View Full Version : Trying to find the right dog for my family

27th January 2009, 09:32 PM
Hello, I am new here (lol obviousely) and I am trying to fond the right breed of dog for my family. We are not quite in the market for a dog as we currently have a chow that is best as an only dog but he has many medical problems and my vet has said he won't make it probably past 7... he is almost 4 now. We have decided that we won't get another chow, at least not right after him. We love him alot and I would feel like I was trying to 'replace' him.... So, we opted to look at other breeds. I have been searching for a little while and have turned down other breeds that I absolutely love but have decided were not going to work well for our family..... I know when he is gone, I will need another dog and do not want to be impulsive and get something that is cute but is a bad match....

I am almost 26, married to a great guy, I have 3 children 9, 7, and 18 months(Again another dog will not be in the picture until she is probably at least 5). All of which have been around animals forever as I worked at two shelters and had many animals go through our home and on to their forever homes. We have a chow, and 3 cats and a really stupid fish named Banana (he is just seriously not smart at all).

Both my husband and I own our own businesses. He works at his own office but can pretty much come home as he needs, and I am a photographer, so I am here alot of the time. We have plenty of time to devote to a dog. We also own our home, so there is no problems with landlords or anything like that. We have a very large fenced backyard and a very large deck.

I am trying to find out the pros and cons of owning a Cavalier.... If we got one, we would probably get a girl. So, basically what is it like owning a Cavalier? Barking? Medical/Health problems? Separation Anxiety? Chewing? Energy? Stuff like that......

Anything that you can tell me to help us decide if this would be a good match for us would be a great....

Any questions you have I would be more then willing to answer! Again, I am not looking FOR a dog yet, but I want to make sure to do my research so I know what to expect, and I want to make sure my next dog will be happy living with us, and vice versa.....


27th January 2009, 11:20 PM
Please look at Karlin's thread "Considering a Cavalier". This would be a really good place to start, as it will give you a good insight on the breed.


27th January 2009, 11:46 PM
Thanks. I was just looking for more personal experiences as far as what day to day life is...

basically the pros and cons and why this would NOT be a good dog for someone...

I am slowly going through this site and reading what I can. It is very helpful.

28th January 2009, 03:55 AM
My personal experience has been great. Maddy is two years old.
She rarely barks. She is happy to sit next to me reading a book if that is what I want, or she loves to go for a walk. She does once in a while initiate play if wehave not played with her in a while. She might bring a toy to you and determinedly place it in my lap.
However, her favourite thing to do is go out on the boat fishing. All you have to say is "Maddy, want to go fishing?" and she is alert and waiting at the door jumping around.
She does sleep in the big bed with us and can be a little wiggly leading to nights that can be restless for me. My husband sleeps too deeply for it to bother him.
She is not a big eater.
She is timid around other dogs. But around people she is very outgoing and pretty much looks confused if people DO NOT fuss her.
So far medical issues have been non existent but she is still too young. I did make sure I bought health insurance and have not yet had to use it.
She is the very best dog we have ever had. We have had a yorkie (14 years) and we had hunting beagles (outdoor dogs). We bonded with Maddy very quickly and much more deeply than we did even with our Yorkie. You cannot help but love her.
Everyone who meets her wants a dog like her. She is good with my grandchildren and great with old people.
She is a great traveller in the car and on the plane.

28th January 2009, 06:59 AM
Thank you!! That was helpful!

It is so funny you posted that, our other option for a dog was a Yorkie. We love both breeds, but have never owned either. I am doing research on both breeds extensively and still can't decide. Luckily, I have a while before I have to worry too much but I am still trying to decide.

chopsuey 47
28th January 2009, 09:02 AM
Hi There

My experience mirrors Pam's. Our Luka is a boyand 2.5 years. He is all the things Pam describes. He rarely barks, loves to play and the only time he is ever a pest (hardly) is when he demands attention. He will climb all over the computer and mess up the keys if he feels its now time for him. Usually he gets his way.

I am able to work from home some of the time and he is content to sleep in his bed however he does sense when a break is coming and gets really excited that hes about to get some fuss. He seems very tuned into our schedules and where he fiits in.

He is small and is a bad eater. Many cavs are but some are voracious and need to be kept in check. He adores his walks and is very active on these but then will curl up contentedly on our return.

He stays on his own 2 days per week for 5 hours max. In this time we have a retired neighbour who will come in and see him for 30 mins.

Our children are slightly older than yours will be when you get a dog, but hes perfect with them. My son who is 15 was a bit dissapoited that Luka is not a fetch the ball type dog but in all other ways he would not swop him.

Now for the bad news. You will have heard of the health issues Cavaliers have. If you havent I urge you to find out. You have experienced a sick dog and are aware that all breeds have problems of some sort. I knew of MVD but not of SM when I got Luka. Because of this I purchased the best health insurance I could buy. Sadly I am now having to use it.

He has been diagnosed with early onset MVD. Not good! But so far he is asymtomatic and may be for many years. However he is likely to go down hill. He will need medication which I am assured will make him as comfortable as he is now. I pray that he also doesnt get SM but you must look into that as well.

From reading this site I realise now that there are protocols for breeding in place to try and promote longevity and reduce the incidence of these diseases. Many users of this site say that the good breeders are out there. The earlier post referred you to Karlins thread. I think this is your starting point.

