CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL – MEET THE BREED
CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIELS OVERVIEW
Westminster Kennel Club Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Miles competing in Best of Toy Group 2012
WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL 2012 BREED WINNER: Full of Malarkey Miles of Aisles
Owner: Tamara Kelly & Patrick Kelly; Breeder: Patrick Kelly & Tamara Kelly; Date of Birth:November 05, 2007 Watch all the Cavaliers competing in Best of Breed 2012
2009 WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL VIDEO
2008 WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL VIDEO
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed of dog of Spaniel type, usually considered one of the toy dog breeds. It is a small spaniel with a substantial silky coat of moderate length, often with a mild wave, and long ears. Four colours (Blenheim, Tricolour, Black and Tan, and Ruby) are recognized. The breed originated in the 20th century but has its roots in the older King Charles Spaniel of the Restoration
For many centuries, small breeds of spaniels have been popular in the United Kingdom. Some centuries later, Toy Spaniels became popular as pets, especially as pets of the royal family. In fact, the King Charles Spaniel was so named because a Blenheim-coated spaniel was the children’s pet in the household of Charles I. Such spaniels can be seen in many paintings of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. These early spaniels had longer, pointier snouts and thinner-boned limbs than today’s.
Over time, the toy spaniels were replaced in popularity by short-snouted, dome-headed dogs of Asian descent, such as the Pug and Japanese Chin. The King Charles Spaniel was bred with these dogs, resulting in the similar-shaped head of today’s English Toy Spaniel breed. The King Charles Spaniel remained popular at Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, where the brown and white version was the most popular – resulting in the name Blenheim for that colour combination.
In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge offered twenty-five pounds as a prize for any King Charles Spaniel “of the old-fashioned type” with a longer nose, flat skull, and a lozenge (spot) in the middle of the crown of the head, sometimes called “the kiss of Buddha,” “Blenheim Spot,” “lozenge” or “Kissing Spot”. So, the breed was developed by selective breeding of short-snouted Spaniels. The result was a dog that resembled the boyhood pet of Charles II of England (“Cavalier King Charles”), hence the name of the breed.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is perhaps the largest toy breed: though historically a lap dog, modern day fully-grown adults tend to fill a lap rather amply. It is nonetheless quite small for a spaniel, with fully-grown Cavaliers roughly comparable in size to adolescents of more conventional spaniel breeds. Breed standards call for a height between 30 and 33cm (12-13 inches) with a proportionate weight between 6 and 10kg (10 and 18 lb). Unlike most other spaniels, the Cavalier has a full-length tail, well-feathered with long hair, which is usually not docked, which is typically standards call for it to be free from curl, with a slight wave permissible. In adulthood, Cavaliers grow lengthy feathering on their ears, chest, legs, feet and tail; breed standards demand this be kept long, with the feathering on the feet cited as a particularly important feature of the breed.
A Cavalier’s coat may be beautiful, but, because it can be long, it is very important to keep it well groomed. Daily brushing is recommended to ensure that the coat does not get matted and that foreign objects, such as burrs and sticks, do not become entangled in the feathering.They do shed mildly. It also should not be bathed more than twice a week otherwise it may cause skin irritation.Fur on the feet and on the hind legs should be trimmed regularly. In hot climates, the ears should be thinned.They get ear-mites quite often if there is hair hanging around the ears.
The breed has four recognized colours
Red and White (Blenheim) (rich chestnut on pearly white background)
Tricolour (Prince Charles) (black and white with tan markings on cheeks, inside ears, on eyebrows, inside legs, and on underside of tail)
Black and Tan (King Charles)(black with tan markings)
Red (Ruby) (rich reddish-brown all over)
Parti-colours are the colours that include white: Blenheim and Tricolour. Whole-colours have no white: Black and Tan, and Ruby. The Blenheim is the most common colour.
The breed is highly affectionate, they are playful, extremely patient and eager to please. As such, dogs of the breed are good with children and other dogs. Cavaliers will not be shy about socializing with much larger dogs. Cavaliers will adapt quickly to almost any environment, family, and location. Their ability to bond with larger and smaller dogs make them ideal in houses with more than one breed of dog as long as the other dog is trained. Cavaliers are great with people of all ages, from children to seniors, making them a very versatile dog. They rank 44th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, being of average working/obedience intelligence.
