View Full Version : Very small Cav puppy

4th November 2009, 01:05 PM
I am looking to purchase a Cavalier puppy. I visited a Cavalier female - 18 weeks. She is just beautiful, but only 4.5 lbs. She was very small at birth and her siblings are twice her size. Any thoughts on possible health issues now or in the future? The vet says that she is healthy.


4th November 2009, 05:37 PM
It is very hard to say from what you write if your puppy is just 'very small' or perhaps 'not a good doer'. Also, extra-fine bone can reduce weight in a bitch puppy.
As a breeder, I would not touch her, but if all you want is a pet, then she might be worth a risk, but definitely not a breeding risk. Just checked weights on the smallest puppy(birthweight 3 and a half oz) I have ever bred. At 16 weeks he weighed 6lb 3 oz.
Don't say you were not warned!
Elspeth Glen
PS Whose Vet?

4th November 2009, 05:43 PM
With an unusually small puppy I am always suspicious of a congenital problem such as JRD (juvenile renal dysplasia) or a portosystemic liver shunt (PSS). These defects are difficult to diagnose and would not necessarily be discovered in just a general vet check. One result of either defect is "failure to thrive" which results in a very, very small dog for its breed.

This pup may be perfectly fine, but this is something to consider.


4th November 2009, 05:51 PM
I believe the pup was 3 oz at birth. She seemed active when I met her - chasing after her mom.

4th November 2009, 05:54 PM
I believe she was 3 oz at birth. The "healthy" diagnosis was from the breeder's vet.

4th November 2009, 05:57 PM
Pat has used an expression, 'failure to thrive' which is more easily understood than the one I used, 'not a good doer'.
They mean the same.
Like Pat, I would be suspicious of such a small puppy so far as future health is concerned.
Puppies can get sick, and a sturdy puppy has more chance of making a good recovery than one which is not.
Best wishes, whatever you decide. It can be dificult to use the head, rather than the heart!

4th November 2009, 06:09 PM
I have nowhere near the experience of Murphy or Pat, but FWIW just checked my 2 girls weights at 18 weeks. Amber was 10 lbs and Lucy was 6lbs. (same breeder)

I think unless you are sure that the breeder is reputable (see Karlins notes) I would be very wary of this particular puppy, especially as both the previous postsers are cautious.

4th November 2009, 06:25 PM
Have just checked my records and ALL my puppies have passed 4.5 pounds by 7 weeks and that includes my smallest ever puppy - born at 4.25 ounces.

That puppy was kept within the family and reached 6 kg by two years of age. She was always a problem with food (picky to the extreme) but has much energy ?

The mother was also slight, albeit produced a brother at 10.5 ounces !

As others have said, you may be in for the odd issue but its your call.

Clearly you will love her to bits.

Fingers crossed, Mark.

4th November 2009, 06:35 PM
Puppy may have a compromised auto immune system. This commonly leads to an abnormally small dog.

What about her eyes? Does she need eye drops to produce tears or has she a history of corneal ulcers?

Taking on a puppy with one of these diseases involves much work and enormous veterinary bills. However long it takes you would have to be prepared for heartbreak at the end of it.

4th November 2009, 07:00 PM
I don't know the answer to this - all I will say is that we adopted a pup aged 16 weeks + who weighed about 4.5 lbs. He seemed fine, vet-checked and everything, but when he was 11 months old he died suddenly.

A breeder friend suspected liver shunt from what I'd told her. Sorry to tell a sad tale, but I think it's only fair to highlight our experience.

4th November 2009, 08:54 PM
Wow if there's that much difference between sibs and she still has not grown, I would have concerns myself. Runts often are small because of underlying health issues, as others note. I also would not trust the breeder's vet, especially if this is not a reputable health-testing show breeder active in their regional/national club (ACKCSC or CKCSC -- and I'd expect cardiologist certs (not vet heart certs) for both parents and ideally grandparents, as well as hip scores, eye tests, ideally MRI screened parents of at least 2.5 years old... there's basic guidelines to finding a good breeder in the Library section on the site here :thmbsup:).

It is quite common for vets to just rubber stamp puppies for some breeders that focus on the pet market in particular and pocket the money they get for clearing large numbers of puppies for such people, that is why I'd urge caution in believing what the breeder says her vet says unless she is absolutely reputable and respected. I have the records from a court case in which the judge found against a puppy broker in New York named Marie Larkin who runs Celtic Irish Puppies and where the judge cited her vet as being equally culpable for obviously just okaying health certs for puppies that he knew were ill.

If I were looking for a healthy family puppy with the best chance of a long and healthy life I would never take the runt. I would feel if the breeder is trying to sell you this puppy at full price, it would also be time to run the other direction.

Unfortunately too a lot of unscrupulous breeders try to sell undersized dogs and runts as an attractive feature, knowing that most people will not guess there may be health reasons for the small size. I just rejected a registration on the board last night from a trash breeder, who was, in her internet ads, actually highlighting the tiny size of the runt in her cavalier crossbreed litter as a *feature* :sl*p:. These people make me ill and directly contribute to the decline of so many breeds and the unhappiness of families who buy these dogs and only have terrible problems.

I think the answer you will probably get from most here will be the one you may not want to hear: taking all into consideration and how many unknowns come into the equation immediately simply because of her small size, this puppy is not the best choice for future happiness.

4th November 2009, 09:31 PM
We got Charlie our 2nd dog from the same breeder as Sam however we knew that Charlie was a very small dog and was probably the runt. Im so glad we got him. He did have a health issue with his bladder but it is all sorted now. He is the happiest dog and loves to cuddle. We are happy with him and it saddenes me to think if we did not take him what would have happened to him. We picked Charlie because he was strutting around the breeders living room wanting to play and was full of energy. He is still full of energy and runs so fast when he is on his walks we cant keep up with him!!

He is only 2 so I cant say long term will he live as long as Sammy but I dont like to think about that.

Sam is also a very big dog for a cav!!

They are having a grumpy moment in this pic but you can see the size difference

4th November 2009, 09:38 PM
Thank you all for your comments. I am confident that this is a reputable breeder. Health tests were done on the parents, doesn't have a lot of litters, etc. If the puppy was even a little bigger I wouldn't have questioned getting a pup from this breeder (I have read this site's recs and others). There is just this one little puppy that is very small... The posts make me think that my concerns are warranted.