View Full Version : How long ago was SM discovered in the Cavalier?

12th February 2009, 03:35 PM
I have been wondering recently how long ago that SM was actually discoverd in the Cavalier, before we got Jasper which was nearly 9 years ago now I bought some books to read about the breed, one is quite a complex book written by a breeder, it was printed in the nineties, but there is no mention of SM in this book, there are 2 pictures of Jasper`s GT GT GT Grandparent and GT GT Grandparent in the book who was apparently a very popular stud dog and Champion in the eighties.

Margaret C
12th February 2009, 08:36 PM
It appears that both Clare Rusbridge & Geoff Skerritt share the credit for identifying SM in Cavaliers in the late 1990s when MRIs became available for animals.
There had been a few 'scratching cavaliers' around for decades. They were the quirky dogs that could not be walked on a lead and were not kept for showing.
There are quite a few people who now realise they owned mildly affected dogs back in the 70s & 80s

Some of the stories of the early diagnosed cavaliers can be read here... http://cavalierkingcharles.org.uk/syringomyelia.html

You can read a bit more here, Holly's own story was on page one & that appears to now be blank, but she is on the link above.

Margaret C

Kate H
12th February 2009, 09:44 PM
I spoke to a breeder about 5 years ago who said she had had a dog with severe SM about 10 years before that - so early 1990s, before scanning was available; I think her vet had met it before, so made a provisional diagnosis based on the symptoms, and in retrospect, when more was known about SM, the breeder realised that he had been right. I think it's been known in humans for a longer time? So perhaps this vet was making the connection between recognised human symptoms and what this dog was experiencing.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

12th February 2009, 10:24 PM
If you read my blog it says that I had a dog back in the middle 70's who started screaming for what seemed no apparaent reason, he was seen by several vets, had many tests ( not MRI ) but no diagnosis was made. My vet still has a tape of Nemo screaming and after many discussions he is convinced that he had SM.


13th February 2009, 01:16 AM
I remember first hearing about SM about ten years ago from one of the founders of the CKCSC, USA Cavalier Health Foundation. She was a human doctor, and she had a young Cavalier bitch showing some extreme symptoms - head tilt, scoliosis, limb weakness. The owner did consult a neurologist. From that time, I paid close attention to whatever information I was able to gather.

Interestingly, my first Cavalier was a rescue who came to me at age 7. She was born in 1982 - came from a long defunct kennel called Sunnybrook in Florida (but had some well known dogs in her pedigree). I could never walk her on a lead; she would continually bunny-hop and air scratch. I just thought it was some idiosyncrasy/quirk. I simply never put her on a lead - I had a fenced in yard so there was no need. There was never any sign of pain, scratching off lead, limb weakness, yelping - nothing else. She lived to be 14 1/2 and died of kidney failure; she had moderate but compensated MVD when she died. The last few months of her life, she had several seizures, about six weeks apart. Internist felt she might have a brain tumor, and I think that was likely. She also had one vestibular episode when she was 14. She died in 1997 - a couple of years before I ever heard the term SM. Of course I always think of her when I think of SM.

My ten other Cavaliers have never shown overt or subtle symptoms of SM, but of course none were ever MRI'd so I have no idea of their status.


13th February 2009, 08:44 AM
There is a book on king charles from around 1900 that mentions old dogs getting into a " habit" of scratching for no reason.

We had a rescue cavalier who probably had it in around 2000 ( she was about 10) & her daughter definatly had it. though it was only after she was rehomed the owners vet picked it up.