What price cute fluffy happiness?
March 15, 2021 2:07 PM   Subscribe

How much should I expect to pay for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a reputable breeder? I'm new to this dog thing. I don't want a show dog or best of breed or anything, just a cute friendly family dog.

When I first started thinking about this I had in mind a few hundred dollars. Am I off by an order of magnitude? The first breeder I found online wanted over $4,000 per puppy. The second one was more in the neighborhood of $2,200. I found someone selling them for $700, but it wasn't clear this was a reputable operation.

What should I expect? If it's several thousand dollars I shouldn't even bother looking.

I live in the Boston area. I'd rather get a puppy locally. I could see driving a few hours to get the right dog. Is it okay to purchase a puppy long distance and have it shipped by airplane to my city?

Again, I'm very new to this, but just want to get a lay of the land before I get more invested in the idea. Any pointers to specific breeders welcome, also.
posted by Winnie the Proust to Pets & Animals (33 answers total)
Judging from a friend’s recent experience, I think $1500 is the absolute cheapest you would be able to do, from a “reputable” (I find it all a bit inherently disreputable) breeder. If you haven’t already, you should read the Wikipedia page for this breed and be sure you know what you’re getting into with the breed’s genetic predisposition to heart disease..
posted by cakelite at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2021 [21 favorites]

If all you want is a cute friendly family dog, I recommend not buying a purebred puppy unless you're willing to spend the time and money to get one from a reputable breeder.

If you really want a purebred dog, I recommend you look up the local breed-specific club and ask them, or your vet, for recommended breeders. Good breeders will pre-screen you, and won't necessarily charge you more than a sketchy breeder. What they may do is ask you to bring the dog back if it doesn't work out, or to fix it by a certain age.

Getting a dog from a good breeder will probably require getting on a waiting list, as well: you won't be able to get a puppy next week.

If you're willing to look at mixed-breed dogs, which often are healthier than purebreds, remember that even mutt puppies are in short supply in pandemic times. Be cautious about the dog and the seller and be sure to get the paperwork on its immunizations and so forth. (A coworker bought a backyard-bred Golden Retriever puppy a few years ago, and it died, tragically, only a few weeks later, because the breeder had lied about it having been immunized for Parvo.)
posted by suelac at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2021 [19 favorites]

I remember when a coworker was looking for one of these, probably 10 years ago. Every dog she found from what looked to be reputable breeders was in the $2000 to $3500 range.

Seconding cakelite - make really, really, really sure that you understand what this kind of dog was bred for and that you are able to provide it with that type of environment. Otherwise you're just guaranteeing a life of misery for both you and the dog.
posted by ralan at 2:25 PM on March 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Oh! One more thing: I just noticed that you were hoping to get a purebred puppy for “a few hundred dollars.” This is not going to be remotely possible. I adopted my dog from a rescue when he was three years old and their fee for an adult dog was six hundred bucks. I know! I’ll note here that shelters charge much, much less. If you are in the Boston area, check out Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem. My sister adopted an adorable puppy from them a few years ago.
posted by cakelite at 2:26 PM on March 15, 2021 [15 favorites]

$2-4K is consistent with my expectations for a purebred dog from a reputable breeder.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

You are likely looking at several thousand dollars.

I have a purebred border terrier, an unpopular breed (in the US). I have no experience with Cavalier King Charleses, except that people KNOW this dog, can picture exactly what this dog looks like, even if they're not deep dog people. It's a breed with both name and face recognition so that's going to inflate the price.

My dog is the "pet quality" reject from a show litter bred of champions, which sounds rude as hell, but that's the world you buy into when you go to the best regarded breeder. (The only thing "wrong" with him is that he's got a bit of a sideways lope when he walks (not noticeable unless you're judging a dog show) and when he was puppy it looked like an ear was going to grow in crooked (it did not). But anyway, pet quality he was.) My dog cost $1500, part of which I paid as a deposit before his mom was even pregnant, and I had to sign a contract to get him neutered at 6 months. He had been microchipped, registered with the AKC, and given all of his puppy shots when I picked him up at 9 weeks. (The show quality dogs in his litter were closer to $20k.)

