Cockapoo Care Tips and Advice Guide
The Cockapoo is one of the first designer dogs. They’re bred from Cocker Spaniels and Poodles, meaning their size and appearance varies widely depending on the parent dogs.
Cockapoos are characterised by their curly or wavy long-haired coats and long, floppy ears. Their fur tends to be lighter around the nose and on the tips of the ears.
The coat is low-shedding, making them suitable for allergy suffers who otherwise can’t be around dogs.
They’re highly intelligent and loyal dogs, making them great pets for families with children. Due to their “designer” credentials, they have an expensive price tag to match. Don’t be put off though; once they’re in your home, they’ll steal your heart.
Cockapoos are one of the oldest hybrid dog breeds. They were first bred in the US in the 1960s, but whether this was on purpose or by accident isn’t clear.
However, because of their hybrid status, Cockapoos aren’t recognised by any international breed clubs, including The Kennel Club, which is UK-based. They’re not considered pedigree dogs either, meaning no authority currently exists that recognises the breed.
In 1999, The Cockapoo Club of American formed and created a breed standard to ensure breeding consistency. Instead of first-generation Cockapoos, it promotes the breeding of multigenerational Cockapoos to help the puppies maintain the desirable traits not seen in first-generation dogs.
Similarly, The American Cockapoo Club began in 2004. Members don’t mix generations. They also don’t breed Cockapoos back to Poodles or Cocker Spaniels.
When purchasing a Cockapoo, you must ensure it’s been bred by an authorised breeder responsibly. Cockapoos can otherwise inherit diseases and conditions from the parent pups.
When a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle first mated, an F1 Cockapoo was produced. This is considered to be the most stable crossing of the breeds, producing more consistent results.
Today, you’ll find F1, F2, F3, F4, F1b and F2b Cockapoos.
In some areas, Cockapoos are known as Cockerpoos. They are also called Spoodles in Australia.
Cockapoos come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like the Cocker Spaniel parent while others look more similar to the Poodle.
Cockapoos with stronger Poodle genes are more likely to have a curly coat. Dogs with stronger Cocker Spaniel genes will adopt straighter, longer hair.
They also have rounded heads and small, rounded eyes. They’re quite muscular and sturdy and feature a pointed tail.
Lifespan and size
According to The American Cockapoo Club, Cockapoos can live for up to 15 years or more. The average lifespan of the Cockapoo is between 12 to 15 years.
They’re also a medium-sized dog. While Cockapoos come in all shapes and sizes, they weigh up to 19 lbs on average and reach heights of 15 to 18 inches to the shoulder.
Food and diet
Cockapoos have lots of energy and need the right nutrition to sustain them. When you first bring your puppy home, the breeder will provide you with the food that your puppy has been weaned onto.
You might wish to continue with this diet, but it’s perfectly fine to change it. When introducing any new food, do it gradually over 7 to 14 days, as sudden changes can make your puppy ill. Do this by subtracting 10% of the old food and add 10% of the new until your puppy is entirely switched over.
If the new food is upsetting your pup’s stomach, switch it back.
You can choose to feed your Cockapoo commercial wet food or dry kibble. However, dogs aren’t designed to digest carbohydrates very well. Too much puts a dog’s system and organs under too much pressure.
Some dog owners choose to add dry kibble to the wet food to provide extra nutrition and texture. Whichever you choose, make sure you provide your dog with plenty of fresh water.
How much and often to feed
Puppy Cockapoos need four meals a day to start with. Once your puppy is four months old, start feeding three times a day. At six months and older, your dog can go down to two meals a day.
Temperament and Personality
Cockapoos are friendly and confident dogs. They’re loving and loyal but sometimes a little too trusting of strangers.
They also have lots of energy so need plenty of mental and physical stimulation with regular walkies and fun games.
However, it’s difficult to tell whether your Cockapoo has inherited the Cocker Spaniel or Poodle temperament until it grows older and develops its personality.
Both Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are highly intelligent, and many Cockapoos inherit this smartness.
They’re also both working dogs, meaning they love to run, hunt and explore. Cockapoos enjoy long walks somewhere new.
Cockapoos do tend to get bored quickly and can become destructive. It’s not uncommon for bored Cockapoos to chew and scratch on things around the home.
Cockapoo Care and training
Cockapoos are easy dogs to train. They’re eager to please and listen to instruction well. They also retain information and put effort into learning.
Cockapoos are sensitive to their owners’ moods, so try not to scald your pet or raise your voice, or you may frighten it. Positive re-enforcement is the most effective way to train. Each time your Cockapoo understands a command, reward it with a tasty treat.
As long as training is started early while the dog is young, a Cockapoo will become a well behaved and obedient pet.
Cockapoos don’t require too much maintenance. Keep an eye on your pet for any changes to its health and appearance, as you may need to step in to groom the body parts that need it.
The coat of a puppy Cavapoo is easy to care for. For the first six months of its life, brush your puppy’s coat for 10 minutes four to five times a week. Not only will this keep the coat smooth and knot-free, but it will get your Cavapoo used to grooming.
Once your dog reaches around eight months of age, you’ll notice the coat beginning to change. During this time, the fur will matt prepare for the adult coat to grow.
While all dogs moult, not all of them shed their fur. Cockapoos don’t shed, which makes their coats hypoallergenic and better for allergy suffers. The coat needs to be brushed regularly to prevent dreadlocks from forming.
Cockapoos may also need regular trims, especially in summer when they get too hot. Most pet owners take their pet to a dog groomer.
The best way to keep your Cockapoo’s teeth healthy and strong is to keep them clean with dental treats. They’re designed to sweep away the plaque and debris as your dog chews.
