15th September 2010, 03:51 PM
Interested in getting a Cavalier puppy!
Hi everyone, I'm Kaitlyn and I'm new here, but will hopefully be around for awhile, and posting pictures of my Cavalier in the future! I just have a few questions about purchasing a puppy. I know talk of specific breeders isn't allowed, so I hope I'm not breaking any rules by asking if this breeder (though not naming by name!) is a good breeder or not. We have a family friend who got a dog through them and raves about them, how sweet and caring they are for the puppies, how much they put into them and love them, and how great they were to get a dog from. However, these friends didn't get a Cavalier from them, they got a Cockalier, a Cocker Spaniel mix. Now I've read mixed things, like stay far, FAR away from breeders who mix the breeds, but I've also heard that in the case of these particular dogs, they're trying to mix the two similar Spaniels to make a healthier dog. In any case, the dog in question IS completely healthy and all the testimonials have raved about the breeders and how healthy their dogs (both Cavaliers and Cockaliers) are. I've also read the signs for a good breeder, and I was just wondering how you can really tell, honestly. I know of a good breeder in our area, but she charges too much for us to afford, and she did tell us, "You get what you pay for" in terms of health, but $2,000 is just too much for my family! So if anyone has any help, that would be great! Also, if this kind of talk isn't allowed, PLEASE let me know and I'll delete the thread!
15th September 2010, 06:57 PM
Hi and welcome, and I hope we can all give you some ideas and direction for getting your first cavalier!
The best basic advice is: I would read through all the links that I have posted in the column on the right of the board in the area that says 'looking for a puppy' (second blue box from the top on the right of the homepage). I think these will answer your questions, mainly because I think you will find that the breeder you are talking about will be missing the single most important element–they will not be able to show you a single significant or meaningful test done on any of their breeding dogs before they bred them. For cavaliers, they should all be heart murmur free as certified by a cardiologist, and all four parents of the breeding pair should also be at least five years old and certified murmur free again by a cardiologist (not a vet!) at a minimum of age 5. Because of the now significant risk of syringomyelia in this breed, I would consider an MRI scan also to be a necessity on each parent. I am so sure that the breeder you are talking about has not done most if any of these tests that I would wager the price of a puppy on it!
But quite seriously, I have a feeling I know who this breeder is and would not recommend anyone making claims about crosses being healthier–not least because they are basing their ideas on breeding on some false assumptions and I would argue, deceptions about what actually is needed to make a healthier cavalier or even cavalier cross. One reason is that no reputable health testing breeder of any breed would sell dogs of their own breeding to someone they know would go on to breed their dogs themselves–they are generally only sold under strict spay and neuter contracts. So what you are getting are puppies from two parent dogs that won't be properly health tested–forget what the breeder says, what you want to see are their actual formal certificates of health clearances and I can guarantee you there won't be a single person doing this type of breeding who will have done MRIs, as they cost over $1000 generally in the US.
The second issue is related to what I said previously–that unless these people are doing breed appropriate tests with the right specialists on dogs that themselves come from lines where the health background is known (all of the major health issues in cavaliers are genetic and some of them, like MVD and SM, only appear over time so just testing the parents and having no idea of the overall health history of the line, and health test results of related dogs going further back, means there's still a lot of risk. Knowing parents' and grandparents' health makes a big difference). Lots of genetic issues are not immediately apparent especially in dogs used for breeding, which are younger dogs. And a vet definitely will not pick up 90% of these issues in a puppy. That is why a so-called vet health clearances actually mean little except that the puppy has no obvious surface issues at that moment in time.
I am afraid that puppies from health focused breeders do cost up around the amount you're talking about–it is because they put the time and effort and cost into the proper testing for this breed which has relatively small litters. as many people here will confirm, opting for the lower-cost puppy often means opting for a lifetime of massive vet bills. it is much better to pay a relatively small premium upfront at the time you buy your dog than to start paying hundreds and hundreds on up to thousands of dollars in vet bills after. Consider that a knee surgery would run between $500-$1000. Testing properly for heart problems quickly runs into hundreds of dollars as well. With SM, you are looking at $1000-$2000 just for a diagnostic MRI, and then if needed, several thousand for a surgery or alternatively, for medications to deal with the discomfort over the life of the dog. It just makes sound financial sense to work with a dedicated breeder -- and to save your money and get a puppy when this is possible if it is too costly for you right now.
On the other hand, there are many other ways of acquiring a cavalier . First off, there are rescue dogs–either from national or local breed rescues, from Lucky Star rescue, or on Petfinder. If you are going to go the route of taking a dog of uncertain breeding anyway (and looking after your dogs well and giving them lots of love is not enough to make for a reputable and health focused breeding practice) then please don't give money to breeders who are continuing to support the decline of this breed through their indifferent breeding practice–opt for a rescue dog! Another option is to work with a reputable breeder who may be retiring dogs from their breeding or show program–sometimes these may be older puppies that just are not shaping up as show dogs, or sometimes they may be retired breeding dogs. My oldest cavalier, Lucy came to my family at close to age 7 as a retired breeding girl. She is now 11 and remains the most wonderful and rewarding dog! Her, we were only asked to cover the costs for her spay and her transport.
