Rupert's Fund is a rolling fund to MRI scan older cavaliers, age 6+, for critical research into syringomyelia (SM), a neurological disease that is alarmingly prevalent in the breed. International studies have shown at least 35% of cavaliers under 5 worldwide have this often painful condition. Researchers now estimate 70%-plus of all cavaliers will eventually develop SM, and evidence indicates it is taking more severe forms over time.

Why scan? Finding the genetic cause of this terrible disease is critical to the survival of the breed and will give breeders tools to breed away from the problem. Scans are a crucial part of this research, because they are the only way to accurately diagnose SM.

Because SM is a progressive condition -- meaning it tends to develop slowly over time and may not be apparent when affected dogs are younger -- finding older cavaliers with little or no SM is especially valuable to determine how it is inherited and help breeders identify promising lines. But time is running out. With every new generation of dogs, lines are further mixed. Some old, probably healthier lines have disappeared already. The chance diminishes of finding the fully clear dogs that could provide a genetic rescue plan.

Two projects, both working towards a healthier future for this wonderful breed, are in need of MRI scans from older cavaliers:

  1. the Canadian genome research, aimed at finding the genes that cause SM. Finding older clear dogs helps researchers fine-tune this ground-breaking international project, based at the University of Montreal, Canada and supported by clubs, breeders and pet owners around the world. This groundbreaking research already has pinpointed the likely areas of cavalier genes where SM is carried -- and a combination that seems to protect against SM! Scans of older cavaliers are needed to finetune and complete this work.

  1. the Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) project, which eventually will enable cavalier breeders to select the most genetically appropriate mates to help reduce incidence of syringomyelia and other genetic health problems.


For many breeders and pet owners, the greatest barrier to scanning an older dog is the cost of an MRI. That’s where Rupert’s Fund comes in. Rupert’s Fund can cover the cost of a confidential MRI scan for UK, Irish, US and Canadian cavaliers that researchers believe to be especially promising for research.

To do this, we need YOUR support and YOUR donations. Anyone can donate -- any amount, in any currency. We will keep funding available to the leading researchers into this condition for as long as is needed, to hasten the day when a reliable genetic test is available for this horrific disease.

Find out more about how to donate on the ‘DONATING’ page on this site. Donations are needed NOW to scan these critical dogs for this final stage of research, while the opportunity is there.

All donations are made directly to the UK researcher’s fund managed by two leading SM researchers, Dr Clare Rusbridge and Penny Knowler.

Find out more generally about having YOUR dog scanned HERE, and read the latest research update  -- which includes more, specifically, on the kinds of dogs the researchers are looking for -- HERE.

Rupert’s Fund is named in honour of Rupert (smiling below!) a sweet cavalier who suffered from this condition from early on in his life. As with many SM dogs, the disease was not correctly diagnosed for several years. Rupert passed away in 2008. You can find out more about SM in cavaliers HERE.

And it’s not just about dogs. This research into SM is also providing valuable information about this enigmatic disease to medical researchers into human SM. Man’s best friend yet again!

Want to learn more about cavaliers? Visit!

For information on funding scans for similar CM/SM research in Griffon Bruxellois, visit Friends of Lola


Rupert’s Fund: funding MRIs for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Amount raised so far: £20,846 ($33,082)

Dogs scanned so far: 59

In just TWO years we have raised over £20,000 thanks to people like YOU!

Read a research update HERE

Thanks in part to scans from Rupert’s Fund, researchers believe they have found the genetic region for SM plus a PROTECTIVE element.

Read more.