I could not ever imagine having a different breed of dog. On our walks especially since his diagnosis I have mentally tried a few other breeds for size and none have sat as comfortably with me as my Cavalier. I truly say that if a vet had told me about Lukas problem at 12 weeks and the breeder had offered me my money back I wouldnt have taken it. I am in it with him whatever happens because he gives so much joy. Thank god for health insurance though.

Good luck with your forward planning

Kind regards

28th January 2009, 10:54 AM
Thanks. I was just looking for more personal experiences as far as what day to day life is...
basically the pros and cons and why this would NOT be a good dog for someone...
I am slowly going through this site and reading what I can. It is very helpful.

Hello again,

My own experience with cavaliers - I have Dan a Ruby dog in his 13th year and he is "The Best Dog in the World". I'm sure every owner says the same. I adopted him at 10 weeks, socialized him in every situation and trained him and he is a joy to own.

My son was 9 years old when we had him and Dan adored him then and still does. My son is 22 years old now. Dan loves children, and loved playing with my son's friends throughout childhood years. Since I started clicker training our new puppy Dan has even learned new tricks - namely ringing poochie bells and waving. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Dan has also had very good health, only minor tummy upsets once a year. His heart is still sound although he is a bit overweight and on a diet now.

We adopted Bailey a Tri after we had Dan a few months. I thought it would be nice for Dan to have a canine companion. It was very challenging having the two so close in age, and in retrospect I believe it is better to acquire a second dog when the first one is a bit older. However, with good management they settled down and were good company for each other.

Bailey was a total rascal and all I have now is photographs and treasured memories. He died at 12 years old in October. It was very sudden - he got cancer. He lives on in my heart for always.

So, I am on my third cavalier Murphy. They are, for me, the perfect breed of dog. The ancient one and the puppy get along beautifully and are an absolute joy together. Dan is very indulgent and like a loving Grandfather. Murphy is very protective of Dan and chased off another dog that he considered was getting too familiar with Dan in the park.

Before adopting Murphy I was very anxious about the various health problems in cavaliers and am still concerned for any pet owner with a cavvie. Incidentally Bailey had always had good health too, no heart problems, only minor things.

I asked Dan's breeder to recommend someone to me as she no longer breeds cavs and Murphy came from a breeder of 25 years experience who really cares about the health of the breed. Murphy's Dad was tested for SM and his Grandfather too. I don't think there are any guarantees, but we can only do our best. I had a bit of a scare myself with Murphy, but I think it is just his collar that caused the scratching. At one time if a dog scratched his neck you wouldn't think anything of it.

I work from home and so am with them all the time. I understand that not everyone is able to do this and you can ask people on the board how their dogs are when left alone. Some cavvies get "separation anxiety" and you can read about that on Karlin's thread.

I would say that the only reason a cavalier would not be the right dog for someone is if he/she was going to be left alone for long periods. They are bred to be companion dogs and love to be with you.

There's such a lot to know, so you're doing the right thing by researching.:)

Good Luck

28th January 2009, 05:24 PM
In my opinion, the biggest drawback to having a Cavalier is they SERIOUSLY cannot be outside without a leash EVER. They will run right into the street (has happened before), right up to a big dog, chase a rabbit for as long as they can see it, etc. Seriously, this is my only complaint. All other dogs I have EVER had, I could take outside to run out to the car or check the mail and they would never dart away. NOT SO WITH THE CAVALIERS!!!

I have just adopted a rescue that was given up because he was "too clingy". Cavaliers NEED people. They will follow you everywhere and be in distress if they can't see you. They cannot be left alone for long periods and they will be at your feet constantly. Most people love this, but for some it could be a downside (I can't imagine that, but it does happen).

Also, you need to be prepared to groom them. They need to be well brushed once a week AT A MINIMUM, daily would be optimal and constant ear cleaning for the most part.

I think they are the BEST dogs in the whole world and can't say anything negative about them except for the leash thing. They love you more than you can imagine being loved.

chopsuey 47
28th January 2009, 06:43 PM

Do you ever excersis of the lead, in places away from traffic etc. My dog love to run free he is very good indeed and never goes for and when he thinks he is far enough he runs back to touch base. We often go to a woods where we park at the side of a busy road. Once 100yrds into the woods we let him off. On the way back 300 yrds from the road he keeps to our side and the closer he gets the lower his body gets to the ground. When I say lead he stops and has it on then his normal confident self appears and he pulls me to the car.

We walk him off lead from a very young age in safe areas so maybe he knows the drill. We live on a country road that gets used by quite a lot of traffic and he does seem very aware of the road. Having said all that I dont think I would ever let my older children let him off the lead. With me he knows whos boss, to him they are just other pack members.


28th January 2009, 07:00 PM
I once let my cav off leash at the beach because there was no one around and a fence at one end. He was great and loved being able to run. Then the sea gulls came and he was off down the beach went around the fence in the water and did not stop. I could not see him any longer and was afraid he would never come back. He eventually did, ran right by me and ran to the other end. It took us forever to catch him and never will do it again. No matter how well trained they are, they get in a zone and don't hear the whistle or their name. I was just glad there were no roads near there or other dangers.

Jane, mom to Alex, foster mom to Rhett

28th January 2009, 07:21 PM
My dogs have been off-leash plenty of times....my dad lives on 5 acres, and we go to the mountains a lot and they're off-leash there...but during my "normal" life where I live in the suburbs with cars, people, and distractions, there is NO WAY I would ever let them off lead.