This adorable designer breed is a cross between the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and usually (but not always) a toy poodle. Thanks to its more diverse genetic makeup from both parents Cavoodles can be more robust and less inclined to particular defects. But… you are purchasing a designer dog breed, and you should satisfy yourself that the parents are healthy, happy dogs with good temperaments.
With its adorable curly hair, big brown eyes, and almost teddy bear-like features it’s no wonder that the Cavoodle has melted hearts and swiftly risen to become one of the most popular breeds in Australia. Before you fall completely head over heels for this cute, affectionate little bundle of fluff, you’ll need to get up to date with all the potential health problems.
Chiari-like malformation (CM) & Syringomyelia (SM)
Put simply CM is when the skull cavity is too small for the brain. It’s more common in some brachycephalic toy breed dogs and especially the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. This smaller cavity leads to SM, a neurological condition where fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord. It’s also been called ‘Neck Scratchers’ disease. The Cavalier is one smart pup it’s big brain belongs inside a larger dog almost a labrador sized dog. There are some horrid side effects to SM and it can’t be diagnosed in pups as it won’t develop till after six months. With the Cavoodle ‘borrowing’ some genetic makeup from its Poodle lineage there is less likelihood of CM and SM developing but it can occur. As always check the parents and ask the hard questions of your breeder.
Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD)
You’ll need an understanding of how the heart works to know what DMVD is. There is a one-way valve (the Mitral Valve) that sits between the two chambers of the heart (one chamber is blood coming in the other blood going out). The Mitral Valve is supposed to seal completely but in some breeds (almost all Cavaliers) the valves are thickened and too short. This means that the one-way door fails to seal completely, allowing blood to leak back into the left atrium (the ‘coming-in’ chamber). This causes ‘heart murmurs’ but can also cause more serious complications including congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, Cavaliers are notorious for DMVD, which means that your Cavoodle may develop the condition. Checking on the parent’s health and asking the ‘tough questions’ of your breeder are your best options.
Eye disease including cataracts and/or progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is an umbrella term for a family of eye diseases. Gradually it results in the deterioration of the retina. This initially causes night blindness at first and later develops into full blindness. Unfortunately, there is no cure, dogs do however respond relatively well to blindness, providing there are no dramatic changes to their surroundings. Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become opaque. The eye(s) become cloudy and light cannot pass through the lens. The Cavoodle is one breed that is prone to cataracts.
Hip dysplasia is often more common in larger dog breeds but is not uncommon in some smaller breeds and has been identified in Cavoodles. It’s not a threatening cognition and will most likely emerge as your dog grows and enters adulthood. You may notice symptoms like; decreased activity, reluctance to jump up, rise and climb stairs, as well as changes in their gait. You may also see their hind legs lose muscle mass as they depend less on their hind legs for movement. The condition is caused when the ball and socket joint of the hip is not properly formed, resulting in a loose connection. Over time arthritis can occur, further aggravating the condition. Hip dysplasia is at least partially genetic and weight management and diet are your best tools to avoid/assist Hip dysplasia from impacting overly on your dog’s life.
Due to their parentage from both Cavaliers and Poodles, Cavoodles may be prone to idiopathic epilepsy. The causes of the seizures remain unknown but it is a genetic trait of parents. There are treatments available and your veterinarian will help guide you through your options as well as successfully identifying epilepsy in your dog.
If you’re thinking of bringing a Cavoodle into your family, like any BIG commitment, you will need to do your research on all the potential health problems that can be part of this designer breed. That being said these little guys are pretty robust overall. Dig-In recommends talking to the breeder in-depth, ensuring that the breeder is registered, and developing a thorough understanding of the parents and any health problems that they exhibit. Dig-In also recommends reading over this really awesome RSPCA Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide before committing to any new Pup. >> VIEW HERE