Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Yelps When Picked Up (Solved)

A friend of mine who also has a Cavalier puppy has recently asked me, “Does your dog sometimes yelp or cry when you pick him up?”

She was pretty worried because she didn’t know what to do or the reason behind it.

This can indeed be concerning, and it’s important to understand why your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel yelps when picked up. 

Long story short, my friend was picking up her dog by its front arms (similar to how you would lift a human baby), and so her puppy was yelping because it was in pain.

However, incorrect holding isn’t the only reason Cavaliers yelp when picked up. In this article, I’ll list possible causes as well as solutions.

7 Reasons Why Cavalier king Charles Spaniels Yelp When Picked Up

Out of Fear

If your Cavalier feels scared, it may start to yelp when you pick it up. The fear may be due to several reasons.

Is your dog still a puppy? If yes, this could be the reason. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels go through different life stages (not only physical but mental as well), and one of the stages is the fear phase, typically between weeks 8 and 12.

Fear may also originate from recent trauma. Have you or anyone else recently dropped a Cavalier by accident? If so, you already have the answer.

Another potential explanation is that your dog knows what will happen after you pick him up (an action he dislikes). Some of the triggers include nail clipping, bathing, seeing the veterinarian, etc.

The Dog Was Unexpectedly Picked Up

Have you ever picked up a baby without letting it see you first? If yes, the baby has likely started crying. This is normal, instinctive behavior.

The same goes for dogs. That means everything is okay with your pet, and the reason it yelps is that it’s surprised.

To avoid this, call their name or make a noise before you pick them up. Let them know it’s you. This is particularly important for senior dogs. 

Picked Up in The Wrong Way

As I mentioned initially, if you are not holding your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel properly, it may yelp in pain.

So, what’s considered the wrong way? There are several incorrect ways:

  • Picking a Cavalier up by the front arms or underarms
  • Picking a Cavalier up by the back legs
  • Lifting a Cavalier by the collar
  • Carrying a Cavalier by the neck skin

Joint Problems

Another possible reason why a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may yelp when picked up is that it has an underlying physical pain or discomfort. The Cavalier breed is prone to joint problems such as hip dysplasia and luxating patella.

However, these health conditions can cause pain not only when being picked up but also during other activities, such as:

  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Climbing up
  • Climbing down
  • Getting up

If your dog also yelps or whimpers in these situations, it could indicate joint problems. If that’s the case, it’s important to take it to the vet for a check-up and get an appropriate diagnosis. 

A vet may recommend treatment options such as medication, supplements, physical therapy, and, in some cases, surgery.

Note: Not all dogs will exhibit discomfort during the mentioned activities, even in cases of severe HD.


You probably know that dogs, like humans, can experience cramps.

Has your dog participated in exhausting physical activity, or has it been dehydrated? 

If so, this may cause localized muscle spasms and, as a result, yelping when picked up.

If your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has cramps, you can try massaging the affected muscle, applying a cramp cream, or giving it a warm bath. In case the cramps persist or become more severe, it’s best to take them to the vet for a check-up.

Abdominal Problems

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can also experience abdominal problems like bloat, umbilical hernia, or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

All of these conditions can cause abdominal discomfort. Crying when being picked up could be an indication of an abdominal problem, and you should make a vet appointment right away.

Abdominal problems are a medical emergency and need to be treated immediately. The vet will perform a physical examination and take X-rays or ultrasounds in order to proceed with the diagnosis.

Spinal Pain (Syringomyelia)

Lastly, the cause of your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel yelping when picked up could be due to a condition called syringomyelia, a neurological condition affecting the dog’s spine. 

This health issue can cause pain, discomfort, and, in the worst-case scenario – paralysis. Syringomyelia is a serious condition, and depending on its severity, it is treated with specialized medical therapy or surgery.

Unfortunately, syringomyelia is a relatively common disease that affects Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Brussels Griffons.

If Your Cavalier Yelps, Should You Pick Him Up?

If an injury or pain causes the yelp, it would be smart not to pick up your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel but instead to take it to the vet immediately. However, if the yelp is caused by surprise or fear, you can pick it up, but make sure to do it calmly and gently.

It’s important to understand why your Cavalier is yelping when picked up. Pay attention to your pet’s body language. 

What is The Correct Way to Pick Up a Cavalier?

When picking up your Cavalier, the correct way is to support its chest and hindquarters. To do this properly, place one hand under their chest (closer to the front legs) and the other hand under their hindquarters. 

This will help prevent any strain on their spine and joints but also distribute their weight evenly.

Of course, make sure to lift your pooch gently and avoid swinging it or making sudden movements or swings.

Final Words

If healthy and properly carried, picking up your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel should not result in yelping, crying, whimpering, or any other sound that indicates pain and discomfort.

Cavaliers are known for their affection towards owners, so being held by their favorite human should make them happy and not the opposite.

If you liked this article, make sure to read another popular read – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Barking.


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