Cavaliers as Companions
August / September 2020
Edited by Dennis & Tina Homes


Body language is of great importance to a dog as without verbal language it is their foremost means of communication. When two dogs meet they can usually size each other up within just a few moments and quickly know if they are going to be friends or foes. Although they do have a whole array of barks, growls and whimpers, these vocal sounds are rather incomplete without body language, posturing and facial expressions. Let us look bit by bit at the various ways a dog communicates.

Facial Expressions
When relaxed the ears are usually held forward, eyes appear to have a soft look when gazing and not a hard, staring look. Mouth maybe slightly open or closed in a relaxed way and not gripped tight. When anxious the eyes may be glancing sideways and away. Ears may be held back and mouth could be clenched tight or the dog may even be lip licking. When fearful it could also show these expressions but even more extreme with the ears press very tightly back and panting or breathing heavily through a somewhat clenched mouth. When intimidating the eyes stare hard like searchlights with ears forward and cheeks raised showing bared teeth. Breaking eye contact is a sign of subordination, so dogs test each other to achieve dominance. The dog that blinks first or looks away first is the loser and therefore ranked lower.

Head Position
Head held down could be submission or depression. Head held high with a craning neck usually means interest.

Tail Position
Held high is a sign of alertness, confidence and also dominance. This is where a dog normally carries its tail straight out and it suddenly goes up. It must not be confused with a dog that has a naturally high or gay tail carriage. Tail wagging is generally accepted to be a sign of playfulness but it can also be a sign of agitation. When held low it could be submission or fearfulness. Held horizontally and wagging rather slowly can be a sign of caution. A study by Italian neuroscientists at the University of Trieste studied the behaviour of a group of thirty dogs over a period of a month. They observed the dogs’ reaction when they were joined by either their owner, an unfamiliar human, a cat and a very dominant dog, in this case a Belgiam Shepherd. To the scientists’ surprise all the dogs’ tails wagged vigorously to the right when they were shown their owners but less so when they saw an unfamiliar human. The cat produced a small wag to the right but the dominant Belgiam Shepherd sparked a sharp move to the left. The scientists concluded that the muscles in the right side of the tail reflect positive emotions while those on the left expressed more negative feelings.

Front legs and head held low to the ground but with eyes looking up and rump held high is play soliciting and is a sign of happiness and an invitation to play. Rolling over is both submission and deference. A dog that averts his gaze from another dog and drops low to the ground rather nervously may be trying to defuse a situation by acting submissively. Paws on top of another dog’s back is a sign of dominance. Tensing of muscles and the raising of hackles is a threat and a sign of an imminent fight. Humping another dog is not necessarily a sexual action, it is often a sign of asserting dominance within a pack and who holds the alpha position. This is particularly true when bitches hump each other.

Backing away is a sign of submission when the head and gaze is held low. However, working Collies regularly move backwards when herding sheep, but this movement is totally different and although their head is low to the ground, their neck is usually arched upwards and their gaze is high and are ready to leap into action to circle the sheep. Puppies that are raised without the company of litter mates, particularly between three to six weeks of age, are the worst canine communicators. Some people are quite alarmed at seeing litters of six week old puppies play fighting and biting each others’ ears and yelping. However, this is not real aggression, it is play fighting and socialization and is very important as it reinforces behaviour patterns that are vital throughout their lives.

As well as body language and verbal communication from barks and growls, dogs also use their highly developed sense of smell to acquire the information and the status of other dogs. Although we might find this none too pleasant, dogs can learn a great deal from smelling faeces and urine of other dogs, (I guess you could say that they talk through their backsides!!!) Dogs have anal sacs in their rear quarters that contain a mixture of pungent acids. When they defecate the muscles around the anus squeezes out a few drops on to the stool. This smell holds a great deal of information about the dog that can be picked up by other dogs that smell it, (in other words ‘poetry in motion’!!!) They also leave behind information in their urine and this may be a way of ascertaining territorial rights within certain areas. Male dogs try to lift their leg as high as possible to ensure that their scent covers the marking of any other dog. But bitches often squat and urinate over where another bitch has urinated so as to claim rights to this area and prove that she is the alpha bitch.


