Saturday, 21 March 2015

Update on the CM SM conformation indicator (headshape) project in Cavaliers.

Update on the Swedish Kennel Club, Cavalier Matters & Rupert’s Fund project proposed by Lena Gillstedt, Penny Knowler, Tom Mitchell and Clare Rusbridge. Everyone is welcome to share this post.

This project is important to find out if naked eye or perhaps training in the measuring techniques and photos analysis will help identify any features that may be associated with risk of syringomyelia or painful Chiari Malformation. If this is the case then it may allow breeders to breed away from these conditions.

Nobody is more expert in appreciating conformation and variety than breeders, and a small group of representative breeders have already been created in this initial phase of the investigation.  They are Lena Gillstedt, Anja Szyszkiewicz also a Swedish breeder, Margaret Carter, Sheena Maclaine and Ellie Mordecai from the UK. Henny van den Berg (Netherlands) has recently joined this group with has expertise of conformation in other breeds. Also Laura Lang (USA) who first investigated MRIs and radiographs with and without syringomyelia over a decade ago.Together they have over 200 years of breeding experience between them and will select the dogs from the photographs that will go forward and ensure that they are representative. 

Every effort has been made by this committed team to ensure that the selection process for this project is as fair and unbiased as possible. Participants of the study will be known by a code only and be offered a free MRI scan. All individual results will be kept anonymous, although the owner will have the option to send a CD to the BVA/KC health scheme. If selected, two or more independent judges will examine the dogs using a conformation checklist compiled by Dr Clare Rusbridge, Thomas Mitchell, Henny van den Berg and Penny Knowler. All the researchers who are involved in interpreting and analyzing the results are blinded to the dogs identity.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Griffon Breeders shed light on head conformation and syringomyelia

There is a wealth of information in this delightful booklet that provides observations on 60 dogs that have been MRId. It provides breeders, pet owners and researchers with valuable insights.  Congratulations Henny van der Berg (Netherlands) and Lee Pieterse (Australia) on your hard work and dedication to the health of the Griffon Bruxellois breed.

Click on HERE for the link

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Calling all over 5 years old Cavalier owners in UK and Sweden!

It is hoped this project may help to shed further light on the painful condition called syringomyelia. Recent research has found two significant risk factors in head shape for syringomyelia. This study will focus on whether such risk factors in head shape can be identified visually. 

Do you have a Kennel Club registered Cavalier that is over the age of five that you would be prepared to have MRI scanned at no cost to you?

If you can help we need photos from different angles in order to select dogs for the project. It would very much help us to assess the head shapes of the Cavaliers if we could be sent clear photos with uncluttered backgrounds and the head photographed in the right position. You can see below examples of the pictures required.
Please send in photos of as many dogs as you can (one dog per E-mail) to
A selection of dogs will be offered free MRI scans. The identity of participating dogs will not be published. 

Photo instructions: We need photos 1) from the side 2) from above 3) from the front.

Camera held at the height from the dog’s head from ground. The photos should be taken from straight angles, straight from the side etc. If possible only head should be in the frame, ear pulled down on the side view to not obscure head shape.
Upper line are examples of good photos, a neutral background and taken from the correct angles:

More details at

 Many thanks to all of those who are able to help

 This initiative is funded by the Swedish Kennel Club and Cavalier Matters Charity (Rupert's Fund) and supported by the Cavalier Club UK and the Companion Cavalier Club. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Northern and Eastern Counties Papillon Club Health Seminar

Finningley Village Hall, 


Doncaster, DN9 3DA

February 1, 2015
9.30am -4pm

Stewarding Seminar

Christina Chapman 
(KC Accredited trainer)

*   Lunch    *              

Syringomyelia and Chari-like Malformation

Penny Knowler 
(Clare Rusbridge's research assistant 
Co-ordinator of the Canine Chiari Malformation and
 Syringomyelia DNA Research project )

£15-00 includes lunch. The club also will be holding a raffle and donating part of the entry fee to the research programe. 

Contact Eileen Roberts at 0116 2570277 for reservations or additional information.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Swedish Kennel Club and Charity Cavalier Matters (Rupert's Fund) to fund research into Cavalier Head Shape


We are very grateful and happy to announce that the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK), matched by the Charity Cavalier Matters/Rupert Fund, has granted the application for the study:

Is a fashionable and modern head shape an inadvertant risk for Syringomyelia - investigation for head conformation in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. ”

Judging dogs is an art, not a science. The subtleties of head conformation are often only appreciated by breed type experts and in particular those who breed and judge at championship level.

Recent research have found two significant risk factors in head shape for the painful disease syringomyelia. This study will focus on whether such risk factors in head shape can be idenitfied by breed experts, without the need for measurements.  The funding also provides the means to validate protocols established previously for quantitative trait analysis and conformational indicators to indicate risk for Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia.

This initiative is supported by the Companion Cavalier Club and the  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club 

Clare Rusbridge, Thomas Mitchell, Penny Knowler, Lena Gillstedt

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Congrats to Clare Rusbridge- winner of FECAVA's Best Original Paper 2014

Awarded in Munich at the FECAVA Congress this month.


and in Turkish here  - many thanks to  MEHTAP HALLAÇLI and SEDEF ERGÜN


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dr Colin Driver joins Neurology team at Fitzpatrick Referrals

Canine Chiari and Syringomyelia Research Group 

Colin John Driver
BSc BVetMed(Hons) MVetMed PhD DipECVN MRCVS
European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery

Colin comes from private practice in Hampshire and is looking forward to continuing the work of his PhD doctoral thesis entitled “The pathogenesis of syringomyelia secondary to Chiari-like malformation in dogs”. University of Ghent, Belgium and contributing to the neurology referral clinic and the excellent clinical research being undertaken at Fitzpatrick Referrals and the University of Surrey. 

Colin was a Resident and Clinical instructor at the Royal Veterinary College where he also obtained a first class intercalated BSc degree in Immunology. Many will know him for his outstanding research on Syringomyelia.  

Fantastic news!