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The Cockapoo is the result of crossing an American or English Cocker Spaniel with a Poodle – usually a toy poodle; or two Cockapoos. The breed was first documented in the 1950s in the US and is not recognised by any Kennel Clubs as standards for hybrid breeds are so difficult to establish. The breed is generally happy, healthy and very long-lived - it’s not unknown for a Cockapoo to live more than 15 years.
As one of the oldest known hybrid dog breeds, the Cockapoo was developed in the US in the 1950s and a dictionary citation has been found in a 1960 Oxford English Dictionary. They were first introduced into the UK approximately 10 years ago and were the original ‘designer dogs’.
It is not known when the first Cockapoos appeared, or indeed if they were bred intentionally or by accident. Whatever their origins however, the Cockapoo has become a much-loved breed and makes an excellent family pet.
Average height to withers: 10” – 15”
Average weight: 5.4 – 11kg
As it’s a cross-breed and not a pure-bred, the Cockapoo doesn’t ‘breed true’. This means that the offspring do not display the predictable characteristics displayed by other pedigree breeds. Cockapoos can display characteristics of one or both of their parent breeds and this not only impacts on the dog’s appearance, but can also mean they can differ in temperament.
The Cockapoo can be one colour or can display a number of markings from white patches, to spots and freckles – known and ‘ticking’ – or they can display a ‘merle’ coat. The fur can vary and could be coarse and curly in one dog and smooth and silky in another. The coat can come in a wide variety of colours including: white, black, tan, beige, buff, red, sable, brindle, silver, brown, cream or phantom
The Cockapoo is usually quite a small dog as it’s generally bred from a toy or miniature poodle. However this isn’t always the case and some Cockapoos are bigger than others.
The Cockapoo is a people dog through and through. It is affectionate, energetic, agile and fun and makes a fabulous pet. They are particularly good with children but are equally happy with couples or older people. They are very happy dogs who thrive on lots of love and attention.
The Cockapoo is also a very intelligent animal and may become destructive if it’s allowed to get bored or if it’s left alone for long periods of time. Obedience training is a must and should be started when the dog is young to avoid the formation of bad habits. Training should be continued throughout the dog’s life to keep him stimulated and occupied. The Cockapoo also enjoys a job and they are particularly good at agility and flyball and anything else that requires bags of energy and enthusiasm as well as the involvement of their human friends.
Generally a healthy, happy breed, the Cockapoo is a long-lived breed that is mostly untroubled by many of the conditions that affect other types. However, both Cocker Spaniels and Toy Poodles can suffer with luxating patella – where the ligaments holding the kneecap in place become weak and allow the cap to move and dislocate. This painful condition is hereditary and can be passed onto any offspring – including cross breeds. Breeders and breed clubs suggest that any breeding animals are checked for luxating patella before they are mated.
Purebred Cockers and Poodles can also suffer from a number of eye conditions – the most prevalent of which is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). The illness is characterised by a gradual degradation of the retina which usually results in blindness. There is no cure for PRA and it’s recommended that any breeding animals undergo a thorough eye examination and DNA test prior to mating.
As with other breeds that have pendulous ears, Cockapoos are prone to ear infections. It’s therefore essential that a cleaning routine is established early in life and the ears should be kept clean and dry to avoid any issues arising.
All Cockapoos are energetic and agile dogs and require quite a lot of exercise – they thrive on lots of activity, particularly with their owners, and will benefit from being given a job when they’re older – be that agility, flyball or obedience trials although having said that, the Cockapoo will be happiest in the bosom of his family getting lots of attention and fuss.
The Cockapoo is a minimal shedder and is therefore a good choice for those who may have allergies or respiratory conditions such as asthma. The grooming routine depends entirely on what type of coat the dog has inherited. If he’s got a smooth silky coat, a brush through once a day will suffice along with a trim every now and again, whereas if he has a curly, wiry coat he will certainly need a more thorough brush through and a specialist’s touch when it comes to clipping.
As a relatively small dog the Cockapoo will adapt easily to life in an apartment – as long as he has regular access to an outdoor space. He will require two good walks a day and will thoroughly enjoy clowning around and getting dirty. If he has been trained from being a pup and has been taught recall there is no reason why he can’t enjoy lots of off-lead time; although with any dog it’s important to remember that they can become easily distracted when out and about. If he is off the lead it really should be in a relatively secure area.