Before You Buy...

When people are thinking about buying a new car, they do research.

They first determine what type of car will fit their lifestyle. A family with four children under the age of 6 can't function well with a two seat sports car. That family will likely look around and determine that they need a minivan or an SUV to accommodate their needs.

Once they have determined the type of car they need, they will review the models that are available from the different manufacturers. They may go to the library and read several consumer evaluations about cars, talk to relatives and family, visit several dealerships and even call the better business bureau to find someone reputable.

Contrast that to the person that goes into a pet shop, stares at the cute puppies through a glass window, is convinced by the shop keeper to hold the little darling, and then walks out the door with a spur-of-the-moment purchase. They have put very little thought into bringing home a pet that will probably be with their family longer, and be a larger part of their life, than their car.

First, research the breed. The first thing you must consider when researching your new family member is how that dog will fit into your lifestyle for the next ten to fifteen years. A dog will become part of your family and should not be discarded when no longer convenient.

Cavaliers tend to fit into whatever lifestyle your family maintains. From "couch potato dog" to agility dog, Cavaliers will mold themselves to your family's activity level. But that doesn't mean that a Cavalier is right for everyone. Growing families or families with young children may want to consider a breed other than a Cavalier. Unfortunately, Cavaliers will accept the abuse that small children may unintentionally inflict. Cavaliers have allowed children to pull their ears until the hair comes out and to poke their eyes causing pain and serious damage. It would be unfair to your pet to permit such abuse of their gentle and loving temperament.

Find a reputable breeder. That cute little bundle you see in the pet shop has probably come from a puppy mill. Its parents were kept only as breeding stock, having no life outside of the confined areas where they were housed. Life as breeding stock in a puppy mill is harsh and unforgiving. A dog's sole purpose is to bear litter after litter until they are no longer capable. For a description of life in a puppy mill, click here and here.

The health of that dog in the pet shop window is also questionable. His parents were probably not health tested for the varying medical problems that are associated with each breed.

A reputable Cavalier breeder will willingly allow you to visit their home, allow you to see the parent(s), and provide you with the heredity and health history of your prospective puppy. A breeder should also discuss with you the health testing performed on their stock prior to breeding. In considering a Cavalier, a minimum of heart (MVD), eyes (CERF), knees (patellae), and hips (OFA) should be discussed. WoodHaven Cavaliers performs all these tests as well as an MRI to screen for Syringomyelia. While these tests are expensive, we want to try to breed the healthiest, loving Cavaliers that we can.

A reputable breeder will also want to interview you, asking questions that you might think would only be asked if you were adopting a child. Generally you will find a Cavalier breeder's dogs having the run of the house, playing and being an integral part of the family. Don't be surprised if a breeder asks to visit your home to see where their little one will be living.

We are members of both the CKCSC-USA and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Greater Chicago. As such we subscribe to a very stringent Code of Ethics. We have done so because we so dearly love the breed. We have pledged ourselves to put the welfare of the Cavalier above monetary gain. You can download a copy of the CKCSC-GC Code of Ethics by clicking here or the CKCSC-USA Code of Ethics by clicking here.

Most importantly, if you have any concerns about whether or not a Cavalier or a specific breeder is right for you, STOP. Feel free to ask the breeder for references from other breeders, their veterinarian, and/or other owners of their puppies. A reputable breeder will be happy to give you these references. Take some time out to think and do your homework before you take that leap.