- Height: Varies
- Weight: 10 to 30 pounds
Before anyone ever realized the marketing potential of so-called “designer dogs," one crossbreed had already established a hold on America’s heart. The Cockapoo is the result of mating a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle or is the offspring of two Cocker/Poodle mixes bred with each other. Cockapoos are bright-eyed, scruffy-coated puppies that can grow into dogs that retain a puppy-dog charm.
Cockapoos who are carefully bred and lovingly raised should be happy, affectionate dogs that love families, children, other dogs, and even cats. Without the benefit of health and temperament testing, however, they can be a mess of genetic and behavioral problems.
Cross-bred puppies like the Cockapoo can look very different even if they’re from the same littler. The Cockapoo’s size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level, and health risks will vary depending on what traits an individual puppy has inherited.
Generally, they should weigh less than 30 pounds and are somewhere between fluffy and scruffy in a variety of colors and markings. Like the poodle, they can also be curly. If that description seemed a little vague, it’s because the Cockapoo is just that diverse.
At their best, they are friendly and affectionate, and, at weights ranging from 6 to 30 pounds, they are a comfortable size for most homes.
Poodles have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, meaning that they can supposedly be tolerated by people who have allergies to dogs. Because they have the Poodle in their heritage, Cockapoos are sometimes promoted as being hypoallergenic. But allergies are caused not by a particular dog coat type but by dander (the dead skin cells that are shed by all dogs and people). There is no scientific evidence that any breed or cross breed is more or less allergenic than any other dog. Some people with allergies may react less severely to particular dogs, but no reputable breeder will guarantee that her dogs are hypoallergenic.
Cockapoos are companion dogs. They love their people and need to live in the house, never outdoors.
Other Quick Facts
- A well-socialized Cockapoo should have a happy, friendly temperament.
- The Cockapoo is sometimes touted as being hypoallergenic, but all dogs produce dander (dead skin cells) and can cause allergic reactions to varying degrees.
- Cockapoos come in different colors and sizes depending on the genes they inherit.
The History of the CockapooA Cockapoo is a cross breed, the result of a mating between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle or two Cocker/Poodle crosses. The dogs have been popular since the ’50s.
The Cockapoo Club of America was founded in 1998 by Mary D. Foley. Its goal is to breed the perfect family pet.
Cockapoo Temperament and PersonalityThe Cockapoo’s temperament will vary depending (in part) on what traits an individual puppy has inherited from his parents. At his best, the Cockapoo is friendly, people-oriented, and easy to train. He’s a companion dog on both sides of the pedigree, so he should live indoors with his family and never be kept in the backyard or garage for long amounts of time. He’s also a hunting and working dog on both sides of his pedigree, so he needs a certain amount of activity to keep him from becoming bored.
If you begin socialization and training early and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards, you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion.
Cockapoos are typically friendly with other dogs and with cats, and they tend to like children. The smallest dogs need to be protected from overly rough play.
Cockapoos have a moderate activity level that is adaptable to their owner’s lifestyle. They need a nice walk or active playtime each day. If you’re interested and the dog is in overall good health (your vet can help determine this), they are athletic enough to participate in such dog sports as agility, flyball, obedience, and rally.
The perfect Cockapoo doesn’t come ready made from the breeder. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious habits such as barking, digging, and counter-surfing if left untrained or unsupervised. And any dog can be a trial to live with in adolescence. Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Cockapoo, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
What You Need to Know About Cockapoo HealthAll dogs, whether purebreds, crossbreeds, or mixes, have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the mixed breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the mixed breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Cockapoos may be susceptible to the health problems of both the Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, but there’s also a chance that the genetic diversity introduced by mixing two breeds may lower the chances of developing certain inherited diseases. The very nature of genetic variation makes this difficult to predict for a mixed breed dog. Please refer to the breed guides on Cocker Spaniels and Poodles for an overview of some of the inherited diseases reported in these two breeds.
Not all inherited conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of the puppy’s parents have the appropriate certifications from health registries like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Canine Eye Registry Foundation, etc.
Breeders who wish to earn a star rating from the Cockapoo Club of America must have their breeding stock certified annually by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Other information about the CCA’s star ratings is available on its website.
Don’t fall for a bad breeder’s lies. If the breeder tells you the tests aren’t necessary because she’s never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or gives any other excuse for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas. A puppy can develop one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and the most common causes of death.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Cockapoo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Basics of Cockapoo GroomingCockapoos can have different types of fur, including soft, tight curls, big looping curls, loose waves, and straight hair. Most have a curly or wavy coat, but a minority possess either the typical Poodle coat or the straight Cocker coat. Curly or straight, it’s always soft.
Cockapoos can be groomed to look like a Poodle or a Cocker. You can also keep them in a puppy clip, with the body coat trimmed to a short, fluffy length, the hair on the legs a little fuller, and the tail left long and plumy. Some owners learn to use the clippers and do the job themselves, but most rely on the pros.
Even if they go to a professional groomer, all Cockapoos need regular, often daily brushing to prevent mats as well as regular baths in between appointments with the groomer. Those with the curlier Poodle coat require professional grooming every four to six weeks. Either way, it’s essential to take proper care of the coat, because without regular grooming it will quickly become a matted mess that can cause painful skin infections at the roots of the hair.
Keep the Cockapoo’s ears clean and dry. Also, Cockapoos are among the breeds that commonly develop reddish-brown tear stains beneath their eyes. Your best bet is to wash the face daily, carefully wiping beneath the eyes to prevent stains from setting.
Your Cockapoo doesn’t need a bikini wax, but you do need to trim the genital area for cleanliness or have the groomer shave the lower belly. This prevents urine from staining and stinking up the coat and feces from getting caught in the hair around the anus.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease, so brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Finding a CockapooWhether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Choosing a Cockapoo BreederCockapoo puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Cockapoo a favorite amongst puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. There’s no need to pay big bucks for a Cockapoo. You can often find a wonderful example of this hybrid dog at your local shelter or through adoption organizations such as Petfinder.
The Cockapoo is one of the few cross breeds with a breed club, so if you choose to buy one, start your search at the website of the Cockapoo Club of America. There you can find more information on the history, personality, and looks of the dogs or find a list of breeders. Choose a breeder who is committed to following the CCA’s guidelines regarding breeder ethics, which prohibit the sale of puppies to pet stores or wholesalers and outline breeders’ responsibilities to the crossbreed and to buyers.
Finding a quality breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will have all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with. They will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you plan to provide. A good breeder will discuss what health problems affect the mixed breed and the steps she takes to avoid them. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Select a breeder who has done the health testing to ensure that her puppies won’t carry the genetic diseases common to Cocker Spaniels and Poodles. If you are going to pay several hundred dollars or even $1,000 or more for a dog, you should get your money’s worth. Buying from a breeder who is smart and caring enough to do health certifications, even for a cross breed, is the best way to do that. And while there are no guarantees in life, it may also be a good way to minimize the possibility of big veterinary bills relating to an inherited illness.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include over-availability, multiple litters on the premises, a choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the crossbreed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Cockapoo puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale and whether he has obtained health clearances on the pup’s parents. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Cockapoo might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
Adopting a Dog From a Cockapoo Rescue or ShelterThere are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Cockapoo in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Cockapoos available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Cockapoo. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Rescue Groups
Most people who love Cockapoos love all Cockapoos. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Cockapoo Club of America’s Rescue Network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Cockapoo rescues in your area.
The great thing about rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Cockapoo home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Cockapoo, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Cockapoo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.