This is Taupo. He was our beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniel. We got him from a Kennel Club registered breeder as a puppy, after viewing him several times with his mum. My son chose him himself from the litter. We never wanted a showdog, we wanted a pet, and that’s exactly what he was.
Taupo had a healthy diet, he was exercised several times a day, and much, much loved.
He was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease at the age of seven and died a year later. We were all broken-hearted.
MVD isn’t the only disease affecting cavaliers. But naively, I’d thought that getting a pedigree, Kennel Club-registered puppy, where we were clear about the parentage, guaranteed health.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Last night’s BBC4 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On revealed that despite steps taken to stamp out health problems in some breeds of pedigree dogs, many still exist (if you’re thinking about getting a pedigree puppy, I’d definitely recommend watching it).
Of course there are good breeders and bad breeders, and thankfully not all pedigree breeds have such serious health issues as the Cavalier or Bulldog. But as the documentary showed, one of the biggest problems even the most responsible breeders face is that health problems can be a result of genetic mutations which of course may not be visible in parents or grandparents or even older generations.
Breed standards, including those demanded by shows like Crufts, compound the situation.
And by the way, when we were looking for a new dog, we decided to get a rescue dog. I can’t tell you how many pedigree puppies I was offered.