All in all, my experience was excellent and it was unquestionably the right choice for me personally. I had never had a dog before, or any non-fish pet, and I was very out of my depth. I emailed probably 10 breeders in the great lakes region, all of whom recommended I reach out to the breeder I eventually went with. She was about an hour and a half away from where I lived. I liked that I could go visit her, meet her other dogs, meet other puppies, and really get a good idea for the breed before making my decision. I liked that I had a pretty good list of expectations for size, behavior, temperament, and health problems. I liked that I had someone I could call to say IS THIS NORMAL as an idiot new dog owner. It was the correct choice for me at that time in my life, and at nine years old my dog is healthy, cared for, loved, and I only remind him that he's pet quality sometimes when he's crying for a bite of leftover chicken fat.

One way I looked at it at the time was that over the lifetime of the dog it came to, what, 30 cents a day? He's totally worth it.

That said, I actually just now completed the new adopter application at our local shelter system to adopt my second dog. I'm a much more confident dog owner now and I have a different life situation that can accommodate a few more unknowns in a pet. For me, I will not get another purebred dog. But if I was 25 again in the same earlier situation? I would make the same choices to get a purebred, no question.
posted by phunniemee at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2021 [17 favorites]

When I adopted my hound/lab mix from the Sterling Animal Shelter in 2004, I believe the adoption costs for a puppy was around $400. I just checked and the new adoption fee for puppies is almost $600. I'd expect a purebred puppy to be at least $2-3k. Good luck in finding a pup!
posted by bCat at 2:31 PM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

A purebred from a reputable source is going to cost quite a bit of money. If you simply want a cute friendly family dog, there's a mutt somewhere near you that would love a home. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are highly inbred, with the accompanying health risks.
posted by Candleman at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

I would look for an AKC breeder.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

2 quick things: the Cav spaniel is a smush - no flying in the cargo hold so a human would have to fly with the pup.

The other thing is checking out retired show dogs. They’re usually still fairly young, are socialized and handled, have grown into their personalities a little more than puppy-puppies, and are sometimes much less expensive than a puppy-puppy. Often, breeders from the ring are looking for excellent homes as the furkids are ready to put their podium days behind them. Contact your local AKC or UKC organization and they may be able to put you in touch with some breeders/handlers or let you know about the next show open to the public. I am thinking about a retired show Boston as my Winston ages - I want Winston to guide the pup.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:16 PM on March 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

If you have your heart set on a pedigreed dog as opposed to a mutt (and I've had several of each over my lifetime), your best bet is to seek out a reputable show breeder for a pet-quality puppy. With some exceptions, no doubt, a show breeder will be much more careful about medical screening of the parents to reduce the likelihood of whatever diseases and the like are endemic to the breed because the whole point of breeding and showing dogs is to improve the breed. Plus, even though the puppy will be pet-quality rather than show-quality, the puppy will undoubtedly hew much closer to breed standard in terms of size and personality than one from a pet breeder whose primary interest is in producing dogs they can sell.

In 2001, my pet-quality West Highland White Terrier from a show breeder cost $1100 so the prices you're being quoted don't sound unreasonable. When I was just beginning my search for a Westie, I came across one that was only $650. When I asked about the parents and how closely they were related to each other, I was assured that "they weren't closely related at all; they were father and daughter". I couldn't hang up the phone fast enough.

Another possibility, if you're certain you want a pedigreed dog but can do without a puppy, is that show breeders often rehome dogs that aren't being shown anymore. Perhaps they've already been bred, or they developed a serious fault that wasn't obvious as a puppy, or they don't want that dog to compete in the ring against their better show dogs, or they just have too many dogs. That's how I got my current Westie and she came already trained, enormously polite/well-mannered, and very easy to live with. Truly a turnkey dog.
posted by DrGail at 3:17 PM on March 15, 2021 [9 favorites]

I think with your budget I'd probably be looking at a different type of dog. Not only are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels quite pricey, but they also predisposed to health problems that can be very expensive to treat.
posted by CarolynG at 3:18 PM on March 15, 2021 [14 favorites]

Your instinct that the $700-puppy breeder was disreputable is likely correct. Expect to pay $2K+ at least for a popular breed from a non-backyard breeder, even if the puppy itself is not show-quality. The reputable breeder is (hopefully) screening to reduce the likelihood of the inevitable genetic problems that result from inbreeding and is providing a healthy environment that ensures the puppy does not come to you pre-programmed with the trauma that can result from backyard breeding.

