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Discussion Starter #1
So for the longest time, I have been obsessed with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I love their temperament, their eager-to-please attitude, and how they just love life! Unfortunately, as I research them I become very disappointed. Apparently the CKC suffers from a lot of health problems, one in particular being MVD. I read CKCs can live to a good age, but to what cost? Am I going to be throwing thousands upon thousands of dollars to keep my dog's heart in line? Virtually all cavaliers eventually develop some degree of a heart murmur, are these health conditions over-exaggerated and fairly manageable given I find a reputable breeder and take good care of it?

Does anyone have any experience with this breed? If this breed is basically ruined by health problems that cost a fortune to keep at bay, are there any alternatives to the sweet and gentle cavalier? I have looked into the Havanese but im not so sure easy they are to train? Of course I know a lot of this depends on the dog...
 

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Cavalier was one of the examples in Pedigree Dogs Exposed and it was not for their heart problems... They are also prone to a condition where its brain does not fit into the skull and causes headache, seizures and so.

It isw so sad that a breed that would be a perfect pet and companion dog with easy-care coat is in ruins by horrible illnesses.
 

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I hear ya :( Cavs are such great dogs! I've met some amazingly sweet cavs, but I haven't met any healthy ones. One of them is slightly neurotic and will bark and spin, bark and spin, bark and spin.. The other is quite young and suffering from arthritis.

Perhaps you could look into mutts? Cav mixes might be the way to go.
 

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I'm met amazingly tempered cavs and I imagine if you get one from a good solid line you could have a healthy one.
 

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i think you have to search very carefully for a breeder, that knows what he's doing and that us breeding on temperament and health...but not all dogs of this breed are unhealthy.
perhaps ypu can also find a mix in some rescue. they often are a bit less over typed and so some problems may not be as severe as with purebred dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the feedback guys! The Cavalier mix idea, is great, I hadn't even though of that! I will have to dig around.

I have found quite a few breeders with health guarantees, usually 2-4 year health guarantee. Im not exactly sure what these mean, are they just gimmicks that dont really add up to much?
 

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I don't think health guarantees are gimmicks, and actually 2-4 years is pretty good in most breeds (and honestly, some of the Cav issues may very well pop up in that time frame anyway).

I don't think all Cavs are unhealthy, but many are. Have you considered any of the other smaller spaniels?
 

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I don't think health guarantees are gimmicks, and actually 2-4 years is pretty good in most breeds (and honestly, some of the Cav issues may very well pop up in that time frame anyway).

I don't think all Cavs are unhealthy, but many are. Have you considered any of the other smaller spaniels?
Well, I was just worried that the guarantee doesnt cover anything... Like I dont like the idea of exchanging my sick puppy for a new one. But im not sure if thats what a health guarantee is.

I have looked into cockers, both american and english. But I hear they are usually stubborn or have submissive urination problems...
 

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I probably wouldn't own one. I'm a vet tech and we see these guys all the time for issues. Maybe you can find a more unique breeder that is doing outcrosses in an attempt to improve the health of the breed. Sort of like how a group started incorporating english pointer into their dalmation lines. It can make a big difference.

As for alternatives....There are plenty of breeds that are specifically bred to be companions. Which means they're a smaller size, more mellow, easy to train, desire companionship and want to please etc. Bichon frise, mini or toy poodles, chihuahuas, maltese, mini eskimo dogs, pomeranians....Those are what come to my mind.
 

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I'm not sure if suggesting a mix breed is a great way to find a healthy alternative to a cav. In my experience cav mix breeders don't breed very healthy dogs, and finding one from a shelter is just as risky as picking a breeder at random. I'd personally rather do my research and make sure all genetic health tests are run that may appear in a cav or are common to the breed such as MVD (heart mitral valve disease) which is the leading cause of death in cavs.

Some others to consider are Syringomyelia, a brain disease, Hip Displaysia, and BAOS (Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome) for their smushed snouts.

Honestly if you're looking for a breed based off health I wouldn't get a cav. If they suit your personality preferences and lifestyle, and you have some money in the bank to handle potential expensive vet trips later in life, and think you can deal with losing your cav early, then look for a solid breeder who definitely tests for all the major things and has a healthy line. Many good breeders will have references, you can ask for some reference numbers from people who bought a cav from them a few years back and ask how theirs are doing to see if issues are a pattern in cavs from that particular breeder.
 

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I would not personally get a cavalier unless the breeders made some drastic changes to their breeding program. (ie outcross NOW)

That said I've known a couple that lived long lives though they did have heart problems.

Havanese are really lovely little dogs though. I know several and they are so sweet and nice tempered and happy. There are even occasionally 'smooth' coated dogs born. Not sure how common but I know one through agility. Never would have guessed the breed.

Papillon is another small spaniel. They have some health issues but are much better off than cavs. English cocker spaniels or American cocker spaniels are another option.
 
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