Kaliak Cavaliers

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Interested in learning a little more about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? Well, here's a quick rundown to help you get familiar with our gorgeous breed.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an active and well balanced little dog. It's described as being gay, fearless and sporting in character. They make excellent children's companions and are always ready to play and please. A healthy cavalier usually weighs between 5.4 - 8.2 kilograms, and lives for 10 -12 years.

These happy little dogs come in four colours. The most common is the Blenheim; which features rich chestnut patches evenly broken up on a pearly white coat, and a 'lozenge' on top of the head. The Ruby is a rich chestnut head-to-toe. Black & Tans are mostly raven black, with tan markings on the cheeks, chest, legs, the underside of the tail, and inside of the ears. The Tricolour, has a black and white coat, with the same tan markings as the Black & Tan.
Because we love our little breed so much, we need to protect them by screening all our breeding stock from known inherited diseases.
Our major concern for the breed, is Mitral Valve Disease, or MVD. Simply, this is an early ageing of the heart valves. This can result in blood leaking back from the main pumping chambers into the smaller receiving chambers, and as it worsens, can lead to heart failure. From our experience with MVD, as little as it may be, 6-7 years old are the potential danger years for the first onset. So this is why, through the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of NSW (CKCSCNSW), we conduct annual heart checks of all our breeding stock. With vigilance in testing and responsible breeding, we aim to eventually rid our precious breed of this problem.
Another health concern is cataracts or retinal dysplasia. Although it's not a common occurrence, it can be detected in affected cavaliers at 12 - 15 months of age. We also conduct annual eye checks of all our breeding stock, and this screening is currently keeping the problem at bay.
Hip dysplasia and luxating patellas are sometimes associated with cavaliers, but are not a major concern with small breeds like ours.
Hip dysplasia is a disease with a genetic predisposition involving a polygenic mode of inheritance with the severity of expression being determined by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors (Leighton Eaetal: A Genetic Study of Hip Dysplasia: 1977). As with most other breeds, Cavaliers are Hip Scored at 18 months of age, to help keep this problem out of breeding stock.
Despite both of these health conditions not being a major concern for cavaliers, owner vigilance is still a must. Frequent mild exercise, especially swimming, and keeping your cavaliers at a healthy weight are very important in keeping the problem away.
A new issue to emerge for cavaliers recently, is a condition called Syringomyelia, where fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord. The condition occurs when the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the spinal cord is blocked, and in cavaliers occurs secondary to the occipital bone in the skull. In cavaliers, scratching around the neck when excited or on a leash, is the most common sign of the condition. Impacted dogs and potential carriers of the condition, are widespread within the cavalier lines, making vigilance in responsible breeding to avoid doubling up on its genetic factor vitally important. Once DNA testing becomes available for this problem (as it has for MVD), it will be much easier to eliminate it from our lines. Currently, MRI testing of breeding stock with a grading system is available, and being used to reduce the incidence of this problem.
With DNA testing for Dry Eye/Curly Coat Syndrome and Episodic Falling also available, responsible breeders have a great tool to eliminate these problems as well.
It's important to understand, that even if the sire and dam have been screened and found clear of any health problems, no breeder can guarantee that your puppy will never develop a problem during its lifetime. But vigilant screening and testing does reduce the chance. 
Also keep in mind, that questioning breeders about health issues and their testing processes is something you should do. Not all breeders believe in all testing, or of having tests certified. Responsible breeders should welcome your questions, be pleased that you care about the health of your puppy and not object to providing copies of any testing that has been done.
Our aim is simple - to breed happy, healthy, well-adjusted little cavaliers, that will bring many years of fun and friendship to their carers.
To those who decide to become a cavalier parent, we hope you experience all the joy and love this gorgeous breed has filled our lives with. You can read more about our story here.
Happy Cavaliering!