If you are thinking about acquiring a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or already own one, there are some breed specific health issues that they can face in their lifetime.  It is important to become well educated and understand each problem so that you are able to advocate for your dog if you ever have to face one or more of these problems.  The goal of responsible breeding is to limit the likelihood that your cavalier will face breed specific health problems, however most are poly-genetic in nature and although we try our best to control risk factors through annual specialist clearances, DNA testing, pedigree analysis and calculating inbreeding coefficients, even the most responsible breeder cannot guarantee or promise all puppies will lead perfectly healthy lives.  Nature has a great way of keeping you humble.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is the most common and life threatening health issue facing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Breed research has shown that MVD is a disease that is polygenetic in inheritance and although a common finding in many breeds is especially prone to developing in Cavaliers.  Approximately 50% of the breed has a MVD heart murmur by age 5 and nearly all by age 10.  MVD typically presents itself when your Vet hears a murmur on auscultation.  Any breeding dogs must be clear of heart disease within one year of breeding.  The North American heart protocol states that breeding dogs must have a clear heart over 2.5 years and have parents that were heart clear over 5 by auscultation.  Some breeders are now using a modified Danish heart protocol that makes use of auscultation and echocardiograph at the age of 14 months, 4 years, and 6 years.

I recommend that all Cavalier owners start having their dogs tested by Cardiologist after the age of 5.  Most Cavalier Clubs hold annual health clinics that have heart testing available at them. Make sure you ask your breeder about upcoming clinics near you.   More specific information regarding MVD can be found on the links below.

  1.     Mitral Valve Disaese and the Cavalier – A very informative Facebook group full of cavalier owners.  Invitation by request only.
  2.     Mitral Valve Disease and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Cavalier Health, an extensive database of research information
  3.     Mitral Valve Disease – A look at MVD from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Canada

Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM)

Chairi Malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM) are part of a multi factorial craniocervical junction malformation in dogs, it is a progressive condition that can include a wide range of symptoms.  It is a complicated and serious disease process that occurs in not only Cavalier King Charles Spaniels but is increasingly being found in many other breeds.  CM/SM seems to have a high predisposition in toy dogs and breeds that are considered brachycephalic.

I scanned my first breeding dog in 2008 and have made use of MRI imaging in my breeding program ever since. All of my breeding dogs have multiple generations of MRI scanned parentage and I am extremely passionate about advocating for CM/SM health in our breed.  MRI imaging does not guarantee that all of the offspring will be clear of SM, however it gives your puppy the best possible chance of not developing CM/SM.  Through making use of proper testing, it is now rare for my dogs here to scan with any degree of syrinxes on their images.  When you purchase a puppy from a breeder who does not MRI scan, that puppy has a more than 70% chance of having some degree of SM on their scan.  They many not develop symptoms (we can hope), however they certainly will have a higher probability of it developing.  In Ontario, there is absolutely no excuses as to why Cavaliers here are not imaged prior to breeding.  We are fortunate in that we have the best lower-cost MRI program available to breeders with the least possible risk associated to the dogs.  The imaging is high quality and the results have spoken for themselves.  In other parts of North America, getting an MRI on a Cavalier can be very difficult.  Often times the imaging process is very lengthy and the MRI machine of poor quality.  In an ideal world all Cavalier breeders would have affordable access to MRI imaging, however for most of  Canada and the US, that is just not possible.

  1. What you Need to Know About Syringomyelia – Written by NC State Veterinary Medicine
  2. Chiari-like Malformation (CM) and Syringomyelia (SM) in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  3. Chairi-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM) – University of Prince Edward Island


Our Cavaliers are examined yearly by Ophthalmologist.  All breeding dogs should have a current within one year eye certificate from an Ophthalmologist.

  1. Eyes – Provided by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Canada

Hips and Patellar Luxation

Info coming soon

Episodic Falling, Dry Eye/Curly Coat Syndrome

Our dogs are all DNA tested or clear by parentage for Episodic Falling, Dry Eye and Curly Coat Syndrome.  We make use of DNA testing through Labgenvet at the University of Montreal.  It is important to note that Dry Eye and Curly Coat Syndrome is completely different to the condition Dry Eye.  Cavaliers can develop Dry Eye and be genetically clear of CC/DE.

Large Blood Platelets

Info coming soon