Kennel Club launches new heart scheme for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels supported by Veterinary Cardiovascular Society

New health scheme set to improve heart health for Cavaliers

A new heart scheme for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been launched by the Kennel Club (KC) in consultation with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed clubs and supported by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society (VCS).

The Kennel Club heart scheme for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which is the first collaboration between all parties involved, has been developed to reduce the prevalence of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), a deadly heart disorder that affects a significant number of Cavaliers in the UK alone.

The new scheme will assess dogs using a grading system which can advise owners if their dog is affected by heart disease and provide guidance to breeders on how to lower the risk of producing affected puppies, potentially improving the health and welfare of these breeds for generations to come.

The assessment, which initially will be carried out in groups by specially-trained cardiologists, involves using a stethoscope to listen to the dog’s heart for signs of a murmur and checking the valves with an echocardiograph scan. Assessors, who are all specially-trained cardiologists, then use a pre-defined protocol to grade the dog. The scheme will be supported by advice which will enable breeders to understand the grade for their dogs in terms of risk when considering breeding.

The scheme’s launch, which took place at Annual General Meeting of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club in Derby, provided the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the process behind the scheme, including an assessment demonstration carried out by leading Cardiologist Dave Fisher BVetMed CertSAC CertSAM MRCVS.

Bill Lambert, Senior Health and Welfare Manager at the Kennel Club said: “The Kennel Club is committed to improving the health of this wonderful breed, so we are very pleased to be launching this scheme today. Developing the scheme collaboratively with the VCS and the breed club was crucial and we look forward to working alongside breeders, who we encourage to utilise and support the scheme. It is these people who are making the important decisions that determine the breed’s future and our job as the Kennel Club is to support them and offer them the tools to do this in a way that will improve the breed’s health.”

Sheena Maclaine, who is the Chairman and breed health co-ordinator for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, said: “We welcome the scheme as an important positive step forward to help improve our breed’s health. We have always recognised our responsibility as caretakers of this breed and having been invited by the Kennel Club to provide insight from the CKCS breed community to support the development of the scheme, we are delighted such progress has been made and will continue to work closely with the Kennel Club and VCS to encourage uptake of the scheme.”

Hannah Stephenson, cardiologist at the VCS, said: “With heart problems being the most prevalent condition in Cavaliers - Mitral Valve Disease is a condition that we see on a daily basis - the scheme is a great step forwards in improving the health of these dogs. Obtaining and centralising the data through this scheme will also go a long way in protecting the health of the breed and contributing to future research.”

For more details and to find out about group assessment sessions please email our health team or visit our website.