View Full Version : Health issues in cavs....

21st September 2007, 06:01 AM
Well. I have researched, found a great breeder and have been sitting on a waiting list for almost a year. As I wait patiently and prepare for his/her arrival, I do get a little nervous each time I read a new thread about the many health problems that crop up in cavs. I know that there are no guarantees, and the chances of major problems are somewhat diminished by buying from a breeder who does proper health testing and certification. However, I was just curious as to how many of you (who have bought puppies from excellent breeders who meet all the proper criteria for testing), have experienced early onset mvd, patella, eye or sm diagnoses. I plan on buying insurance and providing the best vet care no matter what, but just want to be realistic in my expectations of hoping for a healthy puppy!!! Thanks for your thoughts and input.

21st September 2007, 09:12 AM
There is always a possibility that a puppy from a reputable breeder will have a health issue, but by being so careful you are lessing your chances greatly.

I can give you my experience. I have 4 cavaliers. The 2 from a Back Yard Breeders (BYB) have had hereditary health concerns since they were 18 months old. Pippin has already had juvenille cataract surgery on both eyes before he was 3 years old. He is now 4 years old and has a luxating patella, grade 2 and heart murmur grade 1. Merry has juvenille cataracts, but they have not progressed and at 3 years old she still doesn't need surgery. She also has food allergies. Pippin & Merry had the same dad and their mom's were sisters. So they had the same genetics.

THEN, I obviously learned from my mistakes and did what you talked about. Researched and found a very reputable breeder. Luke & Jolly are from that person. Luke will turn 5 years old this coming Monday and he has no health issues. Jolly is 15 months old and Luke's son. Jolly is very healthy. :xfngr:

21st September 2007, 11:31 AM
My mother's cavalier, from an excellent breeder, has had perfect health all her life. At age 8, she has recently been diagnosed with a very light heart murmur -- so this is quite good; some dogs of any breed would have a murmur by this age (this is a breeder who follows the MVD protocols carefully and has dogs reaching 12-14 years).

I know of no people with dogs with early onset MVD from breeders *who follow the MVD protocol* (NB!! Many otherwise reputable and some very well known show breeders DO NOT! You need to ask for the heart clearance certs and they need to come from a cardiologist, NOT a vet!). I know of some who have had heart failure before age 10.

I know of many with dogs with SM from reputable breeders. If the research figures are correct (and they have been generally consistent across several studies in several countries) the rate is extremely high in cavaliers though the rate of symptomatic or probably more likely, noticeably symptomatic SM is low (I think many symptomatic dogs go undiagnosed because people think they have itchy ears or allergies, even though no source for these things is ever found). As this is a condition that has only been recognised as a major issue within the past decade, until recently there were few suggested guidelines for breeders. Also, many -- I would say the vast majority -- of breeders and clubs have vigorously refused to believe the rate of affectedness is anything like what researchers have been saying. Now -- as even breed club sponsored research in the US showed some very high rates -- this is becoming a more publicly recognised concern. There are also breeding guidelines which have been endorsed by the majority of the leading researchers in the area. But following them requires MRIing breeding stock which remains an expensive test and one most breeders right now are unwilling to pay for or cannot find in their region (there are growing numbers of low cost clinics though especially in the UK, which has very low cost screening clinics). Of those who do screen, many breeders are not disclosing their results either. Others feel they wish to wait to MRI til more is known about the condition, though my own feeling is that while people wait, they are very likely further diluting what few remaining good lines may be out there -- something that has been upheld so far by some initial statistical work which suggests almost all the good lines have died out or been undercut by breeding with more risky lines for SM (see discussion on the CKCS-SM Yahoo discussion group). The reality is that it is *extremely difficult* to find breeders in the US or UK or Ireland or Australia or anywhere else following the SM breeding guidelines (even though early results are very positive, see the research section at my site www.smcavalier.com). I talk to many breeders in the US who do scan but are having a very difficult time finding any other breeder with screened studs, for example, even though reearchers have said screening studs is probably the most crucial group to do because they have a vastly greater influence on the genetic makeup of the breed as one stud can father thousands of puppies whereas a dam might give her DNA/genes to only 4-20 puppies. I do have a contact point for people in the UK looking for breeders who have litters from screened parents so anyone interested may contact me privately. Unfortunately I still do not have a reliable point of reference for breeders screening in the US though I can refer people to some who might have some suggestions. I have two dogs from one of the better known Irish breeders and one has SM and one is clear. I have a second rescue cavalier who almost certainly has SM (clinical diagnosis on symtpoms but not MRId, the boys have been MRId). But other than the SM, which does not overly bother either dog, mine have not had a single other health problem.

