Top Notch Toys June 2017

breed Standard, the Cavalier should be between 12"-13" at the shoulder and weigh between 13-18 pounds. Some leeway is permissible. The Cavalier is a happy, gentle dog— not at all aggressive with either dogs or man. Indeed, many owners assert that “you cannot have just one!” If you visit a Cavalier breeder friend and add your own Cavalier to the mix for a few hours, chances are excellent that they will all play together and get along fine. The Cavalier is biddable and very train- able—not only as a household pet, but also as a Therapy, Obedience and Agil- ity dog. Remember, though, that he is an active dog, quite swift afoot and cannot always be relied upon to come when he is called if he is chasing a butterfly or following the flight of a bird. For most owners, a fenced yard and/or a leash is a ‘must have.’ As with all breeds of dogs, the Cav- alier does have some breed-specific health considerations. Owners should be vigilant for mitral valve disease of the heart, congenital eye conditions including retinal problems and cata- racts, slipping patellas, hip dysplasia and SM (syringomyelia, a serious neu- rological condition). Cavaliers can be screened for all these health concerns and the majority live comfortably into double digits. I have had Cava- liers since 1988 and the earliest I lost one to illness was 9 years old, taken by an autoimmune disease. My oldest will turn 16 in June and when tested last year, was still heart murmur free. Responsible breeders health test their breeding animals and will supply the puppy buyer with veterinary specialist certifications when possible. Cavaliers are most commonly screened for heart problems, slipping patellas and inher- ited eye conditions. Other testing may be more problematic due to inherent costs or what a breeder might regard as risk to the dog (general anesthesia, for example, in the case of an MRI to diagnose syringomyelia). The watchword for the Cavalier might be “natural.” He is naturally sweet and gentle, never artificially trimmed and—by nature—perennially happy and delighted to do almost anything his owner desires. He is really a “dog for all reasons,” and those of us who love them wouldn’t have him any other way.

1 From my article in Dog World, 2013.

T op N otch T oys , J une 2017 • 67

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