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Cockapoo

Cockapoo

Cockapoo (+ ve)

  • Cockapoos have lovely natures
  • They are highly intelligent and therefore easy to train
  • They have low to non-shedding coats
  • They are energetic and playful
  • They remain puppy-like well into their senior years
  • They are great around children of all ages which makes them wonderful family pets
  • Cockapoos come in all sorts of colours and sizes

Points to Consider

  • They thrive on human company and therefore suffer from separation anxiety
  • They are high maintenance on the grooming front
  • Well-bred puppies are expensive to buy
  • Cockapoo puppies are boisterous and playtime can be rough
  • If not well socialised, Cockapoos often turn into “barkers”

Where do Cockapoos originate from?

Cockapoos were developed by crossing Cocker Spaniels with Poodles and were first bred in the United States during the fifties. They are one of the oldest hybrid dog breeds or "designer" dogs around and since they first appeared on the scene, Cockapoos have found a massive fan base not only in Ireland as a dog breed, but throughout the world too and for good reason. Cockapoos are loyal, energetic, affectionate and fun-loving dogs that make wonderful family pets and companions.

Cockapoos arrived on Irish shores around 15 or so years ago and as their popularity grew, the term "designer dog" became less associated with them. Today, there are F1, F1b, F2 and more Cockapoos being bred.

What part of the World do Cockapoos originate from?

As previously mentioned, Cockapoos are one of the oldest "hybrid dog breeds" around having been developed in the United States back in the fifties. However, it is not clear whether these charming dogs were created on purpose or whether it was by pure accident. Whatever their true origins, the Cockapoo has become a much-loved dog that makes an excellent family pet and companion dog and one that fits in with many life styles. They were first introduced into Ireland approximately 15 years ago and were an immediate hit with people all over the country thanks to their charming looks and kind, loyal natures.

The first mating of a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle produced an F1 Cockapoo which is still thought of as being the better and therefore more stable crossing of the two breeds because it boasts having the more consistent results. F1 Cockapoos tend to be a little taller than their parent breeds when they reach maturity and breeders believe that this results in the dogs having "Hybrid-Vigour". When F1 Cockapoos are bred things get a little more complicated and the same can be said of F2 and other crossings too.

Being "hybrids" as they are often referred to, the Cockapoo is not a recognised breed with any of the international breed clubs which includes The Irish Kennel Club here. However, many local breed clubs have been set up all over the world with an end goal being to make sure Cockapoos are bred responsibly so that puppies are healthier with less risk of them developing any of the congenital and hereditary health concerns that are known to sometimes affect their parent breeds, namely Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.

With this in mind it's really important for potential owners to contact responsible breeders who routinely have all their stud dogs checked for any hereditary disorders which is the only way of reducing the risk of puppies developing any of the conditions. It is, however, worth noting that no matter how carefully bred a Cockapoo happens to be, there is never any guarantee they won't develop a congenital or hereditary disorder during their lives. It does however, reduce the chance of it happening.

It’s also essential that any inbreeding is avoided which in short means checking the lineage of stud dogs before mating them together which is more likely to happen with Cockapoos that are bred together further down the line.

Interesting facts about the breed

  • Cockapoos were first developed in the United States in the 1950s
  • They are one of the oldest "hybrid" dogs around
  • Today there are F1, F2, F3, F4 as well as F1b, F2b and more Cockapoos around
  • F1 Cockapoos are considered the more stable crossings

What should my Cockapoo look like?

  • Height at the withers: Males 25 - 38 cm, Females 25 - 38 cm
  • Average weight: Males 5.4 - 10.9 kg, Females 5.4 - 10.9 kg

Because Cockapoos are a cross-breed, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with some dogs leaning towards the Cocker Spaniel whereas other inherit more Poodle traits whether it’s their physical traits or their temperaments. Some dogs may have the curly coat of a Poodle and others could have much straighter and longer hair because they inherited more of a Spaniel's coat, so it really does depend on the luck of the draw as to how a puppy Cockapoo turns out.

With this said, they are small to medium sized dogs with most responsible breeders now using Miniature rather than Toy Poodles to cross with either American or English Cocker Spaniels to reduce the chances of puppies inheriting any of the many disorders that seem to affect the Toy Poodle. Although most dogs are small in stature, this is not to say that some Cockapoos are larger than others because it really does depend on their parents as to what size they throw to.

