10 Health Questions to ask a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breeder 

 Stop shopping for a puppy!  

 Start looking for an Ethical & Reputable breeder that you trust and can build a relationship with. Then get the right puppy!    

After you read the 10 questions, there is a fun sample test below to see if you can find all the RED FLAGS of a puppy mill add.             

1.   What are the registered NAMES of the Sire & Dame, BIRTH DATES and PEDIGREE of the puppy?  

*      Are the parents are registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA (CKCSC)?  These are the only two registering bodies for Cavaliers.  Any other registry and it is most likely from a puppy mill.   Ask to see the registrations of both parents.  


*      Make sure that BOTH parents are over the age of 2.5 and were bred according to the MVD Heart Protocol.    

*      Look up the parents on OFA (click the picture above for OFFA.com) and verify what the health testing has been done and recorded.   

*      Ask to see a pedigree on the parents which will identify the ancestors of the puppy.   Ask about their health as well. 


2.   Is the breeder following the Mitral Valve Disease - MVD Breeding Protocol? 

 *      Both parents must be over the age of 2.5 and preferably the sire over the age of 5 and heart clear by a Board certified Cardiologist.  A Veterinarian check up is NOT sufficient.  

*       Are the parents of the Dame MVD clear by a Board Certified Cardiologist and over the age of 5 when your puppy is born?

*       50% of all Cavaliers have MVD by the age of 5.  This is the leading cause of death in Cavaliers.  Read the heart protocol.  Do not accept anything less.  

*      Do NOT fall for the "I don't have MVD in our lines" or "you only tests if you have it in your lines".    There are many quality Cavalier breeders following the 'real' protocol.  Find one!

3.   Is the breeder following the CM/SM Breeding Protocol for Syringomyelia and the Chiari-Like Malformation?  Have Both parents been MRI scanned clear? 

*      90% of all Cavaliers have Chiari-Like Malformation and of those, 40% are symptomatic.  If the breeder is not MRI scanning, find a breeder that is.  There are many reputable breeders that are scanning! Here is a list of breeders that are actively scanning.  

*     Most breeders in the UK routinely scan.  It is more expensive to MRI scan here in the US, however there are many group rates and clinics.  Several countries now require and have Mandatory MRI scanning and there is a petition now in the UK to make it standard. 


August 15 The Cavalier Petition in the UK passed and now there are over 22,000 signatures to require all Cavalier to be MRI scanned and to be in the heart protocol to be registered with the kennel club.  Nothing in the US is being done . 

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4.   Have both Parents been x-rayed over the age of 2 and graded by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for Hip Dysplasia? 

*      Hips can only be graded by OFA or PINHIP.  They can NOT be okay'd by a Veterinarian.  

*      Cavaliers can have Hip Dysplasia just like large breeds such as the German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever.  It is just as painful and just as debilitating.      

5.   Have both Parents patellas (Knees) been examined and cleared by a Veterinarian? 

*      Patellas are normally submitted at the same time as Hip X-rays and are noted on the OFFA website. Certificates from the Veterinarian should be backed up.

6.   Do both Parents have eye exams by a Board Certified Ophthalmologist with in the last year?   

*      Annual Eye Exams should be done with a Board Certified Ophthalmologist and should be Clean.  They can NOT be certified by a general Veterinarian.  

*      Puppies from the ages of 8-12 weeks should also be seen by a Board Certified Ophthalmologist.  Ask if the puppies are going to be seen.  

7   Have both parents been DNA tested for Curly Coat / Dry Eye and Episodic Falling Syndrome? 

*      NO CAVALIER should be born with CC/DE/EFS!!  There is a simple DNA test that cost about $150 per parent and can tell if the parent is Clear, Carrier or Affected.  Ask for the Certificates.  If the parents are not DNA tested do not buy from this breeder!  

8  What age will the puppy be ready to go to the new home?  

*     Cavaliers are a slow maturing breed.  They should never leave the home until 10-12 weeks of age.   Never accept a puppy less than 10 weeks of age.     

9  Will the puppy have an Eye Exam between 8-12 weeks of age? 

*      There is a 'window of time' where the Canine Ophthalmologist can see if there are folds, geographical folds, retinal dysplasia, and other eye issues including juvenile cataracts, dry eye and extra eyelashes.   These disorders can range from nothing to mild discomfort to blindness.  All  

10 Have the puppies been temperament tested and how have they been socialized?  

*      Puppies that have daily interaction with people, home environments and other dogs grow up to be well socialized individuals.  Never purchase a puppy if it is fearful, overly shy or not use to being handled.  



At minimum the breeder should provide you:

* AKC registration papers.

* 3 generation Pedigree.

* Food and care instructions.

* Copies of medical records on the puppy.



       Wellness Exam

       8-12 Week Eye Exam 

Parents Health records: 

* heart exam done by a Board certified Cardiologist with in a year of breeding.

* Hips Dysplasia X-ray report graded by OFA.

* Patella’s (Knees) clearance by a qualified Veterinarian and submitted to OFA.

* Eye Exam clearance done by a Board Certified Ophthalmologist with in a year of breeding.

* DNA test results for Curly Coat / Dry Eye and Episodic Falling Syndrome. Sire and Dam can also be clear by heredity based on their parent’s DNA tests.

* MRI scan results for the dogs past the age of two.

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SAMPLE TEST to see how many RED FLAGS can you spot in the following add.  This was a real add that I pulled from Puppy find on the internet.  If you can't find them all please go to our the page How to find a Reputable Breeder and Healthy Puppy.              

©  Linda Baird & Woody Goode 2015