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History and Genetics of the Cavalier

In the establishing of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, perhaps this information could be of use to those Cavalier folk who are interested in the history of the Cavalier breed, and also show how it an be difficult to find the mode of inheritance for health diseases in Cavaliers.

The origins of the Cavalier Breed started in 1928 when the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club was formed with Miss Mostyn Walker as Chairman and Mrs Amice Pitt secretary. This was decided by a toss of a coin deciding those positions. Most Cavalier pedigrees will have Ch DAYWELL ROGER, a Blenheim, in their pedigree background. He lived to 12 years of age, as did his sire, CANNONHILL RICHEY, a ruby. Further back in their pedigrees was PLANTATION BANJO, PLANTATION DUSKY, PLANTATION ROBERT, PLANTATION TWINKLES.

Ch DAYWELL ROGER’S grandsire was the famous ANN’S SON, this was the dog the committee decided the Cavalier Breed standard would be modelled on but his pedigree background could be in doubt. Mrs Pitt, the founder of the Cavalier Breed, has written that he was born in 1924, that Miss Mostyn Walker bred 2 puppies of extreme Cavalier type out of a bitch named Ann and supposedly by a Blenheim stud dog Lord Pindi. These two puppies were Ann's Son, Blenheim, and Wiz Bang Timothy a Tricolour. Ann's Son stayed with Miss Mostyn Walker and Wiz Bang Timothy became the property of Miss Fincham.
To add more mystery as to the date of birth of Ann's Son, there is a photo of him with the date 1926, where he looks fully-grown prefacing a Cavalier Club Booklet giving details of the Cavalier Breed Standard. To add to this confusion the Kennel Club Breed Supplement gives his date of birth as 29.4.1927.
He sired his last on 30.6.1939, which, according to Mrs Pitt, would have made him 15 years of age, not impossible, but could give cause for an element of doubt. In this litter was Winston of Winkfield, Plantation Smut and Daywell Nell who was the dam of Ch Daywell Roger, a Blenheim, the first Cavalier champion, who gained his title 24.4.48 at Welks Show from the Judge T Scott. His Breeders were Lt. Col. & Mrs Brierley and owner Miss J Pitt.

So perhaps his pedigree cannot be relied on and this could give problems to geneticists researching hereditary diseases in the Cavalier breed.

All those above named sires and dams which looked like Cavaliers were in fact registered as King Charles spaniels as were HENTZAU MERRY MIKE, QUEEN OF SPADES, ALEXANDER OF VIHURST, BLENHEIM PALACE BILLY. The first dog registered with the Kennel Club as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was not until 1943.

Most Cavalier pedigrees worldwide will have Ch Daywell Roger in their background because of Cavaliers being exported from Britain to countries around the world from the late 1940's onwards. Ch Daywell Roger was born 7.10.45 and sired 48 litters. His sires Cannonhill Richey, a Ruby, and grandsire Plantation Banjo, Black and Tan, were also prolific sires at that time. Because of the smaller number of cavaliers who were around in the 1940' s compared to the number today those particular sires could probably have had a great influence for the number of litters sired by them since between 1943 and 1953 there were approximately 2,011 Cavaliers registered by the Kennel Club, whereas today there are approximately 10,500 Cavaliers registered yearly in Britain. Both Ch Daywell Roger and his sire Cannonhill Richey lived to 12 years of age.

To complicate this further for geneticists, many of the matings in the 1930s and 1940s were brother to sister, father to daughter, mother to son. This had to be done by the Cavalier breeders in those early days to get the breed established, but, unfortunately, the Second World War started and, to keep the Cavalier stock going, the same close breeding had to be carried on.

Is this why to-day there are health problems in the breed because of some faulty genes coming down through the generations?
So now it could nearly be impossible to give genetic information to researchers in to hereditary diseases. This was mentioned in a paper on Syringohydromyelia being inherited in C.K.C.S. published in 2000 but because of the high frequency of certain names and lines in affected Cavaliers, it was not known whether this was because of the popularity of certain Cavaliers or because of a genetic defect being passed down.

Finally, for all enthusiasts of the history of Cavaliers, for many years the pedigree background of the Black and tan bitch Ranger Nicky Picky was a great mystery. Her dam is still not known but it has recently been discovered that her sire was Hentzau Bucks Hussar, a Black and Tan .