Royal Name, but Chronic Health Issues: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Posted by on June 14, 2023 | Permalink

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is one of the unhealthiest dog breeds in the world. Did you know that Norway has banned the breeding of these dogs because of their health issues? Here’s why buying and breeding Cavalier King Charles spaniels is cruel.

Odious Inbreeding: All Cavaliers Originate From Just SIX Dogs

That’s right. Breeders used six Cavalier King Charles spaniels to reestablish the breed after World War II. This inbreeding is likely what has led to the prevalence of certain genetic health issues and diseases.

Because the conditions are genetic, dogs mixed with Cavalier King Charles spaniels, like the “Cavapoo” (a Cavalier-poodle mix), are still likely to inherit health issues. Cavaliers, like all dogs bought and sold, are exploited from birth to line the pockets of breeders who don’t care if the dogs endure painful conditions. So what health issues do they have?

The Cocktail of Genetic Health Issues in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

1. They’re Bred to Have a Skull Too Small for Their Brain

Sounds painful, right? Studies have estimated that more than 90% of all Cavaliers have a malformation that squeezes their brain through the foramen magnum, the hole at the back of the skull. This blocks cerebrospinal fluid from flowing properly, and the abnormal pressure creates fluid-filled cavities, or syringes, near the brain.

The disorder, called syringomyelia, causes dogs to yelp in pain after sudden changes in posture and to scratch their ears, chest, neck, and shoulders uncontrollably. Humans suffering from this condition describe feeling like insects are crawling on their skin, with the most extreme pain akin to severe burning.

Dogs may also lick and chew their paws, shake or rub their head, and experience weakness, poor coordination, and scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Once the pain begins, it tends to last throughout the dog’s life. There is no cure for syringomyelia.

2. They’re a Breathing-Impaired Breed

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are a breathing-impaired breed (BIB) and are more likely to suffer from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, a disorder that greatly limits a dog’s ability to breathe, than other types of dogs. Going for a walk, chasing a ball, running, and playing – the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling – are difficult for many BIBs.

3. They’re Predisposed to Heart Conditions That All the Love in the World Can’t Fix

Mitral valve disease (MVD) is the most common cause of death of Cavalier King Charles spaniels. This disease, which begins as a heart murmur and progresses to heart failure, occurs in Cavaliers roughly 20 times more often than in other breeds. More than half of all Cavaliers develop MVD by age 5, and most show signs of the disease by age 10. It has a serious effect on quality of life, as breathing difficulties, breathlessness, and coughing cause severe discomfort. Most Cavaliers die less than two years after the onset of heart failure.

4. They’re Prone to Hearing and Vision Impairments

A much less deadly but remarkably painful health problem that Cavalier King Charles spaniels and Cavalier mixes are susceptible to is ear infections. Inner ear infections are common in Cavaliers, likely because the shape of their skull causes poor drainage and leads to fluid accumulation in the inner ear. The infections cause intense pain from pressure on the ear drum and may result in a head tilt and even facial nerve damage. Cavaliers’ long, drooping ears and skin allergies mean they’re also highly prone to chronic, painful inflammation of the ear canal. Severe cases may require surgery to remove the outer wall of the ear or the entire ear canal.

Cavaliers and Cavalier mixes are also predisposed to several types of eye problems that can be very painful and lead to blindness. They’re susceptible to developing dry eye, which results in damage to the surface of the eyes and makes them prone to infection. Dry eye is often accompanied by a skin condition that leads to scaly, itchy, and sore skin. Some Cavaliers also inherit a disease called progressive retinal atrophy, in which the eyes are genetically predisposed to go blind.

5. They Suffer From Hip and Knee Problems

Hip dysplasia, resulting in arthritis and severe pain, occurs when the femur and pelvis grow at uneven rates, which causes looseness in the joint. It is documented that at least 15.5% of Cavaliers suffer from this inherited condition, but the true number is estimated to be double. Cavaliers also have the second-highest prevalence of patellar luxation (kneecap dislocation) among dog breeds. Because their leg bones grow abnormally, the kneecap tends to become displaced, causing painful stretching of ligaments as well as osteoarthritis.

Do Not Buy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a Cavalier Mix, or Any Other Dog

Humans who breed dogs profit at animals’ expense. These cruel businesses keep operating only because people continue to give them money. So please never buy a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Cavalier mix, or any other dog from a breeder, pet shop, or online site.

Thousands of animals across the UK have no guardian to care for them, let alone a warm, comfortable place to curl up at night. Buying a dog deprives one in an animal shelter of a potential family. If you have the time, money, patience, and love to care for an animal for life (which could be for more than 15 years), please adopt from a shelter.

Say No to Grotesque Breeding of Animals

Crufts is a celebration of everything that is wrong with breeding dogs. Don’t support this parade of unhealthy breeds, and encourage your friends and family to stay away, too. The BBC dropped the unethical show following revelations about ill, inbred animals. It’s time for Channel 4 and More4 to do the same.