When working with a reputable breeder they will probably want to meet you first. I'm guessing in the pandemic times this will not have to be in person in the beginning? But when my mom was adopting her purebred lab she needed to meet the breeder in person, see the farm, meet the mom actually having the puppies, etc. This was not just "show up at the house", there was an actual tour of the farm to prove this wasn't a backyard setup. Then after the dog gave birth she met the puppies to pick her preferred one. Then she waited until the puppies were old enough to leave their mom, and then she drove out to get her dog. I cannot imagine a reputable breeder doing this all remotely and shipping you a dog sight-unseen. In your position I would want to be there in person at the very least to pick the puppy and look at the breeding conditions. If the breeder does not want you to visit where the dog is being bred that's a very bad sign.

A lot of mutts would meet the "cute and friendly" criteria, so if your budget is more in the hundreds rather than the thousands then I would make a list of exactly what traits you want from a dog and the amount of time you realistically have to devote to exercising and playing with it, and then bring that to a local rescue and get ready to meet a lot of dogs. This is not the answer you wanted but a few hundred is just not going to get you a non-backyard breeder "purebred" (in quotes because "purebreds" from backyard breeders are rarely pure anyway) of any kind of dog.
posted by Anonymous at 3:26 PM on March 15, 2021

I'll also vote for around $2-4k for your location.

If you're super plugged to the dog world in you could maybe find some kind of mix with another complementary breed(s) for under 1k.

And yes tons of Cavaliers are going to have hip and heart problems, as well as breathing issues that plague many short-nosed breeds. At minimum you should be asking any breeder about how they attempt to mitigate these problems.

My mom had two that she got when kids moved out so she could have something needy to tend to. They were nice enough but there's also tons of weird behavioral foibles.

For that money, and respecting that you know what you want in terms of a dog that has been bred to love you and require huge amounts of your presence, I'd probably go for a Japanese Chin.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:29 PM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cavs can have serious health issues due to inbreeding in the line, and most of them have mitral valve damage at some point in their lives (half have it by five years old), which can drastically shorten their life and lead to very expensive treatment.

As a potential new dog owner, perhaps consider reaching out to a local rescue group (breed-specific or otherwise) to discuss a good dog for your budget, experience and lifestyle, rather than thinking you want one specific breed of dog. Think more about how much work you are willing to do, and how much time and money you're willing to spend.

Also consider meeting a bunch of different dogs before deciding on a breed, and deciding to own one, so you know what you are in for.

Don't do what I did. My first dog was a pug. After never owning any kind of dog, I thought I was going to get a cute fun dog who would be some kind of stuffed animal version of what dog ownership actually is. What I got was Ripley the wonder pug, who was hell on wheels and blazed a path of destruction and chaos through two years of my life until I asked for help and figured out how to be a good dog owner to a bossy, food-obsessed pug who required more dental work and knee rehab than I do. It worked out, but it was very hard, and I could have done much better if I had done more homework and met more different types of dogs before deciding to focus on one dog that I liked for their looks.
posted by answergrape at 3:35 PM on March 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

Mod note: Few comments removed - folks it's okay to gently question assumptions of the OP, less okay to just tell them not to do what they want to do. Try to thread the needle? Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:55 PM on March 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Just a word of warning about arranging to buy and ship a pup you've never actually laid eyes on -- it can be a far too common scam.

You get lots of pics (reverse image search likely proves they're stolen from a legit breeder's site), are asked to send payment plus shipping fees via a cash app or money order (so you can't retrieve your funds or stop payment), and then wait for a pet that never arrives. The FB or CL ad (or in some cases, the whipped-together website) disappears, and your calls or email are blocked. Perpetrator is likely off-shore and untouchable by law enforcement.

Be very skeptical and cautious when dealing with a seller of anything you can't see and evaluate in person before purchase, especially if the price is just TOO attractive.

Good breeders are dedicated to preserving and improving the breed, and their prices reflect the investments they make in genetic testing, healthcare and showing of their results. Unfortunately, they're vastly outnumbered by those who just want to make a buck. Take one more vote for contacting a local breed rescue if your heart is set on a Cav.
posted by peakcomm at 4:01 PM on March 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

Per some conversations and YouTubes I've seen of late: if you get a bad vibe from the breeder, don't get the dog from them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:03 PM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cavalier KC spaniels have one of the highest rates of Syringomyelia where essentially their skull is too small for their brain and causes them pain. This will be even more likely in an unreliable breeder, but the reason it's so prevelant is that the breeding of "show" pedigree dogs has prioritised the right looks over health for years.

