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PUPPY BUYER’S GUIDE




2009 Edition

The addition of a dog to any family is a long term commitment.

Emotional attachments happen very quickly so it’s best to make the right choice from the start. To do this, you will have to find the breed and the breeder who is best for you.

While we know that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the best companion on four legs, the purchaser must keep in mind the purpose for which the dog was bred. The Cavalier was originally bred as a small sporting spaniel but because of its affection for their owners, it is equally as comfortable romping in the field with you or curled up on your lap. Cavaliers have an instinct to give chase to just about anything that moves.

Cavaliers are small dogs and we often find that we are not as diligent as we should be in our training.

He may not knock you over when he jumps but dirty paws are all the same regardless of the size. Some gentle discipline is required. Don’t be “conned” by those big brown eyes into ignoring undesirable behaviour in your dog.

Cavaliers as guard dogs? They will certainly announce when visitors arrive, but the only thing a Cavalier is capable of guarding is the bird bath. Cavaliers shed moderately and are not considered “non-allergenic.”


PET SHOPS, COMMERCIAL KENNELS, AND BACKYARD BREEDERS

Dogs from pet shops often originate from U.S. and Canadian puppy mills. The background of the dams and sires are unknown. They usually do not screen for inherited problems and there are no health clearances. These businesses produce large numbers of various breeds of dogs so human contact is practically non-existent. In order to reach the pet store in time, the puppies leave their dams much too early. Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registration is virtually impossible.

Backyard breeders are usually pet owners who see breeding a litter of puppies as an inexpensive way to get another dog. Their dogs have no health clearances because they don’t know what to check for. They have little experience or understanding of the breed and they often cut corners to make a few dollars.

Cavaliers are very social dogs who thrive when they are “Home Raised.” They need and want early human socialization to ensure good behaviour and temperament. Good Cavaliers can never be bought in a pet store.

HEALTH PROBLEMS IN CAVALIERS

Genetic defects occur in Cavaliers as they do in all breeds. What is important is how the breeder deals with them. Eye anomalies such as cataracts or retinal dysplasia can occur in our breed. Dogs of both sexes should be tested and cleared by a veterinary ophthalmologist regularly to prevent genetic defects from being passed on to puppies.

The heart problem known as mitral valve disease is common in Cavaliers. Breeding stock should be tested annually after one year of age. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Canada produces a voluntary Health Registry as a reference available to both breeders and future pet owners.

Slipping patellas or kneecaps may also occasionally be a problem in Cavaliers, as in other small breeds. Again, dogs exhibiting this problem should not be bred from. You have the right, and are encouraged to request to see documentation on all health clearances of both the sire and the dam. While the breeder cannot guarantee that the puppy will never be affected, it is an indication that the breeder is attempting to produce healthy puppies.

Breeders have their own guarantees when they sell a puppy; they are as varied as the breeders who give them. Puppy buyers should have their vet give the puppy a check-up within one week of receiving it. This is not only a safeguard for both you and the breeder, but enables the vet to become familiar with your pet from the beginning. All reputable breeders give a full refund if the puppy does not pass this examination. Beware of anyone who states that all sales are final!


HOW TO FIND A REPUTABLE BREEDER

We are fortunate to have many reputable breeders of Cavaliers in Southern Ontario. However it is best to take nothing for granted. It is important to personally research the breeder and find the one who is best for you. Do not hesitate to talk to more than one breeder and be sure to visit their kennel. If you are not comfortable, don’t buy!

CAUTION: To safe-guard the health of all puppies, only visit one kennel per day.

During the initial conversation, determine if the breeder:

POSITIVE:
      is a member of the CKC and/or a breed club
      will not sell you a puppy under 8 weeks of age
      asks you about your family, lifestyle etc.
      asks if you have a fenced yard
      offers health clearances of breeding stock
      sells puppies on a CKC legal non-breeding contract
      emphasizes that buying a puppy is usually a minimum 10 year commitment 

NEGATIVE:
      indicates that financial considerations are their main concern
      talks about “shipments” coming in or pups being delivered for sale
      says that all sales are final
      charges different amounts for “registered” and “unregistered” pups. It is illegal to charge extra for registered puppies.

