Cockapoo Breed Profile
Cockapoo Breed Profile
The Cockapoo is a cross-breed and, therefore, not a registered Kennel Club breed, but due to its popularity, it is a very sought-after family pet.
Like most designer cross-breeds, they have come about because the jobs many established breeds were created to do no longer exist. Most of us no longer need dogs to help us hunt our food, kill vermin, or herd sheep, but we do want them to be good companions. The Kennel Club talks a lot about dogs being ‘fit for function’, but the function for most of the UK’s eight million-plus dogs is to be a family pet — and this is the function that the Cockapoo has been designed to fulfil.
It’s important to remember that spaniels are gundogs, and were originally bred to work all day in all weathers, flushing game out of the undergrowth. They are active, love to hunt for toys, and play retrieve games. They enjoy working with their owners and can be quite persistent when given a challenge. Poodles were also originally bred to retrieve, but from water; they are also active dogs who need plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
The Cockapoo is a small-to-medium-sized, fairly robust, active, and energetic dog, who is happy to charge around with the family on long country walks, jump in lakes, and play endless games, but will be calm, settled, and affectionate when at home. It really is a ‘do anything, go anywhere’ type of dog, and also has the advantage of looking rather like a teddy bear! It’s easy to see their appeal.
It’s not just as pet dogs that they have made their mark either. As they are easy to train, some have excelled at other work. The Pets As Therapy Dog of the Year presented at Crufts 2016 was a Cockapoo called Bilbo Baggins, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People also uses a lot of Cockapoos — it currently has over 100 working as hearing dogs, with another 40 in training.
Cockapoo looks and appearance
Cockapoos don’t all look alike, as they come in a wide selection of sizes, colours, and coat types. This is because there are several types of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle, and additionally, puppies will inherit different attributes from their parents.
There are three types of Cocker Spaniel used to produce a Cockapoo: the English show-type Cocker Spaniel, the English working-type Cocker Spaniel, and the American Cocker Spaniel (the smallest of the three). When it comes to the Poodle, there are two sizes used: the Toy Poodle (which is up to 11in tall) and the Miniature Poodle (which ranges from 11 – 15in tall).
Any of the spaniels crossed with either of the Poodles will produce an F1 (first generation) Cockerpoo. This is generally thought to be the most stable type in terms of knowing what you are going to get, and it will give the most consistent results, plus there are no worries about in-breeding. There can be even more types produced, however, if two F1 dogs are bred together (producing an F2), or if an F1 is bred back to either a Cocker Spaniel or a Poodle (an F1b), and so on.
It’s not just the appearance which is different — their personalities can vary too. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People says this is one of the reasons Cockapoos work so well for the charity, as while their recipients all have different lifestyles and needs, a litter of Cockapoos can be very different too, making it is easier to match them with their ideal partners.
Before you buy a Cockapoo
Cockapoos sound perfect — but there is no such thing as the perfect dog, and Cockapoos are certainly no exception.
First, there is the belief (often promoted by some breeders) that their coats are easy to care for. One of the reasons Cockapoos have become so popular is because Poodles don’t shed their coats (although they do moult), so the house-proud, the allergic (to both dogs and housework!), and those who just don’t like their clothes decorated with dog hair, have found them a very attractive choice. This low-maintenance image is, however, often far from the truth.
Cockapoo coats can easily become a tangle of mats. New owners have frequently been told that Cockapoos don’t shed because Poodles don’t — but Cocker Spaniels do, so some Cockapoos may inherit shedding coats. The others will moult but not shed, and if the moult isn’t groomed out, it will tangle and mat.
Cockapoos are a cross-breed and as such there are no Kennel Club guidelines to regulate their breeding. Due to their popularity, there are some unscrupulous breeders, and there are reports of aggressive behaviour in some Cockapoos. This could be either as a result of poor breeding, poor socialisation, or many people believing these are an ‘easy dog’ – no dog is ‘easy’ and requires training and know-how.
But a well-bred, well-raised Cockerpoo, who is handled appropriately and given training and adequate exercise, is a complete delight: fun, energetic, easy-going, and exactly what he is meant to be — the perfect family dog who will fit in well and be easily trained. They can be everything they’re hyped up to be.
A bad Cockerpoo, however, is an accident waiting to happen, and this is largely because of unethical breeding, bad handling, and prospective owners who don’t know how to find their perfect puppy.
Follow our steps to select your perfect Cockapoo…
1. Research the breed, and make sure you know what you are taking on. This is still an active dog who will need plenty of exercise, stimulation, training, and coat care.
2. Decide which type of Cockerpoo would suit your lifestyle and experience best.
3. Find a good breeder who DNA health-tests their dogs. Look for breeders who are registered with the Cockapoo Club; details of the health tests needed depending on the parents can be found at http://www.cockapooclubgb.co.uk/health-testing1.html
4. Many breeders showcase their litters online but will (and should) still expect you to visit, be vetted as prospective owners, and meet them face to face. Make sure you see the puppies interacting with their mother.
5. Make sure the puppies look happy and confident in their environment — a puppy who looks nervous around household objects may well have only been brought into the house for you to see him.
6. If you are an inexperienced owner, sign up for puppy classes straight away so you can learn how to handle and train your puppy appropriately.
7. Make sure children are always supervised with dogs.