LockeStar Cavaliers

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Guide to Finding a Cavalier

Please also read about OFA!

The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals is a database where OFFICIAL health test results for heart, eye, hip, and patella exams (and more) are published.  This database is used for all breeds. Not all breeders post results here, in which case it is important to ask to see documentation of the most recent results.

Step 3) Pick your breeder:

  • The average pet Cavalier puppy will cost between $1,500 and $2,500, depending on quality, age of puppy, and parents accomplishments & health tests.  Older retired dogs may go for a bit less.
  • Never buy a puppy from a pet store and be wary of ads you find in the paper or online; some ads may be           from Code of Ethics breeders, most are not.

Make sure you have a conversation with your breeder and find out why they do things the way they do, and don't go forward with a decision unless you are comfortable with the way the he or she handles all aspects.

Begin by attending some dog shows in your area and talking to people.  Finding one that at least shows their dogs helps eliminate the common back yard breeder or worse, Puppy Mills. Back yard breeders won't spend money going to dog shows or bother trying to prove their dogs are worthy of being bred. They will breed dogs as pets most of the time, and although they often do have good intentions, they generally are very uneducated in several key areas, with the most important being health testing.  They may vet check their dogs, as any loving family does.  These breeders very likely don't health test their stock to the extent as they should, such as visiting Specialists and testing for every known genetic disorder.

If you don't want to attend shows, look up Cavalier clubs such as the Cavaliers of Puget Sound.  There are usually clubs in every state and most club sites will have a list of breeders, although this still is no guarantee the breeder is a Code of Ethics one.  That is up to YOU to research.  Email and call these people, ask questions, expect to be asked questions in return, and visit their homes if you can.  Many might require you to visit before considering selling you a puppy.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How old are the sire (father) and dam (mother)?  Are they heart clear? Can I see their cardiologist heart            certificates?  Are their parents still heart clear? 
  • What clubs are you a member of? 
  • Can you tell me why you planned this litter, what were you expecting from it?
  • Can you tell me about your views on health problems in Cavaliers and what you do to prevent them?
  • What is your view on MRI scanning breeding stock?


  • The breeder cannot answer the above questions, or you are uncomfortable with any answers given
  • Puppies can go home before 8 weeks of age. (Recommended age for this breed is 10 - 12 weeks)
  • Health documents are not available. Never take anyone's word that a test has been done unless you see a hard copy of the results or a listing on OFFA
  • The dogs you meet are very shy or aggressive. Cavaliers should be friendly and relatively bold.
  • You notice squalid living conditions.
  • Too many dogs to handle and not enough people to care for them - with so many dogs how much attention       and socialization do you think your puppy will get?
  • Females regularly being bred every heat cycle, under the age of 2 or over the age of 8 (CKCSC guidelines)
  • The breeder pressures you into making a quick decision or tries to get you to buy multiples (generally it is not a good idea to buy more than one puppy at once as it can create bonding issues with people).
  • Puppies are sold cheap, usually less than $1,000. This is often a warning sign of a puppy mill or a BYB and it is likely expenses are not going into important things, like health testing.

Step 4) Your new puppy is home, HAVE FUN! 

Enroll in puppy class, socialize him, and enjoy being owned by your Cavalier.  At this point you will have a great relationship with your breeder.  Use this person as one of your main points of contact for all additional questions you may have throughout your Cavalier's life.  Most breeders appreciate the occasional email with photo updates on how your puppy is doing too!