Before Simon Swift left for Florida he asked the Cavalier Club for permission to share heart data with Steven Janssens, Livestock Genetics in Leuven, Belgium. As the data was not going to identify specific dogs or people it was agreed. There follows a précis of the email from Simon to Steven:

I have been responsible for the UK Cavalier breeding scheme for the last 20 years and more recently I have become a member of the working group on breeding strategies for heart disease along with Jens Haggstrom and Lisbeth Olsen.
There are 3 different schemes running in different countries at present – UK, Denmark & Sweden. They all differ slightly in their criteria. The Danish scheme uses echo as well as auscultation whereas the UK and Swedish schemes are based on auscultation alone. Also the Danish scheme is compulsory and the UK and Swedish schemes are voluntary.
The schemes have now been analysed for their effect on the age incidence of murmurs in the breed. The Swedish scheme did not seem to have an effect but the published study was flawed for various reasons. The Danish scheme had a dramatic, reducing the age incidence of murmurs by 71%. The results of the UK scheme were more confusing. The age incidence in bitches examined by GP vets did increase but neither dogs examined by GP vets nor dogs of either sex examined by cardiologists showed any difference. (At the time of writing this Simon was writing his paper to publish) He continued:
I am not sure that echo makes a big difference for the scheme and for me the key difference was compliance – the compulsory scheme was successful. The compliance of the UK scheme was very low and when the Danish scheme compared dogs that had been in the scheme with those that had not (imports) there was no difference. I, like the Swedes, believe that a scheme based on auscultation should be successful but I would encourage you to develop a small group of people who are trained to auscultate to the same standard as we have in the UK.

Quite a lot of this information was presented at the International Health Symposium in Belgium in October last year and the Danish Cavalier Club were presented with an EBV for the hearts of all their Cavaliers. Quite some achievement!


DR BRENDAN CORCORAN provided us with a report on his research which went up on our website in November.

Dr Corcoran has now provided a further update for us:
"Chi Chien Liu (Fox) has now successfully defended his PhD at Edinburgh, work that was part funded by the CKCS Clubs. Like all good research he filled in some gaps in our knowledge but also identified new questions.

Not surprisingly what is happening in the valves of CKCS, and other dogs, when affected by mitral valve disease is very complex. Firstly, however, Fox has shown that the changes seen in the CKCS valve are virtually the same as that seen in other non-CKCS valves, suggesting the disease is similar in all dogs, but there are differences in how quick the disease develops in some, which might be the inherited component for some CKCSs. We also now know that there are many elderly CKCKs that have mitral valve disease, but are not affected or only affected in advanced age, and this is similar to many other dog breeds.

At the gene level we have now identified a wide range of genes that are changed in diseased valves and also changes in small pieces of genetic material that are referred to as non-coding RNAs which are crucially important in modifying genes (and therefore protein production) in both normal and affected valves. This is a developing area of biology known as epigenetics and is considered by many as the only way we will be able to interfere with valve pathology. So far there have been studies looking at this approach in other cardiac diseases, liver, and kidney disease and cancer and the results are promising. We are now looking for funding support so we can examine this further; it is very early days and always difficult to predict, but this strategy might be a way to arrest or even reverse valve changes.

Because of the success of Fox’s project we have managed to secure funding for a new PhD student who will look more closely at changes in genes, in particular changes in very localised areas of the valve and at different stages of the disease. This is very important so we can try and tease out cause and effect. The data we have so far is for dogs with advanced disease and you can never know if what you are looking at is the cause or consequence of the disease process. Because we think the disease is similar across all dogs we can use valves donated from any dog for this study with a high degree of confidence the results will also be applicable to the CKCS.

Lastly with our reputation for valve research we are now attracting interest from large pharmaceutical companies and this will be the way to obtain the significant amount of funding to move our work forward, and access to knowledge and resources that are not readily available otherwise. We have always acknowledged the great support of the Club for our work and it has been the money that members have put forward that have allowed us to get to this stage. If any Club member is keen to support our work we would be very happy to oblige.

Obviously the usual message – fund raising is required!"


We have just had our Championship Show this year where cardiologist, Dave Fisher, saw a total of 122 Cavaliers. 94 were tested clear – 5 of these were over 5, 1 over 7 and 1 over 10 – a fabulous result!

In the year that was 2014 from the Championship Show Simon Swift saw a magnificent number – 184 of which 146 were clear – 12 of these were over 5, 4 over 6, 4 over 7, 1 over 8, 1 over 9, 1 over 10!
From the August Open Show Dave Fisher saw 78 – 60 were clear – 3 over 5, 2 over 6 and 1 over 7.
From the September Health Clinic Dave Fisher again saw 44 – 32 were clear including 2 over 5, 2 over 7 and 1 over 8.

That means in the year 2014 we provided heart testing for 306 Cavaliers – 238 clear – this included 34 over the age of 5.


At our Championship show this year Ian Mason saw 70 Cavaliers with none affected – just one Cavalier had an eye injury.
In the year that was 2014 from the Championship Show Ian saw 84 – 1 had cataract, 1 had MRD, 9 had the condition Corneal Lipidosis. Ian Mason felt that this was an extremely good result again.
At the August Open Show 25 Cavaliers were seen and none were affected.
There has been no written report for the Eyes from the Health Clinic so we will chase up Paul McPherson and ensure that the results go on the website.


The costs for the DNA test have risen significantly this year as we had been spoiled with the discounted rate at 20% paying £48. These costs are currently £78 and with our discount of 10% they are £65. For those choosing individual tests they are £48 each.

These DNA tests are still a wonderful test with a finite answer and every breeder should consider having their breeding stock DNA tested.
Return to Previous Page
This document maintained by the
Material Copyright The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club