Sonesta Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
17302 Swansbury · Cypress, Texas 77429 · (281)
Frequently Asked Questions
|Although we are always happy to speak with
people interested in this breed, there are a number of questions that come up
regularly enough that we thought we'd answer them here for you. If you
have additional questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We
love talking Cavaliers!
How long do Cavaliers live?
Cavaliers have a life expectancy of between 9-12 years, with many living to 15-16. Buying from a reputable breeder will increase the likelihood of getting a Cavalier who'll live a good, long life.
Are Cavaliers good with kids? With other pets?
Cavaliers are truly wonderful with kids and other pets. They are gentle and patient and seem to really like small children.
How do I know if I am dealing with a reputable breeder?
Although there are exceptions to everything, a reputable breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will be actively involved in their local Cavalier Club and will be actively involved in showing their dogs. Their goals in breeding are to produce top quality show dogs and to improve the breed. A reputable breeder does NOT breed in order to sell puppies. They will have all their breeding stock tested annually by a cardiologist and an ophthalmologist and will readily produce copies of their dogs' current clearance certificates. A reputable breeder will carefully follow the Code of Ethics of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Breeder.
They will be VERY concerned about the well being of their dogs and will carefully interview a prospective buyer to determine if the home would be suitable for one of their puppies. The dogs of a reputable Cavalier breeder will live WITH their owner and be underfoot most of the time! They will NOT be raised in kennels or cages isolated from humans (though they will probably each have their own crate in which they sleep and eat and are put at times to keep them out of mischief). The dogs of a reputable breeder will appear to be clean and healthy looking and have happy wagging tails. They will love people and rush to greet visitors. Don't expect a perfectly clean home - especially with puppies running around - but do expect good healthy conditions and a breeder that immediately responds to clean up any "accidents" that may occur.
ALWAYS ask the following before buying a Cavalier:
Do you show your dogs and how often?
Are you members of the local Cavalier Club?
May I see the registration certificates and the heart and eye clearance certificates of the parents of the puppies?
-- Make sure the registrations are with either AKC or CKCSC [anything else is likely a puppy mill registry],
-- Make sure the registration certificates do not say "Restricted" [meaning they do not have the right to breed or show the dog and are, therefore violating some breeder's contract by breeding], and
-- Make sure the heart and eye certificates are dated within the past 12 months.
Were your puppies born here or in another country? (If they tell you they were born in or imported from Ireland, be VERY suspicious as you may well be dealing with a "puppy broker" - one who buys up entire litters from the puppy mills in Ireland and elsewhere in order to sell them in the U.S. It is illegal to import puppies younger than 6 months for resale. See www.thewrongpuppy.com )
May I see your puppies' and other dogs' regular living areas (instead of just viewing the puppies they bring out to a special "viewing room.")
How can I make sure I am buying a healthy puppy?
The best way to get a healthy puppy is to only buy from a reputable breeder. While this will not absolutely guarantee you a healthy puppy, you are far more likely to get a good healthy puppy from a reputable breeder who follows all the health and breeding rules than you are from a hobby/backyard breeder, a puppy miller, a puppy broker or a pet shop.
Why am I told NOT to buy from a pet shop, flea market or hobby/backyard breeder?
NO ethical reputable breeder would EVER sell a puppy to a pet shop or offer puppies for sale at a flea market or side of the road. NEVER! Thus, you can be assured that ANY puppy purchased from a pet shop or flea market situation comes from a highly questionable background and that usually means your are taking a huge risk on their health. Do not believe them when they try to tell you differently.
The hobby or backyard breeder is unlikely to be showing their dogs and are most likely only breeding to make money from selling puppies. It is this type breeder who, in trying to maximize their profits, will fail to do proper annual health testing, will be reckless or ignorant of good breeding rules, will carelessly cross bloodlines, will use dogs with known health problems, etc. Again, you take a huge risk in buying a puppy from such a person. The few hundred dollars you save by buying from such a person will likely be more than made up in vet bills and heartache later on.
What is a "puppy mill" and how do I know if I am dealing with one?
A puppy mill is basically a puppy factory. Usually many breeds of dog are kept and bred. They are bred solely for profit and the breeding stock are most often kept in cages most of their lives and stay pregnant. Many are kept in terrible squalid conditions. Breeding animals are sold and auctioned off to other puppy mills. Dogs who are no longer capable of breeding are put to death. Virtually NO health care is given and inbreeding is rampant. Puppies from such conditions are often unhealthy and unsocialized, being timid and fearful. Puppies from these mills are sold to pet shops and often sold at flea markets. Learn more about puppy mills at http://www.thepoppyfoundation.org/Puppy%20Mill.htm
What are the health issues associated with a Cavalier?
