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Cavapoo Genetic Diversity And Hereditary Health

The Cavapoo is a hybrid or cross-breed of dog rather than being a pedigree in its own right, but nevertheless, it is still a very popular pet within the UK, and one that is growing in popularity year on year. The Cavapoo is created from the crossing of a miniature poodle and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and dogs of this type can be produced in a variety of different ways. A litter of Cavapoos can be produced from the direct crossing of a miniature poodle and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, which is known as an F1 crossing, or by the crossing of two other Cavapoo dogs, or by back-crossing a Cavapoo to either a miniature poodle or a Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

While the Cavapoo is not recognised by The Kennel Club as a pedigree breed, the growing popularity of the type means that ultimately in the future, the Cavapoo may one day become eligible for recognition as a formal new breed.

One of the advantages of crossing two pedigree dogs of different breeds is the benefit of hybrid vigour in the resulting puppies, which should ultimately ensure that the pups will have a greater level of genetic diversity and hereditary health than their parent dogs.

The coat of the Cavapoo can be rather variable, either tending to follow the pattern of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or that of the miniature poodle, and dogs that possess the poodle coat traits tend to be more in demand. This is because the poodle coat is low-shedding and tightly curled, and as such, is less likely to prove to be an allergenic trigger in people who are commonly allergic to dogs. Added to this, the appearance of any two Cavapoo dogs, even from within the same litter, can be relatively variable. This means that while it is entirely possible to be able to recognise a Cavapoo due to the combination of the poodle and Cavalier King Charles spaniel traits, there is no one accepted uniform appearance norm across the type.

If you are considering buying or adopting a Cavapoo dog or puppy, it is of course important to research all of the core traits of the type before going ahead, and investigating the hereditary health and wellness of the type is an important part of this. In this article, we will look at the genetic diversity and hereditary health of the Cavapoo dog in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Cavapoo longevity

When you take into account the breeding of any hybrid or cross breed dog, you can usually use this information to make an educated estimate on the average longevity of any dog of the type. The average lifespan of the miniature poodle is 14-14.5 years, putting them well above the normal lifespan for dogs of a similar size, while for the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, the figure is 9-14 years.

This variance means that there is quite a lot of scope for differences within the average longevity of the Cavapoo, and the ultimate health and longevity of any given dog will largely depend on whether or not they inherited any health problems from their parents. While the miniature poodle is a robust and generally healthy dog, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, on the other hand, is a breed that suffers from a wide range of hereditary and genetic health problems that may potentially shorten their lives.

Genetic diversity within the Cavapoo type

As mentioned, the Cavapoo benefits from hybrid vigour, introduced by means of the crossing of two unrelated dogs of different breeds.

This means that the coefficient of inbreeding statistic for F1 crosses should be zero, but this figure will rise gradually in subsequent crosses of Cavapoos, bred to either other Cavapoos or back to either of the foundation breeds. The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for any Cavapoo should remain below 6.25%, in order to ensure good genetic diversity and promote hereditary health.

Health testing for Cavapoo dogs

Because the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is considered to be a high profile breed in terms of their hereditary health and wellness, the British Veterinary Association recommends health testing for any dog with direct Cavalier King Charles spaniel ancestry, in order to ensure their health and suitability for breeding. This means that the Cavapoo should also be tested some common breed-specific conditions that are recognised in one of the parent breeds, such as the following:

  • Testing for Chiari malformation syringomyelia.
  • Eye disorders including cataracts, multifocal retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Hip dysplasia, with a hip score of below 10 being considered best for potential breeding stock.

The following DNA tests are also available:

  • Dry eye/curly coat syndrome.
  • Episodic falling syndrome.
  • Von Willebrand’s disease.

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed club also runs a healthy heart scheme to test dogs for the presence of heart murmurs, and recommends that potential breeding stock show no signs of a murmur by the age of two and a half, and also that the grandparents of any potential litter also be tested and shown clear at the age of five or above.


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