The extremely social nature of the Cavalier KC Spaniel means that they require almost constant companionship from humans or other dogs, and are not suited to spending long periods of time on their own. (Even though they will be very patient and obedient) This breed is one of the friendliest of the toy group. It is important for Cavaliers to have a hand-reared puppyhood to ensure security and friendliness. When they greet somebody they tend to lick them on the hand. They connect with their owners almost immediately, but are rarely a little delayed with strangers. They are very playful.
Some Cavaliers have been known to exhibit traits in common with cats, such as perching in high places (the tops of couches, the highest pillow, etc), cleaning their own paws and can also show some birding qualities. Cavaliers have been seen to catch small birds in mid-flight that are flying too close to the ground. Such behaviour is a result of their earlier use as a hunting dog, and as such, they can develop habits that predispose them to chase small animals such as chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds etc. .
Cavaliers often suffer from health problems, including two conditions believed to be polygenic, mitral valve disease (MVD) and syringomyelia (SM) which can be particularly severe and common.
Mitral valve disease
Nearly all Cavaliers eventually will suffer from mitral valve disease, with heart murmurs which may progressively worsen, leading to heart failure. This condition is polygenic, and therefore all lines of Cavaliers worldwide are potentially susceptible. It is the leading cause of death of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. A survey by the UK Kennel Club showed that 42.8% of Cavalier deaths are cardiac related. The next most common causes are cancer(12.3%) and old age(12.2%). The ‘hinge’ on the heart’s mitral valve loosens and can gradually deteriorate, along with the valve’s flaps, causing a heart murmur (as blood seeps through the valve between heartbeats) then congestive heart failure, can begin to emerge at an early age, and statistically may be expected to be present in more than half of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by age 5. It is rare for a 10-year-old Cavalier not to have a mitral valve heart murmur. While heart disease is common in dogs generally — one in 10 of all dogs will eventually have heart problems — Mitral Valve Disease is generally (as in humans) a disease of old age, but unfortunately, the Cavalier is susceptible to early-onset heart disease, at as young as age one or two. Veterinary geneticists and cardiologists have designed breeding guidelines to eliminate early-onset mitral valve disease in the breed; but it is unclear if a statistically significant number of breeders follow these guidelines. The Chairperson of the UK CKCS Club has said that “There are many members who are still not prepared to health check their breeding stock, and of those who do, it would appear that many would not hesitate to breed from affected animals.” The MVD breeding protocol recommends that parents should be at least 2.5 years old and heart clear, and their parents (eg the puppy’s grandparents) should be heart clear until age 5.
Syringomyelia (SM) is a condition affecting the brain and spine, causing symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. It is caused by a malformation in the lower back of the skull which reduces the space available to the brain, compressing it and often forcing it out (herniating it) through the opening into the spinal cord. This blocks the flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the brain and spine and increases the fluid’s pressure, creating turbulence which in turn is believed to create fluid pockets, or syrinxes (hence the term syringomyelia), in the spinal cord. Syringomyelia is rare in most breeds but has become widespread in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with international research samples in the past few years consistently showing nearly all (90%+) cavaliers have the malformation and that between 30-70% have syrinxes, though most dogs with syrinxes are not symptomatic. Although symptoms of syringomyelia can present at any age, they typically appear between 6 months and 4 years of age in 85% of symptomatic dogs, according to Dr Rusbridge. Symptoms include sensitivity around the head, neck, or shoulders, often indicated by a dog whimpering or frequently scratching at the area of his neck or shoulder. Scratching is often unilateral — restricted to one side of the body. Scratching motions are frequently performed without actually making physical contact with the body (“air scratching”). The scratching behavior appears involuntary and the dog frequently scratches while walking — without stopping — in a way that is very atypical of normal scratching (“bunny hopping”). Scratching typical of SM is usually worse when the dog is wearing a collar, is being walked on leash, or is excited, and first thing in the morning or at night.
Not all dogs with SM show scratching behavior. Not all dogs who show scratching behavior appear to suffer pain, though several leading researchers, including Dr Clare Rusbridge in the UK and Drs Curtis Dewey and Dominic Marino in the US, believe scratching in SM cavaliers is a sign of pain and discomfort and of existing neurological damage to the dorsal horn region of the spine. If onset is at an early age, a first sign may be scratching and/or rapidly appearing scoliosis. If the problem is severe, there is likely to be poor proprioception (awareness of body position), especially with regard to the forelimbs. Clumsiness and falling results from this problem. Progression is variable though the majority of dogs showing symptoms by age 4 tend to see progression of the condition.
