Every single breed of dogs has the potential for some sort of genetic disease with some breeds being more prone than others. Cavapoo health problems have been minimized because they are hybrids but some health problems do exist.Cavapoo healthThis is why it is crucial that you only buy your cavapoo puppy from a reputable breeder that has done all the necessary health checks. This greatly reduces the chances of your puppy developing a genetic disease.

Just be warned though, it does not totally eliminate the risk. For example, my springer spaniel’s parents are both health tested and passed everything with flying colors. But my springer boy has bad hip dysplasia in both hips. All of his siblings, grandparents and parents have perfect hips!

I do however believe that crossbreeds have a lower chance of inheriting genetic diseases. This is just my opinion and not based on research.

If you talk to any Vet then most of them will say that it is the pure pedigreed dogs that have the most issues. The mutts and cross breeds are generally quite healthy.

But in saying that, it would be wise to research the health problems of both the Poodle and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel just so that you are aware of what can happen. Most diseases do not show up when the puppy is young and only rear there ugly head later in life.

Do not trust a breeder that says that there dogs are all healthy and that they do not need to be health tested.

A responsible breeder will always have their dogs tested before breeding with them as they should want to produce the best specimens and healthiest dogs that they can.

I used to breed English Springer Spaniels and that is why I had my Springer boy health tested and found out that he has hip dysplasia. I then could not use him for breeding which was heart breaking for me as I had imported him from Finland as my future stud dog. I retired him from the show ring and he is now my BFF.

Buying from the right breeder will greatly reduce the risks. Always ask to see the parents’ health certificates and if a breeder cannot produce them then do not buy your Cavapoo puppy from them.

Make sure that you also see the mother and if possible also the father of the pups. Check if they look healthy and if they are clean. Check if the puppies look healthy and if they are clean.

I know that it is heart breaking to leave the puppy behind but believe me, it is much more heart breaking having a sickly pup or even one that needs to be put to sleep. Never mind the financial implications!

Let’s now look at the genetic health issues that the Poodle and Cavalier have. Again, do not freak out as it does not mean that your pup will have them.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Genetic Diseases

Ruby Cavalier


The three main health issues in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s are:

  • Syringomyelia (SM)
  • Hereditary Cataract & Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD)
  • Degenerative mitral valve disease (MVD)

Syringomyelia (SM) is a very serious condition in which fluid builds up in cavities within the spinal cord near the brain.  Sometimes, a Cavalier’s skull is too small for its brain which results in the brain squeezing down into the spinal column. As you can imagine, this is extremely painful. Typically this only manifests after the puppy reaches 6 months of age.

Treatment options for Syringomyelia can involve drugs and/or surgery.

cavalier eyes

Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) is a hereditary condition that can seriously affect a dog’s vision and in severe cases could lead them to lose their eyesight completely.

This condition can be detected at birth.

If the puppy has retinal folds, then the condition can either disappear as the pup matures or it can become more severe.

If the dog inherits Geographical Multi-Focal Retinal Dysplasia then the condition is much more serious. The retina becomes thinner and thinner which can cause retinal detachment. If this happens then the pup can become totally blind.

There is no treatment for this disease so it is very important that the breeder has tested there dogs to make sure that they are not carriers.

Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is a serious disease that involves the mitral valve in the heart. As the valve deteriorates, it allows blood to flow backwards into the heart instead of out of the heart.

This causes the heart to be enlarged and dogs with this condition often have difficulty breathing and have a distinct cough.

This disease is progressive and is usually first detected as a heart murmur.

There are drugs that help to minimize the symptoms but as the disease progresses it can cause heart failure resulting in death.

It is a good idea to test your puppy yearly even if the parents are clear as this disease is very common in Cavaliers.

Poodle Genetic Health Issues

miniature poodle

Health Issues in Poodles include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Legg Perthis Disease
  • Patella Luxation
  • Sebaceous Adenitis

Hip Dysplasia is when the ball and socket joint of the hip is deformed. This results in deterioration of the joint and arthritis.

This condition is very painful for the dog and can cause lameness and low quality of life.

Joint supplements will help. I have my Springer Spaniel on a natural supplement called ‘Sasha’s Blend’ which has helped him tremendously.

Surgery is also an option to replace only the head of the femur or in really bad cases to do a total hip replacement.

Hip Dysplasia is common in most dog breeds.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder which is a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Seizures can be mild all the way up to serious. Mild seizures can be twitching of a lip whereas serious seizures result in the dog falling down and jerking uncontrollably. The dog might also lose consciousness which is very frightening to see.

Epilepsy is a life long condition which can be managed with medications.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a group of inherited retinal diseases. The retina of the eye degenerates over time and eventually leads to total blindness. This condition is not painful.

Night Blindness is the first sign of PRA and cataracts might also develop during this phase.

The disease slowly progresses until the dog it totally blind.

There is unfortunately, no effective treatment for PRA.

Legg Perthis Disease is where the head on the femur bone disintegrates to such an extent that the whole hip joint disintegrates.

It is more common in miniature, small and toy breeds and is seen in puppies between the ages of 5 and 8 months.

Treatment involves the surgical removal of the femoral head and neck. It sounds drastic but most dogs respond very well. After surgery then the puppy will need rehabilitation which will include swimming and physical therapy.

Patella Luxation is a common problem in all breeds of dogs.

The kneecap normally sits in a groove and moves up and down when the leg moves. With a Patella Luxation, the kneecap moves out of the groove which results in the knee not being able to be extended. Basically it means that the kneecap keeps dislocating. Usually this happens because the groove that the kneecap needs to sit in is to shallow.

