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Sfmom
21st March 2012, 03:23 AM
Hi,

For my first post, I wanted to thank all of you for contributing to this educational forum. Thanks in part to your efforts we walked away from the first adorable puppy we met - having read so much about these dogs I was eager to meet one, but the breeder flunked the smell test big time. I felt SO sorry for that sweet little dog but I know it was the right thing to do.

Here is my question: Let's say you've searched far and wide and found a breeder who does it all - followed MDV protocol for years...scans all dogs for SM and tries to only mate with other scanned dogs...cleared them for two other conditions via DNA. What are the odds of a puppy from such a breeder living a happy normal life? Would it be dramatically better than a breeder who say just checks heart/eyes/hips (the minimum?).

I realize anything can happen - the best of breeders could produce a sick dog. Just trying to figure out what the relative risks are.

Any advice or thoughts appreciated!

mommytoClaire
24th March 2012, 05:04 AM
Well, I certainly am not one of the experienced folks here....so my thoughts probably aren't worth as much. But hated to see your first post left unanswered!

I just wanted to welcome you to the forum, and hope we can hear that you have accomplished finding a good breeder that does test.

Karlin
24th March 2012, 11:59 AM
There would be a very significant difference. :) That's why taking time to find a good breeder, as you are doing, is so important for the breed!

There would be NO chance of episodic falling or the horrific and painful dry eye/curly coy syndrome, as the DNA test would clear both parents. Many breeders pts curly coat puppies but those are the ones who even recognise it which will not be the vast majority of kennel club but non breed club breeders, pet shop breeders, puppy farmers, or backyard breeders.

With SM, there is now a significant amount of evidence looking at both a cohort of 555 scanned cavaliers and also, earlier work following breeders following the protocol and MRIing offspring. The evidence is available as a paper you can read but the basics are that puppies from two dogs with SM stands a 92% chance of having SM whereas offspring from two dogs who are graded A have about a 1 in 4 chance. Puppies from matings where one dog is A and one has a syrinx or is unknown = 77% have SM.

The chances are better of puppies being clear the older the parents were at the time of MRI and if they have parents who were clear at over 5 and/or clear siblings. The biggest factor is whether dogs are clear still at 5-6+.

The odds of a dog getting early onset MVD are greatly increased in matings of dogs that have early onset MVD. The older the parent, with a clear heart still, the better and again, parents are very influential as well (if they are clear still over age 5-6; every clear year is a bonus). Rod probably has better heart info; I will get the links for the SM info.

All breeders need to make balanced choices but I would absolutely NOT compromise on MRIs, cardiologist-tested and clear hearts, good eyes and and the EFS/curly coat DNA test.

The worst afflictions are SM, early onset MVD (well, MVD is horrible whenever it comes unless it remains very mild, which it many times does) and curly coat. EFS can be terrible but more often is mild to moderate.

Karlin
24th March 2012, 12:04 PM
Here are some research stats. From one recent paper:


The prevalence of syringomyelia was investigated in a sample population of 555 Cavalier King Charles spaniels. All dogs, which were declared by their owners to be showing no clinical signs of syringomyelia, underwent MRI to determine the presence or absence of the condition. Data were analysed by logistic regression to determine the effects of sex and age on the prevalence of syringomyelia. Only increased age was found to have a significant effect. The prevalence of syringomyelia was 25 per cent in dogs aged 12 months, increasing to a peak of 70 per cent in dogs aged 72 months or more.

On results from SM breeding protocols:


Vet Rec. 2011 Dec 24-31;169(26):681. Epub 2011 Oct 13.
Effectiveness of breeding guidelines for reducing the prevalence of syringomyelia.
Knowler SP, McFadyen AK, Rusbridge C.
Source
Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital, 41 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19 5AU, UK. neuro.vet@btinternet.com

