning in the Show Scene ,then it should be being said that the Cavalier Breed could be in big trouble ,as never before

I really feel that the only answer ,at the moment is for Cavalie Breeders ,in order to save the Breed is to MRI Scan their Breeding Stock ,to try and discover those with a Syrinx or not
This where Mandatory Health Testing is so important ,and Cavalier Puppy Buyers ,only to buy Puppies fron Cavalier Breeders whove done this


5th April 2007, 12:55 PM
I think all of the above is important too, Bet. :)

But is the head domed in sm cavaliers because thats how the dog is or because they have pressure in the skull making it that way ?

I think maybe my simplification of a complex subject has led to some misunderstandings.

Cavaliers do NOT have domed heads -- King Charles spaniels by contrast have a very domed head. Some cavaliers have a more rounded or domed skull than others, though, which would be expected in a breed developed from KC spaniels. Some breeders who have viewed many, many MRIs of affected dogs believethe space for the brain is MORE truncated in domed skulls because the occiput (back of skull) is shorter. The space where the brain is compressed in SM cavaliers is NOT at the top of the head (eg the dome of a domed skull)but at the base near the occiput. Most brachycephalic breeds have some compression of the brain in this area as a 'norm' (though that's not saying it should be an 'acceptable norm').

A flatter skull is actually the normal and natural shape for a dog's head, as you can see by looking at, say, a labrador or springer spaniel. Some breeders were bred to have a domed skull zand this type of skull is sometimes associated with problems with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) as well as a failure of the skull plates to close completely (considered 'normal' again in chihuhuas but usually considered a potential risk for breeds as there is literally an opening directly to the brain).

Researchers all say they have seen no correlation to an increase in SM in dogs with different shaped skulls but likewise I do not think there has been a comparison of more domed compared to flatter skulls. Breeder Laura Lang, who is quite well versed on anatomy, reading MRIs and health issues, believes she sees a distinct difference, to the extent that she is no breeding for less rounded, roomier skulls. My Jspoar, who os clear of malformation/clkear for SM, has a broader, flatter, skull. Unfortunately this is not a headshape considered desireable right now. That said it may merely be coincidence that he has this head shape and is clear/clear. Far more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn on such issues but my gut feeling is that Laura is probably right to be breeding for the head she is interested in and that she feels is healthier for the breed.

To me it appears there are many factors going into the shape of the cavalier skull and also many factors that seem to affect how the CSF flows and gets blocked in SM cavaliers. Researchers have done some preliminary MRIs with a machine that can view fluid flow over time (called cine-MRIs) and I think doing more work in this area (as well as many others of course!) will help us all to understand better what all these relationships are.