There will always be extremes in type in every decade, but I certainly would agree that in general the appearance of cavaliers have changed over the years.
Most of the cavaliers seen in the show ring now would have looked exaggerated and overdone, and yes, too short legged for the judges in the 1970s & 80s.
A look at the earlier Cavalier Club Yearbooks, or even the book of CKCS Champions ( you can buy the 1928-1999 edition for £5, & the 2000-2004 for £2.50, from the pay-on-line section of the Cavalier club website ) will show that, in general, cavalier show stock did have longer legs and longer muzzles. The eyes were also smaller & the coat less profuse.
Most of them were not as glamorous as the show cavaliers nowadays.
In the 1970s I can remember that it could be difficult to breed a dog that had a muzzle as short as 1.5 ins. Now I think it would be difficult to find a show bred dog that had a muzzle that reached one inch.
Size has actually been something that breeders have struggled with for years. Reading the advertisements in the early yearbooks it would seem that there were 14-16 lb males being offered at stud, but in the 80s & 90s the males that were able to be shown in the under 18lb class at the Club Championship show were relatively few.
I do get the impression that show cavaliers have been bred smaller in the last decade but I do not think that a small cavalier is any more likely to have SM than a large one. I could see that the process of breeding to get dogs reduced in size may have had some part to play in the spread of SM.
It seems there are objections on the CavalierChat forum, to a comparison being made between the appearance of a (rather beautiful ) modern champion and winning cavaliers thirty to forty years ago.
Predictably this has caused the usual breeders to ask the usual questions about my Ch. Mareve Indiana.
The answers to those questions are that he was indeed a beautiful but big cavalier, with a perfect length of leg for his size, and a really good straight top line. I am rather technically challenged but I will try and put up a picture of him in profile.
Unfortunately Monty did have syringomyelia, as did some of his shorter nosed, shorter legged, offspring.
I thought we had established that you cannot tell if a cavalier has SM by looking at it, so I'm not sure why the nasties are dragging all this up again?
Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi