Following the news of a working party to review Cavalier heart screening, the Kennel Club has announced they're developing a new heart scheme for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in conjunction with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society (VCS) and Cavalier breed clubs. Among the various health issues that plague this popular breed mitral valve disease (MVD) is one of the most worrying, as it can lead to fatal heart failure. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are 20 times more likely than other breeds to develop it at a young age.
"It is recognised by the Kennel Club and veterinary cardiologists that there are issues with current schemes that can deter some breeders from using them on all breeding dogs, such as considerations about age of breeding bitches and ensuring there is no negative impact on genetic diversity in the breed," a Kennel Club statement reads. "As such the development of a new robust scheme will seek to overcome these issues and ensure that breeders are able to safely use it to protect the future health of the breed."
As the VCS develops the protocol for the new scheme, the Kennel Club will "investigate the viability of making it mandatory for Kennel Club Assured Breeders". This is something many Cavalier lovers have been calling for: the breed's situation is so dire many believe making health testing mandatory for breeding is the only way to ensure some of the painful diseases it's prone to are eradicated.
Bill Lambert, Kennel Club Health and Breeder Services Manager, said, “We are keen that all those involved are being as proactive as possible and are tackling the issue of Cavalier hearts in the UK in a productive, timely and realistic way. We all want to improve the health of this wonderful breed and to be able to provide a robust tool that does this successfully.
“We are keen to ensure that the new scheme will be supported and utilised by the Cavalier breeders, who at the end of the day are the ones making the breeding decisions that determine the breed’s future.”