Cockapoo Breed Overview

Kelly Roper
Contributor: Mychelle Blake
Tan and white Cockapoo laying down

Cockapoos have been long been a top favorite among the mixed dog breeds. That's easy to believe since they are intelligent and dependable family companions. Learn the facts about these lovable designer dogs.

Cockapoos Rule!

Long before there were Puggles and Labradoodles, Cockapoos were the mixed breed of choice. A combination of two of the world's most popular breeds, Cocker Spaniels and Poodles, this humble mix was welcomed into homes far and wide.

Poodles were selected for their virtually non-shedding coats, and Cockers were selected for their outgoing natures. When combined, the result was a happy-go-lucky, goodwill ambassador for the canine world that began to remove some of the stigma attached to cross-breeds.

The popularity of these dogs was no fluke because they have never lost favor in the last fifty years or so of their known existence.

Cockapoo puppy eating primroses in garden

Cockapoo Characteristics

Appearance

Cockapoo appearance characteristics include:

  • Head - The head should not resemble either parent breed too closely, but rather be a good blend of the two. The eyes should carry an endearing, soulful look, and the ears can range from medium to long.
  • Bite - A scissor bite is preferred; this means the upper incisors should close just in front of the lower incisors. A level bite is also acceptable; this means the upper and lower incisors meet evenly.
  • Body - The body is sturdy and compact, and the dog should have a square and very balanced outline when viewed from the side.
  • Legs - The legs should be sturdy and in balance with the rest of the body.
  • Tail - Preferably, the tail should not be docked (unlike the common practice of docking Poodles and Cockers), and it should naturally be carried either straight or curled.

Sizes

According to the Cockapoo Club of America breed standard, these dogs come in four approximate size ranges, depending on whether toy, miniature or standard size Poodles are used in the breeding.

  • Teacup toys should weigh under six pounds when fully grown.
  • Toys should weigh under twelve pounds when full grown.
  • Minis should weigh in the thirteen to eighteen pound range when full grown.
  • Maxis weigh over nineteen pounds when they have finished growing.
Apricot Cockapoo sitting for portrait

Coat

The coats on these dogs are full and fairly long, and they should be left looking as natural as possible.

Additionally:

  • The coat may be straight, wavy or slightly curled.
  • It should never be kinky.
  • It should have the low-shedding quality of the Poodle parentage.
  • It should be fairly odorless under normal conditions.
  • All colors are permissible.

Many people consider the Cockapoo hypoallergenic because of its poodle background. While your Cockapoo may have the hair of its Poodle parent, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. A person with dog allergies may find the Cockapoo easier to live with though since they shed less than other types of dogs.

Life Expectancy

Cockapoos can live up to 20 years although a lifespan of that length is unusual. The average Cockapoo lives about 13 to 15 years.

Temperament

If ever there was a canine success story for achieving the best of both worlds, Cockapoos are it. Nowhere is this more evident than in their temperament. The average Cockapoo personality is affectionate and easy going. These dogs are able to adapt to all types of living situations. You'll find them happily cohabiting with their human companions in high-rise apartments, private homes and sprawling farms. It makes no difference to these dogs where they live as long as they live with people who love them.

These dogs, especially the mini and maxi-sized dogs, can make terrific companions for children. However, it's important to teach a child the proper way to treat a dog, so he or she doesn't accidentally hurt the pet and spark an aggressive response. Cockapoos are prized for their wonderful temperaments, but you can never predict how a dog might react when it's in pain.

Separation Anxiety

Cockapoos are thought to be more at risk for separation anxiety than other breeds although any dog can suffer from this condition. Cockapoos may be more likely to develop this behavior because they are often not left alone and as they become adults have trouble tolerating when their humans leave. If you work with your puppy to crate train him and accustom him to your comings and goings, as well as provide plenty of mental and physical enrichment, you can go a long way toward keeping separation anxiety from developing.

Training

Training is relatively easy since these dogs enjoy working with their human companions. This trait is strongly ingrained from their Cocker heritage, but they also make good use of the quick intelligence gained from their Poodle ancestry.

House training is fairly straightforward though males tend to take a little longer to get with the program. Obedience training these dogs is a very satisfying experience as well. Even though they are not currently eligible for AKC competitions, Cockapoos are sure to be a smashing success if they are ever given full-breed recognition.

Exercise Needs

According to Cockapoo Club, an individual dog's exercise needs depends on its size.

