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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Cavachon
Average Cost to keep/care for a Cavachon
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Cavachon came about by crossing two pedigree dogs namely the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the Bichon Frise. These little dogs were first developed in the States, but quickly became extremely popular in other areas of the world, including here in the UK thanks to their adorable looks and charming natures. Cavachons are not recognised as a breed by The Kennel Club or some other international clubs. However, breed clubs have now been established in many countries of the world with an end goal being to ensure breeders adhere to good breeding guidelines so these delightful dogs remain responsibly bred, especially as for the moment there isn’t a breed standard for the Cavachon.
Cavachons come in lots of sizes and can have different coat textures too with puppies in a same litter being quite different in appearance. The one consistent is that Cavachons no matter what their size and looks, all boast wonderfully kind natures which in short means they make lovely companions and trustworthy family pets.
The breed was developed in the States with the first Cavachon appearing on the scene in 1996 when two pure breeds were crossed, namely the Bichon Frise and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at Century Farm Puppies which are kennels belonging to an American Breeder. Over the years, other responsible breeders have taken great care when choosing healthy parent dogs with the end goal being to reduce the risk of Cavachon puppies inheriting any of the disorders that afflict the Cavalier and the Bichon. Selective breeding is important when it comes to a dog’s personality too and as such reputable breeders always choose to mate dogs with friendly, outgoing and confident natures.
The result of crossing the Bichon with the Cavalier was a delightful and charming little dog that inherited many of their parent breeds' physical traits and personalities. With this said, a lot of breeders choose to produce first generation otherwise known as F-1 Cavachons which are Bichons/Cavalier crosses. The reason being that there is more chance of offspring having non-shedding coats than second or third generations dogs and over the years they have found that F-1 puppies tend to have nicer and friendlier personalities too.
As previously mentioned, Cavachons are new to the dog world, but their popularity continues to grow thanks not only to their adorable looks and puff-ball coats, but also because they are considered as being "low shedders". In short, this means anyone suffering from allergies may not be quite as affected when they come into contact or live with a Cavachon, although the dander a dog sheds usually triggers allergies in people too. Regardless, Cavachon has become a very popular choice both as a companion dog and as a family pet in the UK and elsewhere in the world with allergy sufferers and others. For the moment, Cavachons are classed as "designer dogs" and as such they are not recognised as a breed by The Kennel Club in the UK.
Height at the withers: Males 31 - 33 cm, Females 31 - 33 cm at the withers
Average weight: Males 4.5 - 9.0 kg, Females 4.5 - 9.0 kg
Cavachons are small dogs that boast extra fluffy, thick coats which can be quite wavy or curly. They have inherited many of their physical traits from their parent breeds, being the Bichon Frisee and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. A result of the cross is a delightful dog with extremely expressive eyes and a cute face. Although small in stature, these little dogs have an athletic look about them. They have the long, floppy ears of the Cavalier and they have inherited their medium to long silky, soft coat from both parent breeds.
Because there is no set breed standard as such, every Cavachon is slightly different with the one consistency being in their coats, its texture and colour. Bichons have lovely white coats and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels boast having gorgeous coats that can either be white and tan or white and apricot, they can be a rich ruby red, a beautiful blenheim colour or they can have tri-coloured coats. As a result, Cavachons can be many different colours which includes the following:
When it comes to coat texture, this too can vary quite a bit with some dogs having straight hair whereas other dogs might have wavy to quite curly coats. However, their coats grow very quickly in the first few months of their lives which means puppies need to be brushed frequently and gently to keep things tidy to prevent any matts and tangles from forming. If a dog's coat is going to be curly or wavy, this usually happens when they lose their puppy coats and their permanent ones grow through which is typically when they are around 4 to 6 months old.
Cavachons are compact, nicely proportioned little dogs that boast short, strong front legs and nicely rounded bodies with level backs and slightly tucked up bellies. The hindquarters are compact with dogs having bushy tails that they carry hanging down when relaxed, but raised when excited or alert. They have lovely, large, round and very expressive eyes, a trait that adds to their adorable looks. Their feet are quite large for such small dogs with nice, firm pads and strong nails.
