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Published on May 26th, 2010 | by Yellow Magpie


Dog Inbreeding: The Death Of The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the most popular breeds of dog. Warm, affectionate, great with children, this dog pulls on our heartstrings much more than any other breed.

Yet, because of gross negligence and careless inbreeding, the King Charles is now one of the sickest pedigrees. So serious is the problem that if current trends are continued the breed will be no more in years to come.

This is story of a dying breed that needs to be given a lifeline.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Photo By Andrew Eatock From

Pedigree Inbreeding Problems

The King Charles is one of the most fashionable breeds of pedigree dogs. In the United Kingdom alone, it is the sixth most popular breed.

The number of genetic problems in pedigree dogs are increasing because of inbreeding and this is taking its toll on the Cavalier.

Ironically, many prize-winning Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also some of the sickest. It is not unusual for King Charles Cavaliers to win competitions despite suffering from the serious brain and spinal condition syringomyelia.

Excruciating Pain

Syringomyelia is caused because the Cavalier’s skull is too small for its brain. As a result, the brain presses itself on the skull causing extreme pain. Many people have experienced this condition and can testify to the pain it causes such as severe headaches. Even the merest of touches to the head area can cause unimaginable pain.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels By David Shankbone

Syringomyelia Symptoms

The symptoms and levels of pain vary from dog to dog. Some dogs despite suffering from the condition exhibit no symptoms whilst others have to be put down. However, in obvious cases they dogs howl in pain and constantly scratch their heads. They will also recoil if their head or neck is touched.

Surgical procedures are available to increase the skull cavity. However, the operation is high-risk and many dogs die as a result.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Heart Disorders

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also suffer from an inherited heart disease. Up to the age of four or five it is estimated that nearly half of all King Charles will develop a heart murmur. This number dramatically increases as the dogs get older.

In fact, it is believed that nearly all Cavaliers will develop heart murmurs by the time they reach ten years old.

At its worst these heart murmurs manifest themselves in the dog lying very still for long periods of time. King Charles Spaniels are 25 times more likely to develop heart conditions in comparisons to cross breeds so great is their genetic disposition to heart conditions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Photo By Ellen Levy Finch

Other Genetic Disorders

Many Cavaliers die prematurely as a result of these genetic defects. The medical condition highlighted above are just some of the problems that plague the breed. Others, according to Wikipedia, include ear and eye disorders, hip and knee disorder and a abnormally low level of platelets in the blood.

Action Needs To Be Taken

Unless serious action is taken the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may now be beyond the point of no return.

However, the dog can be helped. Inbreeding such as father/daughter, brother/sister and grandfather/daughter mating can be stopped and healthy dogs bred in a careful and responsible manner.

Recommended Reading From Amazon

You may like to check out Yellow Magpie’s The Dog: Man’s Most Useful Best Friend for a more general discussion on what makes dogs so special.

You may also wish to check out Pedigree Dog Inbreeding: Breeds That Have Been Devastated to find out more about pedigree dog inbreeding.

For those who are interested in discovering more about the myriad of problems that surround pedigree dog breeding, the BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed is an excellent place to start. It is freely available on Youtube.

For people who care about their dog’s health, Victoria Stilwell’s book, It is Me Or Your Dog: How To Have The Perfect Pet is the ultimate bible on the subject.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom you can access It Is Me Or Your Dog: How To Have The Perfect Pet here.
For those living in Canada you can obtain It Is Me Or Your Dog: How To Have The Perfect Pet from here.
For Germany: It Is Me Or Your Dog: How To Have The Perfect Pet.
For France: It Is Me Or Your Dog: How To Have The Perfect Pet.

Quick Reference Guide
Pedigree Inbreeding Problems
Excruciating Pain
Syringomyelia Symptoms
Heart Disorders
Other Genetic Disorders
Actions Needs To Be Taken
Recommended Reading From Amazon

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