The Cavaliers as a breed have one major health issue. Mitral valve disease (a heart condition involving a heart murmur) is common in this breed. The severity is graded in a range of 1 (the mildest) to 5 (the most severe). The disease tends to be progressive, so a dog that is diagnosed with a grade 1 murmur at age 2 might well reach a higher grade in future years. The earlier the onset of the disease, the more likely the dog will develop a serious condition. It is for this reason that the annual heart check by a canine cardiologist is so important for our breeding stock. The reputable Cavalier breeders have banded together in an attempt to eliminate this disease. To do this we have formed breeding rules that require annual heart checks and close monitoring of our breeding stock. We have made great strides and now there are many Cavaliers who do not develop the disease at all and many that develop only mild grades and at older ages and with little or no affect on the dogs' overall health.
It has also recently been discovered that many Cavaliers are born with a Chiari-like malformation of the skull where the skull may be too small to allow complete flow of fluid into the spinal column. In most cases, the malformation may exist, but there are no symptoms and no affect on the dog's life and health. In other cases this restriction can be serious enough to cause symptoms. When this happens the condition is referred to as Syringomyelia (also called "SM"). The most common symptom of SM is a tingling, itchy sensation in the dog's neck which results in "phantom scratching" (the dog appears to be scratching its ear, but is really just scratching the air). In severe cases the dog may periodically yelp in pain and require medications or surgery to correct the problem. These symptoms usually show up during the dog's first year of life. Ethical breeders are VERY careful to avoid breeding ANY Cavalier that shows symptoms of SM.
Why are Cavaliers so darned expensive?
Several reasons. First, a reputable breeder of Cavaliers spends a GREAT DEAL of money proving the quality of his stock in the show ring and on the annual health testing of his breeding stock. Second, the average number of puppies in a litter of Cavaliers is only three. The ethical breeding rules require that no female be bred before age two or after age 7 and may not have more than 6 litters in her lifetime. Third, reputable breeders seek to breed their females to the best males possible, meaning they often spend well over $1500 - $2500 for a stud fee. And fourth, reputable breeders are VERY concerned about the placement of those puppies they choose not to keep. In part because of the high price paid, we find VERY FEW Cavaliers being discarded to shelters or in neglectful rescue situations.
What's the difference (besides price!) between a show prospect puppy and a pet quality puppy?
A show prospect puppy will conform as closely as possible to the AKC and CKCSC standards for the "perfect" Cavalier. That means the markings, conformation, bite and movement will be just so. In addition, the puppy will demonstrate a flair for exhibition. He/she will stand up proudly and have that "look at me" attitude. But a show prospect is just that - a prospect. There is never a guarantee that a puppy showing early potential as a show dog will, in fact, turn out to be successful in the show ring.
A pet quality puppy is merely one that the breeder has decided is lacking in some way required to make a successful show dog. It could be something as simple as too much of a particular color, or color placed in the wrong area. It could mean the dog doesn't have a perfect "scissor" bite or is a bit long in the back or doesn't have quite the right feel to its coat. "Pet quality" does NOT mean it is an inferior dog. Just that it's not as likely to be a show champion when competing against dogs that are closer to the ideal standard.
It should also be mentioned that OFTEN a puppy with show potential is placed as a pet at pet price simply because the breeder had more than one show prospect in the litter and didn't want to show both puppies. The breeder made his choice and, instead of offering the other show prospect to another breeder (and have to compete against it later!), he chose to place it in a loving pet home.
Why do Cavalier breeders practically cross-examine me when I call about a puppy?
A reputable Cavalier breeder is VERY concerned about the future of every puppy he/she breeds. The rules of ethics require (and rightly so) that the breeder make every effort to insure that his puppies go to good loving suitable homes. For example: the Cavalier is NOT a dog that should live outside. Therefore, the reputable breeder is going to question the prospective buyer closely to determine whether the buyer intends to keep the dog inside with the family or wants to keep the dog outside. Likewise, the Cavalier is a breed that needs to be WITH its people most of the time as a part of the family. The breeder will want to make sure that he is not placing a puppy in a home where everyone works or goes to school full time and the puppy would be alone all day.
Be glad you are being grilled. It means you are dealing with a good caring breeder who wants to make sure his puppy has a good home and that the buyer is getting the right breed for his/her situation.
I want to buy a Cavalier to start breeding. Why can't I get a breeder to sell me one?
