Firstly-from what I understand many breeders are barely breaking even out there (regardless of why others here feel they are breeding cavaliers). I know many who are carefully thinking about giving up on breeding Cavaliers because of their very serious health issues(I know of at least one personally who has been breeding cavs for a long-long time-- she is also an AKC judge and it did break her heart when she found that two of her dogs had been affected by SM. She had taken them back and they have remained at her kennel until one of them recently passed on. (She has taken back two that I am aware of) Is this the answer to have our more experiencd breeders leave the breeding circuit?
Secondly--it could be quite intimidating to a breeder, I suppose, who has an established line of dogs which may have a high propensity for SM/CM/MVD as indeed others have said here and it will take them time, perhaps years to try and breed out the health issues they may not even know trully exists as the breed clubs in the states have not even been advocating for scanning as yet and perhaps many have been trying to deny that CM/SM is trully in their lines to begin with. You cannot fault people who have spent years of time, dedication, and money trying to do what they felt was the right thing at the get-go-only to find out years down the line their dogs may have a higher propensity for severe health problems.
No one could have predicted this-maybe I'm wrong.
Thirdly-there are indeed several breeders that I have met that are outcrossing within the breed--ie from lines that have never been incorporated into that breeder's dogs in the past in hopes this will lead to a decrease in incidence/severity or both within their lines even though they DO realise they will not get the same conformation-bred dogs as they had in the past- at least not as quickly anyway.-and many are doing this because of their LOVE and CONCERN for the preservation of the cavalier.(And this again will prove to be quite costly as it might be as difficult for some as it was starting out in the beginning of their breeding careers.)
Fourthly-I am wondering if an intermediate can be considered-ie that health info is only made public to other breeders within the breed club looking to breed with unaffected/less severely affected dogs? At least this could be a starting point.
This at least would give those breeding our beautiful dogs an advantage that they do not currently possess-ie knowing what dogs are trully healthy as shown in verified health records to aid in an informed decision of who to breed with.
Perhaps this would be less intimidating at first for some breeders and will give them time to incorporate different unaffected/less severely affected lines into their already established lines. Although this seems as though it will take a long-long time even if it trully can be done.) It is the breeders who do propel the majority of our available pups after all. Perhaps it would be less intimidating if only other breeders could view this info.(I am not advocating for hiding any info here it's just that I feel those breeders who truly do have cvalier health at their uppermost level of importance will not knowingly select dogs any longer based on conformation only--naive? Quite possibly. But I do feel that there are many breeders out there who are begining to gain insight into what is trully important when selecting other dogs to breed with. And although again it may seem naive of me I feel that breeders are not being giving much credit here and all are being frowned upon as being money grabbers.(I have not found this to be the case with most breeders I have met at shows)
Fifthly--I agree that all breeders should begin scanning their dogs immediately but as others have said-yes at present it is very, very expensive. I am attending a show in August and do intend to begin a petition of interested club members who might be interested in scanning all/or some of their dogs. After I survey those who are interested I will the attempt to contact several neurologists experienced with CM/SM to see if they would consider providing scans on a reduced-rate for those breeders. The answer right now seems to be WE NEED MORE INFORMATION, TESTING, AND RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, if we are to save the cavalier as we know it now. And yes there does need to be more involvement and we do need to pick up the pace.
Sixtly--I for one do find it very distasteful to consider a total outcross with another breed-as this negates the trueness of a cavalier king charles spaniel. At least at this time and I feel that the present breeders of cavaliers will find this pill harder to swallow then trying to preserve the breed through breeding protocols (Of course it is a buyer's decision to purchase a cross breed if they so desire but I still feel the research does not, as yet, support the fact that this will illiminate the health issues.) The only way it would seem logical to me to reduce the incidence of SM is to breed a dog that has a larger head-not so much breed out a flat back as the dog- will still have a brain/skull mismatch if the skull itself is not larger. And this would not BE A CAVALIER would it? Don't get me wrong as I do want, just as we all do, for the cavalier to have less health issues than they presently have. And yes, knowing what I now do, I believe my Bandit was affected but I was too ignorant at the time to realise this and my vet was uneducated with SM as well. Change is often slow in coming sometimes, I do agree.
My aim is not to make any enemies here but only to learn.
I appreciate the thought you have given to these issues, Karen. Please don't take my comments personally. I, too, have given a lot of thought to these issues, and what I write are just my opinions, worth no more than anyone else's.
I long have believed that there are too many breeders of cavaliers in the US. When the AKC recognized the cavalier as a breed in 1995-1996, my greatest concern for the breed was that the resulting publicity would prompt a whole bunch of AKC breeders -- perhaps knowledgeable about purebred breeding but ignorant as a stump about the special genetic health conditions of cavaliers -- would start breeding them, for any of a variety of reasons, but certainly none that included wanting to breed early-onset MVD out of the breed. My concerns were accurate. There are way too many cavalier breeders in the US, and most all of them are AKC-only breeders, meaning that they have not joined and do not compete in the CKCSC,USA.