If you want the best chances of a healthy, fun family dog don't get a pedigree at all, unless its from a line bred for working rather than showing (see the working German Shepard's vs show German Shepard's. The difference just makes me so sad for the show dogs).
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:41 PM on March 15, 2021 [22 favorites]

Cavaliers are often sickly dogs, and I would not recommend them as pets unless a. you're okay with them dying young, and b. you have a budget set aside for ongoing, potentially severe health problems. I would also ask you to consider the ethics of brachycephalic dogs in general. These are animals that are born into this world unable to breathe properly, and they are born that way on purpose. That's even before you get to the rather extreme health issues that affect this particular breed.

Sidenote, no, there is no way you'll be able to have a Cavalier shipped to you via airline, due to the breathing issue. If a breeder somehow offers to do this anyway, they are a puppy mill or a scam. In general, I think it's highly questionable to ship someone a young puppy, regardless of health status or transport mode. Shipping can be pretty traumatic for animals of this age, so to me, it reflects a disregard for the puppy's emotional well being that one would hope not to find in a reputable breeder.

What is it that appeals to you about Cavaliers, in terms of care, temperament, size, etc? They are lovely dogs in terms of personality, so I get it! But there's likely a type of dog that is better suited to you, in terms of it not being prone to severe health problems and/or a short lifespan.

I'm going to assume you've already considered adoption and that it's not right for you. Just know that adoption is comparatively easy to finding a good breeder (....assuming you're in an area with an actual supply of adoptable shelter dogs, and/or you're the type of person - or rather, cough, type of single-family-detached homeowner - that a private rescue will prize). Breeders require a lot of legwork, time, and money. There are many irresponsible breeders, puppy mills, and scams out there, and they can be easy to fall for if you don't know what to look for. The first rule of thumb, for instance, is that if the website is super sleek and functional, as opposed to clunky and homemade, all your antennae should be up. If not for COVID, I would actually suggest skipping the internet and going to local shows, but the times are what they are.

This is a pretty comprehensive guide to identifying good breeders. A truly reputable breeder will be involved with shows and/or field work (may vary with breed), so in a sense, yes, you will be purchasing a show dog. The puppy you get will be of pet quality, of course, but in the womb, it was a potential show dog. If you find breeders that only sell "nice family pets," they are irresponsible; often they are just straight-up puppy mills. Also, keep in mind that irresponsible breeders often lie about health status on the assumption that no one will check. You'll have to look up the listed sires and dams for yourself: https://www.ofa.org/look-up-a-dog
posted by desert outpost at 6:04 PM on March 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

We have a purebred shepherd and a rescue mutt and two rescue cats.

Purebred was between 1500 and 2500. Can’t remember. We were distraught over losing our previous dog and live in an area where adoptable rescue dogs are scarce. (There are Reasons.) later we added rescue mutt.

There is no benefit to a purebred dog if you’re not breeding or showing. We got the runt of the litter and love her but specifically we needed a dog in ou house or we would flop over dead.

King Charles are overbred, overbought, and likely not what you want. Go to the shelters.

Adopt the floppiest one.

I feel for you.

Dogs are fraught. Mefi mail me if you’d like to vent.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:45 PM on March 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

If you're not set on a CKCS and you're just looking for a fun family dog and have a decent yard, I can personally recommend the Australian Shepherds at Propwash Farm in Kensington, NH (propwashfarm@comcast.net). My family got an Aussie from there in the early aughts and with inflation my guess is that the price would now be a bit over $1100 for a not-a-show dog (but this is just a guess, it could be higher). Leslie Frank loves those dogs so much and they have such a wonderful farm. She is willing to take back any dog that doesn't work for any reason, no questions asked. You will absolutely be required to go for a meet and greet though. The dog that joined our family from Propwash was such a beautiful and smart dog who lived a long time with very few health problems.

That said though, all dogs are good dogs, and I do highly recommend checking out your local shelters first. My current dog is a rescue mix and while I'd love to anecdotally say she's healthier than a purebred, she isn't really. She has a unique parasite that is unlikely to ever leave her and she needed a major surgery on some of her organs. So pets can sometimes be a money suck no matter what. But I know that she came from a high-kill shelter and was relocated to our area and I'm so glad we were able to bring her into our family.
posted by donut_princess at 6:48 PM on March 15, 2021

One point of anecdata about the airplane thing: some years ago, a friend of mine bought a purebred puppy and had him flown to her— not a Cav, but a similar sized breed— and I think it may have had a lasting effect on the little guy. My friend loves the pup and he’s happy and comfortable around her, but SO nervous of other people, street noise, sudden moves, etc. He’s not aggressive, he just goes quiet and small and still.