If you have read the above FAQs, by now you will have realized that there is a great deal of dedication involved in being a reputable Cavalier breeder and that reputable Cavalier breeders are very concerned about the welfare of their puppies. Breeders will, therefore, be very hesitant to risk selling a puppy with a non-restricted registration so that it can later be bred. We want to keep these wonderful dogs out of the hands of the casual backyard breeder and the puppy millers. Therefore, we are reluctant to even discuss selling such a dog to someone we do not already know is a reputable breeder.
If you really want to get involved with breeding Cavaliers, then you are going to have to establish your credibility. This will mean you need to first get a Cavalier pet, join the local Cavalier Club, become active and known, volunteer to assist in shows, take handling classes and breeding seminars, etc. The best thing to do is find a breeder you respect and ask to be mentored. It will take time, but if you are the "real deal" you will be entrusted with a show prospect - probably a male. If you show the dog to the best of its ability you will then be entrusted with a female to show and later breed. It's a wonderful responsibility, but worth pursuing if you are serious.
If your thoughts are to buy a couple of Cavaliers to breed to sell puppies, then you should rethink your position.
I am Chairing our Charity Auction committee and want to get a Cavalier puppy for the auction. Why won't good breeders sell me one?
No reputable breeder would allow a puppy to be placed in a home that the breeder has not carefully screened to make sure it is a good match and a good home for the puppy. And, while there may be good people attending that charity auction, there is no way for the breeder to know if they really want a puppy or are just caught up in the frenzy of an auction or trying to be the "big spender" that night. We cannot know (nor can the Charity) if the puppy was purchased on a whim and will be discarded the next day. And because there is no contract with the breeder, there is absolutely no control over what happens after the auction. Live animals should NEVER be used in a charity auction. NEVER!
Do you have your Cavaliers' hearts & eyes checked annually?
Absolutely. And in addition, all breeding stock is tested for good patellas and hips.
Do you show your Cavaliers?
Yes, indeed. ALL our breeding dogs have been shown, though not all the girls have shown all the way to championships. This is because it is rare for a Cavalier to finish a championship before they are two years old. With males, it is no problem. You continue to show them until they finish or prove themselves "unfinishable" at which point you neuter them as they are not worthy of breeding. But with females who do not finish by age two, you must make the difficult decision to either continue showing them to a championship or begin breeding them. You see, our ethics rules limit us to only 6 litters per female and they may not be bred after they are past 7 years old and cannot be bred more than two heat cycles in a row. Even worse, after a female has a litter of puppies, she "blows" her coat, shedding off much of her glorious hair and it takes over a year for the coat to regrow! So a female cannot both show and have puppies.
But we do not breed any female that has not won at least some of the points required towards her championship and therefore has proven herself a good example of the breed.
What do you require of prospective puppy buyers?
I want to know all about you and your family. I want to know how many people are in the home, the ages of everyone, the number and type of other pets you have now and have had in the past, where you live, whether you have a secure back yard for the puppy to "do his business," whether you work full time, where the puppy will be when you work or leave for more than a few hours or go on vacation, who is your vet and will the vet give you a recommendation, what you expect of a Cavalier, what is your experience and comfort level with housebreaking, how you feel about shedding hair (Cavaliers shed like cats!), and much more. In other words, I want to be sure that my puppy will be loved and cherished and properly cared for the rest of his/her life as a part of your family.
Do you have a sales contract? What is in it?
Yes. My contract is written in simple English and is very clear. The most important parts are that you will most likely be buying a pet and will receive a restricted registration and that you will be required to neuter the puppy before it reaches one year of age and send me proof of the neutering. The contract also provides a health guarantee against genetic defects. The contract provides that you cannot resell or even give the dog away without my written permission but that you will never have to worry about what to do with the dog if at any time and for any reason you can no longer keep it. I will ALWAYS give it a home. And finally, if you live in my area, for a small fee I am happy to take care of your Cavalier if you have to be out of town and cannot take him/her with you.
Do you keep a waiting list of buyers?
After proper interview, if you wish to have a puppy from Sonesta Cavaliers, I will take a non-refundable deposit from you and your name will go on the list in the order of the date of the deposit.
Can I come and visit your dogs - even if I am not looking to buy a puppy right now?
Of course! We love to show off our dogs. And we are very happy to help you learn about them. Just give us a call at 281-373-0125 and we'll set up a time. I do ask that you do not come to visit on a day when you have visited any other kennel, as germs are easily passed around between dogs and we don't like to take risks. Be prepared to be loved on and licked and to have at least a few Cavaliers trying to sit in your lap at once!
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