If you wish, I can PM you the contacts of a couple of breeders that either may have puppies, or should be able to direct you to a reputable health focused breeder. If you are opting for a puppy, I would not consider any other option than working with a breeder who was actually health testing properly AND can show you the proof.
In memory: Lucy
15th September 2010, 07:29 PM
Wow, thank you SO much for such detailed information! I read most of those things last night, and did read about being sure to be shown the proper testing papers, but not every website explicitly lists what tests are done, even though I know they should. There's a local breeder that my mom and I have been in touch with, and she was very knowledgeable and told my mom of all the different Cavalier health problems and such, which I was already aware of! But even her website doesn't explicitly list all the tests, which frustrates me -- how am I to know if it's a good breeder if they don't provide the information there? Of course I could call and ask them personally, but then who's to say they're telling the truth? There are only about 3 breeders within a reasonable driving distance that I know of, and I don't want to make a huge long trek somewhere only to learn the dogs aren't healthy!
Do you really? In which state is the breeder you're thinking of located? I live in Syracuse, NY and I know there is a breeder that breeds Cockaliers at least somewhere near here -- the friend I mentioned actually owns two, but the first one they got was from this local place that sounds horrible to me, they gave the puppy to them when it was five weeks old and were apparently very strange, which is why they went out of state to get their second one.
Trust me, I would much rather pay $2,000 up front for a healthy dog than have to go to the vet constantly, but I won't be the one fully purchasing this dog. I'm paying for a chunk of it, but my parents are paying for the majority and they just refuse to spend that much on a dog. Especially my dad -- he freaked out the first time we mentioned it might cost more than $500!! Do you have pet insurance for your dog? If so, is it worth it? I've read about Embrace pet insurance and from what I've read, it sounds very good, but please correct me if I'm wrong! I read that it was around $30 a month, and if it covers the genetic health issues Cavaliers might have, I think it would be worth it!
I actually started my search for a Cavalier on Petfinder, but every dog that would fit our family situation was either too far away or snapped up before I could convince my mom to agree on letting me get it! We have a bit of an unusual family situation -- my brother is handicapped and therefore has home nurses, teachers, therapists, etc. in and out all day long, and a lot of the Petfinder dogs are shy with strangers or nervous types. Which I appreciate them listing before someone buys them! But we already have a nervous dog (he's a nine year old American Eskimo/Australian Shepherd mix that we rescued from a local shelter) and I want to be sure that my puppy is not like that, that it will be a dog who doesn't mind people and won't shy away from them. That's why I was hoping to get a puppy, to teach it that before it had already learned bad habits! Our poor dog was abused before we got him, so it makes sense that he's nervous, but it's unfortunate that the nurses who are here every single day and have been for the past 10 years can't even get near him without him growling or barking!
I would love SO MUCH if you could PM me some breeders! As I said, I live in NY, but don't mind traveling to nearby states like PA, OH, CT, MA, or VT. I'm also about 5 hours outside of NYC, but if there's a good breeder there with puppies, it wouldn't be too far of a trip! I do know of a breeder nearby -- about an hour away -- that has puppies right now, but they're again $2,000. Why can't we all be rich! But thank you so much for the help!
16th September 2010, 06:46 PM
Will send you a PM with the names of two breeders to contact and you can go from there.
Breeders often will not list test or results on their websites, though some do. It is something to ask them by phone or email: do they MRI scan, what were the results, how are they using that information in their breeding programme; same with cardio certs (Cavalierhealth.org has a whole list of specific questions ). Many breeders will list dogs' results for hearts and patellas with OFA but this also isn't a foolproof sign of a decent breeder (I know some crap ones who list heart results on OFA). A health testing breeder will be happy to talk about results, send copies of scans, talk through their breeding choices -- believe me, most would welcome having more people ask informed questions and show the care they put into breeding for health matters to puppy buyers. And
I would not be opposed full stop to thoughtful breeding of crosses -- for example in the case of labradoodles many breeders are meticulous on lowering the COI (how genetically diverse their dogs are), breeding dogs of excellent known and tested health background, and aiming for a consistency that means this mix will likely be recognised by the main kennel clubs before too long. But there are plenty of horrible labradoodle breeders too (probably most of them) who just cross any old dogs, or dogs that are on surface healthy. With genetic health issues, getting a vet's health clearance really means nothing -- breeders need to bring a strong understanding of genetics and of their specific breed to bear as well as using proper tests by the specialist required. No reputable breeder I have ever heard about breeds both crosses and purebred cavaliers. I am aware of someone who is breeding in the midwest making totally false claims about how their crosses are healthier because they are altering head shape to do this and that about SM -- a prime example of how people use genuine worry to make a profit for themselves by throwing up all sorts of nonsense to defend breeding mixes that you can get for almost nothing at the local pound. Pound dogs and mixes are absolutely wonderful dogs -- but paying a premium for a 'designer crossbreed' is pure idiocy, IMHO.
In memory: Lucy