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 sometimes be hard to control and some of the drugs are very expensive.

SM can show up at any age and it is a progressive condition.

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.

A scheme run by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club was launched in 2012. The few responsible breeders that MRI scan their breeding Cavaliers through the BVA/KC scheme have their results shown on the Kennel Club website and have an official lilac coloured certificate to show puppy buyers.

Some breeders scan their breeding Cavaliers for SM but for reasons of their own do not submit the results to the official scheme for grading. They will have a white certificate. It is always a good idea to look at the age of both Cavalier parents at the time the scans were taken and then check with the breeding guidelines for SM here

Uncaring breeders will have a variety of poor and/or untrue excuses for not testing their dogs at all.

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

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.


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