Is this not why the original club voted not to be a part of the AKC? Seems to me they did attempt to shelter the breed, so to speak, from being overbred/indisciminately bred but the demand for our beautiful dogs has been very high. Where would you have these interested cavalier enthusiasts go? BYB, puppy mills? You are making it sound as though breeders are purposefully trying to breed unhealthy dogs and are no better then the aforementioned two.
If these breeders have been doing nothinging but line breeding, they ought to leave now!
Give me a break. You know I did not mean that in the literal sense as you have taken this out of context. I meant that breeders are seeking out other breeders whom they may not have chosen in the past as suitors to incorporate in their own lines at that time. For whatever reasons. I feel, at least from what I am seeing and hearing many experienced breeders are trying to mix up their gene pools now as they are finally seeing what desperate straights we are really in. Perhaps this has been too long in the coming but again change does take time. And I'm certain that if I had have been breeding for years and years as some of them have been doing I may have not have been able to see that my contributions to the breed where not as wonderful as what I had first thought. I believe many breeders have not followed breeding protocols because they felt that there was not enough research to back up a hypothesis.
Which breeding protocols, of course, the vast majority of them find totally distasteful -- so distasteful, in fact, that the two national breed clubs in the US refuse to endorse either the MVD breeding protocol or the SM breeding protocol.
If these breeders had not taken to this wonderful breed in the first place we wouldn't even be having this discussion now would we because there wouldn't have been any cavaliers to have this debate over--would there? And many cavalier owners would never have known the true joy of owning one of these sweet little dogs.
In this breed, it has been shown that if you breed for a larger skull, the cerebellum will manage to keep up the same pace.[/QUOTE]
Could you please point me in the direction to a research study to disprove this as it seems to me this would tend to make sense. Why is it so, if it is, that the cerebellum still keeps pace? I had not heard of this but I am very new I do admit.
I am not all one-sided here though it may sound that way I am just feeling that people who have been dedicated cavalier enthusiasts/breeders for such a long time DO deserve credit for attempting to breed, what I'll bet they felt at the time, was the best representatives of the breed.
And I am in total agreement that present and future cavalier breeders DO need to take a more proactive role now lest we lose our breed completely. Regardless of what the clubs have and have not adopted I do know of some breeders who are indeed trying to do the right thing by attempting to breed healthier dogs. Do not lump ALMOST ALL breeders into a selfish pack of money mongers as there is not much money to be had in breeding without a master plan, especially in Cavaliers right now.
If there is something else you would like to direct at me personally for feeling as strongly as I do, please do not hesitate to pm. I do not mind the spar-just prefer it in my own space please.
Its a good thing my phone freezes because I've been trying to bite my tongue. Promised myself I would not comment but what was laura langs research published by dr. Rusbridge on skull x-rays to determine CM.
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Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella
In this breed, it has been shown that if you breed for a larger skull, the cerebellum will manage to keep up the same pace.[/QUOTE] (Rod Russell)
Could you please point me in the direction to a research study to disprove this as it seems to me this would tend to make sense. Why is it so, if it is, that the cerebellum still keeps pace? I had not heard of this but I am very new I do admit. (Karen)
There is research (Foetal tissue research I think, but I might be wrong?) that shows that the problem with cavaliers is that in early development the communication pathways between the bone growth in the skull, and the brain growth, do not fully communicate, and when the skull stops growing, the brain continues to grow a bit more. (others may be able to explain this better)
So if this is the problem, it stands to reason that however big you try to breed a cavalier's head, the messages between skull growth and brain growth will be out of kilter.
Regarding outcrossing, I favour this approach (along with all the others currently being worked on by scientists) A multi pronged approach is what is needed when a breed's health is so compromised.
An outcross would need to be conducted on a sufficient scale to help to widen the breed's gene pool. It would have to be done by qualified geneticists to ensure that no other deleterious genes are brought in to the Cavalier breed. The choice of breed to outcross to would be very important because we need to retain the character and temperament of the Cavalier.
Most importantly an outcross is needed to alleviate the suffering of these dogs. In theory, you could probably breed away from SM and MVD over generations if everybody followed the protocols. But the price to pay for that is too high - as there will still be generations of dogs suffering from SM and early onset MVD. Too many dogs would be condemned to a life of pain and this is unacceptable on animal welfare gounds. No breed purity can be justified just because we like the look of that dog.
I for one would be very happy to have a first generation cross between a Cavalier and another breed (properly and scientifically done, of course)
To clarify the brain/skull growth issue without getting involved in an argument about breeders in the US, about which I know very little except what I've gleaned from this forum: Rod is right when he mentions the work of the foetal tissue project in the UK. This research is being done at the Royal Veterinary College and is based on the foetuses of Cavaliers who have died before birth and the bodies of puppies who died very soon after birth. Based on this research, their hypothesis is that communication breaks down between the skull and the brain. The skull grows to its proper size - though almost all the Cavaliers in the study had Chiari Malformation even at that early stage, so the skull itself isn't developing as it should; it then stops growing and the brain is told to stop as well - but for some reason the brain ignores this message and continues to grow.
There is a report on the foetal tissue research on the UK Cavalier Club website (www.thecavalierclub.co.uk)
Kate, Oliver and Aled
Holly, Oliver, Rosalita, and Scarlett