press release
Published: 17 April 2023

Award winning vet calls for end to poor dog breeding practices

Poor breeding practices that lead to debilitating diseases for dogs bring “shame to us all”, says Clare Rusbridge, Professor in Veterinary Neurology from the University of Surrey.  

Her comments come as she has been awarded a Petplan Charitable Trust Scientific Award for her life’s work. Her research has led to the discovery, first comprehensive description, and refinement of prevention and treatment of Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and other brachycephalic toy dog breeds.  

Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia are conditions where the dog's brain is too large for its skull, causing a blockage in the normal flow of spinal fluid, causing pain and creating hollow spaces within the spinal cord. This can lead to life-limiting Neurodisability and discomfort. 

Professor Rusbridge said:  

“I'm humbled to receive the Petplan Charitable Trust Scientific Award – an honour that shines a light on our united mission to tackle Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Together, we're making strides in animal welfare and responsible breeding, but there is still much work to do.  

“Let's all work towards an end to cruel breeding practices solely based on human desires, prioritising their wellbeing above all else. A heartfelt thank you for this recognition—I'm more determined than ever to keep pushing veterinary science forward for our cherished beloved dogs.” 

Professor Paul Townsend, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey, said: 

“We are incredibly proud of Clare Rusbridge for winning the prestigious Petplan Charitable Trust Scientific Award. Her tireless dedication to understanding and treating Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia has made a remarkable impact on companion animal veterinary science.  

“Clare's passion for animal welfare and her commitment to advancing knowledge in her field is truly inspiring. This well-deserved recognition reflects her outstanding contributions and unwavering determination to improve the lives of animals.” 

Professor Rusbridge is the author of popular online resources for vets, breeders, and dog owners. One of her major contributions is a user-friendly treatment guide for Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia, available in multiple languages and updated annually. This allows dogs without access to specialist care to receive the best treatment.  

Professor Rusbridge also played a key role in setting up a health programme for responsible breeding and designed easy-to-follow guidelines. She is actively involved with the Dog Breeding Reform Group and Cavalier Matters charity. 


  • Professor Rusbridge is available for interview upon request.  

  • For more information, please contact the University of Surrey’s press office via 

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