When Cavachons move, they do so with a bouncy, energetic gait showing the fun-loving side of their personalities in whatever they do.
Responsible breeders would never breed any exaggerations into the dogs they produce which is the only way to ensure that Cavachons retain a good conformation. Prospective owners should avoid being tempted into buying extra small dogs because they may well develop serious health issues because of their size.
When it comes to temperament, the Cavachon boasts having a gentle, affectionate and kind nature. They thrive on human company although they enjoy being around other dogs and pets as well. They have become known as real lap dogs never turning down an invitation to cuddle up with an owner whenever they can.
Cavachons form very strong bonds with their families and love nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on in a household. They adore playing interactive games because of they boast being fun-loving, bouncy characters by nature with the added bonus being they have inherited the intelligence of both parent breeds which makes them easy to train.
They are also very aware of their environments and will quickly let an owner know when there are strangers around although, these adorable, charming dogs are in no way very good watchdogs thanks to their size and their affectionate, social natures. Cavachons are a great choice for first time owners thanks to the fact they are intelligent little dogs and they love nothing more than to please which means when well cared for and properly socialised, they are easy to train and a joy to have around.
However, there is a downside to living with a Cavachon which is that they do not like to be left on their own for long periods of time simply because they thrive on human company. As such, they are a good choice for families where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house which helps prevent a Cavachon from getting bored and developing separation anxiety and any other unwanted behavioural issues.
Cavachons are a great choice for first time dog owners providing they have the time to dedicated to an energetic canine companion and one that hates being left on their own for any length of time. As such, they are better suited to households where one person stays at home so a dog never spends too much time on their own.
Cavachons are not known to have a high prey drive because they are social by nature and as such they like saying "hello" to everyone and everything they meet. However, that's not to say they won't chase the neighbour's cat whenever they get the chance or they might decide to take off after a squirrel when they mood takes them.
Cavachons are extremely outgoing by nature and thrive on playing interactive games with their families. They also make wonderful therapy dogs not only because they are so affectionate, but also because they are always so eager to please whoever they meet. It would be fair to say that Cavachons are one of the most amenable and fun-loving dogs around.
Cavachons are highly adaptable little dogs being just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country, providing they are given enough attention, mental stimulation and physical daily exercise to prevent boredom from setting in.
Because Cavachons form such strong bonds with their owners, they never like it when they are left on their own for any length of time and as previously mentioned they are best suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they always have company. Another option is to get another dog or a cat to keep a Cavachon company when there’s nobody around. If left to their own devices for too long, a Cavachon would suffer from separation anxiety which could result in them developing unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home.
If not corrected at an early age, a Cavachon might start barking for just about any reason when the mood takes them which can turn into a real problem more especially with the neighbours. Puppies should be taught not to bark for no reason, being extra careful not to prevent them barking at all or scaring them which could end up with a timid and shy dog.
Some Cavachons love swimming when the weather is warm whereas other dogs avoid puddles because they don't like getting their feet wet. It would be a mistake to force a dog into the water if they don't want to go in because it would end up frightening them even more. Care should always be taken when walking a dog that loves being in water when walking them off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case they decide to leap in.
Cavachons are not particularly good watchdogs because they are so friendly by nature, but this is not to say a dog would not be quick off the mark to let an owner know when a stranger is about or when something they don't like is going on in their environment.
Cavachons are intelligent and they pick up new things very quickly, but this includes the good and the bad. With this said, training a Cavachon is usually a fun, enjoyable experience because they are so receptive when it comes to staying focused on a person they have formed a strong bond with. These little dogs thrive on getting things "right" and love nothing more than receiving as much praise from their owners as possible when they do.
They respond very well to positive reinforcement training and being so smart and sensitive by nature, Cavachons do not answer well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy-handed training methods which could end up with one of these little dogs becoming shy, retiring and timid. At the other end of the scale if a Cavachon gets their own way too often, they can develop behavioural issues which includes Small Dog Syndrome, something to be avoided at all costs.