When you visit the Breeder check the following:
      is the facility clean?
      are the dam and the pups on the premises; are they friendly, alert and show no sign of shyness?
      are original health clearances for the dam and copies for the sire available?
      have the puppies received their first series of shots and have they been wormed?
      are the pedigrees available?

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. Why is the breeder picking out my puppy for me?

A. The breeder knows the personality of each puppy and is the best person to make the match between the puppy and its new family.

Q. Is it true that Cavaliers don't require grooming?

A. No, like all dogs, Cavaliers do need some grooming. This includes weekly combing, brushing, teeth and ear cleaning, monthly nail
cutting and bathing when your nose or eyes tells you it is necessary.

Q. What about trimming?

A. Our breed standard prohibits the trimming of show dogs. A neutered or spayed Cavalier may develop more coat and periodic trimming may be required.

Q. How much does a Cavalier cost?

A. Prices vary from breeder to breeder. An up-to-date list of breeders can be obtained from either the Club secretary or website (see contact

information below). Any of the breeder members will advise their current selling price.

Q. Can you explain the cost?

A.  average litter size 3.4 puppies
      stud fee equals a puppy
      normal costs for the litter and quality food equals a puppy
      yearly expenses for vet, show and club membership equals a puppy
      unusual vet expenses; cesarean section, health clearances equals puppy
      Breeders have basic expenses even if the bitches have false pregnancies or miscarriages; choose not to breed a bitch until they are older or have neutered dogs.
      It is uncommon for a hobby breeder to break even having a litter of puppies.
      If a breeder is charging substantially less than everyone else, ask yourself why.

Q. Are Cavaliers easy to train?

A. The participation of Cavaliers in Agility, Obedience Trials, and Flyball tournaments appears to be on the increase. Regardless of whether you want to formally participate in these sports or you just want your Cavalier to be well behaved, your dog will benefit from training. Cavaliers are intelligent and eager to please. However, intelligent dogs are smart enough to know how to avoid doing what they don’t want to do!

Q. What is the difference between a pet and show quality puppy?

A. Pet puppies are equal to show quality puppies when it comes to companionship and health. Often, the only difference may be markings or imperfections obvious only to a breeder. If you are interested in breeding, the person you purchase your puppy from will want to play a part in mate selection. Co-ownership and terms for show quality puppies must be carefully considered if this is the direction you choose. Pet and show quality puppies may cost the same since there is no way to guarantee championship qualities at 8 weeks of age.

Q. What is a non-breeding contract?

A. A non-breeding contract prevents the registration of a litter with the Canadian Kennel Club. Reputable breeders put nonbreeding contracts on all puppies sold as pets. These conditions can be changed at the discretion of the breeder.

Q. Male or Female?

A. Cavaliers are equal in temperament, energy, size, and affection regardless of their gender.

Q. How do I know if the breeder has too many dogs?

A. For some people, one dog is too many! It is something that’s different for everyone. Cavaliers thrive in a home environment as they require lots
of socialization with human beings. Make sure the dogs are in good condition, happy and healthy.

Q. Should a puppy be spayed or neutered?

A. Unless you are considering showing and breeding your Cavalier, your life may be simpler if your dog is spayed or neutered.

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; John Evans; Howell Books; 1990

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Today; Sheila Smith; 1995

Dogs in Canada Annual: Canadian Kennel Club; Published Yearly

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; Norma Moffat

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual; D. Caroline Coile

How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend:  Monks of New Skete; James and Kenneth

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Bruce Field; Robert Hail; London, 1995

   

Cavalier Fanciers of Southern Ontario

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kimberley Hergott, Secretary, CFSO
41180 Cardiff Road, R.R. # 5
(519) 887-9942
Email: midsummercavalier@live.ca

The CFSO and the Puppy Buyer's Guide make no warranties, either expressed or implied, regarding this information, its accuracy, or correctness.

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Last Update: August 8, 2013