About SM

Nearly every Cavalier has  a brain that is too big for the space within their skull.

This malformation ( CM ) can itself cause pain, and it often leads to a  serious inherited disease called Syringomyelia ( SM ).

SM occurs when pockets of fluid destroy nerve tissue inside the spinal cord. Symptoms can be very varied as it depends on what nerves are being damaged.

Some dogs with SM will show very few symptoms, others may obsessively scratch or face rub, bunny hop while walking, yelp for no reason, be unable to jump and be unwilling to exercise or play. Sometimes they scream.

Affected Cavaliers will sometimes just look as if they are hurting ( Human sufferers of SM complain of a constant terrible headache ) The pain and discomfort can be very hard to control and some of the drugs are very expensive.

Here is an excerpt from the Documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed showing affected cavaliers. Some people may find the scenes upsetting


Good breeders are expected to breed from older cavaliers that have been scanned and graded to show whether they have SM or not.

At the moment there are two certificates, a white one for scans taken before 2012 and a lilac certificate for scans submitted to an Official Scheme launched in 2012. The results on the official lilac certificate are shown on the Kennel Club website.

You can see a copy of the white MRI certificates on the Health Page.

The new official Scheme will eventually give buyers more information about the puppy they are buying, but while things are changing it can make the search for a new pet confusing.

Please use the contact us page if you have any questions or you would like more details. We will be happy to help you if we can.

The breeding guidelines for SM can be found in the health section of www.thecavalierclub.co.uk

More information on SM can be found on:- www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk

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