Finding a Puppy
Eight IS Enough!
The selection of a reputable breeder from whom to purchase your puppy is the most important step you can take in ensuring that you have the BEST chance of purchasing a healthy, temperamentally sound puppy who will stay that way during his/her long life.
Protect your family from the devastation of a sickly, biting, abnormal Cavalier by reading and re-reading the documents below. This information will help you locate a responsible, ethical breeder.
In A Nutshell
Since no-one has much spare time these days, especially for reading and researching, both of which seem to be way at the bottom of most people's list of priorities, below is an extremely short version of the do's and do not's of purchasing a puppy. It is written in a blunt and to the point manner out of concern for YOU, the pet buying public, and out of concern for the poor puppies that you may purchase inadvertently because you did not have the time to read and research more thoroughly. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
Some advice -- make time to read ALL these documents, not just "In a Nutshell".
Here comes the Lecture!
With all the press and documentaries warning American families about puppy mills (http://www.prisoners of greed.org) and their cohorts, the pet shops, it is hard to believe that any conscious, functioning person would be unaware of the horrors of this industry which produces often defective puppies for resale to you, the unsuspecting general public. Yet puppies continue to be sold through pet stores, commercial outlets, brokers and middle-men. FYI -- there is no such thing as a responsible, ethical breeder who sells even one puppy to a middle-man or broker or pet shop for resale.
With this in mind, the question is, will you, the buyer, be part of the PROBLEM or part of the SOLUTION? The United States is a democratic society and we all have choices in life. Sometimes we choose well and sometimes we do not. These documents are here to assist you in choosing wisely. Dogs are living creatures that will hopefully be with us for over 12 years and therefore your choice of where to purchase your future family companion is extremely important, ranking right up there with the choice of your significant other or partner.
If you, the dog-buying public, purchased puppies only from breeders who are trying to do a good job of producing typical, emotionally and physically sound adult dogs, the bad breeders would stop breeding because they could not sell their produce. By choosing this route, you are becoming part of the SOLUTION and you should be congratulated on your concern and understanding of the situation. You will make a wonderful dog owner.
End of Lecture!
It is costly to breed and raise healthy, temperamentally sound, beautiful and sweet Cavaliers, therefore you need to know that there are no bargains. If you find Cavaliers on the internet for less than $1,800, keep in mind that this is just the down payment. The installments come later at the veterinarian's office. With the myriad of health problems that befalls this breed, and all breeds, you are taking a huge chance by purchasing cheap Cavaliers. The price of this breed generally runs from $2,000 to $3,500, depending on the cost of living in any particular area and depending on how close to the breed standard the puppy has turned out.
The Animal Rights people such as HSUS, PETA and The Doris Day Foundation distribute propaganda that would have you believe that ALL breeders are bad and classify them all as "Puppy Mills", "Backyard Breeders" or "Puppy Pimps". If breeders who show their dogs raised them as they would in a Puppy Mill, none of them would be in any condition to show and gain Championships.
The definition of a Backyard Breeder is someone who breeds dogs only for the purpose of making money. Any registered dog will do and temperament and health are not considered. Corners are cut whenever possible; vaccinations omitted and the dogs may receive low quality food. Any buyer with the money will do. Show breeders raise their dogs in their backyard too - but they are a far cry from the definition above. If they fed a low quality food, again, their dogs would not be in any condition to be exhibited. When you start looking for a puppy you will find out how many questions a breeder will ask you - certainly not someone whose main interest is how much you will pay for the dog. However, a reputable breeder MUST do something with their breeding dogs (show the dogs, train them for performance, do therapy work, health test their breeding dogs, etc.) other than simply mate him/her and must accept responsibility for the entire life of any pups he/she produces.
Another version of a Backyard Breeder, and a far more dangerous group of breeders for you, the consumer and for the dogs themselves, is the "just one litter" group. People should not be producing pups for sale without the commitment and experience to do so properly. They do not know anything about health testing, how to properly care for or socialize the pups or how to place them in proper homes or offer support to the buyer after the sale. They are not set up to take a puppy back should there be a problem in the future.
