The Cockapoo, also sometimes called the “Cockerpoo” is a cross-bred or hybrid dog composed of a mixture of a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, usually a toy or miniature Poodle.
The Cockapoo has been around since the 1950’s when experimenting with the crossbreeding of two different pedigree dog types first became widely spread, and the first recorded deliberate Cockapoo breeding happened in the USA between American Cocker Spaniels and Poodles. The Cockapoo in the UK is usually composed of English Cocker Spaniel and Poodle crossings, although the American Cocker Spaniel is also used to a lesser extent here too. The Cockapoo, like all hybrid dogs, is not recognised as a pedigree breed in its own right, and is classed as a crossbreed or mixed breed dog by The Kennel Club, and no authoritative breed registry for this dog type currently exists.
The first known deliberate Cockapoo breeding programmes originated in America around the 1950’s, and slowly grew in popularity over the following decades. The Labradoodle (a Labrador/Poodle hybrid) was the first hybrid dog to gain a significant fan base and following within the UK, and is still the most popular hybrid dog in terms of the quantity of dogs of hybrid type in the UK, but the Cockapoo is not far behind it!
There is no formally recognised Cockapoo breed standard (as this dog is not a recognised breed) and the appearance of different Cockapoos can vary widely, even between dogs of the same ancestry.
To be classed as a Cockapoo, the dog in question should have the genetic makeup of a mixture between the Poodle and the American or English Cocker Spaniel only, and should not have any other breed makeup within their mixture.
To produce a Cockapoo, either a purebred Poodle and a purebred Cocker Spaniel can be crossed, or a pair of Cockapoos, or any combination of an existing Cockapoo and a purebred Poodle or Cocker Spaniel.
As Cockapoos are hybrid dogs, with genetic input coming from two very different parental lines, the Cockapoo is not considered to “breed true,” meaning that it cannot reasonably be predicted how any litter of puppies will turn out in terms of appearance, traits and characteristics. Cockapoos share traits from both their Poodle and Cocker Spaniel parent lines, and exactly what mixture and traits of each breed make it into the eventual puppies will vary from case to case. Ergo, there is no “standard” Cockapoo appearance or description, and Cockapoos come in a wide range of sizes, coat types and colours.
The ultimate aim of breeding Cockapoos is generally to produce the low-maintenance, low shedding coat of the poodle, with the bold, outgoing and friendly personality of the Cocker Spaniel. The vast majority of Cockapoos share these traits to some extent, although they can be more pronounced in some dogs than others. Understandably, producing a mixed breed dog is something of a gamble; many Cockapoos will inherit more of the Cocker Spaniel coat than the Poodle coat, and while these dogs are highly desirable as well, they do not share the same low-shedding and potentially low-allergenic characteristics of the more Poodle-like coat.
Cockapoos often contain a large helping of the Cocker Spaniel’s outgoing, friendly and good-natured personality, coupled with the Poodle’s high intelligence and trainability. The potential for dogs of this type to possess a low-shedding and low-allergenic coat also makes them desirable, particularly among allergy sufferers and those whose allergies may otherwise prevent them from owning a dog, although it would be wrong to assume automatically that the Cockapoo will automatically possess these coat traits.
Cockapoos are often active, agile dogs and are regularly seen taking part in canine sports such as agility or heelwork, and may be a good pick for dog owners who are hoping to get involved in activities of this type.
The Cockapoo is generally robust and healthy, although of course the health of the dog, like many other traits, will depend to a great extent on the health and wellness of the parent dogs. There are a small range of health conditions and genetically inherited traits that either the Cocker Spaniel, Poodle or both are sometimes prone to, and these can of course be inherited by their Cockapoo offspring. Both the Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel are known to have a slightly higher than usual occurrence rate of patellar luxation, and also some eye conditions including progressive retina atrophy are common to both dogs. Both of these conditions in the parent dogs can be tested for before breeding.
Cocker Spaniels are also occasionally prone to suffering from ear mites and ear infections, and it is important to ensure that the Cockapoos ears are kept clean, dry and well cared for.
Overall, the Cockapoo is considered to be a healthy example of a small dog, and their average lifespan is fifteen years and sometimes more.
If you are looking for a relatively small but lively dog with an outgoing nature and kind temperament, the Cockapoo is definitely worthy of consideration. They are friendly and personable, often highly intelligent, and generally very much enjoy playing with well-behaved children.
Cockapoos with a more Poodle-like coat may be worthy of consideration by allergy sufferers, although it should not be assumed that the Cockapoo will have an anti-allergenic coat. As with all hybrid dogs, there can be significant variations within the range, so take some time to establish what type of Cockapoo would suit you, and be prepared to shop around to find your perfect match!
Check out Cockapoos for sale here on Pets4Homes to get an idea of the variety and range of Cockapoos available across the country.