The Cavalier Club aims to provide up-to-date health information for all Cavalier owners on these pages.

Cavaliers are generally a happy, healthy breed of dog. However, as with many other breeds, there are genetic health problems.

The main health problems in the breed are:
Mitral Valve Disease of the heart (MVD) - Read more
Syringomyelia (SM) - Read more
Eye – Hereditary Cataract & Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) - Read more

The Club actively encourages its members to test their Cavaliers for heart and eye problems by organizing Health Clinics around the country. The Club also encourages its members to MRI screen their stock for syringomyelia prior to breeding.

The Club raises funds and actively supports research into MVD, syringomyelia and other health problems. Although much research has been done, it seems there are still more questions than answers. Unfortunately there is a long way to go before these complex health issues are fully understood.

The impression should not be given that all Cavaliers have these health conditions - they do not. Indeed many Cavaliers lead long and happy lives well in to their teens. Our list of Golden Oldies is certainly proof of this. - Visit our Golden Oldies list

Cavalier health problems are further complicated by the late onset of both Mitral Valve Disease and Syringomyelia. Animals may therefore have been used for breeding before a health condition becomes evident. In order to keep genetic diversity, veterinary experts have developed breeding guidelines that, in some instances, permit breeders to use slightly affected stock that has developed the condition later in life. DNA tests are not yet available for either health condition, but genetic research is ongoing.

Reputable breeders are aware of these health problems. Those intending to purchase a puppy are recommended to buy from a breeder who health tests their stock, who follows breeding guidelines issued by veterinary experts, and who is prepared to discuss and advise the purchaser on health issues. It should be noted that the number of cavalier puppies bred by Club members is approximately a quarter of the total registered with the Kennel Club. A Kennel Club registration indicates only that the puppy has a registration number. Therefore it is important to buy from a club member or from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. See below.

CKCS Club Puppy Sales Register

The CKCS Club has a register of puppies that are for sale. This is separate to the Kennel Club Puppy Register that also lists puppies for sale. The co-ordinator of the CKCS Club register is able to provide purchasers with advice on the breed and many members prefer to sell their stock through this facility. The CKCS Club can only encourage its members to health test and follow appropriate breeding guidelines. It has no powers of enforcement.

Unfortunately, full health testing and adherence to breeding guidelines will not guarantee that dogs will be free from genetic health problems. However, you will be purchasing from a breeder who is doing all that can be reasonably expected to produce healthy stock.

Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme

The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is a major step forward, and is to be welcomed. Assured breeders undertake to perform certain breed specific health tests before a puppy can be registered with the Kennel Club. At present the scheme ONLY requires and enforces accredited breeders of cavaliers to eye test their breeding stock. It does not require that dogs are tested ‘clear’.

The Scheme currently recommends its breeders to heart test using the CKCS Club scheme. This will be replaced at a later date by a KC/BVA/VCS scheme and will become mandatory for Assured Breeders.

The Assured Breeders Scheme also advises its breeders to seek advice from the Cavalier Club on MRI screening. It is unable to enforce that MRI screening is carried out. Likewise, the scheme has no power to insist that breeders follow recommended breeding guidelines. It is therefore necessary that purchasers check that eye testing, heart testing and MRI scanning of both parents has been carried out. Many club members, who are also Assured breeders, already routinely test their stock and exceed the requirements of the Kennel Club scheme.

No matter where the puppy is obtained, it is entirely the responsibility of the purchaser to familiarise themselves with the breed specific health problems. They should also obtain confirmation that all recommended health tests have been carried out on both parents, and that current breeding guidelines have been followed. This will not guarantee that a puppy will be free of genetic health problems, but it will have been purchased from a breeder who is doing their best to breed healthy stock using current veterinary knowledge and advice.

So, if you are interested in buying a puppy, ask the breeder what health testing has been performed, and ensure that all the Club recommended health tests and breeding guidelines have been followed for both parents of the puppy and get proof.

Information on eye testing, heart testing, MRI screening and all the appropriate breeding guidelines, can be found on this website.

Health Report to 2015 AGM – Health Report to 2015 AGM

KC Response to Cavalier Petition 2015 - More
MVD Research Update Nov 2014 - More
"2013 Cavalier Health Survey" – 2013 CKCS Health Survey Reports

KC Health Test Finder – Search The Kennel Club for any health results for a dog which is registered at the Kennel Club.
KC Health Test Finder.

Kennel Club CC/DE DNA Results – Clear; Carrier; Affected

Kennel Club EF Test Results – Clear; Carrier; Affected

Kennel Club MRD Eye Pre 2020 Results – KC MRD Open Register
Post Jan 2020 Results are found in the KC Health Test Finder

"Sustainable dog breeding and update on the project Cavaliers for Life" given by Arnold Jacques to the 2013 Club AGM – View the presentation
Download a paper copy.
AHT Report into the frequency of CC/DE & EF in CKCS June 2012 – Read the full report
KC/BVA Chiari Malformation / Syringomyelia Scheme - More
Cavalier Clubs Health Leaflet – More
30 Years of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Health Initiatives - More
Collecting DNA - On how and why we collect DNA from cavaliers. - More
Kennel Club & The CKCS Club Health Plans - More
AHT & The Kennel Club on Health in the Cavailier (KC Gazette April 2008) - More
Kennel Club Dog Health Test Search
Search The Kennel Club for any health results for a dog which is registered on the Kennel Club’s Breed Register either by its registered name or registration number (or stud book number). It will display any health screening results received and recorded by the Kennel Club from a British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club (BVA/KC) health scheme or an official Kennel Club DNA testing scheme.

Heart Testing scheme currently administered by the CKCS Club pending a formal BVA/KC scheme
MRI screening for syringomyelia, ‘Proposed MRI screening protocol’ with formal scheme by KC/BVA

Kennel Club Dog Genetic Health website

The Cavalier Club have a Healthy Heart Partnership with the pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim,
and we are grateful for their financial support.
The link provided to Boehringer Ingelheim is for ease of access and information purposes only.
It does not imply any recommendation or endorsement for the use or suitability of any product.
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