Do not believe the animal rightists or anyone else, for that matter, who state "a breeder is a breeder". There is a definite distinction between reputable show breeders and puppy mill/backyard/just one litter breeders as has been proved above.
The animal rightists and some of the general public who have been duped into believing their militant propaganda, wish to eliminate ALL breeding and frankly do not care that any laws they attempt to have forced through the Senate and Congress (anti-breeder legislation) will have the most profound impact on hobby or reputable show breeders.
If this legislation comes to pass in all the States, YOU, the family who simply wants a healthy, happy pet for the kids, will be forced to purchase this puppy from backyard breeders. Why? Because the dedicated breeders will quit as they cannot afford the fees and cannot risk confiscation and neutering of lines in which they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars. Backyard breeders, on the other hand, will continue under the radar and just replace their low-cost dogs with more if caught and those who breed "just one litter" will increase in number as they find a ready market for the pups. These people will be unable to take back dogs that do not work out in homes and shelter intake will increase.
As you can see, supporting the Animal Rights extremists is not something you want to do if you ever wish to enjoy canine companionship as it is today.
Short List of To Do and Not to Do:
Do NOT purchase a puppy from a Pet Store or someone who imports them as a business from Ireland, Eastern Europe or any other parts of the world.
Do NOT purchase a puppy from someone who has multiple breeds (four or more breeds).
Do NOT purchase a "designer" breed. If you want a non-shedding dog, then buy a puppy from a pure breed that does not shed.
Do NOT purchase a puppy from Internet sites with names such as "Spaniels4Us" or "NextWeekPets" where they show specific puppies with For Sale stickers and take PayPal.
Do NOT purchase a puppy from Internet sites where no pedigrees are published on the site along with their formal/registered names, Charlie bred to Flopsy just does not cut it.
Do NOT purchase from breeders who offer a "guarantee" where you must return your puppy in order for the breeder to provide another one. Will you really be able to give yp your puppy to get another one?
Do NOT purchase from breeders who register with any registry other than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC).
DO buy from breeders who are members of a Cavalier Specialty Club -- ask the name and website of the club. Verify that this person is a member by contacting the people listed on that website.
DO buy from breeders who cardiologist (the word cardiology/cardiologist must be written on the form), ophthalmologist, patella (knee caps) and hip dysplasia clear the PARENTS of any puppy you buy. Some breeders go the extra mile and MRI their dogs, checking them for Syringomyelia.
DO buy from breeders who will give you copies IN WRITING of these four health clearances.
DO buy from breeders with whom you have a good rapport. It is likely that you will need to contact that breeder in the future.
Breeders can be a strange breed with many idiosyncrasies! They have devoted their lives to Cavaliers and are extremely protective over their puppies.
Some methods of questioning breeders can upset them, as can asking them for a cheaper price. Would you hire a lawyer and then expect him to discount his fees? There are such things as sales and percentages off merchandise at stores but puppies are NOT disposable merchandise and, in the breeders' eyes, these Cavaliers are their children so do not expect any discounts. Just like a Lawyer who would rather not have you as a client, Breeders would much rather just keep the puppies for life. Some breeders do allow you to pay on monthly payments or give away/sell for less money, retired show dogs or younger ones with slight health issues. If this is what you are after, ,then be honest -- tell the breeder that you cannot pay full price for a dog but would be willing to adopt an older, retired show dog or one with a slight health issue. Even when you adopt a rescue dog you will be required to pay an adoption fee which ranges from $400 to $700 for the younger Cavaliers.
When inquiring about the PARENTS of a breeder's litter, try to encourage the breeder to TELL YOU about them. Breeders LOVE to talk about their dogs therefore the first question might be: "Tell me about the mother and father of the puppies. What color are the parents and have they been successful in the conformation or performance ring?" "What is their temperament like?"