However, puppies and young Cavachons must be well socialised once they have been fully vaccinated which should involve introducing them to as many new situations, strange noises, people, other animals and pets as possible so they mature into well-rounded, confident adult dogs. Some Cavachons have proved difficult to housetrain, but with patience, perseverance and a lot of understanding they can be taught to do their "business" outside, it might just take a little longer than with other breeds.
Puppies should be taught the ground rules as early as possible although they will always test the limits just for fun. The first commands a puppy needs to be taught are as follows:
Cavachons are known to be great family pets because they are so good when they are around children and they like nothing more than to play interactive games with them. They are known to be extremely tolerant by nature, however, because they are such small dogs, children must be taught how to behave and how to handle them to prevent them from injuring or scaring these little dogs. With this said, any interaction between dogs and children should be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone being frightened or getting hurt.
Cavachons are social dogs by nature and as such they usually get on well with other dogs, more especially if they were well socialised from a young age. They are also known to be good around cats they have grown up with in a household and will usually be nice towards other pets although care should always be taken when they are together just to be on the safe side.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Cavachon is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Cavachon is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues that affect their parent breeds which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these fun-loving, charming little dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Mitral valve disease, sadly, is one of the main reasons Cavaliers die too early in their lives. It is what is known as a polygenetic disorder and studies have established that over 50% of Cavaliers will be affected by the condition by the time they are 5 years old with around 100% having been afflicted by MDV by the time they are 10 years old providing the live for that length of time. Research has also shown that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 20 times more and risk of developing the condition than any other breed.
The condition is a degenerative disorder that negatively impacts a dog's mitral valve which is short means it can no longer function as it should which is to pump vital blood through the heart and around a dog's system. As the disease progresses it leads to total congestive heart failure. As such all parent dogs used to produce Cavachons must be tested before being used for breeding purposes.
Cavachon puppies would have been given their first vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to new owners to ensure their puppies get their follow-up shots. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
10 -12 weeks old, bearing in mind that a puppy would not have full protection straight away, but would be fully protected 2 weeks after they have had their second vaccination
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
Many vets like to wait until a dog is a little older when it comes to spaying or neutering them because they are that much more mature. As such, vets recommend dogs undergo the procedures when they are anything between the age of 6 to 9 months old. With this said, some vets like to spay or neuter a dog when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless there is a medical reason for doing so.
It is all too easy to spoil a cute dog by offering them too many "food" treats which on top of their regular meals can end up with them carrying far too much weight. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years because it puts a lot of pressure on a dog's heart and other vital internal organs.
Cavachons are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to be seen by a vet at the earliest opportunity because finding the triggers can prove very challenging at the best of times. As such, a vet would be able to investigate the problem while at the same time making a dog feel more comfortable sooner rather than later although it can still take time to find out what causes the flare ups. The typical triggers for allergies seen in dogs are as follows:
Cavalier stud dogs should be tested to the Kennel club recommendations for Curly Coat, Dry Eye and Episodic falling.
Bichon stud dogs should be eye checked every year before breeding from them, Cavaliers should be tested annually for MVD and cataracts, Bichons should be tested for cataracts
Because the Cavachon is not a recognised Kennel Club breed, there are no breed specific breeding restrictions in place. However, prospective buyers should discuss the health issues associated with parent dogs with breeders before purchasing a puppy from them to ensure they have been tested clear of any known health issues.
There are no Kennel Club Assured Breeders for Cavachons as they are not a recognised KC breed.
As with any other breed, Cavachons need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Cavachon puppies are full of life and if they have been well enough socialised when they were still with their mothers and litter mates, they are generally confident, outgoing dogs. However, for the first few days after arriving in a new home, a Cavachon puppy may seem a little reserved which is understandable because everything is so new to them and they have just left their mothers and their litter mates.
A reputable breeder would never allow a new owner to take a Cavachon away from their mothers or litter mates until they are old enough to leave them. This is typically when a puppy is anything from 8 to 15 weeks old. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
Making sure there is always going to be someone around when a puppy first arrives home is essential because it would not be fair if they found themselves alone in a strange environment. It takes a while for a puppy to settle in and it's best they have company through what can be a worrying and stressful time for a young dog.
