So is a Cockapoo For You?
The common picture of a Cockapoo shows a happy face, curly coat and biddable nature. All of these things are true but there is more to this dog than initially meets the eye.
If you think a Cockapoo is the right breed of dog for you there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly, the ancestry of the Cockapoo is Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, both of which are active working dogs, and are used as Gundogs out in the fields. The Show Cocker Spaniel is perhaps quieter than the busy and active Working Cocker Spaniel, but whichever breed type is used they all love to be working, using their minds to find prey and bring it back to their handler. Their intelligence makes them perfect for this work as does their love of activity.
These traits are passed on to the Cockapoo. Cockapoos are lively, intelligent, keen to learn and love being with people. They are also sensitive and can suffer from being left alone without careful preparation and training.
Their lively minds mean they need mental exercise as much as physical. This might sound strange but training and learning is a must to keep them happy. Teaching obedience skills, tricks, taking part in Flyball or Agility or working playing ‘Fetch and Return’, etc, all go together to make a happy Cockapoo.
Many love water of any sort - apart from when they need a bath! Muddy puddles, rivers, streams, etc, all are irresistible to some Cockapoo’s, even in the depths of Winter, so it is not unusual during the Winter months to have to bathe a muddy dog on a daily basis!
Once those needs are met they will be happy to curl up and sleep on the sofa, but Cockapoos are not ‘Lap-Dogs’ by any means, although there is always the one that bucks the trend!
Cockapoos can vary in size according to their parentage. If they have a Toy Poodle parent they may vary between 9-10” tall or go up to 20” or more if a Standard Poodle is used. Having a Standard Poodle parent is quite rare though and the most common Cockapoo seen is one where there are a Cocker Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle parent and that results in a dog of approximately 12-14” height.
These heights are a rough guideline only though and there can be a bit of variation from one puppy to another.
You will also find that some Cockapoos are ‘chunkier’ than others. Some may inherit more of the sleeker Poodle lines while others will have the more solid build of the Cocker parent.
You will often see Cockapoos advertised or promoted as being HYPOALLERGENIC dogs, with claims that they are perfect for dog lovers who suffer from allergies. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true. There is no such thing as a dog that is guaranteed not to cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Calling a dog ‘hypoallergenic’ just means it might have a lower chance of doing so, MIGHT being the important word in this description. Allergies can be triggered by a dog’s saliva, urine or dander (skin cells).
In Poodles, the fact that they don’t usually shed fur means that the number of dead skin cells dropped into the surrounding environment is less, it just gets trapped in their fur and can be washed away during bathing, grooming etc. This reduces the risk of triggering an allergy due to skin cells, but the risk from urine and saliva remains.
With a Cockapoo, there is no way of knowing how much of the Poodle genes have been inherited, and as the puppy starts to develop its adult coat some people will start to develop allergies to their dog.
Unfortunately, it is not unknown for people to end up having to rehome a much-loved pet because of the allergic reaction it has triggered.
The Poster Boy/Girl image of a Cockapoo usually shows a dog with a wavy or slightly curly, fluffy coat. This is one type of coat you may find on a Cockapoo, however, there is always the chance for some variation. Don’t forget these dogs are a crossbreed, a mix of two dogs and with genes inherited from both breeds.
Some dogs may inherit more of the Poodle genes and so have a tight, curly Poodle type coat while others may inherit more of the Cocker Spaniel genes and have a perfectly straight, curl-free coat that moults daily.
Whichever type of coat, it needs care and regular grooming. Most Cockapoos do not moult as other breeds of dogs do. This can be great for people who do not want to spend their days vacuuming up dog fur every day, but it does mean that the dog will develop matts and knots in their fur which needs daily grooming, from top to tail. Regular trip to the groomers to keep the fur trimmed may also be needed.
Like all dogs, Cockapoos will require regular exercise, even if the weather is bad!. The minimum requirement is an hours exercise a day, but if your Cockapoo is from Working Cocker Spaniel stock, you may find this is not enough.
Rain, hail or shine your Cockapoo will wait each day for you to take him out, throw the Frisbee, or ball, let him wallow in the muddy puddle or wander and sniff to see what other dogs have passed that way recently. Walking boots or wellies and waterproof coats will be needed by all owners!
A Note Regarding Buying a Puppy
Ideally, both parents should have been tested for the following hereditary conditions.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
von Willebrand's Disease
Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFKD)
Make sure you see all of the official paperwork showing these test results.
More information on Cockapoos can be found on https://www.britishcockapoosociety.com/