Instead of ASKING about specific health information on the PARENTS of the puppies, have the breeder TELL YOU about their dogs' health information. Questions such as: "Tell me about what health clearances have been done on the parents of your puppies?" Make sure the breeder tells you about both mother and father and write down what clearances have been done.
Second to asking the breeder to tell you about the parents' health, ask if copies of these health clearances will be available for your vet's files if one of the litter comes home with you. If the breeder does not provide the health certifications in writing or if they become belligerent, keep looking. No breeder should take offence at your efforts to try to purchase what you perceive as the best quality puppy for your family.
If one or two health tests have not been done, you ask: "So test A and B have not been done then?" Let the breeders explain to you why they chose not to perform this or that health test on the parents of the puppy you are considering. If you ever find a breeder who does not know about the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), keep looking. Some breeders may not participate in OFA but they should, at a minimum, know its existence.
When it comes to an important purchase such as a dog, there are no stupid questions. Do not let a breeder bully you into believing that your questions are silly or unnecessary. Hang up -- keep looking.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to weigh all the information (availability, timing, attitude of the breeder, health certifications done, obtainable in writing or not, looks of the puppy -- does the pup look terrified, looks of the parents -- do they look well bred, are they happy and friendly, availability of photos of the pup, conditions of the environment, breed club membership/involvement, proximity to your home etc.) and make an informed decision as to whether you will purchase the puppy.
Go on the following website http://www.ckcsc.org, click on Prospective Owners -- Puppy and Adult Referral listed by State, and stick to the breeders listed there. Do not deviate from this list. Whilst they may not all perhaps be a perfect fit with your personal ideal, they are decent people who raise their dogs well and are required to abide by a stringent Code of Ethics that was written many years ago for the good of the dogs, not the breeders.
Also go to Searching for a Cavalier and a Responsible Breeder for more advice. At the bottom of this page there are more specific topics to click on and read. It is worth the timespent to read as many of them as possible.
Check out these websites -- stick with the breeders listed here, do not go elsewhere:
ALL puppies are cute and adorable -- but will they stay that way? It cannot be stressed enough that the selection of a reputable breeder is the MOST important step you can take to ensure a healthy, wonderful pet.
When shopping for a home, it's about location, location, location. When shopping for a pup, it's about breeder, breeder, breeder (not the breed)!
Anne and Carly
Responsible breeders exhibit their dogs in conformation shows and even though you do not want a show dog, these show breeders have devoted their lives to the study and betterment of Cavaliers and all of them are passionate about the breed. These are the types of breeders you need to seek out and from whom you want to purchase your family pet. Buy from breeders with whom you have a good rapport and who is courteous, respectful and polite.
Do not be put off by breeders who question you vigorously about your lifestyle and work schedule. This is only out of concern about where their puppies will be living. Reputable breeders do not push their dogs on you nor do they have glowing comments only about their own dogs but no-one else's dogs.
Decide on what sort of puppy you would like. If you want a Cavalier puppy to grow up looking like a typical, beautiful, happy Cavalier, is the normal size of a Cavalier with healthy parents, thereby giving the pup a better than average chance of leading a long, healthy life, then it is imperative you purchase from a show breeder. This type of breeder can provide you with copies of the basic health testing, as described below, and registration papers from the only two recognized registries in the USA (see below). You may pay slightly more for this puppy but in the long run, the puppy will be the best value for your money. It is not until it is too late when people are faced with debilitated, abnormal dogs that they realize how important it really is to choose a responsible show breeder who health clears his/her breeding dogs.
"Ever since my dog's health issues caused him such severe pain that he bit a child, I have been studying 'how to purchase a puppy' for two years. I would never wish to make that mistake again. My dog had to be euthanized due to his diseases at age 7 years!