Abstract
Several toy breed dogs are predisposed to syringomyelia (SM), a spinal cord disorder, characterised by fluid-filled cavitation. SM is a complex trait with a moderately high heritability. Selective breeding against SM is confounded by its complex inheritance, its late onset nature and high prevalence in some breeds. This study investigated the early outcome of existing SM breeding guidelines. Six hundred and forty-three dogs, 550 Cavalier King Charles spaniels (CKCS) and 93 Griffon Bruxellois (GB), were identified as having either one (454 dogs) or both parents (189 dogs) with MRI-determined SM status. Offspring without SM were more common when the parents were both clear of SM (SM-free; CKCS 70 per cent, GB 73 per cent). Conversely, offspring with SM were more likely when both parents had SM (SM-affected; CKCS 92 per cent, GB 100 per cent). A mating of one SM-free parent with an SM-affected parent was risky for SM affectedness with 77 per cent of CKCS and 46 per cent of GB offspring being SM-affected. It is recommended that all breeding dogs from breeds susceptible to SM be MRI screened; that the SM status at five years old is established; and all results submitted to a central database that can be used by dog breeders to better enable mate selection based on estimated breeding values.

http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/resources/b-g-paper.pdf

Mindysmom
24th March 2012, 02:04 PM
Just as anecdotal evidence my Mindy (who was born in 1998) came from stock that was eye and heart tested (I don't think SM was known then). At age 10 she developed dry eye in one eye and at age 11 she developed cancer which is what she died from shortly after her 12th birthday. As far as we know she never had a heart murmur. She never saw a cardiologist but there was nothing that a vet could detect so I would say at worst she had a very low grade murmur. She was perky and went for walks up until not too long before she died. All in all she was healthier than our Golden who had seizures from the time he was about six and kidney disease. Her worst health problem until the cancer was that she had terrible teeth and ended up with nearly half of them extracted. I hope that Max and Rylie are as healthy as Mindy but I also realize that may not be the case.

RodRussell
24th March 2012, 03:42 PM
... Here is my question: Let's say you've searched far and wide and found a breeder who does it all - followed MDV protocol for years...scans all dogs for SM and tries to only mate with other scanned dogs...cleared them for two other conditions via DNA. What are the odds of a puppy from such a breeder living a happy normal life? Would it be dramatically better than a breeder who say just checks heart/eyes/hips (the minimum?). ...

To start, I'm not sure where you learned that "the minimum" was checking for hearts, eyes, and hips. If they are the minimum, then most cavalier breeders (at least in the USA) don't do that minimum.

If you found a USA breeder who has followed the MVD breeding protocol "for years", then the likelihood that your puppy develops MVD by age five years would be greatly reduced. (The goal of the MVD protocol is to eliminate "early-onset" MVD, which means prior to the fifth birthday.)That does not mean that your dog won't develop MVD in its lifetime, but it means that it is far more unlikely that the dog will die of MVD. I consider MVD to be normal for cavaliers, because the vast majority will develop it; it is just a matter of when. My family has had cavaliers for 43 years, and all but one of them had MVD and all but three of them died of it or complications from it.

If that breeder also has followed the SM breeding protocol, then the research statistics indicate the liklihood of producing puppies without SM is better than 50%.

Now, regardless of whether the breeder has tested the parents' eyes, it still is possible that the offspring will have vision problems sometime during their lives. It is far less likely that OFA or PennHIP hip-tested breeding stock will produce offspring with hip dsyplasia.

Finally, cancer is one of the leading killers of cavaliers. We've had two cavaliers die of cancer, and I don't yet know of the breeding stock test for avoiding it in offspring.

MomObvious
24th March 2012, 06:45 PM
Ok here's another way to look at it. This helps me relate but someone with more knowledge please correct me if I'm wrong. Say for whatever reason you and your spouse can't have bio children. Then decide the only way is to use a surrogate say you can carry a baby and just need donated eggs. What are you looking for in donated eggs. Wouldn't you want and need to know say family history of and any medical conditions of this person. Would you really want a woman with both her grandmother and mother having say breast cancer. Or some other known family medical trait. We're just talking health here nevermind other things like height or hair color.

On the other hand when I was preg with my children I did try to do everything I could to ensure I gave birth to a healthy child but there and no guarantees in life. Every birth is a gamble, things can and do go wrong sometimes even with the best medical attention and pervention. Its just part of life.