Dogs rarely allow their owners to brush their teeth, but it’s sometimes required. Dental disease is common in all dogs, and preventing it is wise.
Begin teeth cleaning while your dog is a puppy to get used to the process. Human toothpaste isn’t suitable, so you’ll need a reliable dog brand instead.
You can purchase special dog toothbrushes that go over your finger. A baby toothbrush is also acceptable. Gently brush all teeth for as long as your dog will allow.
Every now and then, your dog’s nails may need a trim. If they’re too long, they can bash and scrape along the floor and become uncomfortable.
Most vets will trim your dog’s nails for free. However, if you know what you’re doing, cut the very ends of your Cockapoo’s nails to keep them short. Don’t go too far down. The pink part, or the quick, is packed with nerves and will hurt and bleed if accidentally trimmed.
If you do go down too far, stem the bleeding by applying pressure and apply styptic powder.
Because Cockapoos have long ears, they’re prone to bacterial and fungal infections. Ear mites are also common. As a result, they’ll need to be checked over regularly for any signs of muck or ear wax.
Never try to clean into the ear canal. Over cleaning can also be an issue. Only attempt to clean the outer ears at home to avoid causing damage.
To clean, massage an ear cleaning solution into the ear and wipe it out gentle with a cotton ball. Wipe the wax and debris away from the canal so you don’t advance it into the canal.
Signs of an ear problem include:
- Head tilting to one side
- Shaking of the head
- Excessive ear scratching
- Aggression when you touch the ear
- Swelling and redness
- Wax or brown discharge
- Foul-smelling odour
- Hot to touch
If your Cockapoo displays any of the above symptoms, take it to the vet for an examination.
What health problems do Cockapoos have?
Like all other dogs, Cockapoos suffer from a range of health problems. Some are more specific to the breed than others, but these are the most common conditions to watch out for:
Progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is an inherited eye disease that primarily affects Cockapoos. It occurs as the result of degeneration from photoreceptor cells of the retina.
As described by VCA Hospitals, in a study carried out in the Czech Republic, 14.5% of Cocker Spaniels studied and 43% of English Cocker Spaniels were carriers of the mutation. 1.8% and 11.9% were affected respectively.
The same study showed that 29.8% of Miniature and Toy Poodles were carriers, with 16.9% affected.
Most affected dogs won’t show signs of vision loss until age 3 to 5 or older. Over time, affected dogs lose their night vision and begin to become sensitive to bright lights. Owners might also spot changes to the eyes themselves.
American and English Cocker Spaniels are most likely to be affected by glaucoma. Cockapoos commonly inherit the condition.
Glaucoma is when the pressure inside the eye increases, leading to internal damage which can cause blindness in one or both eyes. The eye can’t drain fluid, which is what causes the issue.
While the problem begins from birth, symptoms don’t show until the dog is older.
Canine hip dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia is where the ball of the hip joint keeps becoming displaced. As a result, the hip joint develops abnormally, resulting in hind leg weakness and pain.
Overweight Cockapoos are more prone to developing the condition. It’s also sometimes caused by genetics or bad breeding.
Over-exercising or an injury caused by jumping or running could either cause the condition or make it worse.
Focus on gentle exercises, like swimming or a gentle walk.
Surgical treatments can ease the condition, as can a healthy diet that’s tailored to your dog’s height and weight.
Familial nephropathy (FN) is an inherited kidney disorder that leads to renal failure. It’s been recognised in the English Cocker Spaniel for more than 50 years.
Affected Cockapoos start showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease when they’re between 6 months to 2 years of age.
Signs of familial nephropathy include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
Unfortunately, the disease can’t be cured and is often fatal.
Von Willebrand disease
Von Willebrand disease is an inherited canine breeding disorder. Dogs affected by it have less than half the normal level of Von Willebrand coagulation factor – an essential protein needed for blood clotting.
Dogs with the disease bleed more profusely when cut or injured. Symptoms include:
- Nose bleeds
- Blood in faeces or urine (or both)
- Bleeding gums that won’t stop
- Bruised skin
- Prolonged bleeding after surgery or an accident
Treatment to ease the symptoms of Von Willebrand disease is usually needed and range from blood transfusions and blood replacement products, to medication.
The majority of affected dogs go on to lead happy, healthy lives.
Are Cockapoos good family dogs?
With proper training and socialisation, Cockapoos make excellent family dogs, including those with young children. They’re friendly and loving and show affection with cuddles and kisses.
As well as enjoying quality time with their owners, they love to play and have bundles of energy. Walkies with Cockapoos is a fun family pastime, and children love playing fetch and other games with their pet.
Do Cockapoos bark a lot?
This mostly comes down to the Cockapoo’s personality. Some dogs are yappy and do bark a lot. This can get better with training and socialisation, but some dogs never grow out of it. Other Cockapoos are quiet. The breed isn’t known for its predisposition for barking, but some dogs may bark more if they feel threatened or are defending the home.
Do Cockapoos like to cuddle?
Cockapoos love to cuddle and are very affectionate. Dogs with the Cocker Spaniel genes are even more likely to cuddle as it’s part of the breed’s nature.
Of course, all dogs are different and their personalities vary. But Cockapoos are well-known for their sweet and loving nature. They love curling up to their owners at night when they’re getting ready for bed.
Are Cockapoos high maintenance?
While Cockapoos need regular grooming to maintain their coat’s health, when trained properly, they’re low maintenance dogs who mostly take care of themselves. Because they’re so intelligent, they amuse themselves with games and toys. They’re also well behaved on walks and don’t need any extra care or attention