If, on the other hand, you don't care if the puppy has a long nose, long legs, huge in size or abnormally tiny, is shy or assertive, has basically little resemblance to a Cavalier other than the coloring and comes without any health information on the parents, then it does not much matter where you purchase your puppy. You will pay dearly at the veterinarian's office for such a dog in the future. You will also be supporting that hideous, cruel industry calling Puppy Mills. (http://www.prisonersofgreed.org)
A cheap Cavalier does not exist in the Northeast Region from reputable breeders unless a retired show dog, older dog or one with special needs. Yet, not everyone can afford or even wants to pay a high price for a pedigree puppy. If you are willing to compromise, breeders sometimes give away retired show dogs or place substantially lower cost Cavaliers due to a minor defect. If you have a big heart for adult dogs or older puppies, but not such a big purse to purchase a puppy, this might be the way to go. Make sure you ask the breeders if they have such a dog.
Our other favorite Chadwick breed is the Tibetan Spaniel. This breed is America's best kept secret! They are not as popular as a Cavalier and therefore they are not as expensive. They are extremely healthy and routinely live 14-16 years. They are spunky and mischievous, keeping their owners on their toes but at the same time, loving and constantly wagging their little plum of a tail. Click here to learn about our Tibetan Spaniels.
A Cavalier and Tibetan Spaniel are best of friends
ALL breeders have produced problem puppies from time to time -- it happens. It doesn't mean they are bad breeders. Major problem pups are usually humanely euthanized but there are some that are "Special Needs" Cavaliers. Some of the "Special Needs" pups and older pups range from slight heart murmurs, patella luxation, open fonts (a wide open soft spot on the top of the skull), hydrocephalus, quirky temperaments, extremely shy, birth defects and so on. Caring for one of these special little souls is incredibly rewarding. Even a slight breakthrough with a "Special Needs" dog elicits breaking out the champagne to rejoice in an owner's success!
Should you care about what papers you get with your puppy? -- you BETTER care if you want a healthy, sound puppy!! CKCSC, USA (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, US) and AKC (American Kennel Club) are the only two BONAFIDE registries in the USA and, yes, it is important that any puppy you purchase comes with papers from one or both of these registries. The CKCSC, USA has a stringent Code of Ethics that the breeders must abide by so it will behoove you to at least require CKCSC papers.
Veterinary care is expensive for pet owners AND for the breeders. Breeding carefully for top quality Cavaliers with health in mind becomes extremely expensive, especially when the cost of living goes up and up each year. nonetheless, your new dog will be with you for the next 10-12 years -- now is not the time to bargain hunt. Responsible breeders will talk freely about health clearances performed on their breeding dogs, in particular the mother and father of any litter you may be considering. Puppies themselves are too young to be health cleared, so the next best thing is clearing the parents. Ethical breeders do all they can to avoid health problems by researching pedigrees and health screening parents for health issues BEFORE breeding each litter.
"Watching my pet die makes it easy for me to focus on asking the right questions this time around."
Health Clearances for the Parents (breeder to provide certificates in writing for your vet):
a) Heart clearance at 2 years or older, by stethoscope, certified in writing by a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist, dated within a year. (The word Cardiology or Cardiologist must be written on the certificate.)
b) Patella Luxation clearance at 2 years (manual manipulation) in writing by a licensed veterinarian, dated within a year.
c) Eye clearance at 2 years or older, certified in writing by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist, dated within a year.
d) Hip Dysplasia clearance at 2 years of age or older, radiographs taken of the hips by a licensed veterinarian and submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for evaluation. This health test is a one time clearance for life after 2 years of age.
e) Syringomyelia clearance at 2 1/2 years or older, by MRI.