Most books about Cavaliers tell the story of how the American gentleman Roswell Eldridge was disappointed that there seemed to be none of the longer muzzled small toy spaniels around as depicted in many old paintings and therefore offered a prize of £25 for the best dog and bitch of this old type to be exhibited at Crufts. This then led to the revival of the breed in the mid-1920s and much has been written about these early pioneer breeders such as Amice Pitt, Mostyn Walker and Bessie Jennings. However, there is one important breeder who never gets a mention, probably because she was not a ‘show’ breeder, but nevertheless her breeding did play a vital role in the revival of the breed. This was Gladys Deacon, the second wife of the 9th Duke of Marlborough, a most eccentric duchess whose life was far from conventional.

The Duke’s first wife was Consuelo Vanderbilt, and this was probably a marriage of convenience rather than of love. In the late Victorian times Blenheim Palace needed much restoration work and the Marlborough’s finances were far from healthy. Consuelo was a very rich American from the banking family Vanderbilt and it suited them for her to marry into English aristocracy and the Marlborough family desperately needed money. They married in 1895 even though they were both in love with other people. Although they had two children their marriage was not happy and they separated in 1906 and divorced in 1920. When their marriage was first announced in newspapers Gladys Deacon, then a fourteen year old school girl, wrote in her diary, "Oh dear, if only I was a little older I might catch him. I am too young though mature in the arts of woman’s witchcraft and what is the use of one without the other? I will have to give up all chance to ever get Marlborough."

Gladys Deacon was born in Paris in 1881 to wealthy American parents. Her parents had a somewhat stormy relationship and when Gladys was just 11 years old her father shot dead her mother’s lover. Due to diplomatic reasons he only spent a short time in jail and had placed his three children, of which he had custody, in a convent. When released he went to retrieve his children but found that his wife had abducted Gladys. Through the courts he managed to regain custody of her and took her back to the States. However, he soon began to suffer extreme mental illness and Gladys was returned to her mother’s custody and completed her education in Bonn.

Gladys DeaconGladys Deacon
Gladys Deacon as a child and later as a society debutant

Gladys was extremely beautiful and as a debutant was accepted into European high society. Among her many admirers were the French novelist Marcel Proust and the Crown Prince of Prussia. There were also suggestions that the artist Rodin was one of her lovers. Moving in high circles she soon met the Duke of Marlborough and Consuelo and became great friends with them both and often stayed at Blenheim Palace. Gladys was highly intelligent and spoke seven languages fluently and became the toast of society. As the marriage of the Duke and Consuelo broke-up she began her relationship with the Duke and they finally married in 1920 after the Duke’s divorce was finalized.

The Duke had a pair of large statues erected at Blenheim in the form of sphinxes each with Gladys’s head. He also commissioned two huge blue eyes of Gladys to be painted on the ceiling of the portico at Blenheim.

Blenhiem Palace Sphinx

For well over a hundred and fifty years the various Dukes of Marlborough had bred small spaniels on the estate and this is where the name Marlborough and Blenheim Spaniel came from. Although the 9th Duke and his first wife Consuelo and two young sons are depicted with two Blenheim spaniels in the famous painting by John Sargent, he was not as keen on the dogs as his forebears and the number of dogs on the estate had dwindled. Gladys, however, was a great animal lover and decided that the breeding of these dogs should be an essential part of Palace life. To the somewhat displeasure of the Duke she began breeding dogs in a very big way and insisted that the dogs have full run of the Palace. Gladys was a kind of society icon; rather like a Paris Hilton or Victoria Beckham of the 1920s, but her general behaviour was becoming eccentric and somewhat erratic. Although she was regarded as a society beauty with her Grecian goddess looks, she thought that the shape of her nose could be improved so she had a paraffin emulsion injected into her nose. This was in the days long before botox and modern cosmetic surgery and the procedure went hideously wrong and the emulsion moved internally down her face as far as her chin.