Treatment is usually surgical. Either the groove is made deeper or the kneecap is fastened to the bone to prevent it from sliding.

Sebaceous Adenitis is a skin disease that affects the skin glands of a dog. The skin glands, found in the hair follicles of the skin become inflamed and die.

This causes scaly skin and waxy matted hair.

Sebaceous Adenitis cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed by bathing the dog often with specific medicated shampoos.

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  1. My 8 year old cavapoo was just diagnosed with a murmer 2. What is the best diet and food for this condition in a cavapoo. Right now he eats dry Zigniture turkey/kangaroo. He does not eat can wet food but in the morning he dies get a teaspoon or so of homemade food usually made of venison and eggs or turkey and vegetables. He does get some treats. Thank you for any help you can give me. Laurie Schwebel

  2. Hi Laurie,

    So sorry that your precious dog has been diagnosed with this. It looks like you have caught it early and with the right meds he should live a long and healthy life.

    Thank you for wanting to do the best for him by making sure he eats the right foods.

    Sounds like you are already on the right path. My only concern would be that he gets the right minerals and supplements needed. I did try raw food for my dogs but it seriously grossed me out and my one dog would not eat it. Lots of people have had good results with raw food though. Kibble is not the best because of the process it goes through and the added preservatives and other junk that has been added.

    What I would do is try making the pup loaf from Dr Judy Morgan. It is food that you cook and can freeze into suitable portions. She has made sure that the correct food is added to include all the vitamins and minerals needed. You can find the recipe here: https://drjudymorgan.com/blogs/recipes/how-to-make-homemade-puploaf
    Just first make sure he is not allergic to shell food before adding the mussels or kelp.

    She does have a way to contact her so if you are worried then try get hold of her to answer any questions you might have. I hope this helps you!

  3. Hi, I was wondering if it is only advised to buy a Cavapoo with both parents being health checked? And if so, should I ensure al of the above has been Checked?

    1. HI Nancy,
      Yes, it is advisable that both parent dogs are tested for health issues.
      The most important ones are Syringomyelia (SM) and Degenerative mitral valve disease (MVD).

      1. Thanks for confirming. A lot only have the stud poodle health tested and not the cavalier mum. Can you advise how high the risk, if only one parent is tested?

        1. It is just as important to test the mother dog. She could pass on a genetic disease to her pups.
          Both parent dogs must be tested and I would not compromise on that.

  4. Hello….we are on the verge of buying a cavapoo but really struggling with limited health checks on the parents dogs (even from registered reputable breeders).

    At the moment there are 2 in the running but don’t feel we have enough answers to be able to commit:

    1: Poodle mum PFA clear (as only test), Cavalier stud that hasn’t been tested but breeder saying that’s fine as grandfather saw specialist in 2018 and showed no signs of MVD (eyes) and MRD (heart)
    This doesn’t sit right with me, surely actual breeding stud should have been checked for these things? Plus more? And more recently?
    The DNA stuff (curly coat/dry eye, EF) I know can be taken from grandparents but not this stuff?

    2: Cavalier mum well tested, Poodle stud only tested for PFA, breeder saying that for KC that’s all that poodle needs.
    Is this enough?

    1. Hi Emma,
      I would not consider option 1 as the Cavalier is the one with the most health problems. It is very important that the stud should be health checked before using him to produce any litters.
      I would consider option 2.
      Just remember that even if all the health tests are done, you can still end up with a pup with genetic health issues.
      Health tests reduce the risk but do not remove them totally.

      1. I am in agreement with you, thanks so much for such a quick reply!
        With respect to a cavalier, do you think that an annual eye and heart check at vaccinations is sufficient?

        Going to phone option 2 in a short while….looks like that cavalier is clear of curly coat/dry eye, EF and has had eyes and heart looked at by specialist….what exactly am I expecting the breeder/certificates to say that the specialist looked for and found?
        Scan for Syringomyelia seems impossible to find in a breeder, does that seem right?

        1. Annual eye and heart checks are fine. If the Vet picks up anything then they would recommend further investigation.
          Scanning for Syringomyelia should be done as this is one of the main Cavalier health issues.
          It is expensive though because it involves an MRI scan of the brain and then a Specialist going over the results.
          The best breeders will definitely test there breeding dogs for SM.
          You will need to decide for yourself if this is a deal breaker or not.
          As I mentioned before, a breeder can do all the correct testing but this will only reduce the risks but not eliminate them.

  5. Oh that wasn’t the one 😫

    Let me write it again…….😂

    1. For a Cavalier what do you think about an annual eye and heart check at normal vaccinations with vet? Do you think this would be sufficient or would you always recommend a specialist.

    2. As well as curly coat/Dry eye and EF, If they have had specialist checks for heart and eyes what exactly is it that I am looking for the specialist to have checked for/found? Are the eyes and heart tests as important as each other?

    3. Syringomyelia doesn’t seem to be commonly tested (scanned?) for, is this expected?

    Sooooo many/too many questions!!

    1. Hi There,

      I am not a vet so what I suggest is just my opinion 🙂

      1. A vet can do the annual heart check and if they pick up anything then they should refer your dog to a specialist.
      As far as the eyes are concerned – I prefer a specialist to do the annual exam as they have the right equipment to do proper tests.
      2. The specialist will make a note of any problems or conditions found when doing the exam. There should be a summary stating if all is okay or not and if the dog’s eyes/heart are okay.
      3. SM should always be tested for as this disease is very common with Cavaliers.

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