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Cavalier & Health Problems

As with all pure bred dogs, Cavaliers are not without their health concerns. The Cavalier breed is predisposed for a few health problems, and before adopting a Cavalier puppy, you should know about the most important problems which occur in our breed.

The health problems in Cavaliers appear in all breeding lines and in all kennels. Any breeder saying they do not have any problem in their bloodline are either not telling the truth, or is uneducated about the disease.

Because we know about the health problems in the Cavalier breed, we are testing all our dogs for the different disseases, trying to do our best to get healthy, longliving puppies.

We are breeding in the German Toy Association e.V. (Verband Deutscher Kleinhundezüchter e.V.) and its health regulations.


ALL our dogs are tested regularly by ultrasound / and / or auscultation for the mitral valve disease (MVD) (heart insuffiency) - which is in my eyes the most important point in Cavaliers. The mitral valve disease can show up later in life and there is no test to predict if or when a dog will encounter onset. This illness is thought to be a complex poly-genetic combination of genes. All Cavalier are carriers of this condition, irregardless of the blood line. Pedigree knowledge and regularly testing seems to be the only way to manage this disease.
We are testing our dogs since more than 15 years. Choosing old and healthy dogs for each litter or knowing that the grandparents are on both partners living at a high age. The Cavalier should live till a high age with a clear heart. Breeders try to get the heart disease, below an age of 7 or 6 years, out of the breed. If affected with symptoms of a slight / moderate heart problem, it is usually very late in life (more than 9 or 10 years), and can be treated with medication. It is often more a problem of the high age and most times not the special form of MVD.

We are proud that our oldest Cavalier, a tricolour boy, lived till 17 years of age. Our first girl in the breed lived till 14, and a several other Cavaliers till 13 years. We are also very proud of our very old girls still living with us with clear heart at 12, 10 and 9 years old - they had been our foundation bitches in ruby, black and tan and blenheim. We have now our 3rd generations out of them and I think this is the best way to get a clear heart also in our offspring when they will be at a high age.

The next is syringomyelia (SM) - or called Arnold Chiari disease which is a disease of the brain, the cerebro-spinal fluid and the cerebellum of the dog. It appears (with symptoms) maybe only in 1 or 2 % of all Cavaliers. Only little is known about this disease. Syringomyelia has only recently been discovered, currently posing more questions then answers. If you would like to know more about this, please find some helpful links below. In our breeding club - the German Toy Association (VK) - we are not allowed to breed with dogs affected (with symptoms) by SM - and we register all affected dogs in the pedigrees. Most of the stud dogs used by us are MR-scanned for this disease.

Another point is the hip. Maybe not the most important thing - but you should know about the hip dysplasia (HD). The HD is seen more often in larger breeds with more weight than the Cavalier has. We x-rayed a several years ago all our dogs.

More important is the luxating patellas (knees). All dogs have to have good patellas with no luxation before we are allowed to breed with them. Patella luxation is only in 1-2 % of the Cavaliers a problem, the problem of the luxating patellae is seen more often in smaller breeds like Chihuahua or Bichon.

And, last but not least, we are checking the eyes at an official eye specialist for retinal dysplasia.

Please find some more informations with the following links. You are welcome asking me questions about the Cavalierhealth ...

SM in Cavaliers - author Karin Biala - Gauß

overall, the cavalier is a healthy, happy and sporting breed
more than 90% of them need the veterinary only for their yearly vaccinations

Claudia Hollweg
Telefon: 0049-(0)9221- 52 15
Telefon: 0049-(0)9131- 530 12 99
Doris & Friedrich Hollweg
Am Gründlein 11
95326 Kulmbach, Germany
Telefon: 0049-(0)9221- 52 15
Telefon: 0049-(0)9131- 530 12 99
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