As previously mentioned, a first crossing of a Cocker Spaniel with a Poodle produces an F1 Cockapoo which is thought of as being the more stable crossing of the two breeds simply because the mating produces a more stable result in their offspring. F1 Cockapoos are often slightly taller than both their parent breeds. When two F1 Cockapoos are mated, they produce F2 puppies and often this can produce "throwbacks" which are referred to a F2 Cockapoos having a "Grandad Effect". This is when puppies from the same litter can have very different looks with some throwing to a Poodle, others looking more like a Cocker Spaniel and some being a mixture of the two. This "Grandad" trait is not terribly apparent during the first few weeks of a puppy's life, but becomes more evident as a puppy grows and matures into an adult dog.

Cockapoos can take on very different looks when they are bred back to a Cocker Spaniel or a Poodle which results in their offspring being referred to as F1b, F2b and so on, depending on what generation their parent dogs happen to be. As such crossing an F2 Cockapoo with another F2 dog produces an F3 Cockapoo. The problem arises when further breeding is carried out which must be thoroughly researched to avoid any in-breeding taking place. This is when both parent dogs have a common ancestor in a five-generation lineage.

All variations of these charming dogs are always called Cockapoos, but because F1, F2, F3 etc crossings take place, the size of a dog, their shape and appearance as well as their temperament and intelligence can vary tremendously from dog to dog. It is also worth noting that their shedding rate and whether a dog has a hypo-allergenic coat can also vary a lot, bearing in mind that all Cockapoos shed dander which can also trigger an allergic reaction in people as can a dog's saliva.

The Cocker Spaniel in Cockapoos

How a Cockapoo turns out is very dependent on which type of Cocker Spaniel is used in a breeding programme, namely the English Cocker Spaniel, the English Working Cocker Spaniel or the American Cocker Spaniel because all three are quite different in looks as well as natures. The American Cocker is smaller than the English Cocker and they have domed heads together with deeper stops. Their ears are longer and their coats are heavier and longer too.

English Cockers tend to be the larger of the spaniels and they have more of a domed head, deeper stops and nice long pendulous ears than their working Cocker counterparts. Their coats are dense, wavy and thick. English Working Cockers, however, are more athletic and rangier in appearance with lighter coats and ears that are set higher on their heads. Their faces are that much squarer too.

The Poodle in Cockapoos

Poodles come in various sizes which range from very small Toy Poodles to large Standard Poodles. However, the only two that are used to breed Cockapoos are the Toy and the Miniature Poodle. As such a "Toy" Cockapoo would boast having a Toy Poodle in their parentage and a Miniature Cockapoo would have a Miniature Poodle in their parentage.

As a rule of thumb, Cockapoos with Toy Poodles as one of their parents can be a little lighter framed and smaller than those that have Miniature Poodles as a parent.

When it come to their coat, Cockapoos can inherit many different coat types and textures. The length of a dog’s coat depends on their lineage and parent breeds too. They can be a variety of colours, but the most commonly seen in these charming dogs tends to be as follows:

  • Red
  • Blonde and all shades of blonde
  • Chocolate and all shades of chocolate
  • Black with spots referred to as Tuxedo
  • Black and all shades of black
  • Tan, beige or buff
  • Brown - can vary from light to dark
  • Sable - with tipping and shading in black
  • Cream
  • White
  • Silver
  • Brindle
  • Roan
  • Merle - blue, brown, shades can be mixed with cream or white
  • Beige with brown and grey markings

How should a Cockapoo move?

Cockapoos are bouncy when they move having a ton of energy to expend. They are free moving both in their front and hind quarters with dogs always holding themselves proudly and tails held high when on the move.

Does a Cockapoo have a Good Temperament?

Cockapoos are highly adaptable dogs and they are extremely affectionate and loyal to their families by nature. They are also highly intelligent, having inherited this from both their parent breeds. Poodles are among the smartest dogs on the planet and Cockers boast being very clever too although both the Poodle and the Cocker can be a little too clever for their own good, a trait that Cockapoos certainly know how to use to their advantage.

