Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the most beloved dog breeds in the world, thanks to their charming personalities, beautiful faces, and sweet dispositions. Unfortunately, many of these beloved dogs suffer from a genetic disorder that can cause them to grow too large. The condition is known as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and it causes the retinas at the back of the dog’s eyes to degenerate, leading to blindness and other serious physical and mental health problems.
PRA is a recessive genetic disorder, meaning that both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on. How can two dogs with the same beautiful, small stature be the carriers of such a disorder? The answer is that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is actually a mix of three different breeds of dog, and all three of these breeds, individually, are prone to carrying PRA. Those breeds are the King Charles Spaniel, the Toy Poodle, and the English Toy Spaniel.
When breeding a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, breeders must carefully track the lineage of both parents, ensuring that they do not have any PRA-carrying relatives in order to minimize the chances of their puppies developing the disorder. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of passing the defective gene onto a pup. Furthermore, some of the traits that make the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel such a beloved breed, such as the large eyes and sweet face, also contribute to an increased risk of the disorder as these traits can make it easier for the gene to be passed on.
Another contributing factor to the development of this disorder in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is the fact that the breed has become increasingly popular in recent years. More and more people are acquiring these dogs and, unfortunately, some of them are not aware of the risks associated with PRA or do not take the necessary steps to reduce them. Unfortunately, inbreeding is also still a very real problem with Cavaliers, which increases the chances of passing on genetic defects.
For all of these reasons, it is important for prospective Cavalier owners to do their research and make sure that they are purchasing their pup from a reputable breeder who screens for health issues and can provide the necessary health guarantees. In addition, it is important to stay informed on the latest advancements in genetic testing and do everything you can to reduce the chances of your pup acquiring this disorder. Doing so will ensure that your beloved pet remains healthy and happy for many years to come.