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Tell me about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

(45 Posts)
monkeywithacowface Thu 19-Jan-17 12:41:57

Have been dog broody for years but it's never been the right time. It feels like now circumstances are right and I know the ds's would love it (it would be my dog though, am well aware that the novelty of walking in the rain and picking up crap wears off with kids pretty soon).

Have been looking at small breeds that are good for families and cavaliers seem to pop up quite a bit. Just wanted to know what people's experiences were. I know that they can be prone to certain health conditions (but that seems to be something that has come up with a lot of breeds that I've looked at so not sure how to reduce that risk)

Haven't discounted the idea of a whippet but we do have an old cat so not sure we should risk that. Haven't discounted a rescue dog by any means either.

Not rushing into anything would probably not be looking at getting one until next year but do want to do my research first.

Sassyk Thu 19-Jan-17 13:56:51

We are in an almost identical situation! We have been looking for a family dog and whittled it down to two breeds; Retrevier and Cavalier King Charles. Like you we have a cat, well 3 and we have a 3 year old. Ideally wanted a rescue but have virtually given up as many won't rehome where a child is so young or don't have dogs suitable with cats or want a resident dog already. Interested to see any responses!

Nemosnemsis Fri 20-Jan-17 09:52:45

I've owned cavvys in the past, and I'm also a vet.

The thing to realise with cavvys is they are not just prone to certain health conditions like other breeds, they are pretty much guaranteed them. Almost 100% of cavvys are genetically programmed to develop mitral valve disease (MVD) if they live long enough. There are some breeders out there trying to create disease-free lines, but it might be an impossible task.

One of the problems with MVD is there's no genetic screening test for it, and it doesn't usually develop until middle-age onwards, by which time most breeding dogs and bitches will have had several litters already. The breed clubs will play they problem down, but don't be fooled there are no MVD-free lines yet.There will also be people to tell you that their dogs lived long, healthy lives, but these are the exception, not the rule.

It's true that other breeds also suffer from hereditary diseases, but in many cases there are genetic tests available for breeders, and there are healthy lines out there if you do your research.

MVD is a horrible, slow, progressive disease. All the cavvys I had in the past had a heart murmur by age 5, started longterm medication, slowly declined, and died of heart failure before they reached 10 years old. So not only does it tend to shorten their life span, it steadily reduces their quality of life too. They are wonderful dogs, but I wouldn't have another one.

PossumInAPearTree Fri 20-Jan-17 09:55:22

Nemo, can I ask does having a mixed cav breed like a cavapoo lessen the chance of MVD?

Costacoffeeplease Fri 20-Jan-17 10:00:30

I've known several cavaliers, all have developed heart problems and most have been on medication by 5 or 6 and pts around 8. They also tend to have eye and joint problems, poor things

I would never have one

LumelaMme Fri 20-Jan-17 10:04:15

Possum, logically it should if the other breed is not prone to MVD. But if you are looking at deliberately-bred crosses, make sure that you don't end up buying from a puppy-farmer masquerading as a caring owner...

Personally I'd never have a cav. They're cute little dogs with lovely natures, but their health problems are legendary, MVD and syringomyelia being the best known.

Nemosnemsis Fri 20-Jan-17 10:11:43

As far as breed suggestions are concerned OP, have you thought about border terriers? They tend to be less 'terrier-like' than other terriers, and all the ones I've met were lovely. Cocker spaniels would be another alternative - similar temperament to cavvys but larger and generally higher exercise requirements, so depends on your circumstances.

A rescue centre will help you to find a dog that fits in with your family and existing pets, although the risk of hereditary disease will be higher because you won't know its breeding background (especially if it's a pedigree or 'designer cross')

Usermuser Fri 20-Jan-17 10:12:08

My experience of cavaliers is different from the norm, I think. Mine lived till almost 12 and was active and healthy to the end (though was on heart medication for the last year or two).
His temperament, however... He had nervous aggression and was very bad around food. If you brushed by him when he was asleep, he'd bite you. He'd bark into his bowl, and if you tried to get something off him.that he wasn't meant to have you'd be bitten. I'm sure he was an anomaly but I'd never have another.

TrustySnail Fri 20-Jan-17 10:12:20

I have a Cavalier, and he's a wonderful dog - but what Nemosnemsis says about health conditions is spot on.

It is really frustrating, as Cavaliers have a marvellous temperament - they're the perfect breed for families, ideal if you have other animals, etc. They're flexible in their exercise requirements - they'll happily keep going all day if you're out and about, but are content with a couple of short walks if it's raining. If it weren't for the health issues, they'd be the perfect family dog.

If you are considering a Cav, it's essential to find an experienced breeder who heart-tests stock - unfortunately, Cavs are often puppy-farmed as well, which is another hazard to beware of.

Have you considered a Cavalier crossbreed?

GinIsIn Fri 20-Jan-17 10:15:39

The ones I have known were lovely little dogs.... but nearly guaranteed such terrible health problems it seemed cruel to even consider the breed.

insan1tyscartching Fri 20-Jan-17 10:26:53

Dfil had a couple of cavaliers, an ex crufts winner and one of his pups. They were lovely dogs, happy and waggy and always happy to have a fuss and great with our dc. Don't think they had a nasty bone in them tbh. Eldest lived a long (13) and happy life with no health issues apart from old age. The youngest developed MVD and was only 8 when he died so dfil lost them both within 18 months.