It’s possible he was just an anxious pup by nature. Or maybe it’s the result of being taken away, at a very young age, from everything he knew and put in a carrier in the pet compartment of a plane alone for hours. I’ve known this dog for years and, before his owner moved out of town, I’d finally persuaded him to kindofsortof trust me— but his anxiety at anything unknown had only marginally changed over that time. His only real joy seemed to be his bond with his owner.

(Though I believe my friend was wrong to acquire him that way, she’s been very caring and understanding with him all along, so this isn’t dunking on her. They’ve recently moved from the city to a much quieter town— less traffic, fewer people— and she says he is happier there. Just to say that getting a puppy flown to you can potentially result in trauma that could affect the dog’s whole life.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:45 PM on March 15, 2021

For a purebred dog with, health checks expect to pay at least a couple of thousand. The CKC breed is prone to heart issues with 50% of the dog having mitral valve issues by 5 years of age almost all will have it by the age of 10. Which can mean expensive treatment, a lifetime of drugs and a shortened life span. Not to mention the usual inbred problems of luxating patella's, hip and joint problems. You want health checks in any purebred dog and the breeder should welcome them.

My mother got an English Cocker CKC spaniel mix that has all the charm of a CKC, same big ears, lovely stubborn spaniel personality, but a longer face so no breathing problems and so healthy she outlived my mother and is still going strong at 15, minus a few teeth.
posted by wwax at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

In addition to the medical problems already mentioned, Cavalier King Charles spaniels are very prone to ear infections (for obvious reasons) and dental disease (as are most small dogs).

A good rescue will do a personality/behavioural assessment of each animal so prospective adopters have an idea of what to expect. (Example - translated, I'd say this description means Maggie is very high energy and has separation anxiety and needs an owner willing to invest a lot in training and enrichment if they don't want her to destroy their house).

Good breeders can be hard to identify but some positive signs include:
- requiring you to return the dog to them if you can't keep the dog (for any reason, at any age).
- will let you meet and interact with the puppy's mother.
- will not sell a puppy under eight weeks old.
- do not have a large number of dogs.
- do not breed more than one litter per year per dog.
- understand what medical conditions are common in their breed of dog.
- have done genetic testing and are willing to share the results.
- socialising puppies with a variety of other humans and dogs (not just immediate family).
- all puppies have microchips and their initial vaccines.
- providing information about the flea, worm and heartworm treatments the puppies have had.

Bad signs include:
- breeder always has puppies available (no waiting list).
- puppy's mother is aggressive or the breeder doesn't want you to meet her.
- offering puppy at a discount because of a medical condition the puppy will 'grow out of'.
- pedigree certificate lists the same dog several times.
- only offers a health guarantee if you agree to feed the puppy an untested fad diet.
- won't provide results of health testing or provides results but doesn't explain them.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 2:12 AM on March 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Just to note that if you start talking to breeders a reasonable drive away and if you strike them as someone who's with it but could stand a break on the price, they might offer co-ownership if the right puppy shows up.

Co-ownership means you get a break on the price, but the breeder basically owns the dog's naughty bits and retains access to the dog. The breeder would steal the dog every now and again for health checks, and to show if you weren't interested in showing yourself. If the dog pans out, the breeder would steal him or her again for breeding. This is not much of a big deal for males -- they spend a weekend to week with the breeder for collection or mating. It's a much bigger deal for bitches because whelping is (unnecessarily) terrifying when it's your girlie and because she'd necessarily be away for much longer.

Anyway, if the right puppy appears, you seem like a good target home, and you're willing, you might expect to bring a dog home for anywhere between half-price and $1.

I might as well note that it certainly *can* go that way, the sort of prices you're seeing everyone agree on aren't necessarily gouging. We breed vallhunds and the litter before last we were charging $2000 and lost money on the litter. All the shit that happens before breeding is expensive, breeding is expensive, whelping is very expensive if anything goes even slightly wrong, and raising puppies is expensive. If you give a shit, anyway.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:17 AM on March 16, 2021

Not sure where you are but here in the UK, many criminals have gone from burgling and drug dealing to breeding puppies and kittens during the pandemic - due to higher demand, it is safer and more lucrative. Vets are overrun with distressed owner with very sick animals.