A few of Gladys Deaconís dogs
A few of Gladys Deacon’s dogs

It was not long before their marriage started to run into difficulties. The Duke was becoming more and more attracted to Roman Catholicism while finding Gladys’s lifestyle overbearing and becoming embarrassed by her excesses. She was becoming quite obsessed with breeding dogs but decided that they should raise their litters in as near natural way as possible. She therefore had lots of floor boards taken up in some of the Palace rooms so that the bitches could whelp their pups under the floor! At an important dinner party when the Duke began talking about politics Gladys stood up and exclaimed, "Shut up! You know nothing about politics? I’ve slept with virtually every Prime Minister in Europe and most Kings." At another dinner party she sat down at the table and placed a loaded revolver by her dinner plate. When asked by one of the guests what the gun was for she replied, "In case I decide to shoot the Duke!"

On a visit to Paris she saw some chocolate imitation dog poo on sale in a joke shop and purchased a few. At a banquet at Blenheim Palace she strategically placed some on the stairs and as important guests arrived and were about to walk up the stairs she said, "Oh please look out! It’s my dogs, I do apologise." She then picked up the imitation dog poo, popped it in her mouth and began eating it!

It was in the mid-1920s when Amice Pitt and a few other breeders first began trying to re-establish the longer faced Cavalier Spaniel. In her Blenheim Palace line Gladys Deacon had both short faced and longer nosed dogs. One of her bitches was Blenheim Palace Trixie who was mated to a dog called Blenheim Palace Billy. A bitch from this litter was named Blenheim Palace Poppet and was sold as a pet to a gentleman from Hertfordshire. His wife didn’t particularly like the puppy so the gentleman re-sold it to a Mr Jennings who was a business colleague. Mr Jennings’ wife Bessie had had King Charles Spaniels as a child and decided to breed Poppet and approached Amice Pitt for a stud dog and this became the start of Bessie Jennings’ Plantation kennel, one of the very early Cavalier lines, and along with the De Fontenay kennel were one of only a few Cavalier kennels that managed to keep breeding during World War II.

Blenheim Palace Poppet
Blenheim Palace Poppet

Gladys and the Duke split up and he had her evicted from both the Palace and their London town house. She retreated to a large house in Mixbury with many of her dogs. The Duke had some of her other dogs put to sleep. She hired private detectives to identify infidelities between the Duke and various fashion models. Although she had divorce papers prepared, the Duke died in 1934 and she became his widow. She then moved to another large house in Chacombe near Banbury becoming a recluse with dogs and lots of cats. In her house were many works of art by people such as Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas but she would barricade herself in, sleeping all day and moving about the house at night in darkness. A local man would bring her food and provisions which she would hoist in from an upper window. She just called herself Mrs Spencer and lived like this for years. Many people wondered whatever happened to Gladys Deacon. In 1943 the MP Chips Channon spotted her in London in a Bond Street jewellers shop. She was dressed as a man in grey flannel trousers and a man’s overcoat and hat. When she realised that she had been noticed she just fled. In 1962 at the age of 81 she was forcibly removed from her house and placed into a mental hospital where she remained until her death at the age of 94.

Her story is indeed a sad tale that would not go amiss within a storyline of Downtown Abbey. In latter days her life had similarities to the character of Miss Haversham, the reclusive old lady in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, plus elements of Norma Desmond, the faded film star in Sunset Boulevard.


Although lockdown is starting to ease somewhat, the wearing of facemasks in shops and enclosed public spaces has become a legal requirement while the Covid-19 pandemic is still around. With most people wearing masks it was fairly obvious that some fashion designers would start selling more elaborate and fancy masks. We have now found three different Cavalier face masks on the market.

Face Mask

Face MaskFace Mask


Pictured below are Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, the two stars from the popular TV series Friends. In a publicity shot to inform people that they should wear facemasks in public places they are shown here with Courteney’s two Cavaliers Lilly and Bear. They are not encouraging people to put masks on dogs, it’s merely a publicity shot.

Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston

Courteney is a great dog lover and has had a Cavalier for many years. A couple of years ago she approached Michelle Chapman and Tanya Ireland of Ellemich Cavaliers for a puppy. Michelle and Tanya had recently had a litter from Ellemich Mary Berry by our Ch Leogem Renaissance. When she saw the litter she simply couldn’t have just one but had two who she has named Bear and Lilly. They are now both much loved and devoted pets and have gained quite a following on social media.

