View Full Version : Cavalier hereditary diseases

23rd March 2015, 10:05 PM
According to an article recently posted in the Durham Times (UK), Cavaliers are subject to two common hereditary ailments:

"The most common hereditary conditions are heart disease and Chiari Malformation or Syringomyelia, known as CM/SM, which is caused when the dog’s skull is too small for its brain and leads to fluid-filled cavities that destroy the spinal cord. Durham resident Marie Carter recently discovered that her seven-year-old Cavalier, Sophie, has a heart murmur and has added her voice to the thousands calling on the Kennel Club to act.

She said: 'Eighty per cent of Cavaliers have some form of MV (mitral valve) disease before they are eight-years-old which is obviously extremely high compared to ten per cent of all dogs suffering from heart disease.'"

The complete article can be read here:

http://www.durhamtimes.co.uk/news/11862099.Petition_calls_for_Kennel_Club_action_ove r_hereditary_disease_in_spaniels/

Has anyone here had any experience with these Cavalier ailments?

Roy and Jean
(and Fred and Ginger)

Kate H
23rd March 2015, 10:37 PM
Hi Roy and Jean

Yes, you will find that many of the Cavaliers belonging to people on this forum suffer from one or both of these diseases. Mitral Valve Disease is probably the number one killer of Cavaliers; CM/SM (Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia) is becoming increasingly common but can often be well controlled by medication. Both diseases are hereditary, though the exact genetic patterns have not yet been identified and there is no DNA test. Both my Cavaliers had both diseases: Aled died of MVD in February aged 7 years and 7 months; he also had mild CM/SM. Oliver was also put to sleep in February aged 13; he had a grade 4 heart murmur (the first indication of MVD is a murmur) but never had any symptoms or needed medication for it. His CM/SM was more serious than Aled's but was generally well controlled by medication. In the last year of his life he had suffered from progressive paralysis of his back legs.

You can find out more about both diseases at www.cavalierhealth.org This forum is a great place for sharing information about and experience of these two diseases and giving support to those who are caring for dogs with them. Sadly, Cavaliers are not a healthy breed, but loving and much loved.


23rd March 2015, 11:18 PM
Unfortunately, as Kate notes, they are both common. Pretty much 99%+ of cavaliers will have MVD by age 10, and half have a murmur by age 5. It is the most common cause of death at any age for the breed. Cavaliers also have high rates of affectedness for syringomyelia, with about 70% having a syrinx by age 7+, but fortunately not all dogs are symptomatic (no one knows why; researchers do not fully understand this condition in dogs or humans). I have had 8 cavaliers, all have, or had, MVD; two that have passed on both died of MVD and would otherwise surely have lived several more years. Five out of the seven have or had syringomyelia. Of those, three took medications, one for 9 costly years. :(

Campaigning for a better future for this breed, through raising awareness and supporting research, has always been one of the principles of the forum and members collectively have raised tens of thousands of pounds now for research projects. :)