Please don't be tempted to go down the non-official breeder route, even if the puppy is really cute. I bought my purebred kittens from a 'backyard breeder' (I didn't realise this was a thing at the time) actually at a massively inflated price because of the current trend in my city for pets (I thought cost equals quality, it doesn't), and I have spent thousands on vets bills due to a parasite (very common in badly managed litters) and a health issue which may have been caused by bad breeding.

So, yeah, go look at the official lists and make sure your pup has been tested for any hereditary conditions. Also make sure the breeder has insurance which will cover you for the first few weeks whilst yours starts, and that you have a contract saying you can return the puppy if things don't work out.

And always make sure you visit the home they live in, meet the mother and make sure she is healthy and well socialised, and also check your puppy for any signs of ill health before taking away.
posted by flimflamflop at 5:10 AM on March 16, 2021

If all you care about is getting a cute, friendly family dog, I agree with the comments suggesting you get a rescue dog from a shelter. This way you can meet the dog and get a good feel for their temperament. I have been a dog owner for twenty years, and I would not adopt or buy a dog I had not already met and spent some time with.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:18 AM on March 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

As gently as possible, if you don't have the thousands it will cost to get a Cav from a reputable breeder, you probably can't afford to own one*. They come with insane vet costs and you really, really, really need pet insurance for them, which is a significant monthly expense. Hip, hearing, heart are the three big issues with Cavs.

Also a really good screening for who is a reputable breeder and who isn't is that no breeder should ever agree to fly a Cav cargo hold, they are brachys and that makes the trip life-threatening for them.

*I say this sitting next to a French Bulldog I absolutely could never afford. He's a palliative care adoption we got through our vet, and the fact that we can't afford any of the heart, spine or nasal surgery a Frenchie often needs isn't relevent because he would not survive the required anesthesia for any of those procedures.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:03 AM on March 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Cavs can have serious health issues due to inbreeding in the line, and most of them have mitral valve damage at some point in their lives (half have it by five years old), which can drastically shorten their life and lead to very expensive treatment.

I have a friend with two (and two that died), and I regularly get updates about whether the seizures have been controlled, how they did during the MRI, and how things went at the cardiac vet and the neurology vet.
posted by jgirl at 6:23 AM on March 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm in New England too. "A few hundred dollars" here will get you a rescue dog that has most likely been transported from the South (I have two of those -- both originally came from Mississippi and cost me about $450). Purebred puppies will be in the thousands, absolutely.

One of my dogs has cancer. It's just bad luck, not a breed thing, and I'm well aware that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the health of purebred OR rescue dogs. That said, after nursing him through a major surgery and having even the happiest moments with him colored by the knowledge that he will almost certainly die prematurely -- I would never, ever in one thousand lifetimes get a dog that had a 50% chance of developing a fatal heart condition by age 5. There are so many dogs in the world, and a whole lot of them would make excellent adorable family pets. There's no reason at all to set yourself up for that kind of heartbreak.
posted by catoclock at 7:31 AM on March 16, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you for all the feedback, information, and bits of dog wisdom.

Given all of the above, a Cavalier will not be in our future. If any dog is, it will likely be a mutt and/or rescue. I will undoubtedly be back with another question or two if/when that process starts in earnest.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:47 AM on March 16, 2021 [14 favorites]

Hi! Late to the party! We're in western MA and we got a CKC over the summer from a breeder in PA. The cost was around $1000 and the breeder was AKC registered, IIRC. CKC pups were in high demand and we saw prices in the $1500-2000 range. We selected the one in PA because the lineage didn't have heart issues until later in life and no skull issues.

We're very happy with our dog, Melody, - she's a real sweetheart and has unique relationships with each member of our family. She's pretty smart and took to training very easily. The only issue we've had so far is that typical store-bought dog treats give her the runs. So far we've stuck with the same dog food the breeder uses, Victor, I think.

Drawbacks - small dogs have small bladders and need to go out more often. She gets visibly upset when my spouse leaves the house. We've been told that very often people get CKCs in threes. That hasn't happened yet, but if it does we'll be looking at Harmony and Counterpoint.
posted by plinth at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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