The foundation to good breeding is health. Without good health a breeding program will NOT have a future.
Cavaliers are known for two major health issues. Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Syringomyelia (SM). Breeders for many years have been battling to reduce MVD, which shortens the life of a Cavalier. MVD is a degeneration of the Mitral heart valve. Cavaliers may develop MVD at any age which will be indicated with a murmur in the heart beat rhythm. Murmurs are graded as low as one and will increase with the severity of the murmur. Once a murmur is identified, it may increase in grade gradually or rapidly, there is no known fact to its increase development. Cavaliers have been know to live well into their teens with grade two murmurs, but the possibility of enlarged hearts and cardiac failure is higher.
It is recommended that cavaliers under the age of five not be breed if they have indication of MVD. A cavalier will usually develop MVD by the age of five. Most breeders start to breed dogs less then five years, so as a buyer one must look back in the pedigree at the grandparents and great-grandparents. To help, the CKCSC-USA has a health registry which list cavaliers registered with the club who are over the age of five and heart clear.
Recently increasing diagnoses of SM in cavaliers is emerging as a severe inherited condition. SM cannot be easily diagnosed without an MRI. For more information on SM, please visit the CKCSC-USA web site and refer to the health link.
Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are also genetic problems in all breeds, not just cavaliers. The Orthopedic Foundation of Animals and Penn Hip are two of the leading organizations for certifications. Patellar luxation can easily be identified by any veterinarian, but results should be certified with OFA for future research and breed development.
There are also many eye diseases and disorders that canines have. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation certifies eye exams performed by AVCO veterinarians. Annual eye exams are recommended on all breeds.