The modern-day Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can trace their ancestry back to small type Toy Spaniels that were seen throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, kept as pets by the nobility. These little dogs were a great favourite of King Charles II who was rarely seen without them at his side. In 1928 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was formed with a ‘standard’ for the breed drawn up that same year. In 1973 saw Alansmere Aquarius go Best In Show at Crufts, the first Cavalier to gain such an award.
The Cavalier is a smart little dog fitting into a well-proportioned body. His headpiece is moderately rounded in skull with a well-filled muzzle slightly tapering to a black nose. His eyes are dark brown, round and set wide apart.; Ears are pendant and quite long; coat is silky of medium length with feathering on legs, tail, chest and ears; coat colours come in Ruby (rich mahogany), Tricolour and Blenheim (chestnut red and white, often with a red spot between the ears).
Hearts are tested for MVD (see below) by specialist cardiologists who can certify them if clear.
Eyes are tested for retinal dysplasia (folds in the retina) by a specialist ophthalmologist. However this does not seem to be a major problem in Cavaliers.
Syringomyelia or SM (a neurological problem)
This is a neurological disorder that occurs in some Cavaliers and has a variety of symptoms, mainly excessive scratching (that is NOT due to other simple causes), discomfort and severe pain around the head and neck and sometimes difficulty walking.
It is thought that this is possibly inherited but it is not fully understood as yet. Much research is ongoing.
Breeding bitches and stud dogs should wherever possible have been MRI scanned (at least head and neck area) and this may identify potential future problems with this condition.
To reduce the risks as much as possible try to buy a pup from scanned clear parents – although this, like heart scanning for early onset MVD, cannot be a 100% guarantee.
Some Cavaliers can have problems with luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps) and a few can have problems with their hips.
By far the commonest problem experienced by many (but not all) Cavaliers – is MVD – Mitral Valve Disease (a heart condition), which often develops, in middle-aged or older dogs. This is not present at birth but may develop gradually over the years.
Curly Coat – this is a hereditary condition that is usually obvious in new born puppies. Their coats are rough and curly and often they have defects in skin and nails – and also in some cases dry eyes due to lack of sufficient tears. This condition may need life-long treatment so it is important to detect carriers.
Episodic falling – is a condition of the muscles – which go into spasm and the dog collapses. It appears to be triggered by hot weather and strenuous exercise. It appears only to occur in Cavaliers and is not fatal -– but again a single simple DNA swab test can identify carriers of this mutant gene.
Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.
Credit; The United Kennel Club. – http://www.ukcdogs.com/