View Full Version : Questions about Cavalier Mixed Breeds

24th September 2014, 12:59 AM
Iím looking to get a dog soon, and after researching I think a Cavalier would be a good fit for me. However, I want to rescue or re-home a young adult dog, not get a puppy, and like other breeds as well as Cavaliers, so am not set on getting a pure bred dog. I know there are Cavalier-specific rescues, but of those near me (1) wonít consider me because I donít have a yard, or (2) have only older dogs (8+) or dogs already diagnosed with serious health issues, which Iíd like to avoid (Iím inexperienced, and fairly active).

A more general local rescue though has some young Cavalier mixes available for adoption, that Iím considering and meeting this week. In general, does anyone have experience with Cavalier mixes or non-purebreds? I know it depends a lot on what else theyíre mixed with, and the history, but Iíd just like to hear others thoughts/experiences. FYI some are cav/pom/? pulled from a high-kill shelter originally but have now been in boarding/foster for 4 months now. Another is Cav/border collie and was owner surrender, nervous but not likely abused or neglected.

I found and read through a few older threads on here that were generally quite leery of cross-breeds, but they seems more aimed at intentional for-profit operations making Ďdesigner dogs,í which I think is a little different from my case.

24th September 2014, 01:14 PM
I think the most important decision in getting any dog is to look at the time commitment (years and years) as well as financial commitment (vet bills, food, bedding, grooming, etc....). There is no guarantee on any dogs long term health -- pure bred or otherwise. Many pure bred cavs do have health issues, so if you do decide to go that route, i would advise do a lot of research on the breeder.

I'd also note that Cavaliers need alot of human interaction. They can't be left alone for hours on end, like some other breeds.

Getting a rescue dog or mixed breed is great. Just bear in mind that the rescue may not have much info on the dog's background, so go into it with extra patience. I have had pedigree dogs as well as mixed breeds. As long as you love them, and provide proper care, you will have a friend for life.

Good luck in your search.


24th September 2014, 04:03 PM
You are right that posts here about mixed breeds are definitely more to highlight the risks in getting deliberate crossbreeds from breeders arguing they supposedly offering a greater guarantee against breed health problems. Just not the case, for several reasons. First off, the cross can be prone to the breed issues of either breed and in some cases will share the exact same genetic health issues. The larger problem is that a pedigree dog from a health-focused breeder is defintely going to be a better option than a 'designer cross' because the breeding animals will be of far greater quality to start with and will also have been health tested. No health-focused pedigree breeder that health tests would sell their dogs to designer-cross breeders and the vast majority of designer breeders are only in it for the money and won;t properly health test their breeding dogs or follow breeding protocols. And they have no standard to which they breed, either, with no way for anyone to track the history of their lines. Basically, people are duped into spending a lot of money for cute puppies from dishonest and at best, poorly informed breeders.

The case of rescues of such designer crosses is another matter, of course! As is the case of mixed breeds more generally. There's some evidence that crosses to another breed without the same health issues can help to over time, improve a breed, and that first generation crosses tend to be healthier from such mixes. But by contrast the 'designer' crosses in every case I can think of involve breeds that all have similar health and conformation issues and would not be what anyone who understands genetics would use as a deliberate outcross to improve a breed's genetics.

All that said: I think Joan's advice above is really the key thing. Mixes can have all sorts of personalities as can purebreeds. My cavaliers are all totally different. There is a general breed characteristic which you can read in the clubs' formal breed standards. A mix with another breed can create a dog with the basic breed personality of either breed or a mix of the two. There really isn't any standard result of a given mix.

Cavalier crosses can develop either of the two most serious and very widespread breed genetic problems: heart disease or syringomyelia. Cavaliers crossed with any smaller breed will all be at risk of luxating patella for example, and hips are an issue in cavaliers and many small breeds. But really good health is not a guarantee with any dog no matter the mix or breed or how good the breeder (though health focused breeders raise the bar considerably). If you want a dog, you need to be able to commit to potential health issues over its lifetime, increasing as the dog ages. If one's lifestyle doesn't suit that level of time commitment or means a dog will be left alone much of the time, I always advise waiting a few years til things are more settled and in the meantime, perhaps help out at a shelter and foster dogs. Fostering can also give a newcomer to dogs a sense of whether a dog is the right choice for them. Many people do not think through the level of time commitment and responsibility that will last for over a decade. :thmbsup:

You're asking the right questions and considering the right things!