  • Teacups and toys - Because these dogs are so small, they only need a small amount of daily exercise to stay in shape. A short walk around the block should provide enough exercise and mental stimulation. If your teacup Cockapoo looks tired, he or she may need to be carried the rest of the way, which can be normal, as they have to work a lot harder to cover as much ground as their larger counterparts.
  • Minis - These dogs need a more exercise. A two to three block daily walk and a game of fetch should do the trick.
  • Maxis - The largest Cockapoos require the most exercise of all. A small fenced yard can help provide you with an easy approach to exercise. However if you don't have a yard, a daily jog is an excellent source of exercise for them. They also love to play, so any other sporting activities that your dog may enjoy would be great to add in to the routine in order to keep them happy and healthy.
Cockapoo running in snow

Grooming Needs

Ideally, any trimming of the coat should be kept to a minimum and only carried out for utilitarian purposes. However, pet owners may not find this possible and may feel the need to keep their pets clipped short to keep them more manageable.

To keep your Cockapoo in good shape:

  • Brush her coat every day using a pin brush.
  • Trim her coat as needed to remove problem spots that tend to mat.
  • Clean her ears once a week, gently pulling out excess hair in the ear canal to promote better air flow.
  • Brush her teeth at least twice a week to promote gum health.
  • Trim her toenails whenever the tips begin to grow long and sharp.

Cockapoo Health

The Cockapoo Club of America stresses breeding for health and good temperament rather than confirmation. As a result, these dogs are relatively more healthy than either of their parent breeds. Still, there are a couple of health issues that are prevalent, and you should be aware of them if you're thinking about bringing a Cockapoo into your life.

Common Cockapoo Health Concerns

The most common health issues these dogs face include:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - Both parent breeds are susceptible to PRA, although the rate of incidence is currently lower in Cockapoos than it is for either Poodles or Cockers.
  • Canine hip and elbow dysplasia - This is a painful, degenerative condition that affects the hip and elbow joints and leads to a loss of mobility. All specimens intended for breeding should be x-rayed and certified healthy through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
  • Patellar Luxation - The kneecaps slip out of place and cause pain.
  • Ear infections - Poodles tend to grow dense hair in their ears, and this prevents air flow and leads to warm, moist conditions that promote bacterial and fungal growth. Many Cockapoos inherit this same tendency, and that's why it's so important to keep their ears clean and dry. Repeated infections can lead to chronic ear problems that can damage a dog's hearing.

Common Cocker Spaniel and Poodle Issues

It's also important to note that Cockapoos can still inherit the same illnesses to which Cockers and Poodles are prone.

Common Cocker health issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Congenital deafness - This is primarily found in English Cocker Spaniels, but some American Cocker Spaniels are also affected.
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia - This is an immune-mediated condition in which a dog's body attacks its own red blood cells. This leads to anemia which makes the dog tired all the time, and fainting may occur due to low oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
  • Hypothyroidism - Low levels of thyroid hormones typically lead to lethargy, weight gain and skin problems among other symptoms.
  • Primary seborrhea - This skin condition causes scaling and greasiness of the skin and coat. There is usually some inflammation and scratching can lead to infections.
Black and white Cockapoo puppy

Common Poodle health issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Sebaceous adenitis (SA) - This is an inflammatory skin disease that causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including scaling, itching, hair loss and a distinct odor.
  • Bloat - This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists closed, and this causes painful bloating that can lead to death without veterinary intervention.
  • Von Willebrand's disease - This is a blood disorder characterized by abnormal platelet function, and that results in prolonged bleeding.

Keep in mind that just because these illnesses could show up in your pet, there's no guarantee that they will. The best you can do is have a veterinarian evaluate any Cockapoo you're thinking about bringing home and keep up with regular veterinary care throughout your pet's life. Many health problems are easier to manage if you catch them at the onset.

Find a Breeder

Be sure you thoroughly check out any breeder you consider doing business with, and only deal with a breeder who is willing to offer a written health guarantee. You can expect to pay about $1,100 to $2,000 for a Cockapoo puppy.

  • American Cockapoo Club - You can find breeders by region who may have Cockapoos puppies for sale.
  • Dog Breed Info Center - This site lists approximately 80 breeders that you can contact about purchasing a Cockapoo puppy.

Breed Rescues

Adopting a dog from a rescue organization may also be a viable alternative.

  • Rescue Me.org - You can search for rescue Cockapoos by state. You can also list a dog in need of a home.
  • Poo-Mix Rescue - You'll find listings for Cockapoos as well as other Poodle mixes.
  • Adopt a Pet - Search this pet rescue site by breed, sex, age, size and color.

The Right Dog for You?

Cockapoos are one of only a small handful of dogs that are easily recommended as companions for nearly anyone. It doesn't seem to matter if you're young or old, employed or stay-at-home, athletic, physically challenged or somewhere in between. This designer breed is a loving and worthy companion for all.

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Cockapoo Breed Overview