The reality is this: with the many low cost (usually $30 per dog) cardiology and ophthalmology clinics available to breeders Coast to Coast, there is absolutely no need for you, the pet buying public, to hand over $2,000 or more and take the risk of the possibility of future heart disease by purchasing a puppy who mother and father have not seen a Cardiologist and Ophthalmologist within the past year. This is the bare minimum of health testing that most decent breeders perform on their dogs. If these specific clearances have not been done and a copy in writing for your vet's files will not be provided--WALK AWAY. Do not make this purchase. FYI: It is permitted to breed older Cavaliers (5 years and older) whose heart cleared at 5 years but who now may have a slight murmur. A copy of the 5 year old heart clearance should be available as well as the more recent certificate indicating a murmur. The word Cardiology/Cardiologist must be written somewhere on any heart certificate you see.
Not all breeders clear their Cavaliers for patellar luxation and hip dysplasia. It is your comfort level as to whether you will purchase a puppy from a breeder who does not clear the parents for these two inherited diseases. Keep in mind that patella surgery costs approximately $1,500 - $2,000 per knee. Without any knowledge of the parents it then begs the question, who should be responsible for this surgery?
Very few breeders can afford the high cost of MRI clearances for Syringomyelia (SM) therefore not many breeders MRI for SM. You may find that one of the two parents might be MRI'd. This health clearance is becoming more common as extensive research is being done on this disease --but it is early days yet.
Finding the Health Clearances on line: Go to http://www.offa.org/search.html and type in the first part of your potential puppy's father or mother's registered name, such as Chadwick. Then scroll down and click on Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as the breed you are looking for and then click on Begin Search. At a minimum, if the hip x-rays have been submitted to OFA, the names of all that Breeder's dogs should be there. Then you can look for the specific dog, such as the mother or the father of your puppy. See if you can locate one or both sire and dam on this site. If the dogs are not there (make sure you have the spelling correct) then the hip x-rays were either not sent in to OFA, they did not pass or they were not done. Some breeders do not submit their heart, eye and patella certifications to OFA. You would have to get copies from the breeder in writing.
The CKCSC offers an Open Health Registry for Breeders where you can look up names of dogs by both pet and registered names. Go to http://www.ckcsc.org and click on Health Information and Health Registry. You will find a list of Registered names along with the name of the Breeder and the Owner. In the Sort/View box you can look for a dog by name or by owner or by breeder. The gold star against some dogs' names indicate that these dogs are over 5 years of age and heart clear. According to the heart research, the goal is to have as many Cavaliers reach 5 years of age and be cardiologist heart clear to make a difference to the future heart health of the breed, and in particular a breeder's line of Cavaliers.
Having Difficulty Finding a Puppy? You will never find a Cavalier puppy by sitting on the phone or computer calling or emailing breeders. Make appointments - GO AND VISIT THEM! Breeders want to meet you as much as you need to meet the breeder, the litter, the mother of the puppies and inspect the environment.
Come to terms with the fact that you will probably NOT find a Cavalier puppy within a 50 mile radius of your home nor within a month. Cavalier puppies from reputable breeders are not always available when you want them. Be prepared to travel and wait.
At the end of the day choose the breeder with whom you feel most comfortable, even if the breeder is clear across the country. You will be contacting that breeder with questions in the future, therefore you better respect the breeder and have a good rapport.
Effort buys you a quality Cavalier!
Designer breeds may also shed - it depends on whether the puppy inherited the Cavalier type coat. If you want a non-shedding dog, then buy a pure bred non-shedding breed to ensure that your puppy, as an adult dog, will not shed. Designer breeds are NOT healthier - they will inherit the health of the sire and dam and therefore your puppy will inherit whatever is in the background of the parents. Breeders of designer breeds perform no health clearances by specialists and therefore you run a huge risk of purchasing an unhealthy puppy. Designer dogs are nothing more than a mixed breed dog and high priced mongrel. If this is what you are after then go to the humane society or contact Cavalier rescue and adopt a dog in need of a good home.
Short List of what NOT to Do:
Do NOT purchase a puppy from a Pet Store, middle man or someone who imports them as a business from Ireland, Eastern Europe or any other parts of the world.
