Breeding; A word in dogs that holds multiple meanings to different people. If you asked 5 different people who had dogs, what they felt dog breeding was about you would probably get 5 different answers.

In dog breeding there are different “types” of breeders.

There are Commercial Breeders. These are “Breeders” who are breeding for the sake of making money as fast as possible. They tend to be large scale operations, having several different types of breeds, and have no problem breeding purebreds, mixed breeds, or different purebreds to create “cute” puppies to sell to the first person who has the money. They are breeding to fill supply and demand, and are the source of the puppies you would find for sale in pet stores. Their goal in dogs is to make money. They are following no guidelines regarding health, nutrition or proper care. Doodles, Jugs, shih, pom, yorkie a poo’s etc are almost always the product of commercial breeders, and sometimes backyard breeders. If you are looking for a puppy and have no time to wait or feel you should put no effort into researching about your chosen breed, their health background or anything about it, you would have no problem picking any dog you wanted from a commercial breeder. They are quickly able to fill demand right down to the smallest detail like colouring as they are producing puppies daily!

There are “Backyard” breeders. These are “breeders” who are breeding because they want to see their dog have babies. They believe they have the cutest, most loving, beautiful dog that their “breed” of choice has to offer. They may also feel that it is a great opportunity to “make a few bucks.” They are often unaware of health testing, what it entails, or even what testing is recommended to be completed before making the choice to breed their dog. If they have been “health tested” it often means that their dog has been checked over by their regular vet and not by the recommended board specialists. They have little to no knowledge of what structure is and how it impacts the soundness of a healthy active dog. You will often see their puppies advertised in the paper, or on free web advertisement sites like kijiji. You may have the opportunity to meet with said breeder, and they will probably allow you to pick out whatever puppy you choose. They more than likely will not belong to their breed clubs, or be active in any realms of competition with their dog. They are also a likely source of many “designer” dogs.

Now this is where it gets confusing.

There are hobby breeders, and there are many types of them. Hobby breeders are breeding to improve their breed in terms of health, structure, and temperament. They are looking to continually improve upon what they have. They breed almost entirely for themselves in hopes of keeping something back for show or to better their breeding program. Sometimes their motives differ from one another. They tend to be involved in dog events be it conformation, agility, rally-o, obedience or many others. Some are very much vested in showing and winning, but they don’t have to be, and a breeder who wins a lot in the show ring may not necessarily be a breeder that is a good match for your family.

Hobby breeders tend to be very careful about where they choose to have their puppies go to live. You may have to wait several months and go through an application process to be considered as a potential home for one of their puppies. They will want to meet you and your family, and you should want to meet them and see what their home is like and how they treat and interact with their dogs. They want you to be well versed regarding health, temperament, and training of your breed of choice. As much as they want to interview you, they will want you to interview them. Almost always they are members of various dog clubs and are bound to rules and regulations regarding health, temperament, and breeding regulations.

Be aware that although some breeders may be members of their various clubs and taking part in showing it does not mean that they are doing their utmost to breed happy, healthy dogs. There are some breeders who consider themselves hobby breeders however they do not follow the regulations set out by their breed club or by their registration club, ours being the Canadian Kennel Club. Be very aware and be prepared to ask lots of questions. Here are the breeding ethics laid out by the Canadian Kennel Club that all members must abide by; CKC Regulations and the Code of Ethics for the Cavalier King Charles Club of Canada CKCCC Regulations

It is a puppy buyer’s responsibility to do their research, speak with many different breeders, and find someone that they can develop a relationship with. Your breeder should be supportive, a source of information and education regarding your breed, and very interested in how your puppy grows and develops. They will want you to keep in touch with them and send t updates every so often. Even better if those updates include pictures! They also will have no issue in providing you with proper documentation regarding the health testing they have completed. In fact they will more than likely be proud of it and volunteer it to you.

In Cavalier King Charles Spaniels at a minimum for health clearances you should see eye tests performed annually by a Board Certified Ophthalmologist with the result being normal. Many breeders choose to use Canine Eye Registration Foundation CERF A patella x-ray in Ontario read by OVC or OFA An auscultation performed by a Board Certified Cardiologist indicating that the dog is murmur free, and bred according to the MVD protocol which states following;

Do not breed any Cavalier who is diagnosed with an MVD murmur under the age of 5 years.

Do not breed any CKCS before age 2.5 years.

Do not breed any Cavalier under the age of 5 years, unless its parents’ hearts were free of MVD murmurs by age 5 years.

In summary;

Every breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should be examined annually by a board certified veterinary Cardiologist.

Every breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should be examined annuallyto 2.5 and then biennially by a board certified Ophthalmologist.

Every breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should have a patella x-ray completed at least once at two years of age.

Additionally more and more breeders are performing MRI’s on their Cavaliers. This is not mandatory however in Southwestern Ontario we are very fortunate to have a wonderful MRI screening program setup for breeding dogs through the Cavalier King Charles Club of Canada and Matheson Boulevard Veterinary Services. With the amount of dogs now scanned and breeders who are making the choice to MRI their breeding Cavaliers, there is no reason in Ontario that if you want a puppy from at least one MRI’d parent you should be able to find one given time and patience. A grade of “A, C, or D” is within the syringomyelia breeding protocol for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. A’s being able to be bred to A’s or D’s, and D’s being allowed to be bred to A’s if all other health testing is completed. Breeding Protocol for Syringomyelia

Do your research, speak with as many people as possible involved in the breed, get to know a few breeders by attending Club events, be patient, and ultimately pick a breed and breeder you can develop a very good relationship with. It is hard work finding a dog and more importantly a breeder you trust. Health testing does not guarantee everything, and sometimes genetics are cruel. However up to date testing and a breeder who will stand behind what they produce no matter what happens are you best shot at having a happy, healthy, long living companion.