Courteney Cox and Lilly
Courteney Cox and Lilly when she was a young pup.

Over the years quite a few celebrities and well-know people have owned Cavaliers. Here are just a few.
Nigel Lawson, ex Chancellor and now more famous as the father of Nigella.
Princess Margaret. She had a beloved companion named Rowley.
President Ronald Regan.
Peter Bowles, actor.
Andrew Sachs, actor.
Isla St Clair, folk singer and one time TV game show host.
Michael J. Fox, actor.
Frank Sinatra, he owned several Cavaliers.
Douglas Cramer, Hollywood Mogul and producer of Dynasty and The Colbys. He owned four Cavaliers.
Gloria Hunniford, radio and TV presenter.
Craig Revel Horwood, dancer and choreographer.
Tracey Ullman, singer and comedian.
Lauren Bacall, actress.
Sylvester Stallone, actor; but he did not name his Cavalier Rocky 8!!!
Steven Van Zandt, guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’s band.
Kirk Douglas, actor.
Diarmuid Gavin, garden designer and TV presenter.
Ken Doherty, Irish Snooker Champion.
Micky Rooney, Hollywood star.
Plus actresses Teri Hatcher, Clare Danes and Brittany Murphy.


Staffordshire Pottery Spaniels

Staffordshire pottery spaniels have become highly popular among collectors in recent years, especially among owners of Cavaliers and King Charles Spaniels. The area around Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire became known as "the Potteries" because of the abundance of local clay and coal which made it an ideal area for pottery and ceramic production. Among the many famous companies from this area are Aynsley, Doulton, Minton, Twyford, Burleigh, Beswick and Wedgwood. Although dog figurines were made by pottery companies in Staffordshire as far back as the early 1700s the main era for these fireplace mantle spaniels was between the 1840s through to the 1890s. Although many other dog breed figurines were made it is believed that the spaniels’ popularity was mainly due to the affection that Queen Victoria had for her small spaniels. Staffordshire spaniels soon became a favourite Victorian home decoration and soon came to epitomize Staffordshire ceramics.

For much of the twentieth century these pottery spaniels fell out of fashion and were regarded as a relic from the past, but since the 1980s their popularity has grown enormously and original Victorian figurines can command quite a high price. Quite a lot are now made in places like China and some unscrupulous dealers try to sell then off as originals, so please be aware. Most of the very early models were made by pressing two moulds together, and on these you can see a seam down the side. On the originals the interior surface was smooth, but much later they were produced by the slip-casting technique and have slight indentations. The early models have no holes but as many moulds still exist it can be easy to produce these figurines.

Staffordshire Pottery Dog

Staffordshire Pottery Dog

Staffordshire Pottery DogStaffordshire Pottery Dog

Staffordshire Pottery DogStaffordshire Pottery Dog


Naturally Happy Dogs is a website that gives information about lots of different dog breeds. It’s a bit like an online version of the Kennel Club’s Discover Dogs. Just over three years ago, when we were still living in London, we were approached by them and asked if we would take part in a video about Cavaliers. They visited our house and made a short film. However, due to the fact that the lady in charge of the company was soon to have a baby and take time out, all filming and posting of new videos on the site was postponed till quite recently. Our Cavalier video has now gone online and has so far had over six and a half thousand views. I don’t know who the tricolour dogs in the film are; they are not ours and I guess that they are library films. Here is a link to the video.


We’re getting nowhere fast!
"We’re getting nowhere fast!"

Are those legs or lampposts where I can lift my leg?
"Are those legs or lampposts where I can lift my leg?"


"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive."
Gilda Radner

For further online Cavalier news and stories don’t forget to read some truly inspirational articles by logging on to the Pawz and Pray page at


If you have any questions about owning a Cavalier then click on the envelope to email Dennis and Tina who will only be too pleased to try and help you.

However please remember that we are not Vets or Lawyers so questions on these topics should be addressed to the professionals for advice.

Questions and answers that are of interest to other owners may be published on this page.

The Cavalier Club is not responsible for external website content.
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