It's also essential for the home and garden to be puppy-proofed so the environment is safe for the new arrival. This means putting away all garden tools and other equipment, making sure there are no poisonous plants growing in flower beds, checking that the fencing is secure, and putting electric cables and wires commonly seen in a home out of a puppy's reach so they can't chew on them. Puppies need to sleep a lot so they grow and develop as they should. Setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Cavachon puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Cavachon puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned Cavachon puppies would have been given their first vaccinations before being sold, but they must have their follow-up shots in a timely fashion which is as follows:
10 -12 weeks old, bearing in mind that a puppy would not have full protection straight away, but would only be fully protected 2 weeks after they have had their second vaccination
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Cavachons need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a Cavachon will start to have a greying muzzle, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Cavachon in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include rethinking their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Cavachons need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older Cavachons is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Cavachons don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
When a puppy starts to lose their fluffy puppy coat and their adult coat starts grows through, they are quite high maintenance when it comes to keeping things tidy and looking good. Cavachons are thought to be "low shedding" but this does not mean their coats don't need frequent and regular brushing. Because some dogs suffer from tear staining quite badly, it's also important to keep their eyes nice and clean by regularly wiping them with a damp, soft cloth.
They also need to be professionally groomed trimmed every 4 to 8 weeks which makes keeping their coats tidy that much easier in between visits to the grooming parlour. With this said, it's important to introduce a Cavachon puppy to all the tools needed to groom them and to make a grooming session an enjoyable experience so that dogs look forward to being brushed. Older dogs usually enjoy the one-to-one attention they get when they are being brushed and it strengthens the bond they form with their owners. It's also important to note that puppies shed more when they start to lose their puppy coats which is the best time to get them used to having their ears, paws and other parts of their bodies touched.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Cavachons have lots energy and love nothing more than to be playing interactive games with their owners. They are very playful and fun-loving by nature which makes them such a pleasure to have around. They need to be given at least 30 minutes exercise every day and they also need a lot of mental stimulation because they are such smart characters. If a Cavachon does not have enough to do, they quickly get bored and will find new ways to entertain and amuse themselves which could see a dog developing some destructive behaviours around the home. They could also start to suffer from separation anxiety if they are not given enough daily exercise and attention. They are highly adaptable little dogs that are just at home living in an apartment in town as they are living in a house in the country, but they do need to be kept busy both mentally and physically for them to be truly happy little dogs.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these fun-loving little dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble. It's also important to make sure a Cavachon does not get cold during the chillier winter months, because they really do feel the cold.
With this said, Cavachon puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this reason.
If you get a Cavachon puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. Cavachons are known to prefer smaller meals being sporadic eaters. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Reputable breeders would always make sure they give potential owners information on what they have been feeding their puppies and it's best to stick to the same routine because as previously mentioned, it helps avoid any digestive upsets. The feeding schedule should include the following information:
The type of food they have been feeding the puppy and how many times they are fed every day. It is very important to stick the schedule for the first week or so, but a puppy's diet can be changed once they are settled into their new homes providing it is done gradually and carefully over a period of 4 weeks making sure that puppy does not experience any digestive upset and if they do, to change back to their original diet before discussing things with the breeder or the vet.
Below is a rough feeding guide of how much a Cavachon puppy needs to be fed daily during the first months of their lives:
Once a Cavachon puppy is 12 months old, they can be fed adult food in the portions which are covered in the feeding section below. Puppies should be fed 3 or 4 times a day until they are anything from 14 to 18 months old after which time they can be fed twice a day.
Once fully mature, an adult Cavachon must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Cavachon can be fed the following amounts every day:
130 g to 180 g a day depending on a dog’s build and activity
If you are looking to buy a Cavachon, you would need to pay anything from £375 to over £1000 for a well-bred, healthy puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Cavachon in northern England would be £20.87 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.55 a month (quote as of September 2017). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Cavachon and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Cavachon would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred Cavachon puppy.