Do NOT purchase a puppy from someone who has multiple breeds or "designer" breeds. "Designer" breeds are simply expensive mongrels and are NOT healthier.
Do NOT purchase a puppy from Internet sites (see below).
Do NOT purchase from breeders who offer a "guarantee" where you must return your puppy in order for the breeder to provide another one -- who would even consider trading in a family member?
Do NOT purchase from breeders who register with any registry other than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA (CKCSC, USA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Do NOT purchase from any breeder who is curt or argumentative.
"The people on these websites where they have no pedigrees and names such as Banjo bred to Buffy, state 'lovingly raised in our home with kids'. How can they lovingly raise 24 different breeds, including some cavashons, in their home with kids?"
Internet Websites that Sell Puppies -- AVOID THEM!
Other than for general information and a way to pass the time, a pretty website does not mean the breeder is honest, ethical or involved in the breed. You may pay less but that is the downpayment. The 10 year financial installments come later at the veterinarians' office.
Do NOT look further on a Website if the names of the dogs are only the call names, such as Charlie, Banjo, etc. Any breeder who is a student of the breed identifies their dogs by the formal, registered names, as well as perhaps the call names.
Do NOT look further on a Website if there are no pedigrees listed. Students of the breed always list the dogs' pedigrees.
Do NOT look further on a Website if there is a list of specific puppies pictured with "For Sale" stickers or with a "Sold" sticker.
Do NOT look further on a Website if they take paypal or credit cards.
Do NOT look further on a Website if they are imports from Ireland or other parts of the world.
Do NOT look further on a Website if there are descriptions of the dogs as being "cutie patooties" or similar phrases.
Do NOT look further on a Website if the guarantee indicates you must return your dog first to get money back or a replacement.
Do NOT look further on a Website if the PARENTS of the puppy have never seen a Board Certified Cardiologist or Ophthalmologist, at a minimum.
Do NOT look further on a Website if the name of the website is "Spaniels4Us" or "NextWeekPets" or "PuppiesRightNow" or some such name.
Do NOT look further on a Website if they register their puppies with any other organizations OTHER THAN CKCSC, USA or AKC.
Make sure your children are as happy with your choice of a puppy as this youngster is!
Animal Rights Extremists in the USA: Having given you chapter and verse about how to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, it will all be a moot point if we allow PETA or HSUS to gain control of our rights to care for pets in our home. These organizations' goal is to remove ALL dogs and cats as family pets. They demand that dogs and cats should run wild and be enjoyed from afar. Sound extreme? It is - they are militant organizations whose employees, for example, have been indicted for adopting animals and killing them - and not in a humane way.
HSUS has NEVER rescued a dog - ever. They amass money - LOTS of money - to help their cause. Breeders throughout the Country are fighting the animal rightists every day as cities and states pass or attempt to pass anti-dog or anti-breeding legislation. PETA and HSUS are behind all of these - remember, they want to do away with ALL pet animals. For breeders to continue breeding, the ordinances wish to levy an annual $500 permit per breeding animal. If these sort of ordinances pass, there will be no pet dogs and cats from responsible breeders for families like yours to enjoy.
Sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? It's happening NOW, all over the Country. Now is the time to vote against any mandatory spay/neuter legislation that comes to your town or State. It has been PROVEN that mandatory spay/neuter does NOT reduce the numbers of unwanted dogs and cats that are being euthanized each year. Education does reduce the pet population and responsible breeders are the very group who educate and recommend spay/neuter. The legislation sounds good but once it has been passed, they have the right to change it to become unacceptable. Please - if you want your children and grandchildren to grow up with pet animals, vote against any anti-breeder, mandatory spay/neuter and breed specific dog legislation when it comes to your town or State. Do NOT donate money to PETA or HSUS. Donate to Cavalier Rescue at http://www.cavalierrescueusa.or/Rescue/ which is a tax-deductible organization. Thank you.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME.