Cavalier Matters

Supporting Research, Rescue, and Reform

Buying a Cavalier Puppy

Cavaliers are the most wonderful family pet. Sadly, they suffer from many serious and painful hereditary diseases. Always buy from a breeder that health tests thoroughly. Research has proven that breeding from clear parents reduces the risk of disease. This could take several months and still does not guarantee your Cavalier will not succumb to illness, but it gives you a better chance.

Ask Lots of Questions

A good breeder will happily answer questions and be proud to illustrate the length they go to produce healthy puppies. A caring breeder will have many questions for you regarding the home you are going to provide.

Where’s Mum?

You should always see the puppies with their mother; the father may be with another breeder. Some less‐than‐scrupulous dealers bring in an unrelated bitch to pose as the mother, so make sure you observe play and interaction between mum and puppies. For health reasons, good breeders do not breed their dogs under the age of two and a half years.

It’s All about Results

Being told a puppy’s parents have been health tested is not enough. You should see the results and ask for copies of the certificates. Puppies inherit an equal number of genes from each parent, it is essential both the mother and father are tested, and you see the grandparent’s health certificates.

Download examples of health certificates [1.24MB]

Heart Disease in Cavaliers

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is the biggest killer of Cavaliers and 20 times more prevalent in this breed than other dogs. Danish cavaliers showed a 73% reduced risk of MVD under a mandatory breeding protocol.

Cavaliers should not be bred from before two and half years of age. Your prospective puppy’s parents must have a recent certificate showing they are free of a heart murmur. This test should be carried out by a specialist cardiologist. “Vet Checked” is not adequate. Ask at what age the puppies’ grandparents had their last clear heart test. The heart test should be clear at age 5 years.

Syringomyelia / Chiari‐like‐Malformation (CM/SM)

This is an extremely painful neurological condition. Cavaliers have to be MRI scanned to determine whether they are affected. Sadly, most Cavaliers do have CM. Dogs with early onset SM should not be used for breeding. There is an official Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association Scheme to test for CM/SM, the results of which are made public. This scheme is underused and most breeders who do MRI scan do so independently of the scheme.


These should be examined by a specialist and tests carried out every year to 18 months for breeding dogs. If your Cavalier suffers from eye disease, this can result in life long medication or at worst eye removal.

Episodic Falling Syndrome / Dry Eye / Curly Coat

There is a definitive one‐off DNA test available to show whether a Cavalier is affected. Dogs can carry the gene but as long as they are mated to a clear dog they will not produce affected offspring. Two carriers must never be mated together.

Do the Background Research before Viewing

Cavalier puppies are irresistibly cute; because of this ask your questions and see copies of parent’s health certificates before going to see the litter. It takes extraordinary willpower to walk away from an adorable puppy, even if it has not been bred responsibly. Health certificates can be confusing. It is best to ask someone independent to help you interpret the test results. Cavalier Matters is always happy to help.


Even the most careful breeder sometimes produces puppies that go on to develop health problems. Other problems can develop, and accidents may happen. An insurance policy for life is strongly recommended.

For more information about buying a puppy please visit