Thursday, May 9, 2013

Conformational Indicators Study Measurement Clinic - Supported by Cavalier Fanciers of Ontario (Canada)

Location: 8321 Twiss Road, Campbellville, Ontario
Date:  May 20th, 2013  with a second date of
                            May 26th, 2013 (if needed... same time and location)
Time:  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m

At the meeting of April 27th, 2013, the Executive, Board of Directors and Members of CAVALIER FANCIERS OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO, have enthusiastically voted in favour of showing their support of The Conformational Indicators Study, on a "BREED CLUB" level, by agreeing to host a  Conformational Indicators Study Measurement Clinic.

The Conformational Indicators Study (CI Study) was initiated by Thomas Mitchell, a research student at the University of Bristol (UK) in collaboration with, and supervision by, Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Penny Knowler and Int. Show Judge Henny van den Berg. The CI Study is supported by breeders and pet owners with measurement clinics being performed in the UK and Netherlands and online worldwide.  Now members of Cavalier Fanciers of Southern Ontario will join these ranks and will also be contributing information gathered at their own measurement clinic(s) performed in Southern Ontario, Canada.  We have a trained Researcher (Jane Sykes) to gather the data necessary to contribute to the Conformational Indicators Study and she will be working directly with Thomas Mitchell and the CI team.

This clinic is open to any breed, not just Cavaliers but any breed previously MRI'd (for CM/SM) and accompanied by a written report and all dogs must be microchipped or tattooed. The dogs may be either symptomatic or asymptomatic for CM/SM symptoms and confidentiality is respected. The measurements are not intrusive, involving calipers for head measurements and, for those who have dogs that exhibit CM/SM pain symptoms, please be assured that your dog will be handled in the gentlest manner possible. Affected dogs may be any age but since SM can be a late-onset condition, unaffected dogs should have been screened after three years of age if possible.

In order to prevent bias while taking measurements, Jane and Thomas require to be 'blinded' to the MRI status of any dog. Participants are therefore asked to register their dog/s by sending their MRI reports and microchip numbers separately to: to be given a unique ID# for the dog/s for use by the researchers.

If you know of someone you think would like to participate, please contact Thomas Mitchell, at: and he will answer any questions.  Appointments should be made with Jane Sykes having been registered for the study.

if you want to join in the discussion for this study join the FaceBook group

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Syringomyelia 2013 Conference

Sydney, Australia
February 27 – March 1, 2013

Details  click here 


  • John Oro – Colorado, USA
  • Graham Flint – Birmingham, UK
  • Jörg Klekamp – Quakenbrück, Germany
  • John Magnussen – Sydney, Australia
  • Izumi Koyanagi – Sapporo, Japan
  • John Heiss – Washington, USA
  • Sarah Hemley – Sydney, Australia
  • Andy Brodbelt – Liverpool, UK
  • Clare Rusbridge – London, UK
  • Michael Fehlings – Toronto, CA
  • David Frim – Chicago, USA
  • Spyros Sgouros – Athens, Greece
  • Paulo Bolognese – New York, USA

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rupert's Fund 3rd Annual Report 2012

This year the gross total for the 3 years is a staggering £23,108.29 ($37,340.69). The total number of cavaliers scanned over the same period is 64.  Well done everyone!! It is really special to be involved in this initiative despite the hard work. 

Overall, in the total of 64 dogs, 43 (67%) were ‘SM clear’ with  less than 2mm central canal dilatation (CCD) i.e. graded 0-1a in the BVA/KC scheme for SM.  All of the dogs had CM. 
There were 27 males of which 58% were ‘SM clear’. 
These statistics should not be used out of context – this sample is biased because the research is looking for SM clear dogs only.

