New Pilot Heart Scheme For Cavaliers Being Developed

A pilot for a new heart scheme for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is being developed by the Kennel Club and veterinary cardiologists in conjunction with Cavalier breed clubs.

Following the acceptance by the Kennel Club of the Danish heart scheme, which enabled test results in the UK to be sent to Denmark for assessment under the scheme, all parties involved were keen to improve the current heart testing scheme in the UK, which has been running for many years.

The Kennel Club formed a working group dedicated to Cavalier hearts early in 2017, which included members of the Kennel Club, the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society and representatives of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel community. The aim of the group was to develop an improved UK heart testing scheme based on the currently available evidence about heart testing in the breed, which might in the future be recorded on the Kennel Club database and published on the Health Test Results Finder.

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.  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.

The VCS is to now develop the protocol for the new scheme while the Kennel Club will investigate the viability of making it mandatory for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. It is anticipated that the new scheme will run alongside the current auscultation scheme for a period of time while the benefit of the new scheme is assessed.  The practicalities of collecting and recording results and how results and certificates may be issued and published are also being looked at.  The VCS hopes to discuss these plans in a presentation to interested members of the Cavalier community in the near future.

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.”

Updates will be provided by the Kennel Club in due course as the scheme is developed.

Read further information on the work carried out by the Kennel Club to protect and promote dog health.