I just wondered if I am the only one with a seriously grouchy cavvy? Charlie has been this way since a pup - he has been an old dog in a young dogs body - he sneers at us, huffs at us and sighs at us and awful lot. We also have a 9mth old westie female pup who just wants to play with Charlie but all he does is grump at her or turn his back on her. Now I could understand all this behaviour if he was an old dog, but he has only just turned 4yrs and can and will still play when the mood takes him, its just that he is like a grouchy old man most of the time.
We occassionaly see flashes of playfulness, but it is rare and no amount of me crawling on the floor, making silly noises, rolling balls, etc etc will entice him, he ill just look at me like I am mental and huff. I dont understand it, and nor does poor little Dolly (my westie) - I adore Charlie, he is my baby but why is he so grumpy???
Not to be alarming, but I wonder if he is in pain.
I'm noticing that Thistle is increasingly opting not to play and run with Guinness, and I am wondering the same thing about her. Where Guinness is a little jester, Thistle has gone from a hyper puppy, to a "thinker".
Given what you describe (with the caveat that it can be very hard to evaluate what a dog is actually doing from a description and a vet professional is the right person to make a call), there are really only two options likely: pain, or temperament problems. The latter are extremely rare in this friendly and happy breed. The former, unfortunately, can be seen frequently in the breed due in particular to widespread breed neurological problems, primarily syringomyelia/Chiari-like malformation. Nearly every cavalier has the latter which often causes few to no visible problems, but can on its own cause the kinds of things you are seeing.
If he has always been like this I would really urge you to see a vet who understands the breed's problems with CM/SM and most likely you will want a referral to a neurologist from the vet. At the very least I would want to see a neurologist to do a clinical exam for neurological pain and then discuss making any further needed investigations. A vet may well pick up on pain problems but can easily miss neurological pain symptoms that a neurologist will easily see.
I would do this as a matter of urgency -- he may have been suffering with a lifetime of neurological pain and there are medications and surgical approaches that could give him a decent quality of life. Cavaliers also can have hydrocephalus (more rarely). But that too can cause a 'grumpy' personality due to ongoing pain. These conditions will make a dog very reluctant to play because doing so brings on severe pain.
If this hadn't been present since puppyhood, I'd be suggesting some other possible pain causes such as disk disease, but that wouldn't have been there in a puppy -- and if a cavalier has always been like this -- which is totally contrary to how the breed is bred to be -- then I would believe that a congenital state of neurological pain is most likely the problem.
Please do look into this as a priority and let us know what the vet/neurologist says.
More info at www.cavalierhealth.org and www.smcavaliers.com and there's info on SM in the Health Library section here as well.
I agree what you describe is the opposite behavior of every cavalier I have ever met. I think you do need to rule out some medical conditions causing this grumpiness. Switch vets, see specialists whatever to take to rule out disk problems. CM/SM etc. these conditions are misdiagnosed all the time so do your homework.
I would agree with Karlin. I had my Oliver at a year old and he has never played. He will go up to other dogs and say hello but carefully avoids any situation where he might get knocked into or rolled over - and although he wasn't diagnosed with CM/SM until he was 5, in retrospect he has had symptoms at least of CM (such as this avoiding playful contact with other dogs) since I had him. His other symptoms include changing sleeping place several times during the night and squinting in strong light. The Cavalier I had before Oliver, who I'm fairly sure now had quite severe, but undiagnosed, CM/SM, would turn into a snarling, snapping fury when picked up and with hindsight was clearly in a lot of pain - but this was before the days of MRI scans and he had other health problems as well that muddied the diagnostic waters.
If there's no obvious problem with your Charlie such as disk, you really need to see a specialist such as a neurologist.
Kate, Oliver and Aled
Thats interesting what you,ve mentioned about oliver, i thought ruby was a little anti social, she will only play with me , she will meet and greet other dogs, but will not play, she did as a young puppy, she also changes sleeping place at night, but i thought it was because she got too hot, she tolerates sadie, but sadie is completely the opposite to ruby, she trys to initiate play, but ruby is almost dismissive of her. Rubys not aggressive, but is quite happy in her own little world, laid back and totally chilled, where as sadie craves attention, and wants contact with you all the time, i sometimes wonder what is personality with them, and what is indicative of cm/sm as Ruby is asymptomatic. karen ruby and sadie x
The thing is I am not sure it is pain, he will play, just when it suits him, when outside on walks he is a loon, he and Dolly will chase each other, roll each other over, jump on each other etc and when he feels like it he will do it in the house too, he will start the bum wiggling and off they go but it is only on his terms. He just reacts like a grump if he doesnt want to play - no snapping or hurting nothing like that, just a sneer or a huff or will ignore Dolly's attemps at engaging him in play. There is def no pain involved, when sleeping he is flat out, doesnt move. Apart from this he behaves how you would expect a cavvy to behave