There is warmth that is generated by the donations to help the dogs.  On the 1st January 2013, I received £15 through PAYPAL from Suzanne Brown who has been giving similar regular amounts over the years  
“Every time a member of the For the Love of Cavaliers email list announces the birthday or, sadly, the death of a Cavalier, I make a scratch on a Post-It I keep out on my desk.  I make a $1 donation for a birthday (unless it's a special friend's Cavalier or one of my own) and $2 for a death.  I round it up after converting to British Pounds and make a donation about once every 3 months. " 

The fund also receives donations from people who wish to remember their beloved dogs like “Ella” or  “Cinders”.  Since donations can range from £10 to £100, it is paramount to us that the money must be used for greatest effect for the breed.  For this reason, the information gained from Rupert’s Fund is shared with a variety of research projects – not just the genome research.

Now that the BVA/KC cmsm screening scheme has been launched the scans have been submitted through this scheme to maximize benefit to the breed concerned as the results from this scheme not only have an “official stamp” but also will ultimately feed into a “mate select scheme”. Most centers offering a “low cost screening” service do this in conjunction with the BVA scheme so although theoretically this incurs an additional £100 cost per dog the cost of the scan is approximately £250 giving a total cost of £350 per dog. Many breeders are very anxious to locate the elusive 0a sire. 

Five different countries have been involved in the scheme but the most cost effective use for Rupert’s fund is the UK because of the financial exchange rate.  It has been disappointing that there has been only 9 dogs scanned in the last year and those owners that did participate with their dogs are greatly appreciated for helping the breed. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Right to Reply

I was sent an article called ‘Right to Reply’ has been published in the recent Southern Cavalier Magazine  this month suggesting the research into certain aspects of CM and SM are flawed and  asked me to respond to it. 

The author writes:

The program (?PDE) cited that 70% of all Cavaliers over 6 years of age will have asymptomatic SM based on a study of 555 cavaliers. This study does not clarify how many of the representative sample were of that age. With an estimated population of 100,000 dogs, 555 dogs are a mere drop in the ocean.  My own personal experiences disputes this claim. We have been told that this condition is progressive and degenerative- based on a sample of just 12 dogs.

The author gives details of her own scanning experiences and some unverified anecdotal evidence of others

No publication is actually referenced but the figure ‘555 cavaliers’ quoted suggests the following:

J. E. Parker, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS1, S. P. Knowler, BSc2, C. Rusbridge, BVMS, DECVN, MRCVS2, E. Noorman, DVM3 and N. D. Jeffery, BVSc, PhD, CertSAO, DECVS, DECVN, DSAS(ST), FRCVS1

1University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. 2Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital, London, UK,3Dierenkliniek den Heuvel, Best, Netherlands

I don’t know where the 100,000 dogs quoted above came from but the scientific paper describes the sample population of 555 cavaliers from the UK and the Netherlands which had been MRI’d between 2004 and 2010 and screening asymptomatic dogs.

Data were analysed by logistic regression in order to determine the effects of sex and age on the prevalence of syringomyelia.  This statistical analysis first expressed the prevalence of the disease as a proportion of the entire scanned population but because symptomatic SM is more common in older dogs (Lewis and others 2010), the effect of age on the odds of a positive diagnosis of SM was then analysed.  The table below illustrates the odds of a positive diagnosis at each age and these were tested using a chi-square test for measuring the trend in odds. See table and figure below.

Only increased age was found to have a significant effect. 
The prevalence of syringomyelia was 25 per cent in dogs aged 12 months, increasing to a peak of 70 per cent in dogs aged 72 months or more.

So where is the author getting the information that are (mis)quoted to the cavalier community?   I hope this provides the actual facts given in the original scientific paper.  I will address the remaining misinformation when I have more time.

Penny Knowler (co-author of above paper)
Any further queries about this paper the contact is Professor Nick Jeffery  e-mail:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome to the Blog for the CMSM Research

This is a meeting place where we can post relevant articles and information about research into chiari and syringomyelia and you can give us feedback and support. 

If you are involved or affected by CMSM then we can share experiences and learn from them.