Knees, eyes and hips -- you can ask a breeder if they test for these. Some will say they rely on whether they know there are problems in their lines and don't test but I side with the breeders who say testing is important -- for example they have seen poor hip scores in dogs outwardly fine -- and as most pet owners will never report back any problems making it hard to assume they have no problems in their lines just on anecdotal evidence (pet owners should ALWAYS inform their breeder of halth problems to help improve their breeding programme!). Almost every single case I have heard of where dogs have problem hips, eyes or especially, knees -- the dog came from internet breeders, backyard breeders, puppy mills, pet shops -- not show breeders properly testing for these problems. I personally am unaware of any patella issues from good breeders who definitely test for this. It is however always possible to produce a puppy that has problems -- testing helps one greaty reduce problems, but not fully eliminate problems, especially those tht are likely polygenetic, like MVD and SM, meaning they can never be fully eradicated now as they are too widespread. They will always be a risk factor in any puppy.

This is why I strongly support looking for active *show breeders* who test, not the many charlatan breeders who claim they test on their websites but actually do not and often have forged certs as well, register with the bogus registries, and so on. It is very, very important to do your research on any breeder and if they are not actively showing -- eg if their dogs are not under regular, expert scrutiny -- I would not even consider buying a puppy from that person. I have yet to find ANYONE who truly breeds for health that produces puppies just for the pet market. Most of these simply have their vet listen to their dog's hearts once a year and this is the extent of their'testing' -- even though vets miss the majority of early onset murmurs, so vet heart testing breeding stock is virtually meaningless as far as MVD protocols go.

21st September 2007, 03:16 PM
Charleen and Karlin, thanks so much for your replies! I do feel a bit better now, as the breeder I am waiting for a puppy with is very well known, shows and tests all her dogs and provides proper OFA certification for hereditary conditions I spoke of earlier. I will ask her if she also does the screening for SM as that is one area we have not really discussed in detail. I appreciate so much your input and am so thankful I found this site so I can stay informed as I wait for my pup!

21st September 2007, 05:38 PM
My two Cavs come from the same breeder that Karlin's mom's dog did.

My two have different parents. Bentley will be four in November, and he does have some health issues. He has some mild SM symptoms of scratching and bunny-hopping, but an SM diagnosis has not been made.

Bentley came home to me just prior to SM becoming more well-known. He was at Ohio State's PSOM study earlier this summer to rule out PSOM as a cause for his symptoms. He was found to have some hearing loss in both ears, and mild hydrocephalus. He does not have PSOM, and the test evidence for SM was not enough to say he has it for sure.

That said, he has not been MRI'd, but the vet at OSU said he "may" have a mild case of SM. His life is not overly impacted; my vet put him on cimetidine every day to see if it lessens his symptoms, and it does seem to help. Bentley is still a happy guy, and I wouldn't trade him for ANYthing in the world. At OSU the cardiologist thought he may have heard a heart "click", and said it could be the start of a very mild murmur, but it could also be attributed to stress of the surroundings at the time. He advised that I have it checked in one year, which I will do. The breeder has wanted to know all about Bentley's problems, and actually I've been remiss in telling her about Bentley's OSU visit. She is having a picnic at the end of Sept I plan on attending and I'll be taking all Bentley's records to her then. When I discussed SM with her she told me Bentley's father's line appears to be affected by it, and she would not be using him again because of it.

Clancy is just one year old, and he's had no problems healthwise whatsoever. His only problem is that he's so darn cute that I've spoiled him rotten!

I think this breed is so wonderful that I'm not letting any health problems stop me from having them in my life. I'd not hesitate to go to my dog's breeder again because I've seen how she cares for her dogs and what research she does in her breeding of them.