PS Personally it annoys me when rescues make having a garden/yard a requirement for dog ownership. Some of the best homes I've homed to are those without a garden, not least as this requires a dog be walked several times a day, giving it plenty of exercise and socialisation. Some of the most bored and neglected rescues I have taken in are from people who dump their dog all day in the darn garden, leaving them with lots of issues.

Kate H
25th September 2014, 12:02 PM
I can't add anything to what has already been said, except that - knowing both breeds - I would be wary of a cavalier/border collie cross, since epilepsy is quite common in both breeds (and definitely hereditary in the collies) - so you would be doubling up on it in the offspring from such a cross. It's that sort of thing you need to be cautious about in crossbreeds and do research on health problems in BOTH breeds. Which means, given that Cavaliers can suffer from heart disease, SM, luxating patellas, epilepsy, myoclonus, dry eye, deafness, pancreatitis, and a few other things, many of which seem to have a hereditary, genetic component, you need to find a breed that it is crossed with that doesn't commonly have any of these diseases, otherwise the likelihood of the offspring getting them simply increases. This is the basic problem with the popular crossbreeds - both labradors and poodles can have hip problems, so don't be surprised if your labradoodle puppy gets arthritis (and a labrador rather than a poodle coat); cross a cocker spaniel with a poodle, and if both parents happen to be the lunatics that both breeds can be (though fun on their own), don't be surprised if your cockerpoo puppy turns out totally insane!

But as Karlin said, top marks for asking the right questions - too many people don't, they just buy the first cute dog they see.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

25th September 2014, 08:09 PM
Thanks so much for everyone's thoughts!

I totally understand that there are no guarantees for long-term health--age-related changes are always expected and a dog that passes every health test with gold stars could still come down with something disastrous a couple months later. But, I do have an active life and would like to include my dog to be able to participate as fully as he can in it. Ie, outdoor activities, running around town, camping, visiting people... Once I have my new family member, I plan to do what I can to include him no matter what happens. If that means carrying him everywhere in a backpack, so be it, but I'm not looking for a dog to carry in a backpack, and I'm hoping it doesn't happen too soon. Those who do adopt special needs or high risk dogs are complete angels, and I totally admire them, but that's not where I'm at right now.

I'm also starting to think that doing breed-specific research in my case may be a bit like running in circles :confused:. I have only an appearance-based guesstimate on the breeds, and they likely had mixed breed parents to start with, and so forth. Maybe that border collie/Cav is actually some sort of cocker/lab/terrier/guinea pig/kitchen sink, that happens to look most like what that particular rescue thinks a border collie/Cav would end up looking like, if you know what I mean haha!
That said, do you think it would be a good idea to get a suspected Cavalier cross checked out for MVD and SM? Or is that just paranoid?

25th September 2014, 09:37 PM
Just my two cents....I think rescuing a cross is an excellent idea and to be knowledgeable about what issues that may arise in those breeds is smart. But as you and others have said there is no guarantee. I would go with your gut and visit those particular puppies you are considering and see which temperaments and personalities best match to you and your family's lifestyle.

I rescued what we thought was a Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix and had a DNA test done on her and, lo and behold, she is mostly Shar pei with some Golden Retriever and some Doberman and a bunch of other stuff thrown into the mix and not a smidgen of Border Collie! She is an excellent dog and a wonderful big sister to our cav! cl*p

29th September 2014, 03:36 PM
Before getting our Cavalier rescue a couple of years ago, we had a "designer mix," I guess, a Schnoodle. We got him as a puppie, and had him for 17 wonderful years. Our Cavalier started showing signs of SM shortly before he adopted us at four years. His foster mother discovered it. This merely means three Gabapentin a day at a cost of less than $10/month with a 90 day script. He is worth every dollar.