I firmly believe finding a cavalier breeder is like looking for a surrogate parent for a child. I will do whatever I can place the odds in my favor. Personally I am focusing my search on age 5+ MVD heart clear parents and follows SM breeding protocols. No one has a crystal ball and can see into the future. All living things can and will die. Its a quility of life issue.

Just my imput,
Melissa

Mindysmom
24th March 2012, 09:55 PM
I suspect that cancer is a leading cause of death of many dogs. I am much more aware of environmental hazards than I used to be and try and reduce exposure to chemicals for both the humans and dogs in our house.

I think that finding a breeder that follows health protocols is the best way to maximize the chances of having a healthy pup. There are no guarantees in life though and anyone considering any dog needs to be prepared for the fact that it may have health problems - it's a certainty if it lives long enough just as with us.

A rescue that a co-worker got his dog from asked "How much to you expect a dog to cost you on an annual basis?" on it's adoption application form. I thought that was a very good question because people have to be realistic. Even if you just go to the vet for an annual checkup, vaccines, and neuter once you start to add up the food - the training, etc. it probably works out to a number greater than most would expect. I always say if getting a rescue just because you think you can't afford to get a dog from a good breeder is your sole reason for going that route (and there are many valid reasons for choosing rescue) then you probably can't afford the dog anyway because the initial cost will insignificant over the dog's lifetime.

Sfmom
24th March 2012, 11:10 PM
Thank you for all your responses! You a correct that finding a breeder that does all this really isn't easy, but I think I've gotten a few good leads. Good thing is a lot of breeders know each other, which helps a lot. Sometimes I even admit I wonder if we should look at a different breed with fewer known big health issues, but it is all a gamble I guess. Thank you so much for educating me on the issues and I will keep you posted.

Kate H
25th March 2012, 02:19 AM
I am interested that Rod wrote: cancer is one of the leading killers of cavaliers. We've had two cavaliers die of cancer,

If that was two in the 43 years his family have owned Cavaliers, that doesn't seem very frequent. In my experience of knowing quite a lot of Cavaliers over the past 30 years, cancer seems no more prevalent in Cavaliers than in other breeds and considerably less common than in several breeds (or could this be a US/UK diffference for some reason?). It really is the No. 1 killer in, for example, Flatcoat Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs, and at relatively early ages - sort of the equivalent for those breeds of MVD in Cavaliers. It would also be interesting to know whether the two Rod lost to cancer were related. There is definitely a hereditary element to some cancers in humans - is it the same for dogs? So that related dogs would show a susceptibiity to particular cancers?


Kate, Oliver and Aled

RodRussell
25th March 2012, 04:20 PM
I am interested that Rod wrote: cancer is one of the leading killers of cavaliers. We've had two cavaliers die of cancer,

If that was two in the 43 years his family have owned Cavaliers, that doesn't seem very frequent. In my experience of knowing quite a lot of Cavaliers over the past 30 years, cancer seems no more prevalent in Cavaliers than in other breeds and considerably less common than in several breeds (or could this be a US/UK diffference for some reason?). It really is the No. 1 killer in, for example, Flatcoat Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs, and at relatively early ages - sort of the equivalent for those breeds of MVD in Cavaliers. It would also be interesting to know whether the two Rod lost to cancer were related. There is definitely a hereditary element to some cancers in humans - is it the same for dogs? So that related dogs would show a susceptibiity to particular cancers?

When I wrote about cancer being a leading killer of cavaliers, I was not suggesting that it was more of a cavalier problem than in other breeds. I was summarizing a survey taken about ten years ago. Cancer is a major cause of death in many breeds. I mentioned our two cavaliers which died of cancer as examples, not as evidence. Our two were not closely related. They came from different bloodlines and lived three decades apart.

I think that in some other breeds, such as the flatcoat, certain forms of cancer are serious genetic disorders.

Mindysmom
26th March 2012, 12:31 PM
I think cancer is a leading cause of death for animals and people. We will all die of something. My vet and I both believe my golden died of cancer as well even though it hadn't been diagnosed. He had gone off his food but all of his tests came back normal. One day he just lay down and didn't get up again. With my two current dogs I am doing as much as I can to reduce exposure to chemicals (as well as for the humans in the house)