The Role of The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club in Heart Research.

For many years the Cavalier Club has organised heart testing at its shows and at separate health clinics. This service is offered free of charge to members and is conducted by cardiologists, notably Dr Peter Darke in the early days, and later by Simon Swift. Simon has enthusiastically supported the scheme for nearly eighteen years. Cardiologists test by using a stethoscope to auscultate the heart. In 1990 the Club set up a database, with the advice and assistance of Peter Darke and geneticist Dr Bruce Catanach. Over the years the database has become very much more sophisticated and is supported by The Kennel Club which generously provides the Club with registration data. In 2003, with the sponsorship of Boehringer Ingelheim, the Club held the first of many Health Check Clinics. These offered members free consultation with a cardiologist and subsidized eye testing. At several of these clinics blood samples were given for DNA research.

A list of health clinics run by all Regional Clubs, and a list of Cardiologists recommended by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society, can be found on this website.


The Club publishes blank heart certificates in two parts, white and yellow, These are available to members and non-members alike. The certificates can he completed either by a general veterinary practitioner or by a specialist Cardiologist. The yellow top copy should be returned to the club for research purposes. It is strongly recommended that a Cardiologist examines the dogs whenever possible.

The Veterinary Cardiovascular Society, in conjunction with the CKCSC, produces another form. This is In four parts and the information required is more complex. They are only used by Cardiologists and the blue top copy should be returned to the club.

The results on both forms are entered on the Club database and the information provided will continue to remain completely confidential. Only the names of clear dogs and bitches over the age of 5 will be published, and then only with the permission of their owners.

In 1998, the data collected was passed to the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket, where James Wood, an Epidemiologist, and his team analysed the information. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust generously sponsored this research.

Many regional Cavalier Clubs also conduct heart testing clinics. The breed has the active support of many veterinary surgeons who generously make only a small charge, or often no charge at all, for completing our certificates. The Club has been encouraged over the years by the steadily growing support of breeders and pet owners alike.


The Cavalier Club annually produces a list of older dogs and bitches with clear heart certificates, tested at five years of age and older. The dogs listed are those with Heart Certificates submitted to the Club research scheme and the names are published only with the permission of their owners. The list is available to all members on request, and to non-members for a small charge It is also accessible on the Club Web Site. The list is produced to assist breeders and those who wish to purchase a puppy bred from long-lived stock, or stock with late-onset murmurs. In 2006 it was decided that only those dogs certified by a CARDIOLOGIST would be published on the OVER FIVE CLEAR HEART LIST.


Health testing and research costs money. Our Health Fund pays for heart and eye specialists at shows, and the costs of printing the two part Heart Forms. Each form costs over 17p each. Postage adds to the cost and this is why a SAE is always appreciated when you send for your forms.

Many individuals have contributed time, effort and money to help club heart research. The Friends of the Cavaliers and Rosemary Powell have done sterling work raising money for the Health Fund. They have also raised thousands of pounds for the enormously successful Lub Dub Fund, which supported the initial research on heart valves at Edinburgh University, research that is now continuing. Many other members, including Gay Lowe, are also very active fundraisers.

More information is available elsewhere on this website.


This research is ongoing. Professor Brendon Corcoran, at Edinburgh University, is conducting research into the structure of the heart valve, and the LUPA project In Denmark is investigating the genes that control MVD. The Animal Health Trust is developing the Estimated Breeding Value Programme, research that needs copies of heart certificates to enhance the value of health data across the breed.

Further details on these research projects are available on other pages of this website.


Carry on sending in those Yellow Forms, and PLEASE don't stop as soon as a murmur develops. The researchers need to know the age of onset and progression. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE NAMES OF AFFECTED DOGS ARE NOT PUBLISHED OR EVER MENTIONED. THE DATA BASE REMAINS COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL.

NEW CAVALIER OWNERS - (Or those thinking of becoming owned by a Cavalier)

Those intending to purchase a Cavalier are advised to buy only from breeders who test their stock. Unfortunately, this cannot guarantee that the dog will be free from MVD in later life, but you will be buying from someone who is doing their best to produce healthy stock.

It must be stressed that NOT ALL CAVALIERS HAVE THIS PROBLEM. In fact, many that do develop MVD can live to a very happy old age. Cavaliers generally live to about 10 or twelve years of age, although many reach 14 and beyond. However the problem is there, and it is something to be aware of.

If you are a lover of this enchanting breed, then help us in our endeavours to eradicate MVD or, at least try to push it further into old age. Most breeds have their problems. Unfortunately this is one of ours.
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