A veterinarian will rule out basic causes of scratching or discomfort such as ear mites, fleas, and allergies, and then, primary secretory otitis media (PSOM – glue ear), as well as spinal or limb injuries, before assuming that a Cavalier has SM. PSOM can present similar symptoms but is much easier and cheaper to treat. Episodic Falling Syndrome can also present similar symptoms. An MRI scan is normally done to confirm diagnosis of SM (and also will reveal PSOM). If a veterinarian suspects SM he will recommend an MRI scan. Neurologists give scanned dogs a signed certificate noting its grade.
Episodic Falling (EF)
Episodic Falling is an ‘exercise-induced paroxysmal hypertonicity disorder’ meaning that there is increased muscle tone in the dog and the muscles are unable to relax. Although it is often misdiagnosed as epilepsy, the dog remains conscious throughout the episode. Severity of symptoms can range from mild, occasional falling to freezing to seizure-like episodes lasting hours. Episodes can become more or less severe as the dog gets older. Onset of symptoms is usually before five months but may be noticed only later in life.
Hip dysplasia (HD) is a common genetic disease that affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It is never present at birth and develops with age. Hip dysplasia is diagnosed by x-rays, but it usually does not appear in x-rays of Cavaliers until they mature. Even in adult spaniels with severe HD, x-rays may not always indicate the disease.
A disorder occasionally seen in Cavaliers is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, colloquially known as “dry eye”. The usual cause of this condition is an autoimmune reaction against the dog’s lacrimal gland (tear gland), reducing the production of tears. According to the Canine Inherited Disorders Database, the condition requires continual treatment and if untreated may result in partial or total blindness. This disorder can decrease or heal over time. If treating with the ointments vets prescribe, careful attention to the dog’s eyes should be paid, as they can be under- or over-medicated.
Other Eye Disorders
A 1999 study of Cavaliers conducted by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation showed that an average of 30% of all CKCSs evaluated had eye problems. They include hereditary cataracts, corneal dystrophy, distichiasis, dry eye syndrome, entropion, microphthalmia, progressive retinal degeneration, and retinal dysplasia.
Cavaliers can be subject to a genetic defect of the femur and knee called luxating patella. This condition is most often observed when a puppy is 4 to 6 months old. In the most serious cases, surgery may be indicated. The grading system on the patella is grade 1-4; 1 being a tight knee to 4 which the knee cap will come out of place easily. If your cavalier has a grade 1-2 you can use physical rehabilitation therapy and exercise to reduce the grading and potentially avoid surgery. The grades 3-4 are most severe where surgery will most likely be needed to correct the problem or they will end up with arthritis and may develop lameness.
Primary Secretory Otitis Media
Primary Secretory Otitis Media (PSOM), also known as glue ear, consists of a highly viscous mucus plug which fills the dog’s middle ear and may cause the tympanic membrane to bulge. PSOM has been reported almost exclusively in Cavaliers, and it may affect up to 40% of them. Because the pain and other sensations in the head and neck areas, resulting from PSOM, are similar to some symptoms caused by syringomyelia (SM), some examining veterinarians have mis-diagnosed SM in Cavaliers which actually have PSOM and not SM
Deafness: Congenital or Progressive
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be predisposed to a form of congenital deafness, which is present at birth, due to a lack of formation or early degeneration of receptors in the inner ear, although this is relatively rare. In addition, more recent studies have found Cavaliers which develop a progressive hearing loss, which usually begins during puppyhood and progresses until the dog is completely deaf, usually between the ages of three and five years. The progressive nature of this form of deafness in Cavaliers is believed to be due to degeneration of the hearing nerve, rather than the lack of formation or early degeneration of the inner ear receptors.
Thrombocytopenia and Macrothrombocytopenia
As many as half of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may have a congenital blood disorder called idiopathic asymptomatic thrombocytopenia, an abnormally low number of blood platelets, according to recent studies in Denmark and the United States. Blood platelets (also called thrombocytes) are disk-shaped blood elements which aid in blood clotting. Excessively low numbers are the most common cause of bleeding disorders in dogs. The platelets in the blood of many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a combination of those of normal size for dogs and others that are abnormally oversized. Cavaliers’ oversized platelets are called macrothrombocytes. Macrothrombocytosis also is a congenital abnormality found in at least a third of CKCSs. These large platelets function normally, and the typical Cavalier does not appear to experience any health problems due to either the size or fewer numbers of its platelets. There are, however, exceptions to this typical situation. (Wikipedia)
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