22nd April 2013, 11:18 PM
My wife and I are expecting our first Cavalier to join us in May, but she's experiencing some trepidation about it now, as am I to be honest. We've spent months preparing for a dog, right down to already having harnesses, beds, crates, brushes etc waiting, and taking numerous personality tests and taking part in an assessment with an animal behaviour therapist. The Cavalier, it seems, is the dog for us. Having researched more on the breed we were enamored by its wonderful temperament, especially reading so many owners talking about their dogs habits and charming personalities (a favourite of ours was stories about them loving to dive under the blankets on the bed!). But, as with all research, the more we did the more we found, and in the case of the Cavalier what we found were health problems. We were and are willing to take care of animals when they get sick, but with the Cavalier it almost seems like we're guaranteeing this for ourselves, rather than it being a potential risk as it is with most dogs. As part of our investigating my wife finally managed to make herself watch the "Pedigree Dogs Expose" documentary (she'd previously felt it would be too much for her) as we understood it showed some info on SM. Whilst I'm fairly sure it was overstated in some areas (TV+passionate cause combined making good opportunities for that), what we saw was very distressing and we're uncertain about proceeding with bringing a Cavalier into our lives. The idea that some (I may be wrong here?) 75% of the breed will suffer pain related to CM/SM? That 75% can't be made up exclusively of puppy farm dogs so how can we know whether or not our dog stands a really good chance at being ok? The breeder we're working with has said we can see the MRI scans of the mother/father/grandparents before we put down a deposit, as well as cardiologist reports. The father, mother and grandparents have all been CM/SM low grade so far but the mother is also only two so it could still show up.
It might seem silly but we've whipped ourselves into, if not a frenzy, at least a muddle. With good hearts and spines in the predecessors does anyone know what sort of... odds (horrible way of putting it) our guy might have? Or is it seemingly more random than that?
We really do love the breed and deciding against going through with bringing him home would feel awful, but, we suspect, not as awful as watching him fit or struggle to breathe in a few years time. Of course any dog can get sick but as I said before, reducing the chance of the dog getting sick is very important surely?
So... does anyone have any thoughts or advice to help us decide? Would having this wonderful little dog in our lives be worth the potential heartache should something go wrong? Is there any other breed that even comes close to this legendarily wonderful temperament?