Nemosnemsis Fri 20-Jan-17 10:28:48

does having a mixed cav breed like a cavapoo lessen the chance of MVD?

The risk is reduced yes, but not eliminated. The problem with crosses - it can be difficult to find reputable breeders, so while MVD risk goes down, you might find the risk of other health issues goes up.

Having said that, the popularity of cavapoos and cockerpoos is such that there are some responsible breeders emerging who are doing the proper health checks etc. So it can work, you just need to do the research.

LordRothermereBlackshirtCunt Fri 20-Jan-17 14:53:05

My parents have had two, both from a very reputable breeder who did all the health checks, etc. Even so, they had terrible health problems (one MVD, the other syrinomyelia). It was horrible. I would never buy one of these dogs, and believe they should not be bred now.

monkeywithacowface Fri 20-Jan-17 16:05:11

Thanks for the replies they have been really informative and have certainly given me food for thought. The likelihood of serious health issues is obviously a real concern and looking pretty unavoidable. Such a shame as health issues aside they sound like a great family dog.

Border terriers were also on my short list and wouldn't dismiss the idea of one at all. Our neighbour has cockers and they are gorgeous dogs so would consider but they you say need to know if we can give then the right exercise and environment they need .

I'm reluctant to go for a cross breed because of the reasons already mentioned. It's not a decision we're rushing so will be researching all options before deciding!

CharlieBoo Fri 20-Jan-17 17:06:13

Ahh my little cavvy is the most gorgeous dog, she's just a sweetheart. Follows me everywhere, loves the children, super cuddly, loves to go for walks, so loving and loyal. I'd never owned a dog before her and I've not regretted it for a second! She's almost 4 and no health problems so far, but I know that heart disease in later life is highly likely but all is fine now. Good luck

GinIsIn Fri 20-Jan-17 17:17:47

Have you considered a shih tzu? Our dog is a shih tzu cross and they are brilliant - really funny, determined, affectionate, scrappy little characters.

dudsville Fri 20-Jan-17 21:03:28

I just came on to say I've always thought they were gorgeous, sweet little things and I'm so sorry to learn of their health problems, poor things.

Abecedario Fri 20-Jan-17 21:20:27

Oh they are just the best.

We rehomed my boy, prior to that I would never have considered the breed at all, but he needed a home and it was right place right time and I wouldn't be without him for the world. He's the friendliest, most loving little scrap of ginger fur you can imagine, gives great cuddles, is endlessly patient with the kids in the family, has never so much as growled at them, loves everyone and assumes everyone is his friend. He's not the sharpest tool in the box but been pretty easy to train and is always keen to please. He's got bags of personality and is kind of a diva.

But oh yes the health problems! I have never in my life spent so much time at the vets. Luckily no heart problems up to now, he's 9 and still thinks he's a puppy, still active, playful and in generally good shape. He has got a form of epilepsy though, at first just the odd seizure maybe once a year, but a few years ago a really massive one that required a hospital stay and he's been on medication ever since. The medication can affect his kidneys so he has to have blood tests to keep an eye on that, all good so far though. Our current issue is his skin, he also has atopic dermatitis and it usually clears up in winter but not this year he keeps scratching himself demented, usually at night and usually with much dramatic squealing (cavaliers are very very dramatic all according to my vet) and keeping us all awake.

TrustySnail Fri 20-Jan-17 21:31:51

Here's my little chap! He's 10.

GoldenWorld Fri 20-Jan-17 21:32:54

I've had 3 and none have had major health problems. Was quite surprised to hear others experiences on here.

My first two lived to be 13 and 14, both had heart murmurs yes but no other problems. The second one did sadly get dementia but don't think that's a breed thing.

The one I have now is 6 and is absolutely fine, doesn't even have a heart murmur, still thinks she's a puppy, very rarely needs the vet and is the soppiest thing ever. I'll be devastated when she dies. She's great with children, so so patient although is rather needy and wants a lot, and I mean a lot of cuddles and attention. But she's gorgeous. Don't rule them out yet as they're such a good family pet.

Abecedario Fri 20-Jan-17 21:45:29

Oh well if we're doing pictures .....

I'm torn because the health side of things is such a worry, but then I couldn't imagine a more perfect, loving, patient animal whilst still having bags of personality and making us all laugh.

TrustySnail Fri 20-Jan-17 22:03:08

Gorgeous Ruby you have there Abecedario! Your description sums them up perfectly as a breed.

I really hope something can be done by breeders - outcrossing maybe - to address the health issues, as it would be tragic if the breed were to die out. An Australian Cav owner on here was saying a few weeks ago that the breeding stock over there is much healthier, so perhaps that will be a way forward.

Abecedario Fri 20-Jan-17 22:16:36

Ahh thank you, your little chap is gorgeous too TrustySnail and looking very dapper and well groomed!

elephantpig Fri 20-Jan-17 22:22:45

I love cavvies, they would probably be first on my list... if it weren't for all the aforementioned diseases (and moulting). I think they are just as bad as pugs really in terms of their chances of a happy and healthy life. From an ethical stand point I just couldn't buy into the breed.

CharlieBoo Sat 21-Jan-17 08:33:02

My beautiful girl x

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