A database of over 1300 cavalier King Charles spaniels spanning 20 generations was established by obtaining pedigree information from 45 dogs with syringomyelia secondary to occipital bone hypoplasia. These data were supplemented with published information from the breed club. The incidence of syringomyelia was very high in certain families and lines which had been extensively inbred. The affected dogs could be traced back to one bitch born in 1956 and the two offspring from her single lifter. Four key dogs representing four major breeding lines consistently occurred within the individual pedigrees. If a dog had more than five of its eight great-grandparents descended from these four lines there was a greater chance of it having syringomyelia. The data from this preliminary study suggest that occipital bone hypoplasia is hereditary in the cavalier King Charles spaniel and that its inheritance is more likely to be autosomal recessive because both dam and sire must be inbred descendants from certain lines. However, the inheritance is more likely to be of variable penetrance or oligogenic than simple.
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