They are renowned for being happy, fun-loving characters that are a pleasure to have around. Cockapoos thrive on human company which is fine if they live in a household where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out. They are not the best choice for people who spend most of the time at work and who leave dogs to their own devices for long periods of time. If a Cockapoo is left alone and they are not given the correct amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation, they quickly get bored and this can lead to all sorts of problems. A bored Cockapoo can develop unwanted behavioural issues and they can even suffer from separation anxiety which sees dogs being destructive around the home and barking incessantly when their owners are out.

Cockapoos love playing interactive games and are known to be fast on their feet and very agile. Much like their parent breeds, a tired Cockapoo is a well-behaved, obedient dog and the best way to tire one of these charming, intelligent dogs out, is to give them a ton of exercise that includes lots of interactive playtime. They enjoy all sorts of canine sports which includes activities like agility and flyball which they excel at.

Are they a good choice for first time owners?

Cockapoos are a very good choice for first time dog owners thanks to their sweet, kind, amenable and loyal natures. They are easily trained because Cockapoos are intelligent dogs and they love the one to one contact they are given during a training session. They are one of the most amenable dogs around and like nothing more than to please which is just one of their most endearing traits.

Do they have a strong prey drive?

A well socialised Cockapoo will not develop a high prey drive, but they might not be able to resist chasing a smaller animal they come across just for the fun of it. As such, care should be taken when a Cockapoo meets any small animals when they are out on walks just to err on the safe side of things.

Are Cockapoos Playful?

Cockapoos are renowned for being fun-loving and playful. Thanks to their intelligence, they are quick to learn new things with the downside being they learn bad habits just as fast.

What about adaptability?

Cockapoos are highly adaptable and are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they are living in a home in the country, providing they are given enough daily exercise and mental stimulation, that is.

Is separation anxiety a major concern?

Cockapoos are extremely people-oriented and never like to be left on their own for too long. They can suffer from separation anxiety which is why young dogs need to be taught that being on their own is not something to stress about especially if their owners are out at work during the day. They are, however, better suited to households where one person typically stays at home when everyone else is out so they always have company around or in households with another dog or cat.

What about excessive barking?

Being so intelligent, a trait Cockapoos inherit from both their parent breeds, these charming dogs can be taught not to bark excessively or for no reason, but this needs to be done when a Cockapoo is young and should be part of the limits and boundaries their owners set for them.

Do Cockapoos like Swimming?

Most Cockapoos like being around water and are strong swimmers, but care should always be taken when a puppy first starts showing signs of wanting to be in water. It also pays to be extra careful when walking a Cockapoo anywhere near more dangerous water courses just in case they decide to leap in.

Are Cockapoos good watchdogs?

Cockapoos are known to be good watchdogs and will quickly let their owners know when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their environment. However, they can be taught not to bark too much which, as previously mentioned must be done when a Cockapoo is still young and before it becomes a real problem.

Will a Cockapoo be easy to train?

Cockapoos are known to be very smart with both their parent breeds being high on the list of intelligent dogs. They also love to please and as such they are highly trainable. In the right hands, these charming dogs can learn new things extremely quickly and excel at many canine sports which as previously mentioned includes agility and flyball.

They are quite sensitive by nature and therefore do not answer well to any sort of harsh correction, nor do Cockapoos respond well to heavy handed training methods. They do respond very well to positive reinforcement and are known to be quite "voice sensitive" which means they quickly pick up the different tones owners use when giving them certain commands. It’s important to offer a dog fewer high quality treats rather than give them lower value ones which could lead to a Cockapoo putting on too much weight early in their lives and which could seriously impact their health further down the line.

The key to successfully training a Cockapoo is to start their education from day one and to establish ground rules and boundaries so that young dogs understand what is expected of them. The first commands a Cockapoo puppy should be taught are as follows:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Leave
  • Wait
  • Quiet
  • Bed

Will my Cockapoo be Safe around Children and Other Pets?

Cockapoos are known to be very good around children which is why they make such wonderful family pets and why they have been a popular choice with people both here in Ireland and elsewhere in the world for so long. However, any interaction between dogs and younger children should always be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone getting hurt.

They are also known to be social dogs by nature, especially if they have been well socialised from a young enough age which in short, means Cockapoos generally get on well with other dogs and animals and this includes the family cat. Having said this, a Cockapoo would think nothing of chasing a neighbour’s cat if they ever get the chance to. As with other dogs, care should be taken when they are around smaller pets they don’t already know just to be on the safe side.