NO Cavalier should ever be born with           Dry Eye / Curly Coat or Episodic Falling Syndrome because there is a definitive DNA test.   

     Many Cavaliers suffer from these genetic diseases however as of April 2011 the Animal Health Trust (AHT)  produced  a DNA test that will detect the genes.   A simple mouth swab that is sent in along with a funds for about $150 will determine if the dog is Clear, a Carrier or Affected.   VetGen is now testing in the US but many breeders still use the AHT test. 

     Therefore, if all Cavaliers are tested… NO Cavalier puppy should have Dry Eye / Curly Coat or Episodic Falling Syndrome!  All breeding Cavaliers need to be DNA tested. 

      When looking for a breeder, one of the questions should be: are both parents DNA tested for DE/CC/EF?  These tests can now be recorded on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website.  Reputable Breeders will have a printed copy of the parents' certificates when placing a puppy. 

 The test results will be in one of three categories

CLEAR These dogs have two normal DNA genes.  Clear dogs will not be affected. 

CARRIER  these dogs have one of the mutation and one normal gene. These dogs will NOT develop the syndromes themselves but can pass on the mutation to their offspring.  

AFFECTED these dogs have two copies of the mutation and are clinically affected. 


The Animal Health Trust sends two Certificates.  One for Dry Eye / Curly Coat and a separate certificate for Episodic Falling Syndrome.  Do not get it confused with the AKC DNA certificate for parentage.  I showed an example below.  Also make sure the names match the parents of your puppy. 

*  When Clear to Clear are bred, all of the off spring will be Clear.  

*  A Carrier can be bred to a Clear and the resulting puppies will either be Carriers or a Clear, but none will be affected.   

*  It is unethical to ever breed an Affected.  An Affected dog should be taken out of any breeding program.    

*  When both parents are Clear, the offspring will not need to be tested but will be 'Clear by Heredity' for one generation.   Copies of both parents (or grandparents) certificates should be provided to the new puppy owner. 


The American Kennel Club DNA profile is NOT acceptable for any health testing.  This is only used to determine heritage of the puppies and NOT for health issues.  Do not get it confused.  The DNA certificates are shown above.  

Dry Eye / Curly Coat 


This is a painful disorder and most puppies do not survive puppy hood.  The syndrome is scientifically called keratitis sicca or Karatoconjunctivitis sicca.  It is reported that about 12% of all CKCSC puppies are born with this syndrome.  With the new DNA tests,  breeders will be able to eliminate affected dogs that appear normal and not breed two carriers together, thus eliminating the disease eventually.    


   Dry Eye is an inflammation of the cornea and the inability to produce tears.  The lack of tears or lubricating moisture in the eye causes an inability for eliminating foreign objects such as hair and dust.  This can cause infections and painful ulcerations and most often blindness.  

     This syndrome is a combination of eye and skin where the coat is rough and often curls like lambs wool and has an oily texture.   The coat tecture can be seen at birth.   The mouth and eyes do not seem to have moisture and the teeth and toenails can be deformed.   Most of these puppies fail to thrive and will not grow at the same rate as their siblings. 

     The photos above showd two male puppies that were identical in birth weight (actually the affected brother was slightly larger).   Shown below,  the litter of nursing puppies for comparison of size and vigor.   With additional tube feeding and round the clock attention, the effected puppy failed to thrive and died at age 3 weeks.  This litter was bred several years prior to the DNA tests being available.  Today, this litter would not happen when Reputable Breeders are DNA testing.  


Episodic Falling Syndrome

     EFS is found only in the Cavalier and similar to the fainting goats seen on Youtube and TV.  It sounds funny but it is a life long condition and very, very painful to the dog where the muscles tighten and are not able to relax.   Normally the rear legs stiffen and the back curves into what is called a deer stalking stance with the head down and the back legs straight up.  Many will fall over or collapse when running and go into an episode.  The front legs  may tighten and go over the head.   All during the episode the dog is conscious and aware but unable to control their body.  

     This is not considered a seizure however it will appear to the spectator as one.  After the episode, the dog must be kept very quiet and still or it can trigger subsequent episodes.  Some effected dogs may have one or two episodes in their life time and some have lapsed into repeated and exhausting episodes that could not be controlled by medication and thus had to be euthanized.   

      More whole colors (Rubies & Black and Tans) seem to be carriers or effected by EFS.      Click the video below and I am SURE after you see this you will want to make sure your breeder is doing the DNA test so NO cavalier should ever be born with this!!  

      Again, I cannot emphasize this enough… NO CAVALIER should be born with Episodic Falling Syndrome.  There is a DNA test that all responsible breeders use to test the parents.  In 2012 it was estimated that about 22% of all Cavaliers were Carriers therefore do not buy a puppy unless:

     BOTH PARENTS  have been DNA tested or clear by heredity. 

©  Linda Baird & Woody Goode 2015